National Day of Action delivers message on proposed service cuts
By CARL GREEN
St. Louis – About 40 area Postal Workers gathered at the Main Post Office downtown Nov. 14, joining fellow workers across the country in a National Day of Action to protest the planned service cuts and call for their elimination or delay.
The U.S. Postal Service bears an impossible burden, in the form of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that turns its profits into losses and could soon result in service cuts eliminating good jobs and slowing down everyone’s mail.
“You’re going to see bill payments, medical documents, legal documents, even newspapers and medical supplies all being delivered later,” said Fred Wolfmeyer, president of St. Louis Gateway District Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union.
Passed by Congress in 2006 under the George W. Bush administration, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the Postal Service to prepay its retirees’ health insurance costs – something not required of any other government agency or private company – costing the Postal Service some $5.8 billion a year, and turning large operating profits into net losses, Wolfmeyer said.
“People need to be aware of the fact that the losses the Postal Service is experiencing right now are all manufactured,” he said. “Take that away, and we’ve turned a profit in each of the past three years. The Postal Service just this last fiscal year turned a $1.4 billion operational profit.”
Part of the workers’ message on Friday was that it won’t just be Postal Workers who are hurt; the cuts will affect everyone who relies on today’s timely mail service.
“The mail is going to be delayed,” Wolfmeyer said.
“Overnight mail is going to be virtually eliminated.
“Your first-class letter – that you mail Monday and you want to get to Clayton on Tuesday – might not get there until Wednesday or Thursday.
“Your two- and three-day mail is going to take four or five days.”
ALLIES IN CONGRESS
Despite the rightward turn of this month’s election, the Postal Workers are hopeful of getting some relief from Congress in the form of a bipartisan delay of the service cuts.
“We have allies in Congress right now,” Wolfmeyer said. “A moratorium has been put forth, that over half of the Senate has signed, to stop these service standard cuts, and 160 members of the House of Representatives have signed on.
“We’re hoping that before this session of Congress finishes, they’ll pass this moratorium and delay these cuts for at least a year.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The cuts include closing or consolidating 82 mail processing and distribution centers across the country.
Wolfmeyer said many Postal Workers believe the pre-funding requirement and service cut plans are really an attempt to eliminate the Postal Service.
“It appears that way to us,” he said. “We see it as a ploy to privatize. I’m sure UPS and FedEx and others might really like to get hold of our infrastructure and all of our equipment, but there goes first-class mail.
“We go no matter where the mail goes – universal service, universal rates – and that’s not true of our competitors.”
That’s why on a cold and windy day last week, the Postal Workers were enthusiastic, carrying signs outside the Main Post Office reading “S.O.S.!” and singing union songs.
Wolfmeyer summed it up.
“This is the people’s post office, and we’re trying to keep it that way.”