Future Uncertain as Minnesota Letter Carriers Rally Today
PHOTO: At a Monday rally at the Civic Center in Duluth, letter carriers from across Minnesota will gather to voice their opposition to the closings of mail processing centers. Photo credit: Brian Jeffery Beggerly/Flickr.
October 6, 2014
DULUTH, Minn. - Letter carriers from around the state are converging in Duluth this week for their annual convention, and it comes as they face what can at best be described as a changing and uncertain future. With mounting financial struggles, the U.S. Postal Service has already consolidated 141 mail-processing facilities nationwide and another 82 are on the chopping block
Scott Dulas, vice president, Minnesota State Association of Letter Carriers, says that includes the facility in Duluth.
"The plan right now is to close the plant after the first of the year," says Dulas. "There would be about 70 employees that would either be relocated or transferred or laid off, but the major impact is mainly for our customers."
As processing centers in Greater Minnesota cities like Duluth, Bemidji, St. Cloud and Mankato are closed, Dulas explains the mail has to be trucked to the Twin Cities for sorting and then trucked back, possibly doubling or tripling delivery times. The letter carriers will rally this afternoon at the Duluth Civic Center.
In addition to the facility closures, there has also been talk of eliminating Saturday deliveries to help cut costs. Dulas says that too would lead to delays for customers, while doing very little to solve the main financial problem: a $5.5 billion annual requirement to prepay future health care costs for future retirees for the next 75 years.
"They have an operational profit they made the last year or so, other than that $5.5 billion," says Dulas. "So, if that went away, if Congress took away this $5.5 billion that pre-funds retiree health benefits for people who aren't even born yet the Postal Service would be in great shape."
Legislation in the U.S. House would eliminate the requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits. As for the closures, some 50 U.S. Senators are among those pushing for a one-year delay to give lawmakers time to enact comprehensive postal reform.