Bader on the postal closure

Posted by Chet Hardin on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

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Chuck Bader, treasurer of the local postal workers union APWU-CSAL #247 and vice-president of Colorado AFL-CIO, sent out this press release on the closure of the Springs-based processing center for the United States Postal Service.

In it, Bader, a longtime employee of the Postal Service, argues that the closure — one of hundreds — will "have a devastating impact on millions of individual citizens who rely on the mail to connect them to their communities and the nation at large. Nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have broadband Internet access, and 28 percent of Americans have no Internet access at all. Approximately 55 percent of consumers still receive hard-copy bills and statements."

The USPS, he says, is at the "heart of a $1 trillion private-sector industry that employs 9 million people and generates more than $65 billion worth of mail annually."

And, as he has argued all along, the fiscal crisis within the USPS is not solely of its doing. Nor, he says, is it just a sign of the times, but due mostly to a misguided policy thrust upon it by Congress.

Although first-class mail has declined over the past four years, online bill payment and other forms of electronic communication are only part of the problem.

The primary cause of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation is a mandate imposed by Congress in 2006 that requires the USPS to “pre-fund” healthcare benefits for future retirees. This obligation drains approximately $5.5 billion annually from postal accounts to fund a 75-year obligation — in just 10 years. No other government agency or private business bears this burden.

Were it not for the financial chokehold Congress created in 2006, the Postal Service would have netted a $611 million surplus during fiscal years 2006-2010 instead of racking up a $21 billion deficit.

The whole release after the jump.

The USPS: Congress Broke It, Congress Must Fix It

The controversy over the Postal Service’s efforts to close the Colorado Springs USPS Mail Processing Plant is being repeated in hundreds of American communities, as the USPS prepares to close more than half of the nation’s 460 mail processing centers.

In Colorado Springs and cities and small towns across the country, business owners, citizens, community leaders and elected officials have demanded the USPS withdraw plans that will slow down mail delivery, kill jobs, and hurt the local economy.

At dozens of public meetings to address community concerns, the Postal Service’s answer has been essentially the same: Facility closures are necessary to help solve the USPS financial “crisis,” they say.

But the Postal Service is unable to substantiate projected savings, and many observers — including members of Congress — have charged that USPS estimates are wildly inflated.

And the cost of closures will be high: The Postal Service announced Dec. 5 that massive closures will force the USPS to eliminate overnight delivery for first-class mail and periodicals, change next-day delivery to two days, and extend two-day delivery to three days.

Locally, closing the mail processing plant means residents and businesses may not receive bills, payments, prescriptions, online purchases and community newspapers on time.

Nationally, dismantling the USPS distribution network will have a severe impact on companies that rely on the Postal Service to conduct business — to deliver bills and catalogues, return payments, distribute information about products and services, and deliver goods to customers. The Postal Service is at the heart of $1 trillion private-sector industry that employs 9 million people and generates more than $65 billion worth of mail annually.

Closing postal facilities also will have a devastating impact on millions of individual citizens who rely on the mail to connect them to their communities and the nation at large. Nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t have broadband Internet access, and 28 percent of Americans have no Internet access at all. Approximately 55 percent of consumers still receive hard-copy bills and statements.

Fortunately, the massive proposed postal closures are unnecessary. Congress created the problem and Congress can fix it — without any cost to taxpayers.

The cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis is largely misunderstood. Although first-class mail has declined over the past four years, online bill payment and other forms of electronic communication are only part of the problem.

The primary cause of the Postal Service’s dire financial situation is a mandate imposed by Congress in 2006 that requires the USPS to “pre-fund” healthcare benefits for future retirees. This obligation drains approximately $5.5 billion annually from postal accounts to fund a 75-year obligation — in just 10 years. No other government agency or private business bears this burden.

Were it not for the financial chokehold Congress created in 2006, the Postal Service would have netted a $611 million surplus during fiscal years 2006-2010 instead of racking up a $21 billion deficit.

In addition, the Postal Service has overfunded its retirement accounts by billions of dollars. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which oversees these accounts, has concluded that it cannot allow the USPS to reclaim these funds without congressional authorization.

In response to the fiscal squeeze placed on it by Congress, the Postal Service has proposed to close thousands of post offices, slash its mail processing network, and eliminate prompt mail service for the nation’s citizens and businesses.

Unfortunately, the postal reform bill pending in the Senate (S. 1789) fails to adequately address the problems. Although the 21st Century Postal Service Act would reduce the level of retiree healthcare pre-funding, the annual cost of pre-funding would continue to impose significant debt on the USPS and would result in the unnecessary cuts in service the Postal Service is planning.

There’s a much better solution: Congress must repeal the pre-funding requirement, allow the USPS to recover overpayments to its retiree funds, and protect service to the American people.

Resolving the Postal Service’s financial crisis would free up the funds the agency needs to maintain service standards, protect the mail processing network, prevent the closing of rural post offices, retain six-day delivery, and modernize. For the USPS to remain relevant in the digital age, Congress must permit it to offer new products and services.

The USPS network is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure. Destroying it will lead to the demise of the world’s largest, most efficient and most trusted mail system — one that our founding fathers expressly authorized in the Constitution.

