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NALC congratulates President Obama, all candidates elected Tuesday

The NALC congratulates President Barack Obama and all the candidates elected to Congress on Tuesday. The election results provide a starting point for the work ahead of resolving the financial problems facing the United States Postal Service. We set certain goals for the election, and the work of thousands of letter carriers helped re-elect President Obama and elect or re-elect senators and House members who support our efforts to strengthen the Postal Service and support hardworking letter carriers.

“The election offers the prospect that the financial problems facing the United States Postal Service can be resolved in a fair and reasonable manner that benefits the public,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

Rolando made clear that while a victory by forces that seek to dismantle the Postal Service and attack public employees would have been bad for the USPS and for the country, the NALC’s work has just begun. The election provides an opportunity for progress but guarantees nothing.

“We intend to speak with members of the administration and with lawmakers in the weeks and months ahead about how best to assure that the Postal Service can continue to serve its vital function in the life of this country,” he said. “Its role today is every bit as important as it has been ever since our founders had the wisdom to enshrine it in the Constitution.”

Rather than hasty action on existing flawed bills by a lame-duck Congress, Rolando called on lawmakers to allow the new Congress to draft legislation that would improve the Postal Service’s situation, not worsen it as some current bills would. He called on NALC members to remain vigilant over the next couple of months.

The results of many legislative races promise to improve our prospects on postal issues, Rolando said.

“Elizabeth Warren will be—in fact long has been—a tireless voice on behalf of working people,” Rolando said. He also cited the wins by Virginia’s new senator, Tim Kaine; Hawaii’s senator-elect, Mazie Hirono; Wisconsin’s newly elected senator, Tammy Baldwin; Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown; Missouri Rep. Jo Ann Emerson; Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly; Montana Sen. Jon Tester and many others elected or re-elected.

A key theme in the election was differences over the role of government, with President Obama calling for a strong federal central role in rebuilding the economy and providing services to the public. In addition, Americans clearly want their representatives to cooperate in moving the country forward instead of engaging in ideological posturing and refusing to compromise. That was reflected in election outcomes and in the positive reaction after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, praised the federal government’s assistance with Hurricane Sandy.

House Speaker John Boehner’s comments Wednesday that political leaders should work in practical ways to benefit the American people are encouraging. One way to implement that would be resolve the financial problems of the Postal Service—an institution that’s older than the country itself and remains an essential part of our national fabric, that's relied on today by tens of millions of Americans, that enjoys more than 80 percent public approval, and that's central to our economy and our economic recovery.

“Addressing in a responsible manner the future of the Postal Service would, indeed, be a good place for all sides to demonstrate a commitment to effective governing,” Rolando said. “Legislation currently before Congress in both chambers fails to meet the grade, because it would dismantle the universal network that provides Americans with the world’s most efficient delivery service, while degrading those very services and hence driving mail and revenue out of the system.”

Eliminating six-day delivery, for example, would pose new costs on small businesses that are open weekends and need to send and receive financial documents; small businesses that provide two-thirds of all new jobs. And by driving mail out of the system, it would reduce revenue and further imperil the Postal Service. Ending house-to-house delivery for tens of millions of residents and businesses would have similarly negative impacts.

Rolando urged lawmakers to begin from scratch, and focus on repairing the damage caused by the 2006 congressional mandate that required the Postal Service, alone among all agencies and companies, to pre-fund future retiree health benefits. That accounts for 80 percent of all the red ink. Fixing this wouldn’t solve all the agency’s problems, but it would end the crisis atmosphere and allow issues such as the decline in first-class mail to be addressed. The Postal Service needs to devise a business plan that addresses the serious challenges it faces while also recognizing opportunities such as the explosion in Internet-ordered packages that need to be delivered.

“We urge lawmakers to set aside ideology and myths and look at the facts: The Postal Service springs from the Constitution:

“These efforts are boosted by the fact that one-quarter of letter carriers are military veterans, who view their jobs as a continuation of their service to the nation.”

The recent storm on the East Coast showed one aspect of the Postal Service’s importance, with letter carriers often the only public employees able to reach devastated areas and the only reliable means of communication when power went out. Moreover, in the recent election, millions of Americans saved time and money by voting by mail, eve as candidates found the mail to be a valuable means of communicating with the public.

All this, without a dime of taxpayer money!

“It would be a squandering of the public trust for public officials not to address the financial woes of the Postal Service in a constructive manner,” Rolando said. “We are confident that, with the election behind them, they will step up and meet the challenge.”