SURRY — On Tuesday, postal workers across the country rallied in support of a bill before Congress that could save America’s Postal Service.
Organizers staged rallies in every congressional district in the country.
Surry resident and retired letter carrier John Curtis organized the event in Bangor at the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
Curtis, who retired this past June after serving as a letter carrier with the Ellsworth post office for 12 years, said the rally in Bangor was organized to thank Michaud for his support of House Bill 1351 and to inform the public about the Postal Service’s financial situation and its potential impact in rural Maine.
In an interview before the rally, Curtis said the Postal Service has been losing money over the past four or five years, but not for the reason most people attribute to the financial crisis.
He said the postal service has netted $600 million in profit over the past four years from delivering mail, but its bottom line shows some $20 billion in losses.
Curtis, who continues to work on behalf of the letter carriers union, and other members of the National Association of Letter Carriers cite a 2006 congressional mandate as the cause of the red ink that has plagued the Postal Service in recent years.
Curtis said lawmakers in 2006 mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund its retirees’ health benefits for the coming 75 years over the ensuing decade — putting $5.5 billion a year for 10 years into its future retiree health benefit fund.
“That’s a very aggressive schedule,” Curtis said. “It is not realistic, and it has sunk the Postal Service into debt.”