Carriers deliver message - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Carriers deliver message

Rally supports bill employees say could end USPS financial crisis

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Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - For 41 years, Jim Mathey has been a carrier with the Postal Service.

His route these days covers the east side of Coeur d'Alene. It is, he explains, good, solid work.

"I love my job," he said. "That's why I'm still doing it after all these years."

But his livelihood is under fire, so Mathey on Tuesday joined about 20 other carriers in a rally on Ironwood Drive, outside the office of Congressman Raul Labrador.

They passed out fliers and held signs and wore shirts that read, "We deliver 6 days a week," "Save America's Postal Service," "Tell the Hill to pass the bill," and "6 Days is the right way."

Occasionally, a passing driver honked, prompting the carriers to wave their signs and shout "thank you" on a cool, cloudy afternoon.

Mathey said a proposal to close thousands of post offices, end Saturday mail delivery and lay off 120,000 employees is a mistake.

"What they're doing is they're taking the wrong approach," he said. "Cutting services is not the way to save a business. You've got to provide the service, or people are going to leave you."

The Postal Service, which is projected to lose up to $10 billion this fiscal year, held rallies across the country Tuesday to seek support of H.R. 1351. The legislation would allow the Postal Service to apply billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet its financial obligations.

Ron Farnsworth, president of National Association of Letter Carriers union 1260, handed out a flier that read, "The Postal Service is in danger of financial collapse - but not for the reasons you might think."

He said that USPS is required by law to pay a 75-year liability in 10 years to "pre-fund" health care benefits for future retirees. The congressional mandate costs USPS more than $5 billion a year "and is the cause of the Postal Service's financial crisis," Farnsworth said.

No other corporation or government agency is required to make such prepayments, he said.

"Our position is that the entire deficit the entire post office is running right now is directly related to the 5-point something billion dollars they've had to prepay into retirement health benefits," he said.

"We truly believe that if it wasn't for this onerous burden that we had, the post office would be in the black," he added.

The White House recently unveiled plans it says could save USPS $20 billion in the next decade. Those plans include closing post offices and mail processing sites, stopping Saturday mail deliveries, eliminating more than 100,000 jobs and changing how worker retirement and health benefits are paid.

Farnsworth isn't a fan.

"We're asking the public to help us save the post office from the things that are being proposed by Congress," he said.

He said rural residents depend on Saturday delivery. Many need it for medication and checks that come via mail. Home business owners count on it.

He said one goal with the rally was to help people understand why the Postal Service is so far in the red, and to know that there is a solution.

"We're not asking for a bailout, we're not asking for money from the public at all. We're just asking for their support in getting their congressman to pass this law," he said.

Sue Bethard, 18-year Coeur d'Alene mail carrier, said ending Saturday delivery would mean lost jobs.

"That's a biggie," she said. "Our nation is at enough of a crisis without adding thousands of more people to unemployment rolls."

Bethard said many people believe the Postal Service is tax-funded. It's not.

"All of our operating money comes from sale of services," she said. "When you go buy your 44 cent stamp, that's helping run the post office. No tax dollars come to us."

Tony LeBlanc, a 20-year letter carrier in Coeur d'Alene, said the Postal Service can balance its budget "without all these drastic changes."

He doesn't want to see jobs and services slashed.

"It's a good job, it really is," he said. "I just want to keep doing it."

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  • riversharkes posted at 9:27 pm on Thu, Sep 29, 2011.

    riversharkes Posts: 100

    the usps took in 67 billion last year.....the mandate from the 2006 repub. congress that they fund retirment for the next 75 years is an outrage....the usps carrries 25 percent of the worlds mail....they also haul freight for ups and fed ex.....they do not receive any gov. money...hey let's cut another 150,000 good jobs wow! the republicans sure know how to create jobs....and let's send letters by you gonna send your granduaghter $10 for her birthday...oh ups...that will only cost $20....
    quit listening to limbuagh and hannity...
    thom hartman
    1280 am
    use your minds

  • truthiness posted at 2:47 pm on Thu, Sep 29, 2011.

    truthiness Posts: 192

    Nothing wrong with these people here, I wish them well, but they're hitched to an obsolete, dying service. Snail mail is dead, it just hasn't realized it yet.

