The lie being told about the US Postal Service’s financial difficulties is that mail volume is down because of e-mail and the Internet. In fact, the “crisis” is an entirely manufactured one. The USPS is under the same kind of attack as the one launched by Scott Walker against Wisconsin public employees: it’s an effort to break the unions and to privatize as much of the USPS as possible.
The Real Problem:
Funding Benefits for Unborn Postal Workers
The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the USPS to prefund medical insurance benefits for retirees for 75 years in the span of ten years. In essence, the USPS is required to fund benefits for retired workers who haven’t been born yet.
Postage rates on catalogs and other kinds of “bulk mail” are lower than the actual cost of delivery. This was true in 2006 when the PAEA was passed. Nevertheless, a provision in the 2006 PAEA ties postal rate increases to the rate of inflation (rather than to actual costs). Costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation because of rising fuel costs.
Decrease in mail volume is primarily the result of the economic recession rather than use of e-mail and the Internet.
The Postmaster General’s Proposals:
Cut, Gut, Privatize
Reduce the postal distribution network by more than half, which would increase delivery times by at least 1 to 2 days for all mail, that is, the end of first-class mail as we know it
Close 15,000 “unprofitable” post offices (as if the USPS were a business rather than a service)
Reduce delivery from 6 days per week to 5
Break USPS contracts with the postal unions and lay off 120,000 workers
Reduce the agreed-upon employee retirement and insurance benefits (also a breach of contract)
Lose 100,000 more postal jobs to attrition
The Private Mailing Industry
After the USPS reduces its distribution network and decreases delivery frequency, anyone who needs to send a piece of mail quickly will have to send it via FedEx, UPS, or another private delivery company.
Once post offices and processing-and-distribution centers are closed, they will be sold, undoubtedly at low prices, to private companies, making it impossible for the USPS to recover them or reinstate current service standards.
The end result will be that private industry will have accrued a huge percentage of what used to be the US Postal Service.
The Losers: Workers, Small Businesses,
Citizens, and the Economy
The USPS has been the second-largest nonmilitary employer in the US, second only to Walmart. In the last 4 years, the number of USPS employees has been reduced by 110,000, plus another 20,500 so far in 2011. This doesn’t include the 120,000 layoffs Donahoe wants to make or the 100,000 more jobs to be lost to attrition. That’s a loss of 350,500 out of 645,000, well over half.
Any jobs that are added to private industry as a result of picking up the slack from the USPS’s decreases in service will be lower-paying, lower-benefit jobs (a la Walmart).
A loss of this many good jobs when the US economy is already embattled will be a huge blow to the middle class and a further widening of the enormous gap between the fabulously wealthy and the rest of us.
“Unprofitable” post offices are scheduled to close in many remote rural areas and in many low-income neighborhoods. In rural communities, the area post office often serves as the center of community life.
Passage of HR 1351 (which has more than 200 cosponsors from both parties) would allow the USPS to use money it has overpaid into its pension fund to fulfill the PAEA prefunding requirement.
Adjustment of the prefunding requirement so it’s more reasonable.
Make the Postmaster General and the Postal Board of Governors step down and investigate them for malfeasance, gross mismanagement, and dereliction of duty.
Sign the Petition at Change.org
Don’t let the USPS be destroyed: http://www.change.org/petitions/dont-let-the-usps-be-destroyed.
The petition will be sent to Congress on Sept. 27, 2011.
The mainstream media are repeating the lies and misinformation being spread by PMG Donahoe and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform). Only a few sources are reporting the truth:
Save the Post Office, by Steve Hutkins: http://www.savethepostoffice.com/
American Postal Workers Union (APWU), AFL-CIO:http://www.apwu.org/
National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC): http://nalc.org/
Truthout, “Postal Workers: The Last Union,” by Allison Kilkenny:
OpEdNews, “Destroying the Postal Service in Order to Save It?”
by Chuck Zlatkin, Legislative and Political Director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Destroying-the-Postal-Serv-by-Chuck-Zlatkin-110905-492.html
Who exactly is behind the deliberate destruction of the USPS?
Who inserted the provision that the USPS prefund retiree health benefits for 75 years and what justification was given for it? Did Congress even know about it?
Who is on the Postal Board of Governors and what are their ties to the private mail industries that will benefit most from the demise of the USPS?