RENO, NV - A few dozen letter carriers braved snow and strong winds to gather outside the federal building in downtown Reno on Thursday. It was part of a nationwide demonstration put on by the National Association of Letter Carriers at Senate offices across the country. The goal was to get the word out about a bill the Senate will be considering after the Easter recess. As its written right now, S. 1789 will eventually phase out Saturday delivery, cut jobs and phase out door-to-door delivery to an estimated 35 million households and businesses.
“It’s basically the start of a downward slide,” NALC State President Mickey Grizzle said.
He’s advocating some amendments that would help with overall cost issues while keeping some of the services that are being threatened.
“The Post Office is like a business and if a business is having problems and needs to cut costs, that’s one thing, but if you cut service and you’re a service industry you’re going to lose more money in the long run,” Grizzle said. “That’s what we’re trying to stop the Post Office from doing and trying to stop Congress from doing.”
He says the proposed legislation will have serious consequences for small businesses and the elderly.
“If they go with this bill the way it is now by 2015 they’ll rescind door-to-door delivery and that would impact a lot of elderly people,” Grizzle said. “The VA mails out 200,000 prescriptions every day. If we were to lose a day of delivery, that’s one day people wouldn’t get those prescriptions. Also, I have a route that serves only businesses and during the day I collect mail from local businesses in Sparks, probably equal to the mail I take out. If I’m no longer there to take that mail it’s going to affect business.”
He says the USPS is in some ways making a comeback and letter carriers are getting a lot of feedback.
“Standard mail is actually returning and small parcels are exploding,” Grizzle said. “The small parcel business is going crazy and that’s the direction we want to go with, we want to add some things and build this service. And the letter carriers have adjusted routes and are actively involved in a thing called customer connect where we talk to our customers and try to generate business.”
He also says the proposed bill doesn’t resolve the issue of payments to retirees’ health benefits, something that has a huge impact on the Postal Service’s budget.