Congress created the Postal Service’s financial crisis, and Congress must fix it, NOW.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to Senator Mark Udall and Senator Michael Bennet for supporting several amendments to S. 1789- the 21st Century Postal Service Act. I encourage you to join me in showing our appreciation by calling Senator Udall’s local office at (719) 471-3993 and Senator Bennet’s local office at (719) 328-1100 and thanking them for supporting the important amendments to S. 1789- the 21st Century Postal Service Act.

Please call Congressman Lamborn at (719) 520-0055 and ask him to oppose H. R. 2309; a bill that would financially devastate the USPS. Ask Congressman Lamborn to support H. R. 3591; a bill that will provide the right solution.

Sincerely,

Chuck Bader, Treasurer

American Postal Workers Union #247

Comments (2)

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Agree. Congress broke it.

Lamborn will do whatever is worst for all of us, I expect nothing intelligent from him.

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Posted by OldCrank on 03/01/2012 at 10:23 AM

As a citizen I question the move of our government institution to reduce our service.

What if I offered a solution that should resolve all the postal problems for monetary shortfalls without the people of this country or their mail being affected?

Businesses served by the USPS get discount rates, incentives, rebates.....other offers. When will our representatives realize that the PO is supposed to be a public service and not a business delivery system? Cut the discounts from businesses who write 100% of their mailing expenses off their taxes. That is the only incentive any business should receive using the public's service.

The excuse that the internet is the reason mailings are down is a facade concerning business mailings. These are targeted areas that these businesses want to reach and not something that can be done with the internet ever. The cost of handling the mail doesn't go down just because it is third class mail. It cost the same amount to handle once it is touched by a postal employee as any first class letter so quit blaming postal workers incomes for the downfall of the service. In most cases it cost even more to work the business mail considering:

It requires the carrier to stop at every house to deliver a reduced price piece of mail.

It is stored at post offices around the country for up to three days before delivery necessitating more costly building space.

It comes in forms that are not machinable like newspaper inserts without any surcharge we would be required to pay.

It represents over one third of all mail worked.

The post office has a revenue problem? Really!!! The post office just announced these businesses get the second ounce of presorted first class mail free. Free? They are falling short of revenue and offering something "free". The public isn't getting this deal. The public is subsidizing business mailings and will be paying the price in first class service standards by delaying our mail to the third class business standard of three day delivery or longer instead of overnight.

The USPS states that first class (your and my) mail is down 25%, however it doesn't specify what specific areas of the country are experiencing these reductions to justify the processing center closures. Take for example Springfield, MO mail processing center. It is in a part of the state that is the fastest growing area according to the census and it is scheduled for closure. The mail will be sent to Kansas City some 180 miles away and cause a delay of overnight delivery for the local area which has over 200 outlying community's it serves. One can surmise that this is not a downsizing of the Post Office to serve the people, but instead is a way of justifying big operations in big cities for big business.

What is the actual percentage of first class mail reduction for an area that is the fastest growing in the state? I bet it isn't the claimed 25%, or even close. No actual numbers have been provided because the postal managers making these decisions won’t take personal accountability for the answers or decisions. It would affect their pay scale. Where is the transparency?

If you want the facts on the Post Office, make their spokesperson tell you who he is speaking for by name since it is supposed to be a public service and they don't seem to be speaking for any of the people that I have met.

There is no reason to cut the services to the people. Cut and reduce the specific areas that have experienced the reduction of mail they used to process like in Kansas City. They have already established they have machines there not being fully utilized. Postal management has purchased equipment for these big cities and now will try to justify their purchases by absorbing mail from other processing plants. This doesn’t provide better service; it only secures big city postal management jobs.

If an area has experienced a reduction of mail, cut that office by the same percentage to match the service.

Match the service to the public and stop justifying big paychecks to managers that are no longer needed to run big offices if big offices are not necessary to serve that cities metropolitan area. The Post Office is supposed to serve the community, not try to re-establish one.

This is an example of postal managers who get big pay checks in big cities trying to hang on to their big bonuses by justifying big operations instead of serving the people. Without the numbers to back up their operations they couldn't justify their incomes based on the standards currently in place. The manager's pay scales are determined by the size of the operations they are involved with. Cut the big cities down to the size of service for their metropolitan area and these big cheeses would have to experience a reduction in pay.

Where are the real numbers before these big managers take away our service? You'll find every manager questioned hiding behind an arbitrary statement as to not accept any personal responsibility for giving the facts. Ask PM General Donahoe and see how fast he diverts the responsibility of giving our system away to businesses and bigger postal manager payouts for retaining big city positions.

Sounds like a conspiracy to defunct the system for personal gain of higher level postal managers at the public's expense. Isn't it the PO manager's claim that 80% of all postal cost is directly related to wages and benefits?

Imagine how those figures would change if businesses would pay what we pay to use our service and the postal managers get their pay scales adjusted.

Cut these postal managers down to size and stop the forced subsidizing of business mail. Post Office Fixed, and monetary problem solved.

Joseph W McKinney

Copyright © 2001-present Post

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Posted by Artie Martinho on 03/01/2012 at 11:57 AM
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