National/World

United States Postal workers protest cuts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Postal workers rallied across the nation and here in the Central Valley Tuesday, trying to save their jobs and the future of the U.S. Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal service lost $8 billion last year but workers claim a proposed bill, H.R. 1351, could solve the postal problems and save jobs. The postal service has proposed eliminating Saturday deliveries and closing thousands of rural post offices across the country.

Tuesday, postal workers gathered in front of Congressman Jim Costa's office in Fresno, and Congressman Devin Nunes' office in Visalia, trying to gain support for the bill. The bill would allow the postal service to redirect money now used to pre-fund retirement benefits. Supporters claim the bill would free up $60 to 80 billion dollars and save the post office as we know it. "We don't ask for a bailout or anything like that. We're going to support our own. Prefunding is what's hurting right now," said George Torres, the president of Visalia's branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

"We need hang together on this. This is important. We are the people of the United States and we need to keep our post office going," said postal worker Sherri Shields.

Tuesday, Democratic Congressman Jim Costa greeted postal workers outside of his office. Costa is one of the bill's co-sponsors. "They want to keep their jobs they want to continue to serve our communities across the country and this legislation tries to take that into account," said Costa.

There, their rally wasn't much of a tough sell. But at Republican Congressman Devin Nunes' office, postal workers have a tougher job in front of them. Nunes released a statement Tuesday saying while he supports the postal service, he's troubled by the rallies. "Postal employees are rallying Congress for a band aid when they should be collaborating with their management to establish a sustainable business model," said Nunes. Congressman Jeff Denham also expressed the need for long-term solutions.

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United States Postal workers protest cuts
By Shannon Handy

After losing billions in revenue last year, lawmakers are considering cutting services and closing post offices.

Tuesday, at rallies all over the country demonstrators asked congressional leaders to support HR 1351. That bill would free up money to help save the agency.

To deal with money woes in the past, the United States Postal Service has increased stamp prices, and even shut down post offices. But, those cuts aren't fixing the problem.

The agency lost more than $8 billion last year. Now, lawmakers are considering eliminating Saturday services and shutting down an additional 36-hundred offices, including five in the Valley.

Rosalyn Warren said, "Well, I don't think that would be fair for a lot of them to get out to the big ones, so the smaller ones would be easier for them."

"I don't think that would be fair, but I know the way the economy is," said Dennis Brewer. They have to make cuts some place."

According to postal worker groups, those cuts can be avoided.

Jesse Dominguez said, "Economic times are really bad and we don't need this at all."

Dominguez of Fresno has been a mail carrier for 35 years. He, and other postal workers say the financial problem stems from a 2006 rule requiring the agency to pre-fund retiree health benefits. HR 1351 would return that money to the postal service retiree health benefit fund, which would free up between $60 to $80 billion.

"It's this pre-funding," said Dominguez. "That is the big thing we're rallying around to get congress to eliminate this if possible, if not eliminate it, re-calculate it and reduce it down."

Congressmen Costa and Cardoza have co-sponsored the bill.

Congressmen Denham and Nunes say postal workers need to come up with a better business plan.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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