By Sarah Danik – March 31, 2015
MASON CITY, Iowa – It’s a sight you don’t see every day. U.S. Representative Steve King, is getting an inside look at the Mason City Post Office, and he’s joining in on the route as well. He was invited by Herb Copley, who is a letter carrier and the Vice President of the Iowa State Association of Letter Carriers. Copley wants to show the Congressman around, and give him a look at what actually happens behind the scenes at the Post Office. And hopefully, make him aware of the challenges the USPS faces. “It looks pretty easy to go out to deliver mail,” Copley says, “But I think the Congressman got a better idea of what we do and once he understood what we do then it’s easier to talk about the issues that we face.”
Copley, and other letter carriers are pushing to continue 6-day-a-week letter delivery service. Reducing that 6th day delivery is something that has been discussed as a way to save money for the Post Office, which has been in the red and losing millions of dollars a day. Part of the reason for that, is a Pre-Fund Mandate, made law by Congress in 2006. It requires that the USPS put away around $5.5 billion dollars a year, for ten years, to pay for future retirees and their health benefits. And that is eating up money that could be freed up to use for other purchases at the Post Office.
Copley says he wants to reach out to lawmakers early, so that they can avoid legislation like what was passed in 2006. Because the USPS is a federal agency, big decisions are made by Congress. “Because of current legislation that was enacted in the past we can we can see the damage that is done.” Copley adds, “What letter carriers are doing now, is before they can pass poor legislation, we try to encourage them to pass legislation that will help the Postal Service.”
Copley invited King to get a look at what goes on at the Post Office. The Congressman was able to see everything from carriers prepping their mail before delivery, to the Postal Service vehicles, and even took part in delivering mail on the route. Congressman King said he enjoyed his day, and was able to learn more about the USPS, but when it comes to restructuring the Pre-Fund Mandate, he isn’t taking a public position at this point. “I want to look at the numbers more closely. I’d like to compare them to other organizations and what they’ve been compelled to do and how that would work. But as far as Congress just stepping in and providing the funding to fill the hole that’s a pretty big asking today’s world.”
However, he says he will go back to Washington with what he learned during the visit. “We will look into it. I know it’s been in the Oversight Committee in the House and they will look into this. But the proposal has to move to the point where we’ve discussed it on the Floor, so it’s something I have to go back and find and look into it, and see if anything is moving and at what level that might be. And this trip today and carrying some mail in Mason City brings just enough interest that I’m likely to go right back to Washington and do that.”