By Mark Wachtler
December 12, 2014. Rockville, MD. (ONN) In January, the US Postal Service is planning to close or consolidate 82 mail processing centers across America. Management insists it’s required to maintain the Service’s balance sheet. But workers warn that the move is meant to sabotage the USPS in the eyes of Americans by cutting services, increasing wait times and eliminating delivery days. The goal, they contend, is a take-over of the 75-billion-dollar per year mail industry by Wall Street corporations.
Supporters in Washington State demonstrate to save the Postal Service. Image courtesy of WARLCA.com.
With a slew Postal closings and cut-backs scheduled to occur on January 5th, Postal Service employees, union members, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation took to the streets a few weeks ago to protest the plan to eliminate so many good, middle class jobs, for no other reason than to prepare the groundwork for a corporate take-over of America’s mail system. Liberation Radio, PSL’s own weekly radio program, interviewed Ken Lerch, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Local 3825, to discuss the urgent crisis.
Sabotaging the US Postal Service, from within
“On January 5th, the Postal Service is planning on consolidating and closing 82 huge mail processing and distribution centers,” Local NALC President Ken Lerch told Liberation Radio host Ernesto Aguilar to start the 30-minute program, “What I think is going on, and many other people think also, is there’s too much support from the American people for the Post Office just to be privatized. They’re trying to - Donahoe and some other very influential people - are trying to destroy the Postal Service from within.”
Lerch goes on to explain, “If they can slow down the mail or if they don’t staff the counters with enough people and there’s a line out the door, then the American people won’t give the continued support that they have for the Post Office.”
Liberation Radio host Ernesto Aguilar then looks ahead to next month and the scheduled mass closings of dozens of Postal facilities across the country. “What does this mean in terms of what the average American will expect of the Postal Service,” he asks, “And what will happen in January?”
“In January, the Post Office is planning on closing and consolidating 82 large mail processing and distribution centers,” NALC’s Ken Lerch details for listeners, “These will be absolutely devastating cuts in service to the American people. In fact, I believe these cuts will be so severe that they will forever damage the United States Postal Service. And all mail - medicine, online purchases, local newspapers, bill payments, all types of mail - will be delayed. And it’s just a shame. It doesn’t have to be.”
Lerch goes on to explain the widespread belief that this is a manufactured crisis, all to create a rush to privatization. “This is all under the pretext that the Postal Service is losing money, which is not true,” the NALC leader insists, “There was a law passed in 2006 - the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act - that forced the Post Office to pay $5.5 billion a year for future retiree health benefits. And that’s something no other institution, public or private, is required to do. And it was just aimed at crippling the Post Office.”
"The news shouldn't be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent" - Mark Wachtler, Opposition News founder
The Letter Carrier’s union leader continues further saying, “Even with that, the American people still support the Post Office. And now they’re trying to erode service in an effort to lower that support that the American people have for the Post Office. They want to privatize the Post Office. And that’s a code word for union-busting. If they can privatize the Post Office, they can rip up the union contracts and pay people less than $10 an hour with no benefits.”
Profits and protests
The NALC’s Ken Lerch goes on to tell Liberation Radio that Wall Street millionaires and billionaires are desperate to get their hands on the US Postal Service. “The Post Office brought in $75 billion last year,” he explains, “That’s 75 billion reasons some people want to privatize. There’s a lot of profit to be made.”
Lerch also mentions the protests and demonstrations breaking out in cities across the country to save the Postal Service, as well as home delivery, speedy service, and hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs. There were 125 demonstrations on one day last month alone. Show host Ernesto Aguilar then asks about possible efforts to get Congress to intervene.
“Yes,” the NALC’s local President confirms, “The national leadership, they’re probably working on those right now to stop this action from occurring in January. Like I said, these would just be devastating cuts in service and I don’t think the Post Office will be able to rebound from this, if they get away with this. But there are some Bills in Congress now. 160 Congressmen and women have signed on to delay, at least delay for a year, the action that’s planned by the Post Office.”
Ken Lerch concludes by reminding listeners that there’s no reason to close 82 mail processing centers when the USPS turned a $1 billion profit last year when the Post Office calculates its financial performance the way all other entities do, without the additional pension burden imposed by Congress. “There’s no reason for it,” he insists, “It’s all built off this phony financial crisis.”
Subscribe to Opposition News. Only 1 weekly email in your inbox. It's FREE and you can unsubscribe at any time. Subscribe now!