SEATTLE - In every congressional district across America postal workers will rally with their allies on Tuesday, September 27 in a fight to save the nation's mail delivery service.
The unprecedented actions are the result of close collaboration among the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Postal Mailhandlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, according to Bob James, president of the Washington State Letter Carriers.
"We're rallying in every single district to make the point that only Congress can fix the difficulties facing the U.S. Postal Service," James said.
Postal workers expect wide support in what they see as a battle to save a national treasure that serves every American and every business. Private corporations interested in getting their hands on this national treasure, according to James, are behind the claims that the Postal Service is broke, that it loses billions of dollars a year delivering the mail and that it will require a huge taxpayer bailout. "The privatizers would love to chop this all up and grab whatever they can," he said.
He sees proposals to slash services, close thousands of post offices and fire hundreds of thousands of postal employees as the first step in this process. "These types of measures," James said, "will weaken communities, hurt our economy and could even destroy altogether our only universal communications and delivery network."
James said the national "day of action" on Sept. 27 will get the word out on several important facts. "The truth," he said, "is nothing like what so many people have been led to believe."
The first myth that has to be dispelled, according to James, is that the Postal Service is somehow draining taxpayers. "The Postal Service hasn't used a dime of taxpayer money in 30 years," he said.
James also takes issue with those who disparage the quality of work done by postal employees. "Customer satisfaction and on-time deliveries are at record levels," he said, "labor productivity has doubled and, for six years running, the American people have named postal employees as the most-trusted federal workers.
Fact checks corroborate James' claims.
Despite the worst recession in 80 years, the Postal Service has, over the last four years, earned a $611 million net profit delivering the mail.
James said the $20 billion in postal losses Republicans in Congress have been talking about has "nothing to do with the mail but is the result of a 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal service pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years and do so within ten years - a burden no other agency or company in the world must face."
He said the cost of that mandate accounts for 100 percent of the agency's so-called red ink.
James warns that if a "dysfunctional" Congress fails to take the steps necessary to correct the problem, service cuts will be forced on everyone.
He said he was calling on "all Americans, including small business owners, the elderly, rural residents and those in need of medicine" to turn out for the rallies.
"We cannot afford at this time to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs," he said, "and a network that links the entire country and supports communities in so many ways."
He said no one should buy into talk about the inevitability of cuts. "It's not too late. Despite those who say the cuts are inevitable, we can still save the Saturday deliveries and so much more. Congress has within its power to fix this problem so let's make sure they do."
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