About 50 active and retired members of the National Association of Letter Carriers and others marched Thursday outside the downtown Toledo office of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to protest cost-cutting legislation that would downsize the U.S. Postal Service.
The hour-long demonstration in front of the Ohio Building on Madison Avenue was part of the "Save America's Postal Service" demonstrations outside of Senate offices across the country, designed to apply pressure to oppose Senate Bill 1789.
Organizers said the postal reform bill would eliminate Saturday delivery within two years, delay mail delivery times, close 287 mail sort centers and 3,700 post offices, and cut 220,000 jobs -- half by attrition and half by firing -- eventually ending door-to-door delivery completely.
The mail processing center on South St. Clair Street in Toledo's Warehouse District is among the facilities facing closure, a move that would affect 35,000 workers. Five Toledo post offices are also on the closure list -- Manhattan Boulevard, Point Place, Old West End, East Toledo, and Dorr Street.
The U.S. Postal Service said it needs to downsize and restructure its health-care program to close its deficit.
"It is just not necessary," Dennis Carman, president of the letter carriers Branch 100 representing more than 300 workers employed at post offices in northwest Ohio, said of the proposed cuts.
Leaflets that the protesters distributed during the national day of action maintain that work performed by the Postal Service in delivering mail, medicine, and packages at low cost in a timely fashion is vital to a thriving economy.
Retired postal employee John Boellner, who was among the demonstrators, said 35 million Americans depend on the agency and the cost-cutting measures will hurt small business owners and citizens who depend on the mail to get medicine, checks, and other important documents.
"We visit every home in America every day. We understand what people go though," said Mr. Boellner, a 37-year postal worker who lives in Maumee. "It seems like they want to dismantle the Postal Service."
No one from the office of Senator Portman, a Republican, came out during the demonstration. The senator said in a statement that he will continue monitoring decisions affecting mail delivery for Ohioans and assure that Ohio employees are treated fairly.
"The closures are very difficult for a lot of hardworking Ohioans employed by the postal service and the communities they serve. That's why I have publicly called for the USPS to approach postal down-sizing decisions with careful study and full participation from the affected communities and work force. Unfortunately, USPS as currently structured is losing billions of dollars every year, and it must be reformed to preserve this important public service while restoring long-term fiscal sustainability," he said.
Toledo city Councilman George Sarantou talked to the demonstrators after he left his office in the building across the street.
He blamed the agency's red ink on 2006 legislation that mandated setting aside 75 years' worth of future retiree health benefits over a 10-year period.
"This will have a very negative effect. It will mean more delays. It is just going to be a mess," Mr. Sarantou said about the cuts. "This is just horrible legislation."
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Letter carriers say legislation will cause delays, large job losses.