Postal problems: Local mail carriers speak out against end of Saturday service

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Postal workers across the country and here in the Chippewa Valley gathered Sunday, rallying to stamp out a plan to eliminate Saturday service from the U.S. Postal Service.

Local mail carriers spoke with WEAU 13 News about the problems that could come from shaving a day off mail delivery.

“It's the National Day of Awareness to try to draw attention to what's going on with the post office,” said Kris Swartz, a letter carrier in Eau Claire for about 15 years.

Swartz said the postal service's money problems stem from 2006.

That's when congress made a law that says the USPS must put away $5.5 billion a year for employee health benefits.

“Right now our hands are tied, we have to put the money into that account, if we don't do it we're breaking the law,” Swartz said.

And with less money coming in, the postal service is looking for ways to save, and is currently plan to cut mail delivery on Saturdays.

“That's estimated to save us $2.2 billion a year, and nobody really knows for sure what it’s going to save,” Swartz said.

Local postal workers told WEAU that they have big concerns with cutting a service that so many people depend on.

“It's important to our small businesses that are relying on getting products and shipping products out,” said Corey Grotte, a letter carrier in Eau Claire.

“And a number of people depend on prescription medications and just looking forward to getting mail, and having that contact on a Saturday,” said Lori Hagen, a mail carrier in Chippewa Falls.

It's estimated that 40,000 jobs would be lost.

The postal workers are calling on congress to take action.

“We're not asking for a bailout, we just want to spend our revenues the way we need to spend them, and give us access to our surplus funds that we have in our pension accounts,” Swartz said.

“The post office isn't broke. The post office has billions of dollars in account,” Grotte said.

Saturday mail delivery is set to end August 5th.

“This is probably not the best solution to helping the postal service and its financial difficulties,” Hagen said.

Congressmen Ron Kind and Sean Duffy could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Pete Nowacki of US Postal Service Corporate Communications sent this statement:

“Establishing a new delivery schedule – which will generate approximately $2 billion in annual cost reductions – is an important element of a larger strategy to close a $20 billion budget gap by 2016, and to avoid the potential that the postal service may eventually become a significant burden to the American taxpayer. Independent market research and polling shows strong public support for the new delivery schedule in communities across the country and is a responsible and reasonable approach to address our urgent financial situation and America’s changing mailing habits.”

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