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Postal Workers Hold Nationwide Protests

PHOTO: Postal workers are rallying across Texas and the nation today to demand better service for customers, less than a week before their union contract expires. Photo credit: American Postal Workers Union.
PHOTO: Postal workers are rallying across Texas and the nation today to demand better service for customers, less than a week before their union contract expires. Photo credit: American Postal Workers Union.
May 14, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - Less than a week before their contract expires, postal workers are rallying today in more than 85 cities in 36 states.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) says it's bringing consumer issues to the bargaining table by demanding shorter lines, quicker mail delivery and new services such as postal banking.

Sally Davidow, an APWU spokesperson, says the agency's mandate is to provide quality service to all Americans no matter who they are, where they live or how much money they have.

"There are people out there who want to privatize the postal service," she says. "So they're starving it of funds and driving down service so the profitable routes can be picked off by private businesses who stand to make a buck."

Davidow says if that happens, people living in less affluent areas, such as rural and low-income communities, could have a more difficult time getting their medicine and Social Security checks delivered. She adds that returning banking services to the post office would provide 10 million low-income Americans who don't have a bank account an alternative to costly payday lending stores.

The agency told Congress it lost $5.5 billion in 2014, even after cutting 3,000 jobs and consolidating mail routes and processing centers. According to In These Times magazine, the number of postal workers fell from 700,000 in 2006 to less than 500,000 in 2014. Management apparently seeks to cut an additional 15,000 jobs from the postal service this year.

Davidow argues that the postal service isn't broke, and its so-called "financial troubles" are a manufactured crisis.

"It's a result of a unique requirement that only the Postal Service faces," she says, "to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees 75 years in advance."

Congress imposed that requirement in 2006. According to Davidow, no other government agency – or private company – is required to pay that far in advance.

Without the expenditure, the post office has been making a profit, and will again in 2015 – all without taxpayer support.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX