How many Portlandians does it take to screw up closing day at a downtown post office? Apparently ten people inside and 80 outside to provide support by singing, chanting, and marching with signs. The rally last week started at Terry Shrunk Plaza in downtown Portland, OR with speeches by Lataya Dailey from Occupy St. Johns and members of Jobs with Justice.
During the rally, folks signed postcards with a message to the Postmaster General demanding an end to the threat of cutting postal employee hours and closing post offices and handling stations. The crowd of USPS supporters, including retired postal workers, hoisted signs and banners as they chanted and sang their way to one of the downtown post offices just before closing time.
The group filed through the post office, handing their postcards to workers and saying a few words of support. Then ten supporters held up banners proclaiming “Occupy the Post Office” and “No Closures, No Cuts” and stood in place, preventing the security gate to be lowered. The post office couldn’t close and the police and post office security were called in.
What’s the big deal? If the U.S. Post Office is broke, why not let it go to a private corporation?
The big deal is that the US Post Office isn’t broke and has actually produced a profit of $700 million, despite our depression economy. And despite the law enacted in 2006 that requires the USPO to pre-pay health care benefits for all employees for 75 years in the future – for workers not yet born. No other corporation or government agency is required to do this.
The pre-payment must be completed by 2016 and is costing the US Post Office $5.5 billion a year. This money comes out of their postage revenue instead of going into providing services for us. Next time you are waiting in line at the post office, send a text message to your legislators and thank them for squeezing the life out of a valued public service.
Wait, there’s more, according to Jim Hightower at Creators Syndicate, “Due to a 40-year-old accounting error, the federal Office of Personnel Management has overcharged the post office by as much as $80 billion for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. This means that the USPS has had billions of its sales dollars erroneously diverted into the treasury.” (2012 Creators.com)
The USPS is self-supporting, in spite of being gouged by unrealistic requirements and unfair treatment and it hasn’t taken any tax payer money since 1971. When we buy stamps, send packages, and use other services we contribute to sustaining the 32,000 local post offices. The USPS is a public service that existed before the United States was a country.
Today, letter carriers cover 4 million miles and deliver 563 million pieces of mail everyday, six days a week. For many rural communities the post office helps define their town and is an integral part of their community. The middle-class jobs at the USPS provide benefits and stability for families.
Portlandians joined others in cities and towns across the country who have publicly voiced their concerns about losing access to their local post office. They raised their signs and chanted as drivers and passengers in cars, buses, and light rail trains waved and honked their horns in support. For these folks, the accusations about the post office are false messages designed to prepare citizens to accept the idea that their trusted public service is damaged and only private control can “fix” it. The post office, with their solid intrastructure and $45 billion pre-pay fund present a tempting plum that provate corporations would love to grab.
However, the post office works and would work even better without being shackled by unfair regulations and requirements. Look for similar rallies and marches in a city near you and honk if you support the USPS.
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