Senators: Stop Postal Service Cuts

BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 17 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) yesterday proposed legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on U.S. Postal Service plans to eliminate up to 15,000 decent-paying jobs, close more mail-sorting plants and end overnight delivery of first-class mail and periodicals. 

“At a time when Postal Service revenue is increasing, it makes no sense to eliminate thousands of jobs and slow down the mail service that millions of Americans rely on,” Sanders said. “We should be working to strengthen the Postal Service,” he added, “not  send it into a death spiral.”

The Postal Service already has closed 141 mail-processing plants since 2012. Now it wants to shutter as many as 82 more facilities. Unless Congress acts, the new round of cuts could affect thousands of workers in 37 states.

Sanders’ proposal was filed as an amendment to a bill pending in the full Senate. It was cosponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Jeff  Merkley (D-Ore.). 

As the Postal Service adjusts to the Internet-era, fewer letters are being sent but decreases in mail volume because of e-mail have been offset by a major increase in package deliveries for customers who shop online.

In fact, from 2003 through 2006 the Postal Service made a combined profit of more than $9 billion. Increasing revenue would have resulted in nearly $1 billion in profits over the past two years except for an unprecedented requirement that the Postal Service sink billions of dollars into an already-flush fund for future retiree health benefits. The requirement was slipped into law at the request of President George W. Bush during a lame-duck session of Congress. “This onerous and unprecedented burden that costs $5.5 billion a year is responsible for all of the financial losses posted by the Postal Service since October 2012,” Sanders said.

Even within the Postal Service there have been reservations about the postmaster general’s proposed cuts. Postal Regulatory Commissioner Ruth Y. Goldway wrote that the latest round of consolidations “threatens the very integrity and concept of universal service – the Postal Service’s primary obligation under the law.”