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Wytkind: Transportation Doesn’t Take Weekends Off

I encourage transportation workers everywhere to support the Letter Carriers (NALC) this Sunday for its Day of Action to educate and mobilize Americans in support of continuing six-day mail delivery from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s reckless, unilateral move to end Saturday delivery will disproportionately harm those who need it the most—our nation’s poor, elderly, people with disabilities and those in rural areas. It will hurt small business, cut jobs and send the USPS on a severe downward spiral.

Transportation workers can see disturbing parallels as yet another great American institution seeks to fix its financial problems by cutting service to those most in need and eliminating thousands of jobs in the process. Just a few examples: critics of Amtrak want to eliminate parts of our national passenger rail network because they don’t turn a profit; local transit agencies are experiencing record ridership levels, yet cutting service because of a broken funding mechanism; and federal support for rural air service is attacked as government waste even though the program provides essential air transportation to communities that have few options.

Hiding behind fuzzy math and flawed logic, the USPS says it has no choice but to cut Saturday delivery. But it does not have to be this way. In 2006, Congress ordered that the USPS fund, in advance, most retiree health benefits for the next 75 years. No other agency or company operates this way, and this mandate has accounted for 85% of USPS losses since 2007. If the more than 90% of letter carriers who belong to NALC say we should change this pre-funded benefit arrangement and leave Saturday delivery alone, perhaps the Postmaster General should listen. And in fact, all unions at the USPS have announced opposition to the Donahoe plan.

Call me old school, but I still believe that we are one nation that should be united by certain core public services. Whether it is passenger rail and mass transit, interstate highways, air traffic control or postal delivery, our nation can be strengthened and better linked by a sustained investment in modern and efficient institutions and services that link us as a nation. When I think about who would be harmed most by cold-hearted cuts to the USPS, I hear the ghosts of Mitt Romney’s shameful dismissal of 47% of Americans.

We’ve all seen the disastrous consequences for customer service and our economy when once-proud pillars of our transportation industry are weakened by poor leaders who make all the wrong choices and cut all the wrong corners. Let’s not let that happen at the Postal Service and join NALC in saying "no" to this wrongheaded plan.

This post originally appeared on the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) blog Move America. Edward Wytkind is the president of the TTD.
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