There’s nothing like the prospect of looming disaster to bring people together. The latest case in point: The U.S. Postal Service’s four unions are teaming up for an unprecedented “Save America’s Postal Service” day later this month.
The basic purpose is to gin up support for legislation by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that would let the Postal Service take advantage of billions of dollars in pension fund overpayments identified by an outside actuary to cover retiree health care obligations. Despite almost 200 cosponsors, that bill, like other proposed legislative fixes, is currently stuck in a congressional committee. But on Sept. 27, union members will be visiting the home offices of every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and also holding informational rallies, according to a joint website.
The four participating groups are the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.
These are of course dark times for the venerable mail carrier, one of the nation’s largest employers and a bastion of relatively well-paying middle-class jobs. The Postal Service, running short on cash, now wants to lay off up to 120,000 career workers in the next three years.
In a phone interview, Philip Rubio, a historian at North Carolina A&T State University, could not recall anything comparable in USPS labor history. “This does speak to the severity of the current crisis that the four of them would make common cause,” Rubio said. “It’s the kind of grass-roots effort that a lot of people will welcome.”