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Postal Service workers may face major layoffs

U.S. Postal Service mail delivery trucks sit idle at the Manassas Post Office in Virginia.

Jeremy Hobson: Here's an agency that could certainly use some stimulus: The U.S. Postal Service and its 650,000 workers. The post office is so close to running out of money, it won't be able to make a required payment to its retiree health care fund at the end of this month. To balance the books, the postmaster general is recommending drastic cutbacks in service, which would mean huge layoffs.

Congress will take up the issue tomorrow. Here's our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.


John Dimsdale: Mail volume has dropped 22 percent over the past five years. And that's not just because of email and electronic bill paying.

Bob McLean used to head the Mailers Council, representing most large users of the postal system. He says it's the economy.

Bob McLean: Because of the recession many companies have simply stopped doing a lot of their marketing, whether by mail or electronic means. And that means a loss of millions of dollars of revenue over the last three or four years for the postal service.

The postal workforce is already shrinking due to attrition. But the postmaster general wants to accelerate layoffs by more than 200,000 workers. To do that, he'll need congressional permission to break a union no-layoff clause. Bob McLean says that's not likely.

McLean: Doing that during recession, of course, means the elimination of a lot of well-paying jobs for the middle class citizens in congressional districts and most members of Congress, during a recession, the last thing they want to do is to be the source of job cuts rather than job creation.

Postal service managers are also proposing to close underused post offices and reduce six-day-a-week service to every town in America. Some of their more innovative revenue-raising ideas include selling ads on the sides of delivery trucks and getting permission to deliver beer and wine.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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After educating myself on this subject I learned that the post office does not use any tax payer money. Dispite what right wingers say. Also the are required to fund their pension for 75 years in the future. No one has to do this. Congress get's intrest off the money that they have in their pension fund. Hence their reluctance to change the arrangement. The post office is getting a bad rap because people don't care about facts.

The PS retiree health care fund is overfunded! The over 20 billion $ deposited by the PS over the last 4 years is funding someone, does it go to the general fund for all federal employees? (Congress)

"...it won't be able to make a required payment to its retiree health care fund..."
Congress requires this, yet Congress does not do the same, nor is any other organization required to do so. Why is the PS required to operate by rules that don't apply to anyone else?

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