Se­na­tors: Stop Postal Ser­vice Cuts

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Burling­ton, VT

U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) yes­ter­day pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to im­pose a two-year mora­to­rium on U.S. Postal Ser­vice plans to elim­i­nate up to 15,000 de­cent-pay­ing jobs, close more mail-sort­ing plants and end overnight de­liv­ery of first-class mail and pe­ri­od­i­cals.

“At a time when Postal Ser­vice rev­enue is in­creas­ing, it makes no sense to elim­i­nate thou­sands of jobs and slow down the mail ser­vice that mil­lions of Amer­i­cans rely on,” San­ders said. “We should be work­ing to strengthen the Postal Ser­vice,” he added, “not send it into a death spi­ral.”

The Postal Ser­vice al­ready has closed 141 mail-pro­cess­ing plants since 2012. Now it wants to shut­ter as many as 82 more fa­cil­i­ties. Un­less Congress acts, the new round of cuts could af­fect thou­sands of work­ers in 37 states.

San­ders’ pro­posal was filed as an amend­ment to a bill pend­ing in the full Se­nate. It was cospon­sored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ed­ward Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Bald­win (D-Wis.), El­iz­a­beth War­ren (D-Mass.), Pa­trick Leahy (D-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Deb­bie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Mur­phy (D-Conn.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

As the Postal Ser­vice ad­justs to the In­ter­net-era, fewer let­ters are be­ing sent but de­creases in mail vol­ume be­cause of e-mail have been off­set by a ma­jor in­crease in pack­age de­liv­er­ies for cus­tomers who shop on­line.

In fact, from 2003 through 2006 the Postal Ser­vice made a com­bined profit of more than $9 bil­lion. In­creas­ing rev­enue would have re­sulted in nearly $1 bil­lion in prof­its over the past two years ex­cept for an un­prece­dented re­quire­ment that the Postal Ser­vice sink bil­lions of dol­lars into an al­ready-flush fund for fu­ture re­tiree health benefits. The re­quire­ment was slipped into law at the re­quest of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush dur­ing a lame-duck ses­sion of Congress. “This oner­ous and un­prece­dented bur­den that costs $5.5 bil­lion a year is re­spon­si­ble for all of the fi­nan­cial losses posted by the Postal Ser­vice since Oc­to­ber 2012,” San­ders said.

Even within the Postal Ser­vice there have been reser­va­tions about the post­mas­ter gen­eral’s pro­posed cuts. Postal Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sioner Ruth Y. Gold­way wrote that the lat­est round of con­sol­i­da­tions “threat­ens the very in­tegrity and con­cept

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