By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor
Published: October 3, 2014, 7:13 PM
Some 40 local residents didn’t bother using the U.S. Postal Service on Friday morning, choosing instead to personally deliver messages to local congressional staff members in support of Postal Service functions threatened by federal mandates to the Postal Service.
The sign-carrying protesters organized by Communities and Postal Workers United walked peacefully from Esther Short Park, along Evergreen Boulevard, to the Marshall House on Officer’s Row. There they met jointly with aides of Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. They made another stop at the office of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, in the O.O. Howard building for a meeting with the congresswoman’s aide.
In both meetings, they requested support from the congressional members for two proposed bills that would preserve home mail delivery and ease the Postal Service’s financial obligation to pre-fund its employee pensions.
The protesters also urged Murray to sign what is called a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which calls for a one-year moratorium on plant closures and the reinstatement of June 2012 delivery standards. (In Washington, the Postal Service says it intends to close mail processing facilities in Seattle, Tacoma and Wenatchee in 2015.) Cantwell has signed the letter, but David Hodges, who directs Murray’s Southwest Washington staff, noted that Murray sees little sense in signing the letter since she serves on the Appropriations Committee.
Vancouver resident David Goldberg, 54, said he took a lead in organizing the protest because of his personal concern about the future of mail service. Goldberg, a pizza delivery driver, reached out to Jamie Partridge, an organizer with Communities and Postal Workers United, for help in launching the event. Activities like Friday’s protest help stir people to action, he said. “We lose our sense of community when we lose our valued institutions,” Goldberg said.
The Postal Service faces a long-term decline in mail volumes as people embrace Internet bill-paying services and electronic communications, as well as stiff private competition in package delivery services. It now handles 158 billion pieces of mail annually, a 23 percent drop from a volume of 206 billion in 2004.