Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Support Your Local Postal Workers

Thousands of U.S. Postal Service employees are in danger of losing their jobs, thanks to a wholly manufactured budget crisis created by Congressional Republicans.  On paper, the Post Office is nearly bankrupt because of a law forcing it to prepay medical retirement benefits so far into the future (75 years) that the presumed beneficiaries haven't even been born yet.  The pension fund is actually flush with cash overpayments, $47 billion in the past four years alone.

Rallies to highlight the proposed closings of individual post offices, distribution centers and resulting layoffs are being held today (4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. local time) in every Congressional district in the country.  A list of events, along with a petition to save the post office, can be found here. (Thanks to reader Pat for calling my attention to today's rallies.  I hope to post pics later).*

The union aims to rescind a federal requirement that the post office pay a whopping $5.5 billion annually into the employee pension fund, as well as fight back against a bill sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) that would restructure the post office by privatizing it -- and thus destroy the union by doing away with collective bargaining and lowering wages and benefits.  The post office is the largest unionized employer in the country, and the second largest employer, period (after low-wage, anti-union Wal-Mart).

According to the union: 
Events will engage the public through speeches, handouts and gatherings to make our voices heard. They are not protests.
It's anticipated that a wide variety of supporters will participate in "Save America's Postal Service" rallies, including small business owners who use the mail to advertise, businesses that consistently ship products using the Postal Service, and faith leaders and progressive allies who have concerns for the plight of working men and women.
I have always had a soft spot for the post office. As a child, I was a stamp collector, and had "snail mail" pen pals all over the world.  I have never in my life encountered a grumpy post office employee. Mailing a first class letter for only 44 cents is still the greatest bargain the world.

I do have one suggestion on how the postal service can save money, though:  we should do away with Congressional franking privileges (mailing at the taxpayers' expense) and make Issa first on the list.  As the second richest political hack in Congress, he can afford to pay for his own propaganda.  Besides, I thought misuse of the mails by thugs for fraudulent purposes was a crime. 

*Update: Thanks to Deborah Klaus, aka "DreamsAmelia" for sending pics of the rally she attended in Virginia this afternoon. The man in the blue suit is Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA-08) who spoke in support of the beleaguered postal workers at a small gathering.  The young ladies holding their handmade signs are Hannah (left) and Deborah's daughter, Amelia.

Young Activists & Handmade Signs:  Save Our Mailmen! 

Scene Outside a Virginia Post Office Today
Blogger Deborah Klaus on Steps, center

Deborah writes:

Our Rep., Jim Moran, when asked at the protest why he thinks Republicans want to severely cut back the Postal Service, said because right now the post office is too stiff a competition for UPS and FedEx -- the US Postal service's low rates cut into the profits FedX and UPS could be making--both by eliminating their competition and getting more business, and being able to charge higher prices, since there would be no, or less, public sector alternative.

He said the pension requirement change was passed 5 years ago, and he has an amendment to eliminate it--doubtful it can pass this rabid Republican House, and even if it did, I asked him, what would we be looking at in 2012 if we have Republican sweeps of both chambers of Congress and the Presidency?

He smiled and said, "Well, in some cases, paranoia is realistic. I agree, I am very worried about the future of our country." I just adore him, and I grew up going to public school with his son, Jimmy, K through 12. The funny thing is, Jimmy was quite a fire brand, always getting in trouble and being sent to the principal's---but now I admire him for that, and think he has his Dad's admirable trait of not cowering before authority. He settled down to have a normal middle class life like the rest of us.
And it is our complacency that is the symptom of society's illness. We are suffering from a dearth of rabble rousers willing to stand up and speak out for the common good, to reject the purely selfish life.
Well said, Deborah, and thanks again! 


Ciara said...

Bravo, Karen! Yet another first-rate post.

Anonymous said...


Do you know that congressional mailings are censored by the GOP controlled Franking Committee? This article cites mailings that could not describe the Ryan Plan as calling for vouchers.


Karen Garcia said...

Thank you Ciara. That will be 44 cents, please!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this one, Karen. I "loves me some" postal workers. They're great people, and do an amazing job. We need the service - not everyone can afford FedEx and/or a computer.

Heads up on this worthy nugget (link below.) file under: "Trader tells truth; MSM swears it must be a hoax."


Camp Obama, Homeless Edition

Ciara said...

Karen, with pleasure. A bargain at many times the price. :-)

Anonymous said...

Going to set up a rally outside our local downtown post office and hopefully get some signatures on a petition we can snail mail to our rep who has not signed in support of HR 1351. Perhaps in the process we can get more locals aware of our little Rebuild the Dream group and the Contract for America.

E. Adams

VLT said...

This is all about selling off a public asset for bottom basement prices to a private corporation or corporations. It has been a set- up for those managing the financing of the Post Office from the beginning. Who came up with the idea the Post Office had to fund retirement so far in advance? And what was the reasoning behind it - unless the reasoning was to bankrupt the Post Office.

Pat or anyone, is Obama using his bully pulpit to defend the Post Office? Is he doing anything to defend the post office (and all those jobs) at all?

