By Dustin Hurst ǀ Watchdog.org
So did a good number of unions, rallying members against the plan and filling Democrat Tester’s campaign coffers for his help saving government jobs.
As part of its efforts to clean fiscal house, end multi-year billion dollar deficits and modernize services, the post office looked at shuttering more than 3,000 locations nationwide, including 85 Treasure State offices.
Critics of the plan, including labor unions, argued that closing mail locations across the state would irreparably harm communities and might even kill some smaller towns. Business-friendly folks worried less mail access would make it harder to ship and receive products, while seniors stewed over receiving prescription drugs.
Tester and the U.S. Senate passed legislation April 25 delaying all closures for a year and requiring a government oversight panel to apply stringent standards to any office proposed for shutter. If the panel deemed that a closure would harm communities in certain manners, the U.S. Senate-passed rules would stop the process.
The U.S. House never took up the legislation and the postal service is proceeding with a trimmed-down shuttering list, including more than 670 locations nationwide.
None are in Montana.
That might help some rural Montanans, but it also aids some union folks as well.
The ever-occurring rift between rural and suburban post offices was on full display while Montanans stewed over their post offices. Tester and others, including Tester’s November challenger, GOP U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, charged that federal bureaucrats don’t understand Treasure State life and how post offices sustain it.
Critics said that closing rural post offices is much more damaging and hurtful than shuttering a city spot.
Who might benefit from such a push to invoke sympathy for small towns? The National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, a representative union for small community postal workers. The group supported the Senate bill to stop closure of small mail locations, and rallied its members to support an amendment to prevent trimming delivery services to five days from six.
The group also donated $5,000 to Tester’s campaign, with $2,000 of that delivered to the senator’s war chest about two weeks before to the Senate vote.
The National Association of Postmasters of the US also got in on the vote-influencing action, also giving Tester $2,000 just days before the vote.
In all, Tester’s raked in at $22,000 from the national postal worker lobby this election cycle. Rehberg hasn’t taken in any postal-related cash.
Closer to home, unions also favor Tester over Rehberg.
The Montana Postal Workers Union unanimously endorsed Tester just days after he voted to delay closures – and much needed fiscal reform – to endorse the Democrat over Rehberg. A group spokesman told Watchdog.org that Tester supports workers while Rehberg doesn’t.