The U.S. Postal Service on Friday announced its year-end results for Fiscal Year 2013, citing a loss of $5 billion. Two major postal unions were the first to point out that the Postal Service actually made a profit on its operations.
Headlines across the country are shouting that the USPS lost billions of dollars again this year, but that’s a fallacy,” American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein said. “If it weren’t for the congressional mandate to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees, the USPS would have shown a surplus of $600 million.” Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers noted that “This mandate—a political requirement placed on no other agency or company in the country—cost $5.6 billion.”
The Postal Service has used its financial crisis to justify service changes which have affected Washington residents. The closure of mail processing in Everett, Olympia, and Pasco earlier this year have brought reports of delayed mail. The Postal Service plans to shutter mail processing in Tacoma and Wenatchee in February, 2014, and officially switch to a slower delivery schedule for first-class mail. Rural post offices throughout the state are seeing drastic cuts in lobby hours, and urban patrons have seen postal stations moved from downtown to less convenient areas, as occurred in Redmond , and is planned for Bellevue and Wenatchee.
The postal release highlighted “revenue growth and record productivity,” but continued the call for service cuts for patrons and benefit cuts for employees.
“The USPS is suffering from a manufactured crisis,” Dimondstein said. “But the fallout of the artificial crisis is real. Service has declined dramatically — mail takes days longer to arrive, carriers are delivering mail in the dark, lines at post offices are out the door – and good, union postal jobs are disappearing,” he said. “The solution is clear: Congress must repeal the pre-funding mandate and allow the Postal Service to develop new services that will provide new revenue,” the union president said. He cited basic banking as an example of a new service “ to the millions of Americans who want a non-profit alternative to the big banks or who don’t have bank accounts at all.”
Rolando stated: Now it’s time for Congress to set aside bills that focus on cutting service and attacking the pay and benefits of postal workers instead of addressing the real cause of the crisis: the 2006 pre-funding mandate. The Postal Service is positioned for a strong comeback if lawmakers act sensibly—by addressing the pre-funding fiasco that created an artificial financial crisis…”
Clint Burelson, former president of the APWU’s Olympia local, has noted in a policy paper, “The damaging changes underway at the Post Office are a direct result of the lobbying efforts of large corporate mailers who do not want to lose their deep discounts and pay their fair share of postage. To avoid higher postage rates for advertising, the large mailers have relentlessly pushed the Postal Service to cut costs by reducing postal services to the American people”[The Battle for the Post Office and Democracy].
Dimondstein stated that “Unfortunately, there are some in Congress who want the Postal Service to fail. They are eager to privatize it.”
Both Burelson and Dimondstein are both newly elected to national office in the APWU, as part of a slate that campaigned for a more activist union. Assuming office November 7, Dimondstein issued a call for “a grand alliance between the people of this country and postal workers…in defense of America’s right to vibrant public postal services.”
source: David Yao