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Letter carriers rally against postal service cuts

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Letter carriers rally against postal service cuts
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Saturday mail delivery will be a thing of the past if Congress passes Bill 1789. That's according to letter carriers who rallied in downtown Syracuse Thursday. They want Congress to kill the bill that would eliminate both Saturday delivery and door to door service. As our Katie Gibas reports, letter carriers say the bill is a short-term fix, but they want long-term solutions.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Dozens of letter carriers rallied outside the Federal Building in Syracuse to oppose Senate Bill 1789: A proposal that if passed, they say could destroy the postal service.

"We have a lot of people out there who are worried. They depend on these good middle class jobs. If you eliminate 100,000 jobs in this economy today, how is that going to help the economy? You're just going to have less people paying taxes. You're going to kill a business," said Jim Lostumbo, the President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 134.

The bill calls for shortening the delivery week to five days and eliminating door to door delivery. Postal workers say the bill would delay service, close offices and eliminate tens of thousands of jobs.

"If they eliminate Saturday delivery, door to door delivery, businesses that use the postal service are not going to want to use us anymore," said Lostumbo.

Tom Dlugolenski, a letter carrier, added, "We're the thread in the social fabric of society. We weave in and out of every house every day and because of that, we save people. We put out fires. We find elderly in distress. If you take that away and you take that door to door delivery away, you take away that connection that people have and that's something that we cherish."

Over the last several years, the postal service has been forced to pay $5.5 billion annually to cover future retiree health benefits, costing them to be in the red by billions of dollars every year. The bill would reduce the amount the service would have to pay, but the cost will still be about $4 billion. Workers say if they could pay year-by-year, like every other company, they would be profitable.

"No other company. No government entity has to pay this but the postal service. And if anyone else had this, no company could survive," said Lostumbo.

Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle says she will be meeting with postal workers next week about how to move forward.

"Any loss of jobs, especially in this fragile economy is something very serious to consider and then you have to consider that the postal service hires so many veterans. And that's a concern to us. We take this very seriously," said Buerkle.

Letter carriers say they hope when Congress returns to session next week, legislators will vote no to the bill as it is currently written.

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