Hundreds of letter carriers from throughout Connecticut came to the New Haven Green along with a U.S. senator and Congresswoman to send a message to the U.S. postmaster general: Keep Saturday deliveries intact. Or else.
They delivered the message at a lively noon rally Sunday.
The rally, organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 20, had a simple cry: “Six days yes! Five days no!”
Blaming pension and health care costs, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has announced that he will eliminate Saturday deliveries beginning in August to cut costs at the financially plagued postal service, which has faced intense competition from the internet as well as private delivery services. Most branches across the country operate at a loss now, and mail use has dropped over 20 percent in recent years.
Ralliers said the move would cost over 22,000 jobs, further hurt the postal service’s ability to compete (by ceding Saturday service to outfits like Federal Express), and harm seniors and others who depend on Saturday deliveries for medication or social security checks.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed measures calling for the retention of Saturday service at least until September, setting up a showdown with Donahoe. If the postmaster general proceeds with his plan in defiance of the Congressional vote, Blumenthal vowed to the crowd on the Green Sunday, “we will put [him] behind bars.” He also said he’d ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the postmaster general.
Blumenthal said the real culprit in the postal service’s financial problems is a 2006 law that required largely funding pension benefits 75 years in to the future, which he called an unnecessary requirement that puts the postal service at a competitive disadvantage. “That law is a travesty,” he said. “We’re going to make it history. No other pension system is funded that way.”
“They’re not going to do this to us!” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro declared. “We’re going to fight back!”
Central Labor Council President Bob Proto piggybacked on Blumenthal’s message to the postmaster general. If Donahoe proceeds with cutting out Saturday deliveries, Proto vowed, “our next assembly will be at his house!”
Other speakers identified a second villain: the computer age. They struck out at the notion that electronic bill-paying and other technological advances are making six-day-a-week postal delivery obsolete. (Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch some ralliers address that question.)
“There’s a lot of things a computer can’t do that a letter carrier can do,” and besides, lots of seniors either don’t own computers or can’t do much with them, retired sheet-metal worker Frank Pannone, 70, told the crowd.
“Frank talked about this being a computer age. I have some bad news for you,” state AFL-CIO chief John Olsen said when it was his turn at the lectern. ” My computer got a virus on Friday. I took it to the hospital yesterday. And I’ve been told it’s going to be there at least a week! So I don’t know if I want to depend on that kind of technology! I know my letter carrier was there yesterday.”
Olsen argued that the real agenda behind the move to cut Saturday service is the eventual privatization of postal service.
posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on March 24, 2013 4:24pm
Makes me want to quit the Democratic party. Snail mail is a dying medium folks, sorry, but wake up and be realistic. Hate your computer all you want, we don’t need 6 day delivery so lets cut some costs and be done with it. Dick Blumenthal says he will jail Donahoe! The guy is recommending the only logical solution to his budget problems and Dick wants him jailed! AGHH!I wish there were a 3rd party alternative, I am sick of them all.
posted by: robn on March 24, 2013 4:39pm
Let me get the facts as presented straight.
1) Use of snail mail has dropped 20% in recent years (surprisingly small and suspect number to me) but mail carriers don’t want the mail delivery time decreased by 16%?
2) Senior Citizens need Saturday delivery of medication even though they are retired and are at home during the 5 day workweek?
3) Senator Blumenthal wants the Postmaster General investigated for following a law passed by Congress? (passed by Unanimous Consent in the Senate and by voice vote in the House which BTW, makes it impossible for us to know how Congressperson Delauro voted.)
posted by: HhE on March 24, 2013 5:15pm
I find threatening someone who is not a criminal with incarceration despicable.
From a business model standpoint, I cannot think of anything worse than to be expected to be profitable while constrained by congressional mandates.
Wake up. We owe too much money, and our Chinese overlords do not care if we get Saturday service or not. Cuts need to be made.
posted by: swatty on March 24, 2013 5:30pm
what a joke. the post offices loses BILLIONS every week.
We can’t afford saturday service!
pony express thought they’d be around forever too.
know when to fold ‘em!
posted by: DingDong on March 24, 2013 5:36pm
What a joke. No one needs Saturday postal delivery. If they did, the USPS could offer to deliver for an extra fee. Sad to see DeLauro and Blumenthal out there—I voted for them, but they really are just hacks, I guess.
posted by: DingDong on March 24, 2013 5:49pm
You’re right: it’s absolutely despicable that Blumenthal is threating criminal sanctions against a government servant who is just trying to follow the laws Blumenthal and his colleagues voted for.
