Sen. Bernie Sanders to PMG: Service Cuts, Plant Closures ‘a Disaster’
08/27/2015 - In a sharply worded letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called the Postal Service’s decision to close mail processing centers and eliminate overnight delivery “a disaster” and urged her to “re-instate overnight delivery standards and speed up the delivery of mail as soon as possible.”
“It is abundantly clear that the Postal Service's decision to shut down more than 140 mail processing plants a few years ago and to eliminate overnight delivery standards this year has been a disaster that is negatively impacting Americans all over this country,” he wrote on Aug. 26. “While I was encouraged that the Postal Service announced that it would delay closing even more mail processing plants this year, we must do a lot better than that.”
Sen. Sanders vowed to re-introduce legislation that would “allow the Postal Service to offer more, not fewer, services that the American people want and need” and that would eliminate the pre-funding mandate that is the cause of the Postal Service’s financial difficulties. The Postal Service Protection Act, which he introduced in 2013 also would establish new ways to generate revenue for the agency; prevent the closing of rural post offices; protect six-day delivery; and protect mail processing facilities.
Sanders took the Postal Service to task for suggesting that the service cuts are necessary because of the decline in the volume of first-class mail. The most significant reason for the financial problems at the Postal Service is due to a mandate to pre-fund 75 years of retiree health care benefits over a 10 year period, he said. “In fact, excluding this mandate, the Postal Service has made a profit of more than $2 billion since the fall of 2012.
“Improving delivery times has broad bipartisan support in Congress, and returning to previous standards would help accomplish that goal,” he said. On April 15, 85 senators voted for an amendment he offered to the Budget Resolution calling on the Postal Service to reinstate overnight delivery standards for first-class mail and impose a moratorium on the closure of mail processing plants, Sanders noted. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment that would return to the July 1, 2012, standards. In the House, 198 representatives are co-sponsoring House Resolution 54, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the USPS should “take all appropriate measures” to restore the service standards that were in effect as of July 1, 2012.
Sen. Sanders wrote the letter to the Postmaster General after the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an alert that found that delayed mail has skyrocketed by 48 percent since the USPS eliminated overnight service standards on Jan. 5.
“The report by the OIG confirms what the APWU has been saying and what postal patrons have been enduring – cuts to service have dramatically delayed America’s mail,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.
“In light of such broad congressional support, widespread customer dissatisfaction, and the disastrous findings from the Inspector General’s office, the Postmaster General would be wise to heed Sen. Sanders’s advice and restore overnight service standards to American communities.”