The Portland branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) held a rally outside the main Hoyt Street Post Office in Northwest Portland on September 27th. The event was led by Portland Branch 72's Vice President, Jerry Fitzsimmons (photo on right, by Bill Michtom), in response to the federal government's proposed reduction of US Postal Service number of Post Offices and days of delivery (proposed to be reduced, to eliminate Saturday service),
I spoke at the rally, after guiding the unanimous Portland City Council in submitting a letter to Postmaster General Donahoe expressing our concerns about the proposed regulation changes.
An excerpt from the Council's letter:
Dear Postmaster General Donahoe:
We write you today on behalf of our constituents in Portland, Oregon, who include both customers and employees of the United States Postal Service. We would like to raise awareness of our concerns regarding a USPS employment and pension practice and a proposed regulation change.
We understand that the financial crisis that the USPS is facing is due, in part, to an accounting issue that arises under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The PAEA requires that the Postal Service move from funding its retirees’ health care costs out-of-pocket annually to prefunding these obligations. According to the Office of Personnel Management, this change produced an unfunded obligation of $48.6 billion at the end of FY2010. Congress acted to save the USPS by deferring $4 billion from the USPS’s FY 2009 payment, but the future economic health of the USPS cannot be ensured without the commitment of Congress and the President to permanently fix this problem.
Based on our review of the proposed changes to Title 39 of the Code of Federal Regulations, we are concerned that these policy changes do not reflect the values of Portlanders or the constituency that USPS serves. We are hopeful that there will be a public role in the decision-making process to close post offices. Portland’s long history of devotion to public involvement in decision- and policy-making has served it well.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer is sponsoring a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to ensure retention of access to vital postal services. An additional lobbying effort is underway to prevent drastic cuts to the USPS. More information on the National Association of Letter Carriers' position, and federal lobbying efforts can be found at www.nalc.org.