Postal “road warrior” fights closures as service defaults
Thurs. Aug. 2 – Eugene, 7pm, Teamsters Union Hall, 711 Shelley St, Springfield
Wed. Aug. 8 – Portland, 5:30 pm, Hilton Hotel restaurant, Bistro 921
Sat, Aug. 11 – Salem, 5pm, APWU office, 780 Commercial St SE
Sun, Aug. 12 – Bend, 2pm, Wabi Sabi, 830 NW Wall
Mon, Aug. 13 - Powell Butte, Community Center
Tues, Aug. 14 – Pendleton, 6:30 pm, Pendleton Red Lion, 304 SE Nye Avenue,
Oregon Trail Room
Fri, Aug 17 – Idanha, 7pm, City Hall
Sat, Aug 18 – Foster, 3pm, 1621 53rd Ave (next to post office)
Mon, Aug 20 – Alsea, 6:30pm, Fire Station
Wed, Aug 22 – Lorane, 7pm, Grange Hall
Thurs, Aug 23 – Walton, 7pm, General Store
On Wednesday, August 1st, the U.S. Postal Service will default on its obligation to pre-fund retiree health benefits. Patrick Donahoe, the Postmaster General has announced that the service is out of cash and out of credit. As of July 1st, he began massive cuts and closures to mail processing plants and rural post offices while changing delivery standards to allow the delay of first class mail. Across Oregon and the nation, postal workers and customers are fighting back, to save jobs and service.
“The cuts and closures are not necessary. Donahoe is way out of line. The postal service is not broke,” says Jamie Partridge, a self-described “postal road warrior” and retired letter carrier from Portland. On August 2nd Partridge will launch a month long road trip across Oregon to help communities organize resistance to Donahoe’s actions. The cities of Salem, Eugene/Springfield, Bend and Pendleton all have mail processing facilities which are scheduled for closure and 124 rural towns are scheduled to lose their full-time postmaster and eventually their post office. A majority of Oregon’s mail processing plants and a third of its post offices will be impacted. Activists in the four cities and six towns have already set up meetings with Partridge, hoping he can inspire locals to mount the pressure necessary to head off these closures and cuts.
“The postal service is required to hold community hearings before closing or drastically reducing service at a postal facility. Postal regulations mandate that the impact on jobs, services and the local economy be considered before cutting or closing,” says Partridge. Because of its universal service obligation, the USPS is not allowed to close a post office just because it is losing money.
The August 1st default will have no impact on postal operations, only its credit rating. The service is required by a 2006 act of Congress to pre-fund retiree health benefits seventy-five years in advance, a burden not required of any other agency or company. Without the pre-funding mandate, the USPS would almost break even.
“It’s not the internet, not private competition, not labor costs, not the recession -- Congress is killing the US Postal Service,” says Partridge. “Allow the USPS access to its own funds -- not tax but postage funds -- from the pension surplus, and the finances can be fixed.” The pension surplus involves some $60 to $85 Billion overpaid into federal retirement accounts, according to the Office of the Inspector General and the Postal Regulatory Commission. Communities and Postal Workers United, sponsor of the “postal road warrior” is calling on Donahoe to restore delivery standards and reverse cuts and closures while allowing Congress to fix the finances by repealing the prefunding mandate and refunding the pension surplus.