The American Postal Workers Union is urging the public to back a congressional measure, House Bill 1351, so that the Postal Service will be saved rather than gutted with mail service drastically reduced.

On Sunday, an APWU member in front of Toby’s Feed Barn handed out union fliers and collected signatures in support of the proposed legislation.

“The Postal Service is critical to our economy, delivering mail, medicine, and packages on time and for a good price,” the union notes. “Yet plans are underway to close thousands of post offices, eliminate Saturday delivery, close mail processing facilities, cut services, and lay off 120,000 employees.”

What a great idea! Throw 120,000 people out of work in the middle of a recession! Sort of like lightening the ship by tossing the crew overboard.

“The problem,” the APWU says, “is that a bill passed in 2006 is pushing the Postal Service into bankruptcy. The law imposes a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years, to ‘pre-fund’ healthcare benefits for future retirees… The $20 billion in postal losses you heard about doesn’t stem from the mail but rather from [the] congressional mandate.

“This congressional mandate costs the USPS more than $5 billion a year, and it is the cause of the Postal Service’s financial crisis. Meanwhile the USPS has overpaid billions of dollars into federal pension accounts.”

On Sunday, Point Reyes Station postal clerk Kathy Runnion sat beside the town post office gathering signatures on petitions that ask Congress to change the 2006 law. Kathy has spent the last 22 years working for the Postal Service.

“Legislation pending in the House of Representatives would prevent a collapse of the USPS, without drastic cuts in service, without massive layoffs, and without terminating collective bargaining rights for postal employees,” APWU says.

“H.R. 1351, introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would allow the Postal Service to apply the billions of dollars in pension overpayments to meet the Postal Service’s financial obligations.

“How much will this cost you as a taxpayer?” the union asks. “Not a single cent. That’s because the Postal Service doesn’t run on tax dollars. It’s funded solely by the sale of stamps and postage.

“Approximately 200 members of the House of Representative have signed on as co-sponsers for H.R. 1351, both Democrats and Republicans,” says APWU, “but more support is needed.”

The union notes that “the postal service hasn’t used a dime of taxpayer money in 30 years… Customer satisfaction and on-time deliveries are at record levels, labor productivity has doubled, and for six years running the American people have named postal employees the most-trusted federal workers.”

More details can be found at SaveAmericasPostalService.

Of course, the Postal Service sometimes delivers surprises. In last week’s mail I received an offer for a free cremation. Perhaps I should rush right out and get one before the offer expires.