"Save our post offices"; Local postal workers rally for Congressional action

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- As the U.S. Postal Service eyes the closure of thousands of facilities across the country, postal workers rallied Tuesday urging Congress to take action to save post offices and jobs.

With t-shirts, posters, and signs in hand, local postal workers took to the streets to deliver a single message -- "save our post offices."

Facing $20 billion in losses, the U.S. Postal Service is considering closing down 3,700 post offices nationwide, including facilities in Molina, Gateway, Lazear, and Paradox here on the Western Slope.

Postal workers say what's ironic is that for the last four years the Postal Service has turned a net profit of $611 million -- but ---

"The money they had to put in this fund ate it all up and then some," said Wayne Roberts, a local postal worker and member of the National Association of Letter Carriers union.

In 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees for the next 75 years -- and gave them a ten year window to do it in.

"That payment comes out to 5.5 billion dollars a year," said Roberts.

Postal workers say it's because of the law that the Postal Service is in the mess it's in today. And now they're asking for a fix.

"We're trying to bring a bill that's in Congress to the floor and get it voted on by our Congressmen," said Roberts.

H.R. 1351 would allow the Postal Service to tap into surplus funds it has been paying into another retirement system to help pay for the health care fund.

"They can't access those funds right now," said Roberts. "We believe there are between 50 and 75 billion dollars in excess funds in that retirement fund."

The bill is currently sitting in a House committee. Tuesday, in an effort to put pressure on members of Congress, postal workers held rallies outside their district offices, urging them to support it.

None of the Western Slope's elected letters have come out in support or opposition to HR 1351, but all say they're concerned about postal office closures in Colorado, particularly rural communities.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) recently wrote a joint letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission urging the group to carefully consider the impacts to communities as they move forward with discussions about closures.

A spokesperson for Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) released the following statement:

"Congressman Tipton would like to see the Postal Service saved and believes that there will need to be changes made in order for the Postal Service to become solvent. Congressman Tipton is in the process of drafting a letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission Chairwoman citing his concern about the large number of rural post offices in Colorado that are listed for potential closure. He is monitoring this situation closely, and will review final amended legislation once one comes to the House floor for a vote."

HR 1351 currently has 216 co-sponsors from both parties.

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  • by Clerk Location: Grd Jct on Sep 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM
    The postal service employees care about the service to the customers. It's management that is driving the Post Office into the ground. Long time policy's that work, are being changed by management that think something NEW has to take place while they are in charge. This from people that didn't ever work the mail. I see it every day.
  • by Republican Location: Junktown on Sep 28, 2011 at 08:40 AM
    I come from a family of postal workers and its doesnt matter if u are republican or not to want to support the postal workers in keeping their jobs!!! If we lost the postal workers the jobless rates will rise and we wouldnt get mail and packages from people and companys!!! So not supporting this is just hurting the economy!!!
  • by Anonymous Location: GJ on Sep 28, 2011 at 07:36 AM
    Not sure what your saying, are you saying unions did have a hand in the problem? Do the non-unionized employees support the work of the union?
  • by Anonymous Location: GJ on Sep 28, 2011 at 07:36 AM
    Not sure what your saying, are you saying unions did have a hand in the problem? Do the non-unionized employees support the work of the union?
  • by Anchorman Location: Grand Junction on Sep 28, 2011 at 05:55 AM
    What is an "Elected letter?" Looks like the piranha unions continue taking a bite out the very hand that feeds them. Typical unions, wanting more to be paid by non-union workers.
  • by JoJo Location: GJT on Sep 28, 2011 at 04:45 AM
    The union is the problem. Unions should not be allowed in government. They drive up the cost of doing business. Privatise the post office!
  • by Participant Location: Grand Junction on Sep 27, 2011 at 09:26 PM
    For the biased union haters that have posted with little or no knowledge of he subject let clear the air by stating that some of the people walking peacefully today are not union members but just employees that care and there were a large number of retirees in the 50 or so citizens that care what happens to the postal service and the patrons that are served.
  • by Shane Location: Grand Junction on Sep 27, 2011 at 08:37 PM
    Sad to see that those labor unions that are trying to ensure fairness in the workplace get blamed by those who know nothing about the issues at hand. The Postal Service would wipe out both FedEx and UPS if we were allowed to make a profit. It is congressional action that keeps the Postal Service from doing what all businesses do. It is not the unions that keep the Postal Service down, it is the unions that are trying to save the Postal Service...
  • by Postal Patron Location: Grand Junction on Sep 27, 2011 at 05:33 PM
    The postal employees are overfunding their retireees Health Care to the tune of 75 BILLION dollars and the post office would have made a profit if the agency had been treated the same way the rest of the agencies were. They are paying for some other part of the budget and now it looks like a bailout. Not so.
  • by UMWA on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:27 PM
    We can tell all the comment thus far must be from Republicans who hate the unions. I
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