OPINION | Postal Service problems easily solved, advocates say

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To listen to the right-wing rant, the current financial crisis at the U.S. Postal Service can only be solved by major reductions in service and personnel and curbing the postal unions. But the Postal Service’s deficits, in fact, stem from a 2006 mandate passed by Congress. And Congress can make a fix — without spending a dime of taxpayer money. Under President Bush, Congress in 2006 passed a postal “reform” law requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits —in the next 10 years!

“No other federal agency or private enterprise is forced to pre-fund similar benefits like this, especially on such an aggressive schedule,” notes the website, www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org.

That mandate currently is costing the U.S. Postal Service $5.5 billion per year from current revenues.

“If the mandate wasn’t there… the USPS would be operating at a surplus, despite the terrible economy,” said Jerry Sirois, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s Minneapolis Area Local.

What you can do:

Learn more at www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org

  • Sign the on-line petition
  • Contact your Member of Congress and urge support for H.R. 1351, a bill to restore the U.S. Postal Service to sound financial footing without using a dime of taxpayer money

“They don’t have to destroy the Postal Service to save it,” said Sirois, briefing delegates at the September delegate meeting of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.

The legislative remedy is H.R. 1351, currently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Critics call it a bail-out,” Sirois warned. “It’s not a bail-out… It’s getting back money that was over-paid.”

Minnesota sponsors of the remedy bill — all DFLers — include Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz and Collin Peterson. None of Minnesota’s Republican U.S. House members have signed on to the bill.

Sirois urged MRLF delegates to view the battle over the future of the U.S. Postal Service in the context of today’s broader struggles to preserve public services and collective bargaining rights.

The U.S. Postal Service is the second largest employer in the United States, he noted. And guess which is the largest employer? The virulently anti-union Walmart.

“The Postal Service is a big prize for the Tea Partiers if they can privatize it,” Sirois warned.

“We simply want the money we pay for stamps — and you pay for stamps — to operate the U.S. Postal Service,” Sirois said.

This article is adapted from one that appeared in The Minneapolis Labor Review, the official publication of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.

For more information

Save America’s Postal Service website