Retired postal service workers fret over agency's future

By Cheyrl Glassford, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, August 05, 2012

As the U.S. postal service continues to struggle, a community in Polk county is reacting to the troubles.

The agency defaulted this week on a $5.5 billion dollar payment to the federal government, and it was the main topic of discussion at National Associated Letter Carriers Retirement Education Security Training foundation (NALCREST), a union retirement community for letter carriers in Lake Wales.

Retired postal worker Matty Rose can still recall the names of some of his customers.

“The best thing about being a letter carrier is your customers and providing the service - not only mail delivery, but other unwritten services that go along with being a letter carrier,” said Rose, wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. Postal Service symbol.

Although some things may have remained the same since Rose was a letter carrier, technology has not.

“Communications are very impersonal, with Facebook and the Internet,” he said, "You receive a hand written letter, that means a lot more."

As a sign of those changing times, the struggling agency defaulted this week on the payment mean to cover health benefits for future retirees. 

Rose will still get his checks, but he's worried about the future of his friends' careers - those still in the business.

 “They’re dedicated to their job; they’re dedicated to their customers,” he said.

The postal service already plans to shut down certain processing plants, including one in Lakeland.  It could also cancel Saturday service and cut back hours.

Congress remains stalled over legislation meant to help the agency's financial situation but could also close some post offices.

“We have a lot of rural areas in Polk county, and that plan will severely decrease services to rural areas,” Rose said.

In any case, Rose hopes to see things improve for an agency that gave him a career he's still proud of.