Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Central New York postal workers and their supporters joined colleagues throughout the US in an effort to save the post office Tuesday.
A rally taking place in Downtown Syracuse is one of many taking place to stave off major cuts in postal services along with tens of thousands of jobs.
Workers are asking Congress to approve a measure that would allow pension funds to be used to pull the Postal Service out of the red.
HR 1351 would let the Postal Service use billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet a Congressional mandate to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of health care benefits for future retirees. The measure is being proposed after a year in which the post office suffered more than $8 billion in losses. Now the post office is facing a loss of $10 billion more.
The post office has seen an enormous decline for the past five years in its regular first-class mail. Jobs have already been cut and processing facilities closed.
Some of the losses have generated odd shipping routes for mail. For example, if a Watertown resident sends a letter to another resident in the city, it travels 62 miles to a massive processing center in North Syracuse and then 62 miles back to Watertown. The post office claims, however, that the circuitous route is actually more efficient because so few people use first-class mail to send a letter across town.
"It's not just sending across the street, it's outbound and again recognizing that the largest percentage of our mail comes from businesses," said Post Office spokesperson Maureen Marion.
“Cutting service and reducing standards are not the answer during a time when economic conditions such as we are in…we should be maintaining our standards and service. The public counts on it, they rely upon it. And there are alternatives out there,” said Postal Union Steward Mike Landry.
Tuesday’s rally began at 4 p.m. at the Federal Building Plaza in Downtown Syracuse.