By Stephanie Carson – May 18, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida postal workers have more on their minds this morning than the heavy load of Monday mail.
The American Postal Workers Union contract is set to expire this Wednesday. Deborah Smith, representative for the Manatee Area Local Chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, says it’s a tough time for postal employees.
“They are so stressed out because of all the ups and downs, never knowing from one day to the next whether their facility is going to get closed,” she says. “Plus with short staffing in our associate offices, they’re having to deal with our customers being upset about the lines are out the door.”
According to the American Postal Workers Union, if no agreement is reached by Wednesday’s deadline, workers could agree to continue bargaining, declare an impasse or proceed to mediation. Postal employees are prohibited from striking by law.
Sally Davidow, an American Postal Workers Union spokeswoman, says the protests are part of bringing consumer issues to the bargaining table, demanding shorter lines, quicker mail delivery and new services such as postal banking.
“There are people out there who want to privatize the Postal Service, so they’re starving it of funds and driving down service so that the profitable routes can be picked off by private businesses who stand to make a buck,” she maintains.
Davidow says returning banking services to the post office would provide 10 million low income Americans, who don’t have a bank account, an alternative to costly payday lending stores.
The Postmaster General told Congress the agency lost $5.5 billion in 2014, even after cutting 3,000 jobs and consolidating mail routes and processing centers.
Davidow argues that the agency isn’t broke and its so-called financial troubles are a manufactured crisis.
“It’s a result of a unique requirement that only the Postal Service faces, to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees 75 years in advance,” she explains.
Congress imposed that requirement in 2006. Davidow notes that no other government agency or private company is required to pay that far in advance, and without that expenditure, the Post Office has been making a profit and will again in 2015.