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Culture

Postal Workers Rally Outside Congressmen Long's Office

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/postal-workers-rally-outside-congressmen-long-s-office_22024.mp3

Revenue generated by the United States Postal Service has been in decline for the past few years.  Many believe technology such as email and online bill pay services is the cause of the slump. Members of different unions who work for the postal service rallied outside Congressman Billy Long’s Springfield office Tuesday afternoon to show support for legislation they say would revive the US Postal Service.  KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports. 

[NATS: Crowd footsteps]

About two hundred men, women and children rallied outside Congressman Billy Long’s office.  Some held signs and manyworeshirts with the words "Save America’s postal service."  This rally was just one of the many being held across the nation to drum up support for a bill that would provide funding to the postal service. Many in the crowd also wanted to provide better information to taxpayers about postal workers and government funding.  Ron Lewis is vice president of the region for the National Association of Letter Carriers.

“We basically want the public to know that we don’t receive any tax dollars.  We are not funded by tax dollars whatsoever, we are purely rate payer funded that’s by postage. Congress created the mess we are in right now.  Last five years we’ve lost $25 billion dollars, we have been required to prefund retiree health care benefits at 5.5 billion per year.  You do the math we would have not lost money if Congress had not asked us to prefund that so many years in advanced, 75 years in advanced.”

 Prefunding accounts for all of the postal service's debt and losses that have occurred in the past four years, according to the website for Save America's Postal Service.

 Many at the rally said they support legislation that would address some of the problems facing the postal service. Chris Bentley is regional president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

“It’s an idea to restructure the postal service using excess money that’s been paid in by the postal service to postal service funds. Petition funds and retirement funds, there is over payment into those. We can use that money to restructure the postal service without drastic cuts and without layoffs and without closing down Springfield’s main processing operation.  That bill has 215 co-sponsors in Congress. It’s popular in Congress," he says.

Closing Springfield’s main processing operation would take 260 jobs from workers in Springfield and $14.3 million from the local economy, according to Bentley and would significantly slow down mail delivery to the residents of Springfield. 

In an email statement to KSMU, Congressman Long said QUOTE "A couple weeks ago, I told Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that as the Postal Service restructures their business it would be better to cut across the board instead of closing rural facilities in the 7th District like they were proposing a few weeks ago." END QUOTE.

Those at the rally were not able to speak to Congressman Long. He's in Washington this week. Still, they had a message for him and the rest of Congress:

“We don’t need a bailout; we just want to get the mail out.”

For KSMU News I’m Matthew Barnes.