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For Your Information - Don’t Cut Customer Service

POSTED December 21, 2011 12:01 a.m.

(Editor’s Note: The following was submitted for consideration on the Editorial page and is a statement made by a postal worker testifying at a recent hearing regarding possible closure of local distribution sites. Those proposed closures have now been delayed while further investigation is completed and legislative solutions are studied.)

My name is Chuck Locke. I am a National Officer for the American Postal Workers Union, a clerk in the Post Office and most of all a customer of the USPS.
It is a disgrace that the Postal Service is here tonight attempting to justify their plan to consolidate mail processing operations but they fail to provide the public with any information to justify how they arrived at their alleged cost saving figures. The Postal Service wants you to simply believe what they say without offering any transparency. The Postal Service claims they can save a million dollars by this AMP consolidation. I say show me the money!
The Postal Service was established by our fore fathers and written into the Constitution to provide universal service to every citizen throughout our great country. There was nothing written into this provision allowing an escape clause if it is/was not profitable.
The Postal Service has come here tonight to tell you how broke they are and how the mail volumes have declined and how they can combine operations and still meet their obligations to get the mail to the public.
The financial condition of the Postal Service appears dire.
However, it turns out that the USPS is not broke. The Office of Inspector General has determined that what appears to be budget problem is actually a public policy issue with political solutions. Congressional legislation can reverse the USPS’s financial position and set the service on the road to recovery. A few examples are the Postal Services
* Overpayment of 75 billion dollars to the civil service retirement fund.
* Over funding of the FERS retirement system by 5.5 billion
* Recent USPS deficits are mostly the result of a requirement to pre-fund future retiree healthcare cost. No other government agency or private sector bears this burden. The postal service is required to pre-fund a 75 year liability in just 10 years.
Absent this pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service would have experienced a cumulative surplus of $4 billon over the last four fiscal years despite declining mail volumes, a bad economy and electronic diversion.
The Postal Service also grants major mailers above cost saving discounts to print barcodes on the mail. This work could be performed cheaper and more efficiently by postal employees. These discounts given to major mailers are offset by the rate you and I are forced to pay for postage.
As a district manager once told me, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
And that is what you have here tonight. The USPS taking advantage of a temporary situation and rushing to close facilities, combine operations at the expense of customer service knowing their financial situation could be resolved legislatively.
I have witnessed the closing of the Marysville facility and the Postal Services attempt to merge their mail with the Sacramento mail processing facility. The results were a travesty. This consolidation did not result in better mail service to the citizens of Marysville.
Now the Postal Services is conducting numerous AMP studies which will take mail processing out of highly efficient plants and move it to less productive facilities. They did it in Marysville to Sacramento. Now they are attempting this in Salinas to San Jose, Petaluma to Oakland and Stockton to Sacramento.
All of the above noted AMP’s took work from a highly productive facility and put it in a less productive facility. This does not sound like a good business plan to me if the true goal is to improve customer service?
This meeting is simply a formality. The Postal Service had no intent in coming here tonight and honestly discussing how they came to their alleged cost saving figures or to get legitimate input from the public.
Make no mistake about it, once you leave here tonight the process is complete and the decision has been made. Please write to your local city council and your congressional representatives requesting they put a stop to this AMP study until the Postal Service can come before the public with a plan that includes facts and does not insult our intelligence.

Chuck Locke, NBA, is a member of the American Postal Workers Union/AFL-CIO.

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