Oregon Senator Urges Fight to Save Mail Plants



Newly re-elected Senator Jeff Merkley addressed a windblown Veterans Day crowd at Waterfront Park today, in front of the Battleship Oregon memorial. He called on the nearly one hundred postal workers and their allies, many of whom were veterans, to step up the fight to save 82 mail processing plants, scheduled for closure in 2015 and to prevent the delay of America’s mail. Signs in the crowd named the Pendleton, Eugene/Springfield and Bend plants as targets of the “consolidation”. Signs also called on the senator to engage the postmaster general in person, to demand that he back off his scheme to close half the remaining plants, eliminating tens of thousands of jobs.

On Jan. 5, 2015 the USPS is slated to lower “service standards” to virtually eliminate overnight delivery – including first-class mail from one address to another within the same city or town. All mail (letters, periodicals, packages) throughout the country will be delayed. Veterans will be particularly hard hit– Vets get their prescription drugs in the mail. Veterans get preference in hiring at the USPS (25% of postal workers are vets). Veterans will lose service, jobs & job opportunities.

Oregon Senators Merkley and Wyden along with Representatives Blumenauer and DeFazio have joined fifty-one senators and 160 representatives in signing a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Appropriations Committees, calling for a one-year moratorium on mail plant closures and no change to delivery standards that would delay America’s mail.

Also addressing the crowd were leaders of the American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. They warned that these cuts will cause hardships for customers, drive away business, and cause irreparable harm to the U. S. Postal Service. The union leaders called the changes part of USPS management’s “flawed” strategy to sacrifice service without addressing the Postal Service’s manufactured debt crisis.

Postal management says these closures are necessary because the USPS is losing money. The unions claim that a 2006 Congressional mandate, which forces the U.S. Postal Service to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, has created a phony financial crisis. Although the USPS has claimed a “loss” every year since 2006, due primarily to the pre-fund mandate, the postal service has not made an actual payment toward prefunding since 2011. The USPS has generated an operating profit for the last six quarters.

(SOURCE: Portland Communities and Postal Workers United. Photos by Jamie Partridge)


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