Seminole, FL – Nearly 100 current and retired postal workers gathered at Seminole campus on September 26 to rally at Congressman C.W. Young’s office. The rally was staged by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to bring attention to US House of Representative bill 1351. It also raised questions about how the US Postal Service (USPS) affects the lives of students.
Most students don’t think about the mail, but despite email and online bill pay, they used it regularly to send books, apply to colleges, and get pizza coupons. If students think about the mail, it’s to complain about the rising cost of stamps.
At the September rally, postal workers were quick to point out, “We’re all rural areas have to get the mail in and out, medicines, etc. Citizens don’t realize how much we do because we’re transparent.” Another concurred, saying “in rural areas, the Post Office is the place to receive newspapers as well. They’re dependent on the Post Office.”
The Postal Service will be bankrupt at the end of 2011. According to the NALC, the Postal Service’s $8 billion deficit is not from competition from email, but because of a 2006 congressional requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund all retiree benefits for the next 75 years within 10 years. H.R. 1351 asks the Office of Personnel Management to recalculate the USPS surplus in the Civil Service Retirement System.
Without the $5.5 billion payment addressed in HR 1351 or another $6.9 billion payment into the federal retirement system, the USPS is solvent with record delivery and productivity. Beverly Howard, Customer Relations Coordinator, confirmed a $611 million profit in four fiscal years since 2007.
At the rally, a 14-year veteran of the USPS commented, “we were set up as a service. Now we’re expected to make a profit. If you compare the price of mail to a cup of coffee, that was five cents forty years ago. Now it’s four dollars. Mail hasn’t gone up nearly as much. Package-delivery, distributors, manufacturers, and magazines don’t realize what’s going to happen to their business,” he added. A colleague pointed out, “We’re not slowing things down, or making things worse or more expensive. We’re the most efficiently run operation in the country.”
Congressman C.W. Young acknowledge the USPS’ economic problems at the rally and mentioned that his primary job was to cut $27 billion from national defense. Joe Hensen, organizer of the rally, asked how many veterans were in the crowd. Almost every postal worker there raised his or her hand. C.W. Young agreed that “the Armed Forces always had a lifeline coming back to work in the Post Office and we don’t want to see that end.” He added, “Congress has to face it. You don’t create jobs by laying people off.”
The USPS employs 574,000 people. Related businesses from printers to envelope makers provide another 8 million private-sector jobs in a $1.3 trillion mailing industry.