Sunday, September 11, 2011

USPS Under Threat

The Postmaster General is in the process of:

  • reducing the postal distribution network from some 520 processing and distribution centers to “less than 200,”
  • increasing delivery times by at least 1 or 2 days for all mail,
  • closing 15,000 “unprofitable” post offices,
  • destroying 220,000 of the 645,000 postal jobs.

He also wants to:

  • reduce delivery from 6 days per week to 5 days per week,
  • break the employee unions, lay off middle-class union employees, and replace them with part-time, low-wage, low-benefit employees,
  • take away promised retirement benefits employees have worked for,
  • take away promised medical insurance benefits employees have worked for.

Why? The big lie is, “USPS is in financial trouble, because volume is down.”

Not true. The “crisis” is entirely a manufactured one. It was manufactured by a 2006 law passed by Congress and signed by George W. Bush. This law requires USPS to:

  • pay $5.5 billion yearly to the U.S. treasury, every year for 10 years,
  • never raise postage rates, for any kind of mail, faster than the rate of inflation.

If it were not for these arbitrary and deadly requirements, USPS would not be in a financial “crisis.”

The $5.5 billion per year is supposed to pay for medical insurance benefits for future retirees for the next 75 years. No other company, and no other government agency, has to prepay 75 years worth of future benefits.

USPS has already overpaid at least $50 billion into its pension fund. USPS is in no danger of running out of money for retirees.

Postage rates on catalogs and other kinds of “bulk mail” are lower than the cost of delivery. This was true in 2006, it was known in 2006, and it is still true. The 2006 law makes sure these rates stay lower than what it costs USPS to deliver the mail.

Fuel costs have risen faster than the rate of inflation. The 2006 law makes sure USPS cannot increase its prices as much as its costs have increased.

The effect of these destructive requirements is to bankrupt the Postal Service.

Instead of asking the Postal Regulatory Commission for permission to raise prices, the Postmaster General is closing most of the postal distribution network, closing thousands of post offices, destroying hundreds of thousands of decent jobs, and planning to drastically reduce postal service.

It’s as if the people who wrote the 2006 law, and Postmaster General Donahoe, were trying to destroy the Postal Service.

Who would do this? Who will benefit?

The private mailing industry will benefit. After the US Postal Service reduces its distribution network to the point where it can no longer provide service within 1 to 3 days, anyone who needs to send a piece of mail to get somewhere quickly will have to send it FedEx, or some other private service, at a much higher price.

The U.S. Postal Service owns a huge amount of very valuable property: usually a large Post Office in the center of every town. Once the post offices and processing and distribution centers are closed, they will be sold, at low prices, to private companies. Once these post offices and processing centers are gone, USPS will never again be able to recover them.

The Direct Marketing Association and other big mailers of the “Mailers Technical Advisory Committee” want to keep their postage rates low—whatever the cost.

  • The cost will be thousands of lost post offices. The loss of some of these will devastate their towns.
  • The cost will be hundreds of thousands of lost middle-class jobs. In a bad economy, this loss will multiply to many more unemployed people.
  • The cost will be a lesser postal distribution network, no longer able to provide first-class service.
  • The cost to remote areas will be that postal service will simply be unavailable.
  • The cost to the economy will be the loss of a service essential to millions of people and business.

The USPS has been adding 3 million delivery addresses per year, as population grows. Reducing the distribution network and closing post offices, capacity will not be available when population, prosperity, and need for postal service increase.

The U.S. Postal Service is not a business. It is a public service. Its destruction will do great harm to the U.S. economy.

What should be done?

  • Congress must pass House Resolution 1351. This would allow USPS to use the $50 billion it overpaid into its pension fund to cover its obligation under the 2006 law to prepay future medical insurance for future retirees.
  • Congress must reject House Resolution 2309 and all similar bills. H.R. 2309 would close thousands more post offices and break the employee unions, replacing decent jobs with low-wage, low-benefit jobs.
  • Congress must repeal the 2006 “Postal Accountability Enhancement Act,” which is the cause of the crisis.
  • Postage rates on all kinds of mail must at least cover their costs.
  • The Department of Justice must investigate and stop the Postmaster General’s actions to close post offices and processing and distribution centers in violation of current law. By law, post offices and processing centers cannot be closed unless USPS can show that the closing will not hurt service. The closings always hurt service. USPS acts without providing required information to the community and unions, without regard to public input, without regard to reduction of service.

Please sign the petition at We plan to send the petition to Congress on Sept. 27, 2011.

For more information, see, and follow the links in the “petition activity” tab under “The story so far” on the petition page.

Contact your representative and senators at

Visit the American Postal Workers Union website at to send your congressional representative an e-mail message and/or find their mailing address.

Contact President Barack Obama via Web Form.


Washington Office: District of Columbia 20500

Phone: (202) 456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461

Experts on this issue include:

Steve Hutkins writes a brilliant website devoted to exposing USPS attempts to destroy itself:

This post from Sept. 11, 2011 is a good overview:

This post from Aug. 13, 2011 explains that USPS has precipitated a crisis in order to win destructive change not normally possible:

Carol Miller brings the important perspective of the isolated rural Western town, hard hit by the ruthless and unnecessary abandonment of postal service:

Cliff Guffey, president of APWU, presented this excellent rebuttal of USPS claims, to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Sept. 6, 2011:

Chuck Zlatkin, Legislative and Political Director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, the largest local of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, reiterates that USPS is telling the country the Big Lie about itself, in order to turn itself into an employer in the Walmart mode:

Zlatkin is also quoted in Allison Kilkenny’s piece in Truthout, exposing USPS actions as class warfare:

This Truthout link also includes a video of Thom Hartman interviewing Chuck Zlatkin.


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