Over the last two centuries, U.S. Postal Service employees have become quite adept at delivering messages to the American people. In downtown Roswell on Tuesday, local postal workers delivered a different kind of message as they rallied to inform the public of the institution's plight and demand the U.S. Congress take action to help the them stave off financial collapse.
Armed with petitions, signs and t-shirts reading, "Save America's Postal Service," carriers in Roswell and throughout the nation stood up Tuesday, Sept. 27, to let members of Congress know that something can be done to prevent the collapse of the U.S. Postal Service.
At issue is the 2006 Postal Service Reorganization Act, which among other things required the service to pre-fund 75 years worth of future retiree health care benefits over the next ten years. The estimated cost of this requirement is $5.5 billion per year. It's estimated that the Postal Service currently faces an $8.3 billion deficit.
"Right now Congress holds the key to the financial stability of the Postal Service," said Paul Barner, a carrier from Roswell. "The Postal Service has overfunded its Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System by $50-$75 billion."
The proposed bill - that as of Tuesday morning was co-sponsored by 215 members of Congress - would allow the USPS to use excess retirement funds to keep the organization afloat. Postal workers were collecting petition signatures supporting the bill and hoping that Rep. Tom Price, R-6th Congressional District, will be a co-sponsor.
Eileen Ford, the 6th Congressional District Liaison for the National Association of Letter Carriers will delivered the petition signatures to Price's office Wednesday morning and is hopeful for his support
"I'm trying to save my job and my co-workers jobs," said Ford. "[If the bill passes] all of this talk about downsizing and closing offices won't happen."
Postal workers are concerned that politicians and the media were painting the USPS in a poor light, with claims that the service was looking for a bailout and is in far worse financial shape than it actually is.
"We would have only been in the red possibly one year [since 2006] had it not been for the prefunding," said Bob Johnson, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers' Roswell branch.
When asked about the claims that the Postal Service was looking for a bailout, both Ford and Johnson denied such claims.
"It's not a bailout," Johnson said. "We operate on the stamps and postage that people pay. It pays the salaries, the vehicles, it pays for everything."
"We don't need [a bailout]," said Ford. "The money is there, just let us have it back so we can get on with business and get the mail to the people."
Local residents continued to stop and talk with postal workers throughout the rally, some out of curiousity, but many were supportive. Small business owner Lisa Cabus was one of those in support of the workers.
"I expect packages six days a week," said Cabus. "This is very important to me and I rely on the Postal Service for deliveries everyday."