YOUNGSTOWN - Letter carriers and other U.S. Postal Service employees rallied at the downtown Post Office Sunday to protect Saturday mail delivery and demand that federal lawmakers provide a better plan to buttress the agency.
The fight is to prevent six-day mail service from reaching the chopping block on Aug. 5, a plan that's been put into motion to help the Postal Service overcome financial challenges related to a 2006 congressional mandate to prefund 75 years of employee health care in a period of 10 years.
The mandate is costing the agency $5.5 billion a year.
''You cannot cut your way to prosperity,'' said Dominic Corso, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 443, which represents clerical and maintenance workers and mechanics and drivers.
He called the reduction plan ''ridiculous'' and a ''death spiral'' that could lead to even more reduction. Already, the agency has combined a number of mail processing centers around the United States, including folding in the one in Youngstown with a processor in Cleveland.
Ron Conrad, vice president of Local 443, said three shifts remained staffed there, but by a ''minimal'' number of employees, which Corso called a ''skeleton crew.'' Stopping the consolidation effort was another item on ralliers' agenda, Conrad said.
''It will cause an erosion of universal service,'' he said.
Similar ''Delivering for America'' rallies were held across the nation for workers and the public to show their displeasure for ending six-day service, what the union representing letter carriers called ''an attack'' on the future of the agency and the customers and employees who support it.
About 75 people, according to Corso, showed to protest the move and lobby Congress to find a better plan.
"What we're attempting to do is encourage the people in Congress to maintain six-day mail delivery," Henry Gomez, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, told to Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33.
Reducing delivery would, according to a news release, hurt small business owners, senior citizens and citizens in rural areas and delay important transactions, like bill paying and personal communications, and maybe force users to higher cost competitors.
''Established by the Constitution and using no taxpayer funding for its operations, the Postal Service is a vital public institution that Ohio cannot afford to see dismantled,'' the release states.