Last month, the National Association of Letter Carriers collected food to stock food shelves and feed hungry Americans.
This month, five people plan to go on a hunger strike on behalf of the letter carriers’ employer, the U.S. Postal Service.
A group calling itself Communities and Postal Workers United today announced plans to begin a hunger strike on June 25 to call attention to what it says is the reason for the service’s financial failings. The protesters will blame a 2006 congressional mandate requiring the Postal Service to pay in advance for retiree health benefit costs, saying without that mandate the service would be profitable.
The service, which is closing processing plants and offering worker buyouts to cut costs, said it lost $3.2 billion in the quarter ended March 31 and will temporarily run out of cash in October. Most, though not all, of the quarterly loss came from the pre-funding mandate, said the service, which blames declining demand for the mail for its woes.
“Not the internet, not private competition, not the recession; Congress is responsible for the postal mess,” Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier who plans to travel to Washington from Portland, Oregon for the hunger strike, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Corporate interests, working through their friends in Congress, want to undermine the USPS, bust the unions then privatize it.”
The Senate has passed a bill to overhaul the Postal Service that would include reducing the retiree health pre-funding requirement. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said last month the House will consider its version of postal reform in July or August.