July 1st, 2010 5:33 pm | by Hadley Malcolm News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Portland-Area Postal Workers Protest Prospect of Five-day Mail Week

Portland postal worker protest

Today's rain didn't stop Portland-area postal employees from gathering to protest a Postal Service proposal to end Saturday mail delivery.

About 40 sign-toting letter carriers and other employees chanted “Your mail, your service, six days a week” as they marched on the sidewalk this afternoon outside Portland's main post office on Northwest Hoyt Street.

The proposed end to Saturday service would help save a couple billion dollars for a national service that could face a $238 billion loss in the next ten years. But that didn't cut it with demonstrators.

“We're a public service industry and reducing service doesn't seem like a way to run a service industry,” said Joe Cogan, a clerk who has worked 26 years for the Postal Service. Many of his colleagues talked about the importance of Saturday mail when it comes to prescription medicines, businesses that remain open on weekends, and companies like Netflix.

Portland postal worker protest

“To some people, every day is important,” said Jim Cook, president of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Secretary of State Kate Brown, who'd been worried about the impact on Oregon's vote-by-mail system of an earlier proposal to kill off delivery on Tuesdays (Election Day), isn't excited about the loss of Saturday delivery either. Also there to echo her sentiment were staffers from the offices of Oregon Democratic Reps. David Wu, Earl Blumenauer, and Kurt Schrader as well as from the office of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

As the Postal Service continually competes with the Internet, the agency's mail volume declined from 213 billion pieces in 2007 to 177 billion in 2009.

Getting rid of Saturday mail delivery would provide tremendous financial relief to the system, says Ron Anderson, a local Postal Service spokesman. But postal employees and politicians are fighting hard to make sure that doesn't happen. House Resolution 173, introduced last year in Congress, supports six-day mail service and has about 200 co-sponsors. And Portland's local postal workers aren't backing down.

“Ben Franklin started [the postal service] 235 years ago and it has successfully united this country more than any other institution,” Cook said. “We don't want to see it unravel.”
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