Supporters of House bill rally to save USPS

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Hundreds of supporters of a bill that would free-up pension money to restock U.S. Postal Service funds rallied around the Midlands Tuesday.

House Bill 1351, or the USPS Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act, is designed to release $6.9 billion in pension obligations back into the postal service's coffers.

The National Association of Letter Carriers wants to see this bill passed, so it held gatherings outside the offices of Rep. Jim Clyburn and Rep. Joe Wilson.

A spokesman for Rep. Wilson says the congressman is still reviewing the bill and hasn't reached a decision.

Rep. Clyburn says is in favor the H.R. 1351.

"When I met with them, I said I was very much for the bill," Rep. Clyburn states.

President Kem Kinard of the South Carolina chapter of the America Postal Workers union says no other government agency or private corporation bears the burden of having to prefund employees' retirement and healthcare plans at a cost of more than $5 billion dollars a year.

"It is going to bankrupt the postal service if we can't get something resolved," says Kinard. "We've had some positive response, but we still need more."

According to Kinard, the passing the bill would prevent the collapse of the USPS and spare thousands of locations from being closed, in addition to eliminating jobs and causing a delay in service, not to mention pay cuts.

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"We could lose 220,000 jobs," adds retired postal worker Richard Jones.

But officials stress they're not asking for a bail out.

The money that we are asking Congress to allow us access is money that we paid into over funded to various systems like our federal employees retirement system, says Harry Spratlin, Greater South Carolina District Post Office.

Spratlin says the post office needs the money to prepay employee health benefits.

Nearly 4,000 post offices across the nation are also being studied because of low productivity and being considered for shutdown.

Four post offices in our area are included; King Haigler, Peak, Edgewood Station and Shaw Air Force Base branches.

Officials are also considering consolidating the Florence distribution center, with the one in Cayce to save costs in South Carolina.

What do you think about the bill to free up $6.9 billion to help a struggling postal service? Will it save the sinking service. Vote in our poll below and leave a comment.