Retired Portland mail carrier Jaime Partridge put the finishing touches on his monthlong “postal road warrior trip” when he visited Eugene Aug. 27. Partridge has been visiting Oregon U.S. Postal Service (USPS) processing centers and post offices on the chopping block in the coming year to help communities organize to save them. While here, he met with members of the Eugene/Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN), a local labor and civil rights organization that will continue the fight to save the Gateway processing center in Springfield.
The USPS is moving forward with its cutback plan to reduce service in mostly rural areas, and Eugene/Springfield, Salem, Bend and Pendleton are slated to lose processing centers, and with them, hundreds of local, living wage jobs, one and two day delivery for bulk and surface goods and overnight first class services, Partridge says.
Opponents of the plan say if the local processing center is closed, the need to truck Eugene and Springfield’s mail to Portland for sorting then back for distribution will cause a delay in services as well as increased transportation costs and use of fossil fuels.
“The Postal Service, in its cost analysis of what they would save from closing these plants and eliminating these jobs, doesn’t even take into account transportation costs,” Partridge said at a press conference outside the Eugene downtown post office Aug. 27.
That the USPS is in serious financial straits has been widely accepted, but Partridge says there is an easy fix if only Congress would repeal a 2006 mandate it made requiring that the service pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance; a burden in the billions of dollars yearly not required of any other agency or company. Partridge says if the mandate were repealed, USPS would basically break even.
Partridge has teamed up with ESSN to help organize local resistance to the closure of the Gateway Mail Processing Center, and a public meeting was held Aug. 27 to begin organizing a coalition that will defend the local center and its services. ESSN co-chair Shelley Jensen says the group has taken up the fight to ensure that postal services residents count on will still be available to them. “I believe the Postal Service is a service, not a business. We vote by mail in Oregon; postal service is fundamental to democracy in Oregon.” Jensen says. More information about the local effort can be found at essn.weebly.com or by phone at 736-9041.