September 29, 2011

Post Office Rallies

What does what's happening with the mail mean to larger economic issues?

Protestors: Are we going to save our postal services today? Yeah!

Shelby: At hundreds of rallies across the country, U.S. Postal Service employees shared one message.

Protestors: We just want to get the mail out! We don’t want a bail out! Save our jobs!

Shelby: They hope to stop the postal service from closing thousands of offices, eliminating jobs and cutting delivery days.

Protestor: We’re here to save your post office, my post office. That’s why we’re here.

Shelby: Over the next month, Congress will face big decisions regarding the future of postal service in America. That is because the postal service faces an estimated $9.2 billion budget shortfall. It owes $5.5 billion by the end of the year, and things are only getting worse. If it can’t pay its 560,000 employees next year, the entire agency could be forced to shut down next summer.

Many say a big reason the post office is in trouble is because of a shift in the way people communicate. As emails and text messages have become more popular, snail-mail volume has gone down.

Recognizing that many USPS services are outdated, Postmaster General Patrick Donahue has proposed dramatic cuts to save the postal service, like eliminating Saturday service and slashing the work force by 20%.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahue: The postal service is still a critical part of the American economy. We’re not going out of business. We are not going out of business. What we’re trying to do is get our finances in order so that we can stay out there in business and provide excellent service for a long, long time to come.

Shelby: But postal workers argue that cuts aren’t the answer. They blame the financial problems on a 2006 reform passed by Congress that forced the USPS to pay about $5.5 billion in retirement benefits each year. That is the money workers get when they stop working, or retire, after a certain age.

“We’re the only government agency that’s required to pre-fund retirement. Right now we’re paying retirement that would be for people that aren’t even born yet.”

Shelby: At this week’s rallies, many urged Congress to pass a new bill that would refund billions of dollars in retiree benefits, and they say it could save the postal service from economic disaster without cutting jobs or closing post offices. And they still wouldn’t need taxpayers to help them out. The USPS has not been supported by tax dollars in thirty years.

“We carry our own load. We are self-sufficient. What we do, we generate a service to the people and we get paid for what we do. The taxpayers don’t pay us nothing.”

Shelby: It may be more than a year before Congress acts on the bill, leaving the fate of the postal service unknown. Until then, postal workers say they plan to keep pounding the streets with their chants and signs to send a message to Congress.

Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.


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