Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Tucsonans turned out in force last week to support postal worker jobs and protect the Cherrybell mail processing plant from closure.
Inside the Leo Rich Theater, a capacity crowd of more than 500 citizens listened to United States Postal Service (USPS) representative Brian McCoy’s dog and pony show touting plant closures and layoffs as the path to financial solvency for the USPS.
Outside, representatives from Jobs with Justice, Occupy Tucson, and unions chanted, waved protest signs and signed a petition to save local mail processing.
The main reason the post office is going broke isn’t the Internet or the number of postal workers, it’s the Congressional mandate requiring them to pre-pay employee retirement. Last fiscal year, the USPS lost $5.1 billion. During the same time period, they had a $6.9 billion surplus in the Federal Employee Retirement Fund.
Closing 250 mail processing plants nationwide and laying off 35,000 workers won’t solve this structural problem.
Moving from one-day delivery of local mail to two- to three-day delivery of local mail (as proposed by the USPS) won’t make the postal service more competitive; it will further decrease the use of first class mail and could lead to more calls for privatization.
Trucking mail from the city of origin to a regional processing plant and back again isn’t environmentally friendly and could be cost-prohibitive in the future.
For more details on the meeting and background on the postal service’s financial woes, check out my article in the Huffington Post: Occupy the Post Office? Tucson Postal Workers, Supporters, Fight Back Against Threatened Job Cuts.