Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Open Letter to Tammy Baldwin: Save Postal Service

As I said to you at the bloggers’ meeting at the Wisconsin Democratic Convention in June, the US Postal Service is destroying its ability to serve the people of Wisconsin and the rest of the country by decimating its infrastructure: stopping some or all mail processing at plants in Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau, Oshkosh, as well as Kenosha, Portage, Rhinelander, Rockford IL, Duluth and Rochester MN, and Kingsford MI. Of 14 processing plants in and adjacent to Wisconsin, the USPS wants to continue full service at only two: Milwaukee and Green Bay.  And the Milwaukee plant is a leased building; the lease is up in 2015; the building is flimsy and not designed for heavy equipment. It shakes alarmingly whenever a train goes by.

USPS is destroying its entire mail-processing infrastructure.

At the same time, private presort houses such as Pitney-Bowes are expanding: building new plants and moving to larger plants.

Your constituents and the American people need your help to stop the destruction of the US Postal Service.

The leadership of the USPS itself wants to self-destruct. Why? Management has been captured by profiteers: the big advertising mailers like Val-Pak coupons—who don’t need first-class service; the big contractors like Pitney Bowes; and competitors like UPS.

If you don’t help to stop them, these profiteers will drive USPS to destruction and insolvency.

USPS is rushing toward privatization of all mail-processing operations.

Once Pitney-Bowes and others have been hired to do all of the mail processing USPS once did (1) the revenue will be gone: taxpayers will again have to pay for letter carriers to deliver mail; (2) there will be no service such as first-class service used to be.

This is not theoretical. It is happening as we speak. There were roughly 500 processing plants just a very few years ago. About half of them have already been closed or are in the process of being closed. The regions that used to be served by the now-closed plants no longer have what we grew up thinking of as first-class mail service. Instead of one-day service to a nearby town, it now takes several days to mail a letter across town.

The “savings” are a fiction. Destroying the service will give the revenue to private operators. Then there will be no revenue to pay for “last mile” delivery.

The purported “savings”—although more than offset by payments to trucking companies and private sorters—are money taken from the postal workers in Madison and other Wisconsin cities (and all across the country) who will lose their livelihoods.

This is the main thrust of the privatizers’ plan: to replace union jobs in the USPS with nonunion jobs at profiteers’ plants: replace living-wage jobs with non-living-wage jobs; replace jobs that offer benefits with jobs without benefits.

Senator Baldwin, what kind of America will you help create?

Will you help the plunderers, privatizers, and profiteers destroy the nation’s infrastructure, in order to destroy the last remaining living-wage, union jobs?

Or will you stand up for the Wisconsin and American people, fight to preserve their post office and to preserve at least a little of the middle class?

When I said to you in June that USPS is being destroyed in the service of the big mailers, what you said to me was, “Some of those mailers are in Wisconsin.”

The implication is that you may be willing to see the permanent destruction of essential American infrastructure; the permanent dismantling of the ability to provide first-class service, so that a Wisconsin corporation can reap more profit.

Who are your constituents? The big mailers? Or the Wisconsin people? You can’t serve both.

You must choose.

Choose to side with the people of Wisconsin and the rest of the country. Choose the middle class. Choose rural communities. Choose people without broadband Internet. Choose the small businesses for whom receiving checks today rather than 2 to 3 business days from now means quick enough cash flow to stay in business.

Privatized mail service, coming to the U.S. with blistering speed, has already happened to Europe, with dire results.

Likewise, closing post offices especially in rural areas devastates the rural communities and saves essentially nothing.

I see that you have not yet signed on as a sponsor of S.316, the Postal Protection Act of 2013. Will you take this first crucial step? Not only sign on, but persuade your colleagues to do so also. Even the Republican ones. Postal service should not be a partisan issue. We all need it. A world without postal service is a poorer world.

S.316 would undo some of the financial damage inflicted by the 2006 PAEA, and would reiterate USPS’s obligation to maintain current levels of service.

Much more must be done to remove the vultures from the postal eagle’s nest. 

For now, will you co-sponsor S.316.

Can I count on your leadership on this crucial issue?

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