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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/5/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Unless $5.5 billion is paid by this winter - NO ONE will get Christmas cards

Teetering on the brink of insolvency, the United States Postal Service may shutdown altogether, leading to an extremely dire Christmas season with NO ONE getting cards or gifts in the mail. Unless the agency is able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month, the post office may have to shut down altogether this winter. Congress will have to take emergency action to stabilize the post office's finances.

A hearing on Tuesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will address the agency's predicament. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, still smarting from the brawl over the federal debt ceiling, have no solutions forthcoming.

A hearing on Tuesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will address the agency's predicament. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, still smarting from the brawl over the federal debt ceiling, have no solutions forthcoming.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/5/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Postal Service, insolvency, email, health benefits


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Our situation is extremely serious," the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe says. "If Congress doesn't act, we will default."

Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency's deficit. Plans include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers, or nearly one-fifth of the agency's work force in spite of a no-layoffs clause in the unions' contracts.

The American institution is being squeezed on both sides from revenue and costs.

The Internet generation has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail. Mail volume has fallen with the rise of e-mail, electronic bill-paying and a Web that makes everything from fashion catalogs to news instantly available. The system handles an estimated 167 billion pieces of mail this fiscal year, down 22 percent from five years ago.

Simultaneously, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office's costs.

Labor represents 80 percent of the post office's expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.

A hearing on Tuesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will address the agency's predicament. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, still smarting from the brawl over the federal debt ceiling, have no solutions forthcoming.

"The situation is dire," Thomas R. Carper, the Delaware Democrat who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the postal service says. "If we do nothing, if we don't react in a smart, appropriate way, the postal service could literally close later this year. That's not the kind of development we need to inject into a weak, uneven economic recovery."

Missing the $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30, intended to finance retirees' future health care, won't cause immediate disaster. But sometime early next year, the agency will run out of money to pay its employees and gas up its trucks, officials warn, forcing it to stop delivering the roughly three billion pieces of mail it handles weekly.
 

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