I hope we give the Postmaster a medal for not being scared by this thuggery.
Blumenthal should apologize.
posted by: wendy1 on March 24, 2013 7:47pm
regardless of how you feel about snail mail, politicians, or the deficit, approx. 25,000 people stand to lose their jobs if the postmaster gen,l. gets his way. The USPS should be hiring not firing. No matter how high tech you are you get stuff in the mail. every book I order on-line from Amazon is delivered by the mailman.
posted by: HhE on March 24, 2013 8:18pm
wendy1, is it your position that the role of the USPS is to create employment?
posted by: Walt on March 25, 2013 5:13am
We get our meds mostly by snail mail too, but the company allows plenty of time so we will not run out if we wait until Monday
The only other mail we usually receive is bills, charitable solicitations and catalogs—- all of which can also be held off a couple of days without problems
If the feds have to cut, and they do, the Post Office Saturday delivery seems a good place to be among the first to go,
posted by: Wildwest on March 25, 2013 6:39am
I’m happy to see the regulars here at the NHI can see through what Rosa and Dick are pushing. I’m sure it made the postal workers feel really good that they showed up but reality cant be ignored.
posted by: SaveOurCity on March 25, 2013 7:31am
First the sequester crisis that turned out to be a 2% reduction in a 5% spending increase….
Then, multiple press conferences that removing air traffic control at Tweed would be the end of New Haven as we know it….
Now, the Dick and Rosa show is trying to tell the public that we must hold onto the past and fund 6 day a week delivery for a unprofitable and inefficient delivery service which is being by-passed due to better technology.
A rather bad month - don’t these 2 have work to do in D.C.? Don’t most CT residents want out congress-folk working on things like gun control, next year’s budget, North Korea, implementation of Obamacare….etc?
posted by: Threefifths on March 25, 2013 8:29am
This is not about Saturday deliveries.This is about privatization.
How to Privatize the Post Office: Piece by Piece, Step by Step Tue, 09/27/2011 - 18:45 — Al Bilik
Why is Saturday service the most necessary to cut? It would seem to me like a better alternative to cut service on a weekday—maybe a Wednesday? Less and less companies are following the traditional “business week” or giving people a weekend, so it’s not like cutting on a Saturday wouldn’t disrupt regular operations. However, it would make sure that there wouldn’t be two consecutive days without mail. Also, it would seem to me that USPS could negotiate with UPS and FedEx, there must be ways that they could all cut costs together.
posted by: FromTheHill on March 25, 2013 9:06am
Rosa is everywhere
posted by: HenryCT on March 25, 2013 10:10am
Paul Bass downplayed what was the most important message of the rally. Cutting Saturday delivery is just one step on the road to privatizing another piece of government. Just as the 1% want to privatize Social Security, have already privatized a huge part of the military, of homeland security, and other government services. We won’t save money. We’ll just be paying giant monopoly corporations to give us worse service, pay lower wages to workers and make their rich execs and big stockholders even richer. We also ought to be asking which Congress members in 2006 voted to force the USPS in just a few years to fund the next 75 years of pensions and health care. Insist that the Pentagon be required to do that. Insist that corporations meet that requirement. Or reverse it for the Post Office. To bring the Post Office into the 21st century let it expand into other public communication services: for example, high speed internet, telephone and mobile.
posted by: SaveOurCity on March 25, 2013 10:52am
for those who are posting what appears to be a concern about privatization, please explain how that would be a problem. Is our national security and/or welfare in danger if we stop pouring money into this out of date entity? Will the Chinese take over if the government doesn’t control mail delivery?
posted by: TheMadcap on March 25, 2013 12:20pm
A bunch of people here don’t know how important the post office still is in small towns across the country. As for prioritization, if you want to know why it’d be a problem, take anything that weighs less than 15lbs to the USPS, then to UPS, look at the cost, and there’s your problem. This is with USPS already covering the logistics of the good deal of UPS/FedEx volume. The post office hasn’t taken any of your tax money since the 70’s, and the real question is why shouldn’t they. The post office can either be a public service, or it can be an entity whose main goal is profit, despite what congress believes, it can’t be both. Speaking of that lovely legislative body, this rally ignores the fact the top brass at the USPS actually DID try to cut Saturday service to save costs, and congress then said “Nope, we’re going to make you bleed money to pay for people’s retirement that doesn’t even exist yet, but damn you if you try to cut once cent” and passed an amendment to a bill forbidding the USPS from cutting Saturday service. Not to mention the “free markettttt!” side of congress won’t let the USPS do anything that could infringe on the revenue of private companies like electronic bill paying or once again acting as a small scale bank. Apparently the free market hates competition.
