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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Local Hub

Just before we moved to our small town in Central Massachusetts we filled out all our change of address cards. Pretty much the first thing we did when we moved here was visit our new post office. We had a chat with the postmaster who told us what to do to install our shiny new mailbox. The day the letter carrier pulled up in front of our box, (now standing proudly at the side of the road), opened the door, slid in a couple of envelopes and snapped the door shut, we knew we had arrived.

For almost 17 years we have frequented that post office. When my sister was gravely ill 2600 miles away, it was that post office where I slid a card or note or letter into the box almost every day. Including shortly after closing one night, choked up and superstitiously scared that not posting that particular card to my sis would lead to a turn for the worse, the postmaster opened the door and wished both me and my sister well.

I even got to know a good friend via the post office. She has a box there and although we had seen each other around town, chatting inside the post office, then carrying those conversations outside was how our friendship evolved. I doubt we were the only ones to meet and connect that way. The bulletin board near the “Local” and “Out Of Town” slots is filled with what’s happening around town. And I’d bet my bottom dollar it gets far more traffic than the one over at the town hall.

Paperwork for our passports was filed in our local post office. Even though they have yet to be stamped by any country, it sure was nice not to have to schlep into Worcester or Boston and stand in line.

We mail all our holiday, birthday, anniversary and sympathy cards from the local post office as well. When we were mailing off the DVDs and books from Carrie and Al’s wedding they departed from there. And a trip back had to made to share the finished product with the staff!

When we were traveling back and forth to Seattle to be with Chuck’s Dad in his final year, we extended our stay once. I called the post office to let them know we would be gone an extra week. They said it was fine, that we had put a “will pick up” on the hold mail order. But then they added, that if we hadn’t called, they would have begun to worry about us.

After September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax incidents, in addition to the usual card to our letter carrier, we sent a holiday card to our post office. We thanked them all for their service and their courage. We still send a card. We are still grateful for all they do.

Now there’s a way we can be of service to them.

The managers in charge at the United States Postal Service are working hard against their own letter carriers. They want to lay off workers as well as slash pension and health benefits. They keep claiming that if they were a fully private company (rather than a semi-independent federal agency) that they would have filed for bankruptcy. The problem with that statement is that it is false. Much of what has led to the losses at the USPS in the past four years has been a congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits 75 years in advance and on a steeply accelerated schedule - enough to crush any organization’s budget, especially in a down economy. They are the only federal agency required to do such a thing.

Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced H.R. 1351. This legislation is designed to right the wrong committed by the Office of Personnel Management which has led to the enormous overcharges. Most significantly, it has kept millions of dollars of revenue out of the USPS which could have been used in day to day operations.

Please call your congressional representative. (You can find a list here.)

: : First off, please urge your congressperson to oppose the Postal Service's proposals to downsize its workforce through layoffs and strip its employees of their health and pension benefits.
: : Second, please tell your congressperson to support H.R. 1351 a vital legislative first step toward ensuring a sound financial future for the Postal Service.

Want more information? Please go to the website of the NALC - The National Association of Letter Carriers.

There are more issues on the table both for the employees of the Postal Service and the citizens of the United States. One of them is the proposal that the USPS should cut back from six days of delivery to five. Besides the significant inconvenience to the customers, the NALC has a list of reasons why five days just won’t work.

Another very disturbing plan is the USPS’ intention to close thousands of post offices across the United States - more than 3600 - many in rural areas. The most comprehensive website devoted to this is Save The Post Office created and administered by Steve Hutkins. The map of post office locations on the hit list alone makes it worth the visit. But the depth and breadth of the website is impressive and compelling.

3 comments:

Craig R said...

Good morning --
Steven Lynch is the congressional Rep for South Boston, which contains the South Postal Annex, which is the USPS package hub for the Boston area. Steven also has several members of his family who are current, former or retired workers for the Post Office.

In fact, in my immediate family before I got married, I am likely the only person who has *not* worked for the Post Office. ("Full Disclosure Time:" - Steven is actually my cousin - our moms are sisters.)

Notwithstanding the complaint about the pre-funding of the pensions, the various attacks on the USPS are more simply the efforts of the "drown the government in the bathtub" wing of the GOP and those who want it all privatized anyways so the for-profit carriers can make money, and the devil take the people in rural areas.

In my own estimation, any country that allows something so important as means of communication between all its' citizens to be left in the hands of for-private-profit entities is waiting for the dimishment of its' citizen's rights and responsibilities.

Telephones (especially in this day of cell phones and the dwindling number of land-line phones) are not available to everyone, nor is e-mail (so many areas do not have access to internet service, and still, many people cannot afford computers), and now, the medium that almost everybody can use, the written word delivered between individuals, is threatened.

Millie Garfield said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes!!

I like what you say about Pink being a girl color and granite is strong - what a great combination for a person!!

David Blocker said...

I love what you wrote about the Post Office. I certainly will call about HR 1351 (hooray for my rep Steven Lynch) and S. 1853!)

I would GREATLY miss my post office as well. Keep em open!!

David Blocker