The Urgent Need for Congressional Funding to Save the Postal Service
(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis places an unprecedented financial strain on the United States Postal Service, with plummeting mail volumes and billions in lost revenue. Without immediate and substantial funding by Congress, Postmaster General Brennan stated before Congress that the USPS will run out of cash before October, threatening the Constitutional role of the public Postal Service, its universal service mandate and 600,000 union jobs.
Post Office Purposely Excluded While Corporations Get Relief
As this issue goes to press, there have been four COVID-19 response “stimulus” packages passed by the federal government. Some packages provided relief to working families, but failed to protect the public Postal Service – while giving hundreds of billions to corporations.
On March 27, President Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus into law. Much-needed financial relief for the USPS was advocated on a bipartisan basis by the Republican- majority Postal Board of Governors and included in both versions of the stimulus packages of the House of Representatives and the Senate, yet the final bill left the Postal Service out.
The White House insisted there would be no such relief, and only allowed a $10 billion loan that must be approved by the Treasury Department. More debt only worsens the USPS finances. Our supporters did not insist on real relief. In another large $500 billion stimulus bill signed by the President on April 24, there again was nothing for the Postal Service. Between the two bills, private corporations and other business interests received almost $1 trillion in financial assistance.
Postal Service Needs Aid Now
Talks in Congress are rapidly progressing regarding further stimulus legislation.
Our Legislative & Political Department has been meeting non-stop with Representatives and Senators on both sides of the aisle, and coordinating with the other postal unions, to advocate for funding. In April, the four postal unions authored a position paper detailing the funding crisis the Postal Service is facing and the important role of its services, especially during times of crisis. The demands include:
- Investment of $25 billion to help the Postal Service weather the pandemic.
- Provide quarterly payments to USPS to cover the difference between postage revenue and USPS operating costs for the duration of the crisis.
- Ensure equal treatment for postal employees in any legislation that authorizes and funds hazard pay for other front-line workers.
The Postal Service employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Small businesses rely on the USPS for delivery, as does rural America, for access to mail and medicine. It is time for Congress to step up and ensure this national treasure enshrined in the Constitution survives by providing the COVID-19 funding the Postal Service needs to continue carrying out its duty of binding the country together.
“APWU members have been crucial in serving the public during this crisis,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. “Funding for the Postal Service needs to be a top priority in the next stimulus.”
Contact Your Members of Congress
Securing financial relief is a key part of our work to ensure the health and safety of postal workers and the long-term future of the Postal Service.
“Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is refusing to advance any funding packages if the Postal Service is included in the legislation,” said President Dimondstein. “We need Congress to push back and refuse to advance any legislation whatsoever unless it includes postal relief.”
Write, call and/or email your Congressional Representative. Go to apwu.org for more information. Urge Congress to provide the necessary stimulus relief so the crisis is not used as an excuse for this Administration to carry out their proclaimed privatization agenda, i.e., selling the public Postal Service to private, corporate interests.
President Dimondstein Issues Press Release Responding to President Trump calling Postal Service “A Joke.”
During the signing of the fourth stimulus bill on April 24, President Trump called the Postal Service “a joke,” and insisted that no assistance would be given unless the agency significantly raised its package rates. APWU President Mark Dimondstein issued the following press statement later that day:
President Trump’s shameful comments today that the Postal Service “is a joke” and that USPS “should raise package prices four to five times” current levels is no laughing matter to the American people.
His comments are an insult to the forty-four postal workers who have died carrying out their vital public service in the midst of this pandemic. It’s also disheartening to the 600,000 proud postal workers who continue to carry out our essential mission to the country at a time when the public needs reliable and affordable postal services more than ever.
Only the U. S. Postal Service reaches 160 million addresses every day to deliver life-saving medicines, vital supplies and important information, at universal, affordable rates.
There’s no longer any doubt what President Trump’s true intentions are for the country’s highest-rated agency, approved by 91 percent of the public, equally among Republicans and Democrats, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center.
President Trump’s clear intent is to raise prices and force a crisis at the Post Office so that his political benefactors at the corporate shippers can increase their company profits at the expense of the people.
A President who boasts of his wealth need not worry about pricier mail and packages. He’s clearly shown how out of touch he is with the concerns of businesses both large and small in the era of e-commerce and the millions of people who rely on affordable mail and package delivery, especially during this pandemic.
Trump’s plan to increase package prices by four or five times would hasten the demise of the public U.S. Postal Service and end affordable, universal delivery to every address in the country.