The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Chicago Postal Workers Denounce Service Cuts, Massive Layoffs

By Chris Bentley in News on Dec 9, 2011 7:20PM

Image Credit: Jen Marie

Letter carriers railed last night against proposed cuts to the U.S. Postal Service that would shutter nine mail processing centers in Illinois, including three in the Chicago area.

A monthly meeting in their Bronzeville union hall had the spirit of a rally, welcoming support from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

On Monday the Postal Service announced $3 billion in cuts that would close 252 processing centers and practically eliminate next-day delivery to help the agency avert bankruptcy. The reductions would result in roughly 28,000 layoffs.

Postal workers argue the cuts will create a vicious cycle in which service reductions push more customers to email and online bill payment, further reducing revenue. Post office and processing center closings are likely to exacerbate economic problems for the South and West side neighborhoods that bear the brunt of the cuts in the area.

Mack Julion, president of Chicago’s Branch 11 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the government’s pension requirements caused the postal service’s fiscal crisis:

“The postal service has overfunded two of our pension funds by 50 to 70 billion dollars, depending on which audit you want to believe. So all of the financial gloom and doom they are portraying … don’t believe the hype,” Julion said.

As an independent government agency, the Postal Service does not receive tax money, although it is subject to congressional control. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe could reduce some services, such as first-class mail delivery, without permission from the house committee that oversees the agency. But any major revision of the Postal Service’s healthcare or retirement plans would hinge on action from Congress.