Sanders Fights Postal Service Layoffs

12/05/11 4:04PM By Melody Bodette

AP/Toby Talbot
Mail carrier Mike Gillis passes a small business in Montpelier. First-class U.S. mail will slow even more by next spring under plans by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to eliminate more than 250 processing centers.

(Host) The struggling U.S. Postal Service says it's moving forward with plans to close more than 250 mail processing centers around the country, including two slated for Vermont.

The $3 billion in cuts announced today would slow first-class mail service, ending next-day deliveries of stamped letters.

The list released earlier this year of processing centers to be closed includes facilities in the Essex Junction and White River Junction, as well as a center in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Senator Bernie Sanders is fighting the plan, because it will result in the layoff of 100,000 postal workers nationwide, including 245 layoffs in the White River Junction area.

And Sanders says there are other concerns:

(Sanders) "If you start cutting back and cutting back, if you start delaying mail service so that it takes 5 days to get a piece of mail from the postal box to its destination, you begin a death spiral. Fewer and fewer people will be using the services, more layoffs and a deterioration of quality services and that means shutting down big time rural post offices, shutting down Saturday mail service."

(Host) Sanders says there are many pieces of legislation that have been introduced to help the struggling agency.

And he says some of its challenges could be addressed without laying off workers:

(Sanders) "It is also an onerous burden that they have by which they have to pay 75 years of future health care retiree benefits in a ten year period. Billions of dollars, no other major institution in America has to do that."

(Host) Sanders says the closure of the White River Junction plant will also mean delays in mail service, in addition to the loss of jobs.

A public meeting is scheduled for December 15th to allow the public to weigh in on that closure.

Sanders says he's asked the postal service to delay that meeting until January so that it doesn't get overlooked in the busy holiday season.

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u.s._postal_service senator_sanders business politics
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