Idea to trim US mail delivery prompts new hunger strike

 

Washington

As negotiations continue between the Senate and the House on a possible year-end deal to help the financially struggling US Postal Service, a small band of protesters launched its second hunger strike in six months on Tuesday.

The six former and current postal workers, who call themselves Communities and Postal Workers United, have set up an encampment on the National Mall in Washington. They say they are protesting an offer by Senate negotiators to put five-day mail delivery on the table, a change that could eliminate as many as 25,000 letter-carrier jobs.

"We're declaring an emergency postal hunger strike to head off five-day delivery," said Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier from Portland, Ore. "If we can turn up the pressure and prevent the lame-duck session from passing postal legislation, we will, because it's bound to be a bad bill."

He said the hunger strike will continue until late Saturday.

During the 112th Congress, House and Senate leaders have been unable to agree on legislation to help stabilize the Postal Service, which is losing billions of dollars a year. A bill the Senate passed last spring would put off a switch to five-day service for two years, transfer billions of dollars from a pension fund to allow the agency to offer buyouts to workers and extend the payment schedule for benefits the Postal Service must set aside for future retirees.

A bill proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would give the agency more latitude to cut services, for example, eliminating six-day service now. It would put a panel in charge of overseeing postal finances and prohibit labor contracts that prevent layoffs, among other provisions.

But Issa did not have the votes to bring it to the floor, and an overhaul seemed unlikely to pass this year.

In November, retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., one of the sponsors of the Senate bill, offered to get talks moving by giving up Saturday delivery for letters, a change the Postal Service has sought for years but which has generated opposition in both parties.

But sticking points remain, say aides on committees involved in the talks. The Senate still opposes Issa's proposal to restrict the Postal Service's ability to negotiate labor agreements, and there is disagreement over how much payments for future health benefits should be reduced.

Any bill would likely be tacked onto legislation resolving the budget debate over taxes, spending and the federal deficit now consuming Congress.

"If action isn't taken soon, the Postal Service will go off its own fiscal cliff," said Emily Spain, a spokeswoman for Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del.

Partridge was one of 10 activists who held a five-day hunger strike in Washington in June, declaring that Congress was "starving" the Postal Service by requiring the agency to set aside health payments. They met with Capitol Hill staffers but were turned back from a meeting with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Their highest-profile supporter is Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a labor champion who is leaving Congress.

In a statement, Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said, "We respect the right of our employees to engage in lawful public dialogue regarding postal issues." He added, however, that "it is critical for Congress to pass comprehensive postal reform legislation" before adjourning this year.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit