Friday, December 9, 2011

Bennet, Udall step up for postal workers

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Sen. Mark Udall
  • U.S. Sen. Mark Udall

With closure looming for a number of United States Postal Service offices and facilities, Colorado's U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, have called for a six-month moratorium.

The hope, according to their letter, is to give Congress the opportunity to examine the USPS's financial situation and find possible solutions before the "closing or consolidating nearly 3,700 mostly rural post offices, over 250 mail processing facilities, and eliminating overnight delivery for first class mail before postal ... While some of these changes may be needed, we believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the postal service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come."

The USPS' proposed changes would close the mail-processing plant in the Springs, which employs 350 people. According to Chuck Bader, treasurer with the APWU-CSAL #247 and vice-president of Colorado AFL-CIO, there are only two such plants serving Colorado and Wyoming, and only 50 of the displaced workers would be able to find work at the second plant in Denver.

For Monday, there is a rally of local postal workers scheduled from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in front of the USPS Mail Processing and Distribution Center at 3655 E. Fountain Blvd.

The press release:

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall today pushed for a six-month moratorium on the closing or consolidation of area mail processing facilities and rural post offices to give Congress time to address the United State Postal Service’s (USPS) financial problems through comprehensive reform.

In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, Bennet and Udall, along with 18 other Senators, called for the next appropriation bill to mandate this moratorium.

“While we may have very different views on how to financially improve the postal service, we all believe that democratically elected members of the Senate and the House have the responsibility to make significant changes to the postal service,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “…We believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the postal service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come.”

Last month, Bennet and Udall wrote a letter to Senate committee leaders urging them to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service. In the letter, the Senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

In June, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages.

In September, they sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

Full text of the letter is included below.

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Chairman Inouye, and Ranking Member Cochran:

Everyone understands that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is experiencing significant financial problems today and that changes need to be made as the USPS adjusts to a digital world.

To address this serious problem, Congress is in the midst of significantly reforming the postal service. Several bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House on this issue. On November 9th, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act, S.1789, by a vote of 9-1. The House is also moving forward with postal reform legislation.

While we may have very different views on how to financially improve the postal service, we all believe that democratically elected members of the Senate and the House have the responsibility to make significant changes to the postal service.

Unfortunately, we are concerned that the postal service may preempt Congress on this matter by closing or consolidating nearly 3,700 mostly rural post offices, over 250 mail processing facilities, and eliminating overnight delivery for first class mail before postal reform legislation is enacted. While some of these changes may be needed, we believe that it is very important to give Congress the opportunity to reform the postal service in a way that protects universal service while ensuring its financial viability for decades to come.

Therefore, we respectfully ask that you include language in the next appropriations bill to prevent the USPS from closing or consolidating area mail processing facilities or rural post offices for the next six months. This six month moratorium will give Congress the time needed to enact reforms necessary for the postal service to succeed in the 21st century.

We look forward to working with you on this important issue. Thank you for your consideration.

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