posted by: parejkoj on March 25, 2013 1:50pm
The one problem with the whole privatization idea is that neither Fedex nor UPS *want* to take over the USPS delivery structure. Delivering small packages to rural locations 6 days a week isn’t cheap. I’m not sure how people can refer to the USPS as “out of date” when they are the only way that a lot of rural people have to get things delivered. Plus, as mentioned repeatedly above, the requirement that pensions be fully funded in such a short time is a terrible idea.
Just like monopolistic internet services (New Haven residents can chose between Comcast or much slower DSL from AT&T, and lots of towns don’t even have that choice), private provisioning of critical infrastructure is not a good idea.
Cutting USPS funding won’t do anything to change the long-term US budget outlook. The US government is essentially an insurance company with an army. The rest is chump change.
posted by: Curious on March 25, 2013 3:26pm
1. Wendy1, people used to be employed as blacksmiths. Should we still be hiring for that job?
2. Is Blumenthal in re-election mode? I am appalled by this bullying, that he didn’t disavow Proto’s promise to harass this man at his house. I wonder how Blumenthal and Proto would like that themselves?
3. If the Post Office can’t compete in big markets and is so vital to rural areas…why don’t they pull out of big markets and focus on rural areas instead?
posted by: parejkoj on March 25, 2013 5:51pm
Curious, Re: #3. because then the USPS would been even less profitable? Again, Fedex and UPS just don’t want to deal with the scale of the USPS delivery infrastructure.
Also, its not that USPS “can’t compete in big markets” (in fact, they compete just fine, and are often cheaper than Fedex or UPS for small packages), it’s that they’ve been saddled with pension requirements that none of the private carriers have to deal with.
posted by: WeR1nhv on March 25, 2013 10:26pm
Thank you Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. DeLauro for standing up for good jobs and for a basic public service that millions depend on. I for one don’t want my tax dollars handed over to some private corporation that’s not accountable to us, that we have no say over, and that has to pay its shareholders and keep growing profits no matter the cost to consumers or its workers -nevermind the economy as a whole. No thanks. There’s a reason they call them “public services.” Let’s keep them that way. The post office would be in fine financial health if not for this absurd “75 year pension funding” requirement that seems intended to doom it so private companies can creep in and eat up more of our public dollars. don’t be duped.
posted by: HhE on March 26, 2013 7:54am
Well said parejkoj and TheMadcap.
(In all fairness, blacksmithing carries on, just not on the scale it once did.)
posted by: TheMadcap on March 26, 2013 11:33am
Actually, we still do hire plenty of surrogate blacksmiths, but given how metal working has changed, you’re more likely to call them welders, sheet metal workers, ect. Also there actually are plenty of actual blacksmiths left just as there are glassblowers since many high end or decorative items actually require the personal touch.
At this rally DeLauro said the postal service is the only company in the state with the requirement to pre-fund retirement benefits. Reality: this means postal employees will be among the few workers who actually WILL have retirement benefits. “The financially plagued postal service…has faced intense competition from the internet as well as private delivery services. Most branches across the country operate at a loss now, and mail use has dropped over 20 percent in recent years.” While DeLauro’s real purpose in showing up for this rally likely was to garner votes for next year’s election, she also demonstrated that she is out of touch with the today’s economy: 99% of my delivered mail is junk that ends up in the recycling bin, unopened. Some of us are concerned about fiscal responsibility—in order to prevent the total collapse of government services such as postal delivery. This means govt. departments should spend no more than their income, apparently an incomprehensible concept here in Conn. Fortunately, Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Darrell Issa have found a loophole in the strangulating six-day-delivery requirement of junk mail. Because the wasteful 6-day regulation supported by DeLauro does not specify what must be delivered, the Postmaster General’s plan is to deliver only packages on Saturday—a wise a reasonable way around DeLauro’s bluster. Seniors still will get their medications; Wendy1 still will get her Amazon books. And this single change will save the Postal Service $2 Billion per year.
posted by: robn on March 27, 2013 9:56am
I’ve thought about this long and hard and believe that Americans should be legally entitled to register for a national “do not junk mail” list. The environmental savings would be astounding however there’s no doubt in my mind that this would be resisted by unions protecting jobs which rely upon environmental destruction; ergo, the mentioned congress people wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.