Postal workers held rallies outside the offices of South Carolina congressmen Tuesday, trying to get support as Washington debates the future of the struggling U.S. Postal Service.
“We don’t want a bailout! We just want the mail out!” the workers chanted outside Rep. Trey Gowdy’s office in Greenville. Similar demonstrations occurred in Columbia, Charleston and Rock Hill.
However, there are few options out there right now that are positive for postal employees, as its paper mail volume declines in favor of electronic mail and private mail carriers.
The Postal Service says it expects to lose $10 billion this year and is begging Congress to change federal laws so it can cut costs. The Republican-led House is expected to pass a bill that would create a financial control board to make decisions about wages and benefits, which currently make up about 80 percent of the USPS’s costs. It could also stop Saturday mail service and force layoffs, among other things.
However, the workers say it’s a union-busting effort. They support a different plan that would refund the money the Postal Service paid into a fund for future retiree benefits.
Those payments fall under a 2006 law that requires a $5.5 billion to be put into the program every year for ten years to shore up the pension system. USPS officials are asking Congress to let them delay that payment, saying they cannot afford it.
Most postal workers are represented by five unions: the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mailhandlers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, and the National Association of Postal Supervisors.
On the management side, Postal Service officials are asking Congress to give the power to go around “no-layoff” clauses in union contracts. They also want to pull out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits program (which is planning to raise premium costs next year), saying they can get better health insurance deals on their own.