NH USPS Union vigil: ‘Cuts would destroy mail service’

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MANCHESTER, NH – A vigil held outside City Hall by local postal workers union members on Nov. 14 during the Stop Delaying America’s Mail! Day of Action was meant to bring public awareness to “devastating cuts in service” proposed to go into effect in 2015 by Postmaster General, according to the group.

USPS union members Jim Breen, left, of Manchester, and Jim Oliver of Seabrook.
USPS union members Jim Breen, left, of Manchester, and Jim Oliver of Seabrook.

Janice Kelble, of Franklin, a retired postal worker and legal director for the NH Postal Workers Union, said the main thrust of the two-hour vigil was to get the word out to the public that mail service standards will be reduced if the U.S. Postal Service proposed changes go into effect.

“It’s going to take longer and longer to get your mail. So, even though there’s been a decline in first-class mail delivery, there’s been a huge increase in package delivery – but people want their packages quickly. What we’re going to do is lose a great business opportunity that would really help the postal service out. They’re just trying to drive it into the ground,” Kelble said.

USPS NH American Postal Workers Union vigil at City Hall in Manchester, NH.
USPS NH American Postal Workers Union vigil at City Hall in Manchester, NH.

The cuts are part of what the postal union sees as a “manufactured financial crisis” caused by “flawed management strategy.”

  • More than 140 plants have closed sine 2012
  • Mail deliveries are made later in the day, sometimes into the evening hours
  • Retail work is being sent to Staples at more than 1,500 stores around the country
  • Door delivery is being eliminated in most new housing developments
  • Understaffing frustrates customers and slows mail delivery
  • Six-day delivery is under constant threat

According to information prepared for the rally, as of January 5, more changes will mean:

  • USPS will eliminate overnight delivery, including first-class mail from one address to another within the same city or town
  • 82 mail sorting centers are scheduled to close, nationwide

In a news release posted Nov. 14 on the USPS website, reported revenue in 2014 was offset by billions paid out in costs for workers’ compensation and prepaid health benefits.

At the Board meeting, the Postal Service reported that operating revenue increased $569 million in fiscal year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014). Excluding a one-time adjustment to revenue of $1.3 billion in 2013 resulting from a change in accounting estimate for Forever stamps, 2014 operating revenue would have increased by $1.9 billion. This revenue growth resulted from the January 2014 price increase and strong growth in the Shipping and Packages business. Offsetting this positive news, however, were legislative burdens and constraints that contributed to a $5.5 billion net loss in 2014. This eighth consecutive annual net loss underscores the need for comprehensive legislation to repair the Postal Service’s broken business model.

The net loss includes $5.7 billion for the prefunding requirement of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund and an additional $1.2 billion in non-cash workers’ compensation expense, consisting of $485 million related to changes in interest rates and $697 million of other non-cash workers’ compensation expense. These items are outside of management’s control. – USPS.com

“We have grown our revenue for two years in a row, primarily through growth in our package business and price changes, and we are making strong progress in many core areas of our business — from operational performance, to data and technology use, to developing and marketing new products and services — all of which are helping to build a strong foundation for the future of the organization,”  Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe was quoted as saying on the official site. “While we still have major issues to resolve with regard to our business model and legislative constraints, our message today is about momentum and progress.”

Chief Financial Officer and Executive VP Joseph Corbett said this: “In 2014 we set another record for productivity. Even as we continued growing our package business, we reduced work hours, transportation expenses, and compensation and benefits expenses.”

Poster Waorkers Lauren DePasquale, left, and Deb Smith, manning the hand warmer/info table.
Poster Waorkers Lauren DePasquale, left, and Deb Smith, manning the hand warmer/info table.

The Postal Union’s public awareness campaign includes reminding the public that the Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars, and they are urging the public to demand Congress support a one-year moratorium on reductions in service and the closing or consolidation of mail processing centers to give Congress time to enact postal legislation to improve postal services.

“The Postal Service, thanks partly to a rapid expansion of package delivery, has earned an operating profit of over $1 billion so far this year… the obstacles faced by the Postal Service were placed there in 2006 when they were operating with record profits. Congress mandate that the Post Service prefund future retiree health benefits 75 years in advance – something no other public agency or private firm is required to do. That costs the Postal Service $5.6 billion a year.” StopMailDelays.org

NH Sen. Lou D’Allessandro, D-Manchester, helped kick off the rally, and Kelble read a letter of support sent by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, one of 50 U.S. Senators who signed on to urge the Senate to adopt the one-year moratorium.

Shaheen’s letter read in part:

“To overcome these challenges, we must adopt an approach that keeps the agency solvent and efficient while preserving its long-held standing as a cornerstone of main-street communities… I will continue my work in Congress to pass comprehensive reform legislation that protects the long-term viability of the agency without compromising the essential services that New Hampshire families and businesses rely on.”

You can find more on the Manchester rally here, at the NH Labor News Network site.

Those interested can contact representatives and senators at 1-877-662-2889 (the Capitol Hill switchboard) and tell them to support the moratorium on plant closings, or go to www.StopMailDelays.org to learn more. You can also find the group on Facebook.
About Carol Robidoux 6615 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!