In a rare bipartisan move, 50 members of the U.S. Senate are urging Republican and Democratic leaders to stop the United States Postal Service from closing up to 82 mail processing plants that could result in the loss of nearly 15,000 jobs nationwide in 2015.
Republican and Democratic senators said legislation should be passed to prevent the USPS from closing the plants, according to a letter sent to party leaders on Aug. 14.
“At a time when our middle class is disappearing, the loss of 15,000 good-paying Postal Service jobs will harm our local communities and economies,” the letter stated. “Slowing down mail delivery even further will hurt senior citizens on fixed incomes, small businesses and the entire economy.”
The USPS proposed shutting down the plants to mitigate mounting multi-billion dollar losses and ballooning debt obligations.
The agency ended the third quarter of fiscal year 2014 with a $2 billion loss. That is more than double the loss the USPS reported in the same period last year — $740 million.
“The Postal Service has recorded a loss in 21 of the last 23 quarters, the excepted quarters being the two in which Congress rescheduled the Retiree Health Benefits prefunding payments,” USPS said in a statement posted on their website on Aug. 11.
Since 2012, the USPS has consolidated 141 mail processing plants, according to the letter. The senators claim the “postal network has been weakened.”
Not everyone is a fan of the senators’ letter to leadership.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said their proposal amounts to nothing more than punting the ball, rather than what should be done: passing comprehensive legislation to fix the long-suffering USPS.
“This latest round of closures isn’t the first time the U.S. Postal Service has had to implement potentially damaging cost-cutting measures on its own in order to reduce costs,” Carper said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “In the absence of comprehensive postal reform, it probably won’t be the last.”
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