In North Side, over 250 protest proposal to end Saturday mail delivery |
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Tony LaRussa
Local faith, community and labor groups rally outside the USPS General Mail Facility in North Side on Sunday, March 24, 2013, to protest a proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. This was part of a chain of rallies across the country on Sunday. The crowd included U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, State Sen. Jim Ferlo, the state chairman of the AFL-CIO and representatives of Pittsburgh UNITED, One Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, post office workers from across the region.

More than 250 people rallied at a North Side postal facility on Sunday to protest the proposed elimination of Saturday mail delivery.

“The CEOs and corporate America are not the ones that build the middle class,” said the Rev. Kenneth Love, pastor of Kerr Presbyterian Church in Penn Hills. “They’re the ones that give a hard time to the middle class with stupid ideas like cutting our postal service back to five days a week.”

The postal service, which lost $15.9 billion last year and is near its borrowing limit, said in February that it planned to eliminate a day of mail delivery to save about $2 billion a year.

Postal officials have said the agency is burdened by mounting expenses for future retiree health benefits.

Charles Hamilton of New Brighton in Beaver County said he is worried his ailing wife could be harmed if mail delivery is scaled back.

“The Lord has blessed me with good health,” said Hamilton, 81, who retired from the post office after 32 years. “Unfortunately, my wife, Betty, is not in this situation. She takes five different medications daily and these arrive at our residence by U.S. mail and are delivered by union letter carriers.”

Hamilton said he and his wife fear that eliminating Saturday delivery could result in a delay in receiving prescriptions when regular postal holidays occur.

Brian Wilkesmore, 29, of Whitehall, who has been working for the Postal Service for six years since his discharge from the Marine Corps, with which he served three tours in Iraq, said maintaining Postal Service jobs is important to veterans.

“I find myself in the trenches fighting again,” he said. “But now it’s for my job and future veterans’ jobs,” he said.

Rallies similar to the one in Pittsburgh, which featured speeches from union leaders, Postal Service employees, ministers and politicians, were held across the country on Sunday, according to organizers.

The rallies occur on the heels of a statement on Thursday by the Government Accountability Office that raises questions about whether the service may cut Saturday mail delivery as Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said it will do.

The service is bound by law to deliver mail six days a week and is incorrect in interpreting that the temporary measure used to fund government operations released it from that requirement, the GAO said in a letter to Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who requested that the watchdog agency look into the matter.

Despite the GAO’s ruling, several lawmakers who support the reduction told Postal Service officials to continue to prepare to end Saturday delivery.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or [email protected].

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