By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Embattled Tupelo postal workers will join a national rally in support of a plan to save Saturday mail delivery and keep the U.S. Postal Service financially solvent.
They’ll stage an event from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the downtown Tupelo office of U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee urging him to co-sponsor House Resolution 1351. Nunnelee said Wednesday the USPS will not survive on its current path.
“Democrats have proposed a quick-fix that ignores the necessary reforms and will cost taxpayers at least $60 billion,” he said. “If we want the Postal Service to remain solvent over the coming years, we must put reforms in place that will allow it to stay competitive.”
Other rallies are planned at congressional offices nationwide in support of the resolution, which would allow the USPS to cover its operating deficits with surplus pension funds.
By law, the USPS must make annual payments of $5.5 billion to cover future retirement benefits. It has built up a hefty reserve.
“If we did not have to make that $5.5 billion payment, the USPS would have made a modest to moderate profit the past five years just delivering mail,” said Greg White, Mississippi president of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
“It’s estimated that the overfunding surplus is between $75 to $125 billion,” White said.
The U.S. postmaster also wants the law changed and asked that $6.9 million in these funds be returned to the agency.
But it might not be enough to save the USPS, which so far this fiscal year has posted a $5.7 billion loss. It’s expected to top $8 billion by Sept. 30.
To cope, it already significantly reduced its workforce and closed or consolidated mail-processing facilities nationwide. Tupelo’s processing facility has been eyed for consolidation the past two years – first to Memphis, then to Grenada, and now to Memphis again. The plan is under review.
Now, the USPS is considering elimination of Saturday mail service, a measure supported by President Barack Obama but opposed by many postal workers and their unions.
In a paid advertisement Sunday in the Daily Journal, the NALC said the move would affect 80,000 jobs nationwide and delay packages by one or two days.
“When you’re in a service industry, the one thing that you do not cut is service,” said Guy Weadon, a Tupelo mail carrier and Tupelo NALC chapter president. “Think about the people who use Netflix, people who get medication through mail – some of it has a date, that it must be there within so many hours.”