The proposed June closure of Salem’s mail-sorting plant, which would result in delays for all mail in the region and the loss of about 100 area jobs, will be protested at noon on Wednesday, April 17th.

“This closure is unnecessary, unfair and unwise,” says Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier who vowed to join the action.  If the sorting plant closes, Salem-to-Salem mail will be trucked to Portland for sortation.

“Rural communities, seniors and the disabled, small businesses and low-income communities will be hardest hit,” said Rev. John Schwiebert, who also intends to protest.  “Postal management needs to stop and reverse these closures and cuts which are sending our beloved postal service into a death spiral.”

Organizers expect protesters from Salem, Portland, Eugene and rural Oregon to join the one-hour April 17 sit-in at Salem’s Main Post Office, 1050 25th St SE.

Since July 1st, the Postmaster General has closed one-third of the nation’s mail sorting facilities and is on track to close half — including Salem, Springfield, Bend and Pendleton in Oregon – eliminating close to 200,000 jobs across the country.

One third of the nation’s post offices are up for sale, and hundreds are being closed with thousands having their hours reduced by half. Postal trucking and custodial services face outsourcing while the Postmaster General has declared an end to Saturday mail delivery, beginning in August.

The protesters, organized by Communities and Postal Workers United, a national grassroots network, claims that a 2006 Congressional mandate, which forces the U.S. Postal Service to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, has created a phony financial crisis.  Not only would the postal service have been profitable without the mandate, says CPWU, the USPS has also overpaid tens of billions into two pension funds.

Partridge and other activists are calling on postal management to suspend cuts and closures and allow Congress to fix the finances by repealing the prefunding mandate and refunding the pension surplus.