Locals rally to support the U.S. Postal Service

About 30 people gathered outside the downtown Asheville Post Office Sept. 27 to rally against possible cuts to the U.S. Postal Service and the local facility. Organizers touted the USPS as the successful centerpiece of a $1.3 billion mailing industry supporting 8 million American jobs.

They have an ally in Rep. Heath Shuler, who opposes Postmaster General Pat Donahoe’s proposal to terminate 120,000 postal employees and close nearly 3,700 postal facilities throughout the country.

“The plans under consideration by the U.S. Postal Service would put a devastating number of postal employees out of work, especially in rural communities like those across Western North Carolina,” said Rep. Shuler in a press release. “Now is the time to keep and create jobs, not take them away. I strongly urge the USPS to explore alternative viable options to achieve fiscal solvency before taking drastic action that will ultimately hurt both postal workers and their taxpaying customers.”

Shuler is a co-sponsor of a counter proposal, H.R. 1351, which he says would reform the USPS retirement system to make up for its current $5.5 billion pension payment shortfall while still protecting USPS retirees.

Rallies like the one today in Asheville occurred throughout the U.S.


Photos by Jonathan Welch

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14 thoughts on “Locals rally to support the U.S. Postal Service

  1. mat catastrophe

    I think at this point it’s pretty clear that no one’s interested in the economy of the people. It’s all about wrecking America down to third-world status to turn us into another free-market/cheap labor zone.

    And remember, kids, you’ve helped make it happen with every purchase and every trip to the ballot box for national and state elections.

  2. Phillip Marlowe

    The only way to fiscal solvency at the Postal Service as well as with Government at all levels is to actually tell the truth to the workers. That truth is revealing the lie that they were told. Their pensions and benefits are not sustainable and that they need to modify them drastically or eliminate them altogether.

    And remember, kids, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a lie.

  3. M. Jamison

    O.K. Mr. Marlowe, here’s the truth which is easily verifiable.
    The Postal Service does not receive a single dime of taxpayer money, in fact, the Postal Service is a net contributor to the Federal Treasury. All of the recent deficits can be attributed to overcharges into two pension funds and a Congressional mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance – current ratepayers are paying for workers that haven’t even born yet.
    Unlike virtually any other entity in either the public or private sector postal pensions and benefits are funded in excess of 100%.
    The current crisis has been manufactured by Congressional inattention and those who would privatize an integral part of our national infrastructure. Most of the current proposals would result in the evisceration of the postal network and the elimination of between 110,000 and 220,000 good paying jobs that are currently fully funded and paid for by postal ratepayers. Again, the current reported deficits do not result from operations but from overpayments into pension funds and Congressional mandates that withdraw $5.5 Billion/year out of current operations to mask other Federal deficits.

    • indy499

      Actually, this is only partially correct and very misleading. The Post Office lost $ 3.5 billion in its most recent quarter, a significant deterioration from the same quarter last year, which was $ 2.4 billion. The current annual run rate of losses is well in excess of 4 10 billion.

      After adjusting for the peculiar pension circumstances you cited, the resultant annual loss is several billion dollars and is simply not sustainable.

      Hundreds of post offices literally serve less than a customer per day on average and have annual volume under $ 30,000.

      This thing is begging for reform.

    • M.Jamison

      Not misleading at all. All the losses of the last five years can be directly attributed to the pre-funding requirement and other accounting gimmicks. This quarter was the first with an operational loss and that’s not hard to understand given the incessant doomsaying.
      What is misleading is to measure a post office only by the revenue that comes through the door. Most revenue comes through big mailing centers but the costs for delivery are borne by local facilities which are then described as operating at a loss.

  4. cecilbothwell

    M. Jamison is right, to a point, but is too kind. The legislation that created the problem was INTENTIONAL on the part of the Bush administration, to drive the P.O. into bankruptcy, in order to kill the Postal Workers Union (and, subsidiarily to put mail delivery into private hands.) Congressional inattention may have contributed to passage of the bizarre financial rules imposed on the USPS, but the intent was clear.

    • indy499

      Sure, Cecil, the Bush administration has forced new technology on the American public so that Post Office revenue would crater. Has nothing to do with autopay, opt in to email only versus snail mail, the advent and popularity personal email etc.

      If you don’t think this dinosaur is ripe for reform, what does?

    • M. Jamison

      The pre-funding requirement was invented less as a way of funding future liabilities than as a mechanism to force postal management into cost cutting measures. It was pushed by Susan Collins of Maine and was essentially a sop to those in Congress who wanted to privatize the postal service.

  5. Brian

    I hate for the workers, but like the Loom technology passes you by.

    Jamison, GASB standards do not require advanced funding of health & pension benefits. The FASB standards are much tougher. If the government agencies had to follow FASB and adjust pensions liabilities using Mark to Market they would have been bankrupt and asking for a bailout years ago. Also, any furture funding is based off present value.

    • M. Jamison

      The Postal Service treated differently in law than any other Federal entity. Currently the CSRS pension fund has excess contributions of between $50 -$75 Billion. The FERS pension fund is over funded by $6.9 Billion. The healthcare trust fund has $42 Billion and is not even utilized as the USPS pays current retiree premiums out of current operations.
      No other entity public or private is so robustly funded.

  6. indy499

    Love the sign about how the PO gets no tax $. Sure they don’t. When you are losing $ 10 BILLION per year and your pension obligations are mushrooming, who do you think is going to pick up the tab? That’s right the Pension Guarantee corp, which is, uh, YOU!

    Hundreds of Post Office locations do less than $30,000 of volume in a YEAR. The world has changed and with autopay of bills and incentives for customers to opt in to email, the volume will not be returning. It is past time to dramatically reform this dinosaur.

  7. A system which permits communication to the furthest reaches of our society should not be lightly tossed aside.

    If we fail to support the USPS, are we demanding that rural citizens travel dozens, in some areas hundreds, of miles to a FedEx or USPS drop point?

    The system has already “reformed” to the point that first class mail is unreliably slow – due to budget cuts demanded by the Bush “reforms.” I know professional people who are being forced to patronize FedEx, etc., because First Class has slowed. So we are driving up the cost of those professional services, purposefully crushing the USPS, because right-wing ideologues are intent on killing unions.

    This serves neither democracy nor the economy. It is a straightforward effort to shift U.S. workers to 3rd world wage status.

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