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Carrier union to protest postal cost-cutting bill

Published April 11, 2012 8:06 pm

Rally • Union says measure would hurt service, wipe out jobs.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The National Association of Letter Carriers will host events in Salt Lake City and other cities across the nation Thursday to protest what could happen if a bill to cut costs at the U.S. Postal Service were to pass Congress and become law.

Salt Lake City's protest to "Save America's Postal Service" is set from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in front of the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building at 125 S. State St.

The 284,000-member union represents letter carriers employed nationwide by the United States Postal Service. According to http://www.nalc.org, Senate Bill 1789 would eliminate Saturday delivery within two years, delay mail delivery times, and cut 150,000 jobs, eventually ending door-to-door delivery altogether.

In a letter sent to senators last month, NALC President Fredric Rolando said that SB 1789, while well-intended, is fundamentally flawed.

Rolando blamed the agency's red ink on 2006 legislation that mandated setting aside 75 years worth of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period. "No other agency or private company faces such a burden, which has cost the USPS $21 billion over the past five years," Rolando said.

Private-sector audits concluded that a $50 billion to $75 billion surplus exists in the Civil Service Retirement System, Rolando said, which would be enough to cover the USPS mandate.

Chad Mortensen, a Salt Lake City letter carrier who serves as the union's legislative liaison in Utah, described the pre-funding obligation as too aggressive for the recovering economy.

"It is driving us into bankruptcy," Mortensen said.

Mortensen also warned that losing Saturday delivery could end the post office's ability to deliver medications.

"If we lose that day, we'll lose FDA approval to put medications through the mail because they'll be sitting in warehouses that are not climate controlled," he said.

The 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Liebermann, I-Conn., could come up for discussion after senators return from their Easter recess that ends Sunday.

For more about Thursday's protests, go to http://www.nalc.org or http://www.saveamericaspostalservice.org.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com twitter: @catmck —

Letter carriers rally

What • Save America's Postal Service

When • 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday

Where • 125 S. State St., Salt Lake City