CAPE CORAL, Fla.- All across the nation, thousands gathered to protest proposed cuts to the United States Postal Service. Even locally, rallies are under way in Naples and Cape Coral. Postal workers and their supporters rallied outside Congressman Connie Macks's Cape Coral office. They want him to vote against cuts to the postal service.
"Our message to Congress is they created this problem in 2006 and they can fix it," Sam Wood, president of the Southwest Florida chapter of the American Postal Workers Union.
He represents nearly a thousand workers from Port Charlotte to Marco Island. He says nearly half of them could soon be out of a job because the U.S.P.S. is in a financial crisis.
"Since 2006, we've been facing a 5.6 billion dollar deficit at the beginning of every year," Wood explained.
This is because a law passed in 2006 mandated the postal service begin pre-funding 75 years worth of health benefits in just ten years.
The goal of the rally? To push Congress to support House resolution 13-51, which would credit back the over-payment of health benefits and put more money in the agency's pocket.
"It's a proven fact that if we did not have that prefunded mandate, we would have had a profit of between 600 million and 1 billion dollars in the last four years," Wood said.
If Congress doesn't support this resolution, they'll look at ways to slash the deficit.
That includes stopping mail delivery on Saturday, layoffs and consolidation of processing plants.
The plant in Fort Myers is one location that may be closed.
"It's going to affect the public in a negative way," Wood continued.
People at a Cape Coral post office were divided on the issue.
Congressman Connie Mack issued this statement about the rally. It says in part:
"Not satisfied with the agreement they made then, the postal union protesters would rather fight the American taxpayer for a bailout than come up with a solution to sustain the longevity of the postal service."
Mack goes on to say, with a nearly 80 percent drop in service, the U.S.P.S. has to make cuts somewhere.