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Forces unite to oppose closures, consolidations

The Postal Service’s proposal to close and consolidate 82 mail-processing facilities in 37 states continues to attract the ire of Congress, as well as a coalition of postal unions and mailers.

During Congress’ August recess, 50 senators sent a letter to Senate appropriators denouncing the plan, asking instead that Senate appropriators impose a one-year moratorium on closures and consolidations to give Congress time to enact meaningful postal reform legislation. Providing an extra bit of clout to the letter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) added his signature to it shortly after Congress reconvened on Sept. 9.

In the House, 160 representatives from both parties sent a similar letter to the House appropriators on Sept. 11.

Their letter mirrors the Senate’s, asking that those in charge of drafting appropriations language for Fiscal Year 2015 include language calling for the one-year moratorium.

On the heels of both of these letters, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and ranking member Tom Coburn (R-OK) sent their own letter to Senate appropriators opposing the moratorium, stating that the enactment of their postal bill, S. 1486, would solve the real problems the Postal Service faces.

“The NALC continues to oppose S. 1486 as written,” President Fredric Rolando said, “which is why we joined the other postal unions in sending our own letter to Senate leaders to point out that business leaders and labor unions alike remain opposed to S. 1486, and that we have an alternative approach that maintains service standards and preserves services and jobs.”

That letter, Rolando said, describes the consensus that the NALC has built with business and postal stakeholders that would restore the Postal Service to financial stability and pave the way for innovation and growth.

“While we acknowledge the hard work and honorable intentions of its authors,” the postal coalition letter said, “S. 1486 is a deeply flawed bill that would raise postage rates on businesses and slash services and jobs unnecessarily, which is why it has failed to garner broad support in the Senate.

“Our plan draws heavily on the best portions of S. 1486 and offers sensible, responsible and mutually agreeable alternative reforms to the service cuts and price hikes,” the letter said.

While the moratorium language on closings and consolidations is not being considered as part of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past the end of Fiscal Year 2014 on Sept. 30, discussions about including such language will continue as Congress discusses a long-term funding plan, which is expected to be approved during the lame-duck session in December.