Anne Lavoie said...


The fact that we, as political junkies, don't even know where the President stands on this makes it clear that he is once again serving his corporate sponsors. Can the guy open his mouth for anything but his own re-election and fund raising?

Only a Republican President would remain silent and not defend jobs and the Postal Service.

Pat Reynolds said...

Thanks so much for this Karen! You have such a way with words that I could only wish to have. I was unable to attend a rally, closest one was 100 miles away and I have to be to work at 11 pm tonight. All 4 craft unions and the supervisors union were involved, so I'm betting it was a good turn-out. Hopefully I'll hear more about it tonight.
No, Obama has never used his bully pulpit to defend the PO. Just the opposite in fact. I think it was his first year in office when he compared the PO unfavorably to UPS and FedEx. He was touting small business and cited the PO as a money loser and wondered why they couldn't be run like our competitors. I'll look for a link to what he said and post it. That day I realized Obama was a republican and regretted ever voting for him.
One little tidbit of interest on this subject is the fact that since 1990 the craft unions lost more than 20% of their jobs, while upper management increased by 28%. The Postmaster General Donahoe, who is firmly in Issa's corner, only wants to accelerate that divide. No one in management, especially upper management, is in danger of losing their jobs. More are being added to oversee the destruction of small po's and processing facilities. I'm just totally disgusted.
Thanks again for this post, you made my day!

VLT said...

I think there is a real misunderstanding by the public of how the Post Office is financed. Many people think that the Post Office is subsidised by tax dollars but it isn’t. It is “revenue neutral’ which means is operates along the lines of a non-profit. It pays its costs of running business out of the mailing fees it charges but it doesn’t make a profit. This is why Fed Ex and UPS are complaining. They are in it for the money and the Post Office is in it to provide an essential public service and to break even.

This needs to be made TOTALLY clear to the public and the public needs to understand that if corporations are allowed to privatise the mail service, prices will go up. For profit corporations will charge as much money as they can get away with charging. Furthermore, delivery to more remote locations will become more expensive – if they bother to cover it at all.

What we should be doing as a nation is looking to the Post Office as a model of efficiency. They are one of the biggest employers in the country, pay their employees a good wage with good benefits and yet keep prices lower than their for-profit competitors. The Post Office is the ideal organisation! We need more organisations like it!

I was just speaking to a friend on the telephone about this. Her cousin is a mail carrier. He said during the weeks that they do the mail count, junk mail and bills are WAY DOWN. He suspects that corporations are in cahoots and holding back all their bulk mailing to make the Post Office look like it is a less essential service than it once was.

Pat Reynolds said...

Another tidbit: the processing plant where I work gets about 300-500 parcels a day that UPS and Fed-Ex hand off, i.e. they don't want to deliver them because they'll dent their bottom line if they have to deliver in unprofitable areas. (Most of the USA).
Also, in order for the PO to close 300 processing plants, they need to change their delivery standards, which means don't expect any overnight or even 2 and 3 day delivery. Mail something across town it may take 4 or 5 days. 44 cents will be worth a lot less in the PO's lean and mean future.

"Cat" will do said...

Bravo! and hear, here, Karen!

"I do have one suggestion on how the postal service can save money, though: we should do away with Congressional franking privileges (mailing at the taxpayers' expense) and make Issa first on the list. As the second richest political hack in Congress, he can afford to pay for his own propaganda. Besides, I thought misuse of the mails by thugs for fraudulent purposes was a crime. "

I recall a few years ago reading the the US postal service was one of the few branches of govt that actually made money. Not to mention super efficient. Postal service is far too nice to politicians AND big businesses. It's why we love our mail people, they're so nice. AND they make a profit for us? Oh no, better stop that, sez the right. Gotta figure a way to make them look bad.

And, btw, since it's reported that every single member of the US Senate is a millionaire, why in hell are we paying them ANYTHING? I say take those several millions in Senate paychecks and give them to the agency that provides grants for college students. And cancel they're health insurance. Why should I pay for a millionaire Senator's health insurance?


My thought for the day: Who is Anita Perry and why should I care?


Pat Reynolds said...

Check this out, President Obama actually utters the words Post Office, and it turns out to not be so flattering for this old institution. It was the straw and camel's back for me from here on out:

Kat said...

Thanks for this post. It really gets to the heart of the matter.
And now for a slightly different take. Please bear with me. Karen states she has never encountered a grumpy post office worker. Unfortunately, I have received some appalling customer service at the post office. I also think they are incredibly efficient and am amazed that nothing has ever been lost!
I just point this out because I am reminded of some of the unease I had when attending the statehouse rallies of winter in my neck of the woods. There was much talk of teachers "doing it all for the kids" and first responders "who lay their life on the line every day".it. Hey-- I went to school and some teachers were phoning it in and some were wonderful. And that's life. Everyone is not going to be above average. My point is is that workers do not deserve protections because they're special or fulfilling a unique duty. Workers deserve protection and a right to earn a living wage because it is right. And it is good for our society. I feel this is a more inclusive message.