Postal workers to rally against changes

By Karl Henkel

khenkel@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Area postal workers will rally today in opposition to sweeping changes to mail delivery proposed by the U.S. Postal Service on Thursday.

Plant shutdowns, layoffs and delayed mail delivery are among the proposals outlined by the postal service to help save it from insolvency.

The postal service, which receives no tax dollars, is facing a $9.2 billion deficit this fiscal year.

“They are planning for the worst-case scenario,” said Dominic Corso of American Postal Workers’ Union Local 443, which represents postal clerks in Youngstown.

To protest the move, APWU Local 443 and the National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union will rally outside the city’s main post office, 99 S. Walnut St., beginning at 11:30 a.m. today. Similar rallies are planned nationwide.

Postal workers are upset about the proposals, brought on by declining mail volume, which include closing approximately 250 processing and distribution centers nationwide.

Among the 250 are the Youngstown processing and distribution facilities, which employ about 500 workers and contribute approximately $500,000 in city income taxes.

The postal service previously considered studying the sites in July and said duties of Youngstown’s plants could be combined with similar plants in Akron, Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

That could push mail delivery back at least one day. Recipients would receive mail in no fewer than two days, according to the postal service.

But Corso said a two-day, sustainable delivery system is a “pipe dream.”

“Nobody in their right mind is going to tell you it’s cheaper to drive from Youngstown to Pittsburgh, process the mail, then drive it back to Youngstown,” he said.

The plans outlined Thursday could result in 35,000 job losses nationwide, on top of the 110,000 lost through attrition since 2006, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said.

Donahoe previously has said the postal service must cut $20 billion by 2015.

The postal service spends about $5.5 billion annually to pre-fund retirement health benefits, a process mandated by the federal government.

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