Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Extended Play: Local Postal Service Union Reacts to Saturday Cuts

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM

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If the proposed plan to cut Saturday service by the United States Postal Service goes through, letter carriers will lose jobs, delivery will be delayed and the budget problem might not even be solved. The problems locally will mirror those being faced on the national level. “We're going to lose a lot of jobs,” says Jerry Anderson, president of the North Coast Branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, which covers Sonoma and Lake counties. The union's official stance is against the proposed cut and instead to look at avenues of growth to fund the 75-year pension and health care requirement. “I think there are other ways to go about growing the business,” he says, suggesting shipping wine as an untapped potential resource.

Santa Rosa letter carrier Jeff Parr says there hasn't been enough study, in his opinion, on the potential loss of revenue from the Saturday stoppage plan. He says it sounds as if the Post Master General “has given up on the business.” Saturday service is the competitive advantage of the USPS, since others charge a premium or just don't offer it at all. “I see degrading of service.”

The plan refers only to stopping letter delivery and pick up; the post office will still deliver parcels on Saturdays. This is no surprise, as the parcel business went up 14 percent last year compared to the year before for the USPS. Rural service will suffer adversely, as will those who require medication delivery. The average letter carrier handles about 15 to 20 medications daily, and those don't count as parcels, says Anderson. In fact, anything under two pounds, or is smaller, roughly, than a shoebox, does not count as a parcel under current guidelines.

Senate Bill 316 and House Resolution 630 have been introduced to stop the 75-year prefunding requirement, which was introduced in 2006 and expires in 2016. But it might be too little, too late. “Congress put us in this mess and they can fix it,” says Anderson. “But [so far] we haven't been successful with that.”

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