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Letter carrier rally for Postal Service

Lawrence Pierce
Letter carriers from around the state gather in front of the Kanawha City post office on Sunday to rally to keep six-day mail delivery.
Lawrence Pierce Nearly 100 people from across the state gather along the street for the rally organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Lawrence Pierce Holly Allen (center) and Greg Bushy, both of Charleston, hold up signs on MacCorkle Avenue Sunday in support of keeping six-day mail delivery.
Lawrence Pierce Tim McKay, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers hands letter carrier Sam Cochran a T-shirt. The group gathered with others Sunday to rally in support of maintaining six-day mail delivery.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dozens of letter carriers lined a section of MacCorkle Avenue on Sunday despite the rain to remind the public of the troubles the U.S. Postal Service is facing.

"We have to carry the mail in the rain, so this doesn't mean a thing," said John Humphrey, a retired letter carrier from Buckhannon. "People depend on us."

Humphrey stood in front of the Kanawha City post office holding a "West Virginians for 6 DAY" sign that read, "Don't dismantle our postal service."

Nearly 100 people from across the state gathered along the street for the rally organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers. Many drivers honked horns and waved.

"In a rural state like West Virginia, mail service is especially important -- it's how most people communicate," said Tim McKay, president of the the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 531.

Even after Congress struck down a cost-saving plan Thursday to cut Saturday delivery, McKay thinks more needs to be done.

"Every year [Congress] has to determine whether six-day service will be continued," he said. "There needs to be permanent legislation."

Those in attendance also voiced concerns over pensions and the requirement that the USPS pre-fund retirement and health care.

"It's not fair. We're the only government agency that has to do that," said Darren Smith, of Parkersburg. "We would have a surplus if it wasn't for that."

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 requires the USPS pay $5.5 billion a year to pre-fund pension benefits for 75 years.

"If we're not delivering, someone else will," said Walter Brummage, of Fairmont.

Many letter carriers at the rally said while they know a five-day schedule would mean job loss, their main concerns are for customers.

"For some, Saturday might just mean getting a lot of junk mail, but for others that might be the day their medicine comes," said John Casto, of St. Albans. "We want to bring to people's attention that the postmaster general doesn't speak for everyone," he said, referring to Patrick Donahoe telling lawmakers cutting Saturday delivery would save the agency $2 billion a year.

"He just took a guess," McKay said about the amount.

Elaine Harris, with the Communication Workers of America, said unnecessary expenses must be need trimmed in order to save the USPS.

"And it's the people at the top who aren't on the front lines getting to make the decisions," she said. "This is serious business.

"They deliver us the mail in, like their motto says, 'rain, sleet, hail or snow', so I came to show support," Harris said.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723. 


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