Protesters rally in Lexington to keep Saturday mail delivery

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMarch 24, 2013 

A picket line slogan "don't dismantle our postal service" may not have much zing, but it was enough to rally 65 protesters out into the rain Sunday in opposition to cuts in mail service.

Last month the financially-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which lost $15.9 billion last year, announced the elimination of Saturday service.

On Sunday, members of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers gathered at Lansdowne Drive branch office. For about an hour, workers held signs up for passing cars and listened as politicians and union leaders pleaded to keep six-day service.

"I'm here not so much for myself but for the people I work with to make sure they have jobs far into the future," said Lexington letter carrier Kenneth Duncan, who has worked for the post office for 37 years.

He said elderly or disabled people along his route who receive their medicine through the mail would suffer if Saturday service was eliminated.

"You would be amazed at how much medicine we deliver," he said.

Bob McNulty, president of the Kentucky State Association of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said small businesses who rely on the mail to get payments and important papers will also suffer without Saturday service.

There were some positive developments last week for those in favor of retaining Saturday service.

The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, said in a legal opinion that the post office did not have the authority to make the change without congressional approval, based on a spending measure passed by Congress last year. The opinion was issued on the same day the House sent the president a spending measure that also required the post office to maintain Saturday delivery. That measure keeps the government operating through Sept. 30.

Rep. Andy Barr, a Republican representing Central Kentucky, said he supported that measure but that things will need to change if the post office hopes to survive. He said he came to the protest to hear what postal workers, the ones closest to the issue, have to say about how to make the post office run more smoothly.

With the post office operating with billions of dollars of debt, he said, "obviously we have to do something."

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: bluegrassmoms.com

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