On the second day of a four-day hunger strike by postal workers and their allies in Washington, D.C., dozens marched from L’Enfant Plaza to the U.S. Treasury yesterday wearing bandit masks and carrying a $44 billion check from the Postal Service. Workers launched the hunger strike Monday, days ahead of a vote in Congress on the fate of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and are holding morning and afternoon vigils to bring attention to the need to save the Postal Service. This from the Metropolitan Washington [D.C.] Council:
“Corporate America is trying to steal your postal service,” said Jamie Partridge of Community & Postal Workers United, as the hunger strikers chanted, “We demand a refund, we demand repeal” of the congressional mandate forcing the USPS to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. “We’ve been doing a lot of walking, singing and chanting, so we’re a little tired,” Partridge told Union City. “Some of us are hurting but we’re sticking with it.”
(If you're in D.C., show your support for postal workers by joining them in a rally at L'Enfant Plaza tomorrow, Thursday, June 28.)
Several bills are pending in the House to address the financial crisis of the USPS. The cause of the agency's shortfall is a 2006 poison pill put in a postal reform bill by the Bush administration that required the USPS to "pre-pay" future retiree health care costs for the next 75 years in the next 10 years—$5.5 billion a year. Without the pre-funding requirement, the Postal Service made a $7 million profit over the past six years, despite the effects from the economic meltdown.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) led Monday’s rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. As reported by The Washington Post:
In a speech, he asked Congress to end prefunding of health benefits, which is sapping more than $5 billion from the Postal Service’s ledger.
“I will continue to fight any efforts to weaken the Postal Service, including any efforts to privatize essential services,” Kucinich said. “There are ways to generate revenue without cutting jobs, essential services and closing vital post office branches in communities that rely on them.”
The hunger strike continues today with visits to Congress and a 5 p.m. vigil on Capitol Hill.