Postal unions rally against budget cutting measures - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Postal unions rally against budget cutting measures

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The U.S. Postal Service is losing billions of dollars a year, and could go broke without making major changes.  Most of the Postal Service's proposals to cut costs involve slashing services and closing facilities.  But now, several postal employee unions are speaking out, saying there's a better way to save money.

Postal worker unions across the country are thankful for any support they can get, as the U.S. Postal Service looks to make major spending cuts, that could result in layoffs and closing post offices and mail processing centers.

"If we close postal offices and processing centers, that's going to affect service to every community.  Especially hard hit will be those in rural America, which is Iowa," said Kimberly Karol, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 451.

"We're also afraid that if they go down this path, it will little by little dismantle the postal service when there is something that can resolve this problem," said Debbie Schadt, National Association of Letter Carriers local president.

At issue, postal unions contend that declining mail volume is not the biggest budgetary concern for the Postal Service.  Instead, they believe that a federal mandate that forces the pre-funding of healthcare benefits for future retirees is bankrupting the service.

"The Postal Service isn't losing money.  In fact, if not for this mandate to fund health care benefits 75 years in advance, we would have made $611 Million over the course of the last 4 years," Schadt said.

That's why postal unions are supporting House Bill 1351, which would end the retirement pre-funding requirement.  But that legislation hasn't garnered universal support.  Other options include cutting postal worker wages, benefits, and ending layoff protection.  Union workers just hope their voices will be heard and that the public will let legislators know what they want for the future of the Postal Service.

At least one eastern Iowa legislator supports House Bill 1351, that's being backed by the postal unions.  Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) released the following statement:

"Rain, snow, and sleet haven't stopped postal workers, but bureaucrats in Washington want to.  The US Postal Service's recent actions threaten hundreds of Iowa jobs and could close post offices in dozens of Iowa communities.  That's a huge blow to countless Iowa small towns just like the one I grew up in.

That's why I support the fiscally responsible Lynch Bill that corrects Postal Service overpayments to their retirement system and uses those funds to close their budget shortfall.  Since the Postal Service is funded solely by the sale of postage, not only does this bill have no cost to taxpayers, it will keep Iowa post offices open and workers employed."

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