Studies show that every dollar invested in the local economy is re-circulated seven times. In an economy where we are on the dawn of recovery, every dollar that supports local jobs is a critical dollar.
However, the U.S. Postal Service has begun a review that proposes to consolidate postal services from Helena and Butte, and move them to Great Falls. This means that Helena and Butte will lose good quality, sustainable jobs and a significant amount of buying power that is fueled by that re-circulation.
For Helena and Butte, along with their businesses, local and state government offices and nonprofit organizations, this consolidation means a reduction in mail service, delayed mail deliveries, the loss of overnight mail delivery and the loss of the historic Capitol City postmark. The proposed consolidation will cost more money for less service, because mail will be trucked from Helena and Butte up to Great Falls, in many cases, only to be trucked back to these communities for delivery to Helena and Butte mail recipients.
Why would the USPS even fund the review of such a regressive idea? Well, it's about a national war on workers. You've heard about it in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, etc. where Republican leaders are engaging in legislative attacks against workers, insisting that workers - and not corporations and banks - will have to tighten their belts and accept lower wages, no healthcare, and lesser pensions all in the name of economic recovery.
Congressman Dennis Ross, R-Florida, said, "The union contract renewals are the best chance to find new savings. The Postal Service must show Congress and the American people that it can pay its own way, because the numbers do not seem to add up."
The Postal Service budget doesn't balance because the pension for postal workers has been overfunded and the retiree healthcare plan has been pre-funded to the tune of almost $75 billion dollars by the same committee that has refused to stop the overpayments. The
American Postal Workers Union that represents thousands of these workers has repeatedly urged Rep. Ross to stop the overpayments. The fact is that without the overfunding of the pension, the Postal service has a healthy budget and there is no need to cut jobs, wages, or postal service standards.
Why would Republicans go to such lengths when they campaigned on the platform of "responsible spending" and "job creation?" It goes back to the battles we've seen in Wisconsin and across the country where Republicans are aiming to weaken the lot of working people and in doing so, un-fund the supporters of their democratic opponents in public elections.
Proving that history repeats itself and workers must always stand together, the super rich and the super greedy are once again salaciously buying political power and using that power to push the middle class back into poverty and oppression.
This is our Montana and our hometowns of Butte and Helena. We deserve better than below-standard postal service and we need good, quality jobs. This war on workers and all of its casualties doesn't belong in our post offices and it doesn't belong in local Montana communities. Through our collective local voices, we can flex our own muscle. Please speak up for the continuation of prompt postal services and the retention of local, sustainable jobs!
- Jim McGarvey is the Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO