Colorado postal workers protest massive cuts

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DENVER, Colo. – “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” That is, unless they’re laid off.

Dozens of Postal workers rallied in downtown Denver Thursday on what they’re calling “A National Day of Action.” The gathering was an effort to raise awareness about potentially massive cuts coming to the more the 200 year-old agency.

Cindy Kirby is a representative for the National Association of Letter Carriers and says services like Saturday delivery could come to an end, and as many as 100,000 jobs are at stake nationwide. “We don’t want to cut service to the American public. We don’t want to cut six day delivery or massively close post offices because it would definitely diminish service to our people.”

The Postal Service has seen a significant drop in mail volume as more people turn to the internet to pay bills and send letters. Now USPS officials say they need to cut annual spending by $20 billion by 2015, and that could mean the closure of 71 post offices, and four processing centers in Colorado.

While e-mail may have hurt the Postal Service, not all postal workers blame the internet for the Postal Service’s downturn. Kirby says a future retiree benefit fund is draining more than $5 billion from the agency every year. “It’s prefunding benefits for people who aren’t even born yet.” Kirby estimates there is more than $40 billion in that find right now, but the USPS can’t touch it.

The National Association of Letter Carriers hopes Congress can approve legislation that would allow the USPS access to that money which would allow “snail mail” to modernize. Kirby says, “We just need to take a look at the internet and other things like that as an advantage, or an opportunity, not as something that’s going to hurt us.”

Colorado Senator Mark Udall is also working on a proposal to help the USPS generate revenue. One plan is to allow the shipment of alcohol, which is currently banned. The idea is to make the USPS more competitive with other mail services.

Time is running out though. A five month moratorium on postal facility closures ends May 15th.