McCaskill touts fight to save rural post offices at SEMO Port stop

Sunday, September 2, 2012
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks at a news conference Friday at the SEMO Regional Port Authority in Scott City. She discussed her work in the Senate to save Missouri's rural post offices. (Fred Lynch)

U.S. Sen Claire McCaskill pledged to continue "rattling some cages" in Washington, D.C., in her fight to save rural post offices during a Southeast Missouri stop Friday at the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority.

McCaskill has been touring the state in recent days to tout her efforts to save more than 100 of Missouri's rural post offices from closure, including Cape Girardeau's Richard G. Wilson Mail Processing and Distribution Facility. McCaskill, a Democrat, is locked in a Senate race with Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a candidate still smarting from comments he made about a woman's ability to thwart pregnancies caused by "legitimate rape."

McCaskill told a small crowd gathered at the port's offices in Scott City that post offices are a critical lifeline for Missouri's rural communities and claimed that her opponent "is part of the problem" as he and other U.S. House Republicans repeatedly refuse to act on legislation to keep their doors open and their workers employed.

Earlier this year, McCaskill attached an amendment to the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 that imposed a one-year moratorium on closing rural post offices. Supporters of McCaskill say the amendment saved jobs and made sure Missouri's outer areas did not lose the crucial services provided to them by the Postal Service. Beyond the moratorium, the McCaskill amendment put in place guidelines for closing post offices that the service must abide by to ensure that they are properly serving rural communities.

The Cape Girardeau facility, which employs about 100, was not among the 140 set to close starting this summer as part of a modified plan to consolidate its mail processing centers. The new two-phase plan calls for up to 140 consolidations to be completed by February and a second round of 89 consolidations to begin in February 2014.

The facilities selected for the second round have not yet been named by the Postal Service.

On Friday, Greg Davidson, president of American Postal Workers Union Cape Area Local 4088, was among those who gathered to hear McCaskill speak.

McCaskill, Davidson said, has been crucial to keeping Missouri post offices open, especially considering she asked for the moratorium.

"She was one of the few senators that signed on to delay the closings," Davidson said. "She's played a very active role in all of this. It's been a very bipartisan effort in the state of Missouri."

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill to bolster the Postal Service, but it's stalled in the House.

Akin has made his case that the Postal Service should be privatized, McCaskill said. That is not the answer, McCaskill said.

Whatever Congress decides to do, Davidson said, the delay has left the Cape Girardeau employees with an air of uncertainty.

"The way it is might change at any second," Davidson said. "Right now we're just biding our time. We've fought so long and so hard we could use the time to recoup."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

10 Bill Bess Drive, Scott City, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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