Frederick residents to hunger strike for USPS

According to some of its workers and retirees, the U.S. Postal Service is being starved.

A 2006 congressional mandate, which requires the Postal Service to fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, is causing massive debt and resulting in facility closures and other cuts, they say.

Malgo Schmidt, an Occupy Frederick member, and Steve Bruns, a retired postal worker who lives in Spring Ridge, plan to participate in a protest in Washington from Monday through Thursday to bring attention to changes that they say are causing the Postal Service to struggle.

Bruns said Friday that he, Schmidt, and at least a dozen other people from around the country will be on a hunger strike during that time period.

The event was organized by Jamie Partridge, a retired postal worker from Oregon, and Tom Dodge, a Baltimore postal worker, Bruns said.

Participants are to begin their four-day protest at 8 a.m. Monday with a sidewalk vigil. During the week, they plan to speak with legislators, hold demonstrations and visit the headquarters of national postal workers unions.

“We are one of the first areas in the country that has experienced the problem with delayed mail,” Bruns said, referring to the mail processing center on Tilco Drive that was shuttered in November, resulting in late and missing mail.

His concerns about the future of the Postal Service include more planned facility closures. He is also upset that, beginning in July, the Postal Service will eliminate overnight delivery of first-class mail.

“I believe that the Postal Service is a vital government service … this is something that is a part of American heritage,” he said. “Congress needs to step in and assert its authority.”

He finds the required prefunding of retirement benefits particularly abhorrent.

“This is people who haven’t been hired yet. People who haven’t even been born yet,” he said.

Schmidt, who is originally from Poland and has lived abroad elsewhere, said she has watched in horror as “the best postal service in the world” has declined because of the actions of the federal government.

“What is being done to the USPS is wrong,” she said. Schmidt believes the aim of what she called “Draconian legislation” is to force the privatization of mail service. She said she looks forward to showing her solidarity with the postal workers and Postal Service retirees beginning Monday.

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