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The change would mean no mail delivery for three days when a Monday is a holiday.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Lisa Kirkwood of Goodview participates in a postal rally Sunday in front of the American Postal Workers' Union Hall along Williamson Road in Roanoke.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Christopher Russo, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 524, speaks to rally attendees during the rally.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
The snow and cold didn’t deter several dozen people, many of whom were letter carriers, from an outdoor rally against the plans to end Saturday mail delivery.
After all, many of those postal workers will likely find themselves braving the elements today to deliver mail.
“Cold rain is worse than snow,” said carrier Mary Heaton , seeking some shelter from the snow as she stood outside the American Postal Workers’ Union Hall.
Heaton said carriers get used to the rugged weather.
At Sunday’s rally, carriers lined Williamson Road outside the hall holding signs that read: “Virginians for 6-day” and “Don’t dismantle our Postal Service.” Cars passing by honked.
The rally was aimed at calling attention to how ending Saturday mail delivery potentially could affect the area.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced in February plans for the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery in August. It would be the biggest change in mail delivery in decades and is estimated to save about $2 billion.
But letter carriers at Sunday’s rally said the change could have a serious impact on the timeliness of mail delivery and Postal Service jobs.
“I think that too many people take the mail for granted,” carrier Nona Hall said, adding that birthday cards and bills simply arrive, but if service is cut back a day, it will slow delivery.
Hall and Heaton said there’s already a lot of mail on Mondays and cutting Saturday service could further inundate the service. Additionally, others pointed out that when Monday is a holiday, there would be no service for three days, further delaying deliveries.
Hall said rural communities really stand to be hit by a delay.
“They usually have less access to alternate communications,” she said, explaining they have limited Internet service and cellphone reception. “They are more dependent on the mail.”
Christopher Russo, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 524 , said cutting back delivery will certainly affect rural areas, senior citizens and small businesses.
He said scaling back one day of delivery for rural communities is like scaling back one day of communicating with the outside world.
Russo also said cutting back could affect prescription drug programs that use the mail, and that a survey of small businesses indicated that many want Saturday mail delivery to continue.
Russo added that eliminating a day of delivery will also mean the loss of thousands of jobs.
In recent years, the Postal Service has already cut its workforce, consolidated mail processing facilities, eliminated routes and reduced hours at facilities. Earlier this year, the former Lynchburg processing center was consolidated with Roanoke’s facility.
Still, the agency is looking at more potential cuts. Postal Service officials have said that to keep the agency solvent, they must cut back delivery.
Retired letter carrier Jim Rademacher , who served as president of the National Association of Letter Carriers during the U.S. Postal Service strike in 1970, attended the rally Sunday. He had serious concerns and said cutting back Saturday delivery would be only the start.
“If they open the door here to eliminating one day, we’re in trouble,” he said.
Rademacher, 91, who carried mail for decades, said that eliminating a day of delivery will inconvenience people and could be an opening for service to eventually be cut back even more.
He explained that he comes from a family of carriers and that it was important for him to brave the elements and attend Sunday’s rally even though he could be at home watching college basketball.
“It’s in my blood. That’s why I’m here,” he said, adding he could be watching March Madness. “I believe in this.”
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