Hundreds of postal workers rallied in Bayside on Tuesday, September 27 to save the nation’s postal service and to seek support for a bill they say would pull the postal service out of its financial shortfall.
As part of a national campaign, all 435 congressional districts throughout the country united in their common cause to spread awareness about the real root of the deficit — a congressional mandate that requires the United States Postal Service (USPS) to “pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits within just 10 years,” according to national postal unions.
According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the legal mandate costs the USPS $5.5 billion annually and accounts for 100 percent of the postal service’s $20 billion losses over the past four years.
“We’re asking for a little leeway to be allowed to dip into that fund to cover day to day expenses if needed or to make arrangements so there would be some cash flow,” said Trevor Stuart, president of the Mail Handlers Union branch in Flushing.
More than 200 postal workers and supporters gathered outside Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office to spread awareness of the proposed legislation, H.R. 1351, that seeks to alleviate post office deficits.
“You’re still people on the job working to really deliver in a real substantial way for the American people,” said Ackerman, a cosponsor of the bill. “You work every single day no matter how tough the weather, six days a week – and some of you even more. Let’s keep it that way.”
Mail handler John Dreyfus told The Courier that he’s concerned for his future.
“We’re already rushing around because people have already been moved around or let go. If we have to move, I would have to work two or three times as hard. It’s just going to be a little more difficult. Something has to give here.”
Dreyfus, 58, works at the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing.
Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the center may be closed or consolidated, according to the USPS. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.
“I met a lot of good people here. I would be sad to see this facility go because I really feel like it supports a great community here,” he said.
According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.
“Has the mail gotten less? Yes,” said Mark Sobel, NALC director of the Flushing branch. “Is it ready to go out of business? No.”