By John Dirzius – February 17, 2015
In response to your Feb. 7 editorial, the U.S. Postal Service’s current policy to dig the agency out of a financial hole by closing post offices and mail processing facilities is not a solution.
The postal service is an essential part of the American economy and its vast network is an integral part of our national infrastructure. Americans cannot afford to lose dependable mail service, nor can we afford the loss of thousands of middle-class jobs, the cornerstone of communities throughout the country. The USPS is a public trust and a national treasure.
In response to its financial crisis and absent postal reform, USPS has closed 100-plus mail processing facilities nationwide. For many, this means their local mail is processed in another city and then driven back to its origin before delivery. USPS’s own commissioned study showed that this will cost $2 billion.
On Jan. 5, USPS lowered “service standards,” virtually eliminating overnight delivery, including first-class mail within the same city. All mail throughout the country will be delayed.
Eighty-two processing and distribution centers are scheduled to close this year, a hardship for customers that will drive away business and cause irreparable harm to the postal service. Reduced standards and closures mean drastic cuts in service. For many, what was once overnight mail now takes two to four days, a failed business plan in today’s fast-paced society.
What America needs is real postal reform and for Congress to act now to stop the cuts to service, closures and consolidation of processing facilities and restore the overnight service standard.
Congress must repeal the mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits and return pension over-payments back to the postal service.
Reforms must include maintaining six-day delivery as well as home delivery and preserve the collective-bargaining process. Collective bargaining has been in effect since the creation of the USPS and ensures good, working-class jobs that support thousands of American workers and their families.
We need the USPS to expand into new service lines like banking, check cashing, Internet services or state/local partnerships. The postal service can gain news customers and meet community needs, especially in rural areas. And we need to allow postal rates to be set by market principles, allowing the service to set rates necessary to cover its costs and continue to provide universal service.
The USPS is a public trust and a national treasure and with real postal reform it shall remain that way for future generations.
John H. Dirzius lives in Wallingford and is the coordinator of the Northeast Region American Postal Workers Union.