Facing a shortfall of a few billion dollars, the U.S. Postal Service is planning to drop 220,000 full-time jobs and close 3,700 post offices and 300 processing centers by 2015, while scaling back services and cutting retirement benefits. And that’s after laying off 110,000 employees since 2007.
In response, union representatives point out that the service has huge surpluses in pension accounts that can be used to settle the crisis without throwing workers onto the street. Employees around the country are rallying in support of new legislation that would tap those funds.
Some don’t expect politicians to listen. Gray Brechin, a USPS historian with the Living New Deal Project at the University of California at Berkeley’s department of geography, says the current crisis is manufactured: “This is about dismantling the Postal Service, getting rid of unions, privatization and selling post office buildings to developers.”
Hear Brechin discuss the future of the USPS with Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel and California State Association of Letter Carriers President John Beaumont on the radio show “Your Call” below. —ARK
[President of the American Postal Workers Union, Cliff] Guffey says the plan “ignores the fact that the USPS has massive surpluses in its pension accounts. The overpayments could and should be used to resolve the Postal Service’s cash crisis.”
The USPS employees that held rallies yesterday called on politicians to support HR 1361, legislation they say would addresses the financial crisis by allowing the agency to use the pension surplus to meet its retiree health benefits pre-funding obligation. In 2006, Congress passed a postal reform law requiring the USPS to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits over a ten-year span.
... “This is like saying you’re going to have your house payment of 30 years and then they come back and say, ‘We’ are giving you five years to pay it.’ That’s pretty much what they’re saying. It doesn’t make sense,” says John Beaumont, president of the California State Association of Letter Carriers. “If we didn’t have to make these payments, the Postal Service would be in the black at present time.”