Letter carriers fight to keep alive U.S. Postal Service

Mail Order IndustryJobs and WorkplaceU.S. Postal ServiceFinancial and Business ServicesRetirementBilly Long

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Rallies at Congressional offices across Missouri and around the country took place on Tuesday.  They were part of National Day of Action, a day to help save the U.S. Postal Service.

In Springfield, postal workers, their families and friends gathered outside U.S. Rep. Billy Long's office.  The message was clear: the fate of the U.S. Postal Service is a major national issue affecting every American and only Congress has the power to help.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, the United States Postal Service has been delivering mail since the dawn of the country and now it's under fire.

"It's just unbelievable.  The stories change every day as to what is going to happen to us, what the future of the U.S. Postal Service will be," said Letter Carrier Ron Lewis.  "It's frustrating for employees.  I know it's frustrating for the Postal Service."

The end of Saturday delivery, the closing of thousands of post offices and hundreds of processing centers are all ideas floating around Congress to save money.

For the past four fiscal years, from 2007-2011, the Postal Service made a profit of $611 million. So, when everyone says they are in the red, what exactly are they talking about?

"Congress required us to pre-fund retiree health care benefits for 75 years in advance," said Lewis.  "That's for letter carriers and postal employees that haven't even been born yet."

That requirement was passed in 2006 -- $5.5 billion a year.

"The misinformation out there is that we are taxpayer-funded and we're not," said Lewis. "We're ratepayer funded.  All our revenues come entirely from the sales of postage."

"That's what the rally is about, trying to get information out to the public and let them know what the real issues are," said Terry Long, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The rallies across the nation on Tuesday had a message for U.S. representatives: Save the United States Postal Service.

"I can't even imagine how bad it would be for the country if the postal service was gone," said Lewis.

"It's in [Congress'] hands now.  They created this and they are the ones that can fix it.  It's really in their hands now," said Long.

One way Congress can fix it is with House Bill 1351.  It addresses the pre-funding issue when it comes to retiree health benefits.  It would restructure the way the payments are made to make it more affordable for the Postal Service.

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