Postal Workers Launch Hunger Strike to Save Agency
Conservatives love to attack the U.S. Postal Service, claiming that the agency can't pay for itself, is going broke, and needs massive cuts. But postal workers, it seems, aren't willing to accept that logic, and have launched a four-day hunger strike this week in order to call attention to the fact, they say, that Congress itself is responsible for the Post Office's troubles.
Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post writes:
The postal workers and boosters said they were trying to draw attention to a wonky yet crucial element of postal service reform being considered: the repeal of what's called the "prefunding mandate," a 2006 requirement from Congress that the USPS prefund the retiree heath benefits for its workers 75 years in advance, to the tune of about $5.5 billion per year.
"Congress created the problem, Congress can fix it," said Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier who worked in Portland, Ore., for 27 years and is taking part in the hunger strike. "We're just frustrated. We're indignant, we're outraged, we're here to shame Congress into doing the right thing. We're willing to suffer, to go on a hunger strike in order to show our indignation."
The postal workers were supported as well by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who said "Make no mistake about it: There is an effort to try to privatize even more postal services. This would inevitably result in less service and higher costs for postal services for the American people."
The workers are opposed to cuts in service (including possible elimination of Saturday delivery) and layoffs of employees, as well as the closing of some post offices. Congress is expected to take up the issue of postal service reform after the July 4th recess, and it promises to get messy.