By Alicia M. Cohn - 12/23/12 05:49 PM EST
A group of postal workers striking against proposed cuts to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) declared a "people's victory" late Saturday after holding a fast for six days.
The small group of retired and active letter carriers, calling themselves the Communities and Postal Workers United (CPWU), had staged protests on the National Mall and Capitol Hill this week to raise awareness about proposed legislation that would reduce the USPS delivery week to five days.
“We will not stand by as our beloved postal service is destroyed,” Tom Dodge, a postal worker from Baltimore, said in a statement from the CPWU.
The USPS is bleeding millions every day. The agency lost $16 billion in fiscal year 2012, and needs to cut around $22.5 billion from its annual budget by 2016. One proposed budget solution, that has been spearheaded by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and endorsed by President Obama, is to reduce the number of days the mail is delivered.
The strikers are calling on postal management to suspend cuts and closures of mail sorting plants. They suggest Congress fix the budgetary problems by repealing the prefunding mandate and refunding the pension surplus instead.
The USPS is required to prefund retiree health benefits but has defaulted on two separate prepayments already this year. The agency had also hoped that surplus payments to the Federal Employees Retirement Service could be used to help stabilize its financial situation, but the amount of projected overpayment is disputed.