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Young Tells Congress Survival of Postal Service Could Depend on Passage of Relief Legislation

WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Letter Carriers union President William H. Young told a House hearing today that the survival of the U.S. Postal Service, endangered by the greed and recklessness of financial firms and Wall Street, could depend on whether Congress enacts bipartisan legislation that would save the Postal Service billions of dollars in how it funds health benefits for retirees.

"We are not here today to ask for a taxpayer bailout, but we are here to ask the Congress for help," Young said in testimony to the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia.

"At this moment, the survival of the Postal Service -- a venerable institution that is literally older than our country -- hangs in the balance," Young said. "The Great Recession we face today threatens to destroy the most trusted and universal connection most Americans have with their national government."

He said the last time mail volume fell by as much as in recent months was in 1933 -- at the depths of the Great Depression.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) represents 300,000 active and retired city delivery carriers throughout all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions.

Young said that even before the financial meltdown hit last fall, NALC was working with the Postal Service to cut costs, negotiating an expedited route adjustment system that has cut about 10,000 carrier jobs through attrition and resulting in a $1.3 billion savings to the Postal Service this year.

"But we cannot use cost-cutting measures alone to restore our financial health," Young said. "Given the scale of the crisis before us, we need Congress to act as well."

In the short-term, Young said that means enactment of H.R. 22 introduced by Reps. John McHugh (R-NY) and Danny Davis (D-IL) -- and co-sponsored by nearly 200 other House members -- that would allow the Postal Service to save billions of dollars over several years by letting it pay current retiree health benefits out of its now-restricted retiree health fund.

"No taxpayer funds will be required by the bill," Young said.

In addition, he said Congress should work with the Obama administration on an in-depth review of the Postal Service's post-retirement obligations, including some policy decisions by the Bush administration.

Young said the collapse of the housing, real estate and banking industries -- all heavy users of the mail -- and an economy wide retrenchment in advertising spending, have slashed mail volumes.

"Although all the volume we have lost may not come back, we believe most of it will when the economy improves," Young said. "The McHugh-Davis legislation will provide breathing space until the economy fully recovers."

Young decried a suggestion that a cutback in six-day mail delivery to five days might be the answer to the Postal Service's woes. He said that would be "short-sighted and unwise" and would be counterproductive by driving more volume out of the mail-stream.

"Such a reduction in delivery frequency would be penny-wise and pound foolish," Young said.

SOURCE National Association of Letter Carriers
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