  • max power posted at 10:13 am on Thu, Sep 29, 2011.

    max power Posts: 559

    The postal service needs to go the way of the rotary princess telephone. Modern technological advances have made it obsolete. People use e-mail and social network sites daily to communicate. They also have electronic deposit which is much safer than having a check lost. Many people also pay their bills on line. The postal service has been relegated to delivering junk mail. Cut it back to 5 days, then 4 days, then 3 days and after that privatize it. Pharmacies that use the USPS to deliver their medications can switch to Fed-x or UPS. The Post Office is long past being useful...

    Last time I checked the National Debt was approaching 15 trillion and growing. What are the politicians doing right now to address this problem?

  • Spikey posted at 9:39 am on Thu, Sep 29, 2011.

    Spikey Posts: 387

    Rural mailman, I do understand about the prepayment and you are absolutely correct, that should be stopped. No question! I think people are disgusted by the very poor service as described in mine and other posts here. Most of my (expected) checks are direct deposit. However, occasionally there are checks due in the mail. I sweat bullets until they arrive due to the mis-directed mail problem. At 44cents per piece, the mail should be correctly delivered. Many postal employees are surly towaard the public and there is absolutely no excuse for one window only being open when there are so many customers waiting. Then closing with no explanation...give me strength!

  • cdaruralmailman posted at 9:08 pm on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    cdaruralmailman Posts: 1

    People, have no understanding of the issues. Our pre funding is close to 100% vested, the Postal Service is not in the way, Congress is in the way, even though this fund is close or at 100% vested. Because of congressional mandate we still have to overpay the pre funding as a nation we are the only large company that has this fund or any of our funds close to 100% or at 100% vested. Business says the retiree medical benefit funds should be at 28% vested. The are few large corporations in America that are at this benchmark. None of the other retirement funds at the federal level are even close to the 28% benchmark. But because Congress mandates from 2006 that we pre fund our retirement medical benefits for a period of 75 years that are close if not exceeding 100% benchmark for the 75 years, in other words people we have pre funding retiring medical benefits for people not only that are not working for the USPS but are not even born yet. Now, we don't need buggy whips what we need is for the American public to understand that a large portion of the gross national product is directly tied to the US Postal Service, we are a global company, our contractors alone namely our biggest one is Fed Ex, why do you think Fed Ex is doing so well? All of the first class mail and priority packages are flown in Fed Ex jets besides US Postal Employees our inpact on other companies subcontracting through the US Postal service is far reaching. This is a lot bigger picture than the picture you look in and see that mail that is delivered ON TIME in your mailbox. We don't need or want ANY TAX PAYERS MONEY!!!! What we want ins Congress to get out of the way, let us stop the pre funding payments and we would be in the black for the last for 4 years $611 Million dollars. Think My Friends as a company in this Great United States we impact everyone more than ANY OTHER COMPANY IN THE UNTIED STATES!!!

  • ancientemplar posted at 4:48 pm on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1283

    max power wrote ". What will Obama do today to "SPEND" us out of debt?"

    Today 9/28/11 the dept of energy approved loans of $337 billion and $735 billion to solar energy to two solar energy companies.

  • Jullee posted at 11:32 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    Jullee Posts: 566

    I really like my .44 cent door service. I find them very efficient .
    The Post Office just needs to stop funding bike racing / NASCAR etc.

  • RescueLady posted at 11:05 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    RescueLady Posts: 7

    I have my income checks directly deposited and I pay my bills on line. Other than the occasional party invitation or greeting card, the only mail delivered to my address consists of junk mail and catalogs, which go directly into my recycle bin. When I order online merchandise, it is delivered UPS. The computer has replaced letter writing. I can certainly live with no mail on Saturdays. Get with the times, for cripes sake!

  • Spikey posted at 9:55 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    Spikey Posts: 387

    We play musical mail in my neighborhood as well. I sometimes question if my carrier can read english! My house numbers are the same as some apt. complex on a totally different street in a different neighborhood. I receive bundles of their mail which I return. Unfortunately the apt. dwellers don't offer the same courtesy. Much of my mail has disappeared down the maw of this complex. I have made notes on the returned mail (I return it to the PO) to no avail. I wouldn't complain in person as I suspect I would never see any mail again. I was in the Hayden PO the other day and the line was out the door. While there were several employees in the back, only one person was working at the window. Then, before all who were waiting had been served, she shut down her window. We then waited for another employee to help us. Again, just one showed up. These people are not underpaid or under benefited. Take a look at the expression on this guys face. Worth the proverbial thousand words!!!

