A state leader in the Postal Workers Union says Tuesday’s rallies in Sioux City, Waterloo, Dubuque and Des Moines Tuesday are just the start of an effort to build public support for postal workers and the U.S. Post Office.
“I think the truth is beginning to creep through all the barrage of misinformation,” says Bruce Clark of Dubuque, president of the Iowa chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.
Union leaders like Clark say there’s no need to close Post Offices and lay off thousands of postal workers if congress would pass a law to change the way the Postal Service pays for retirement benefits.
“There’s been such a barrage from certain forces including, unfortunately, the leadership of the Postal Service that, you know, we’re broke and there’s no alternative to this and there’s no way out but to make all these drastic cuts,” Clark says.
Clark and others argue the Postal Service is hamstrung by “front-loading” the payment of 75 year’s worth of retirement benefits into the next decade. Clark says it’s not just workers who’ll lose jobs and towns that will lose their post office if that change isn’t made, as consolidating mail processing will slow mail delivery.
“It’s all unnecessary because had it not been for this unreasonable pre-funding requirement for future retiree health care where we’re pre-funding the health care retirement for people who haven’t even been born yet, that without that the last four years the Postal Service profitted $611 million.”
The U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to close up to 175 Post Offices in towns around the state of Iowa. Postal officials have already closed the mail processing facility in Fort Dodge, with plans in the works to close processing centers in Creston, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Sioux City.
In the past five years, the Postal Service has eliminated more than 110,000 jobs nationwide and cut about $12 billion in costs since 2006. About 250 processing centers are targeted for closure now and 35,000 postal workers may be laid off.