  • Not4sale posted at 9:54 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    Not4sale Posts: 188

    I am in favor of eliminating Saturday delivery and closing/consolidating underutilized offices if it will put them in the black. Makes perfect sense. Pre-funding pension plans is a must if you hope to someday receive payments, otherwise, it will be underfunded as Soc. Sec. has become.
    Farnsworth says " rural residents depend on Saturday delivery. Many need it for medication and checks that come via mail. Home business owners count on it."
    Folks needing medication should plan better and not be down to their last dose on a Sat., and the same goes for people who would need money on a Sat and not be able to make it until Mon for God sakes! Most banks are closed on weekends anyway. How about direct deposit for those rocket surgeons!
    I do, however, hope my Victoria Secret catalog will arrive during the week.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 8:50 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Half of my mail goes to my neighbors house resulting in late fees because these people cannot do THEIR job. Sorry, by by USPS.

  • 986crazy posted at 8:30 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    986crazy Posts: 434

    Some people having trouble staying on topic this AM. Cause and Effect:
    1. Pre-funding of Retiree Health Benefits
    2. Financial Crisis
    Eliminate the cause and the effect will be gone.
    This has nothing to do with Obama, Wars, Chinese, Unions, horse and buggy, pony express, etc. etc. etc.

    Pre-funding WAS an issue when USPS employees could retire at 55 after 35 years of service. Since the mid 80's all new employees had to go on FERS, which is much more restrictive with regard to retirement.

    Eliminate pre-funding, problem solved, next topic...

  • max power posted at 8:21 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    max power Posts: 559

    Social Security is going broke. Medicare is going broke. The Postal Service is going broke. Makes you wonder what Obamacare will look like down the road. Which reminds me... What will Obama do today to "SPEND" us out of debt?

  • will-- posted at 8:07 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    will-- Posts: 1206

    "than sending the same money overseas to foreign lands..."

    Yeah, and why did 0bama just finish spending $1 Billion in borrowed Chinese money bombing Libya?

    and, where's the missing $2.7 Trillion that was supposed to have gone for Iraq reconstruction?

    We've got bigger problems than the dysfunctional Postal Service, let It collapse so it can be replaced.

  • Captain America posted at 7:52 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    Captain America Posts: 51

    Should we continue to subsidize the "horse buggy" industry? Let the private sector handle this matter. I spoke yesterday to a radiology tech who had a side business of disposing of chemicals necessary for developing x-rays. He was hauling out machinery that was only 11 years old.

    Technology can help us cut cost and save the environment. We need to move on when we can. There will be a place for some sort of mail delivery, but it will be more limited. Change is happening everywhere as book publishers can tell you with the advent of electronic media.

  • ancientemplar posted at 7:47 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1283

    Sue Bethard, 18-year Coeur d'Alene mail carrier, said ending Saturday delivery would mean lost jobs.
    "That's a biggie," she said. "Our nation is at enough of a crisis without adding thousands of more people to unemployment rolls."

    Carriers are going to quit?
    This is the 21st century, they've got to change their business plan or we'll send them buggy whips.

  • idahoguy posted at 7:04 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    idahoguy Posts: 932

    Hey. I am good with mail dropped of on m/w/f and you get paid for just those days to. Less fuel wasted, wear and tear on the roads and your rigs and more time for you to get another job ;-) Less junk mail I hope....

    The pony express went by the wayside of the telegraph. If you do not wise up and adapt you will be eating your horse for dinner as well.

    I also have zero problem with pre-funding other than SS did that and it got robbed over the years with draws full of IOU notes left in place.

  • DeNiles posted at 5:39 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    I am no fan of unions and their over inflated sense of self importance. BUT, I would rather see these types of civil service jobs sustained with fed funds than sending the same money overseas to foreign lands who often do not appreciate them. How many $billions$ have gone to Pakistan and then they stab us in the back and expect even more of our $$$$. Same w/Israel and on, and on.... This country has wasted so much money it is infuriating.

  • squirrel nutkin posted at 3:52 am on Wed, Sep 28, 2011.

    squirrel nutkin Posts: 231

    There are so many idiotic statements in this article by carriers it's just unreal. These people want to keep their union extorted overpaid job and benefits. I get that. What they won't accept is that the USPS doesn't need all they people they have. Times have changed. Their business model has to change immediately. As far as prepaying retiree health benefits - it makes perfect sense. All companies should have to ensure that future pensions and benefits are 100% funded. Otherwise, down the road, they won't be able to afford what they've promised and in the case of the USPS, there'll be an immediate cry by this union for the taxpayer to pick up the tab. Size the USPS for they job they have in front of them.

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