Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

Save the U.S. Postal Service

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

As Rachel Scarborough King writes in The Nation, the British Postal Service switched in 1840 from having people pay to receive their mail to having senders prepay postage with the introduction of the first postage stamp,

In the US in the 1840’s a single nationwide system developed. The cost to mail a letter to anywhere cost the same as to anywhere else. Postage was the great equalizer and everyone had equal access to mail.

Republicans have been pushing to privatize the USPS for decades. They would prefer that we pay a fortune to FedEx, UPS and DHL and any future courier. The Postal Service volume is down 30% from a year ago. With over 22 million newly unemployed, online Amazon purchases shipped by USPS, it is unlikely to turn around the fortunes of the large, unionized quasi-federal agency.

The USPS ceased being a federal agency in 1971. It is quasi-federal meaning that some federal rules apply to its employees but the only federal financial support comes from postage paid for mailings of elected officials (“franking”).

However, in 2006 Congress meddled with the future prospects of the USPS. It mandated that the USPS prepay the pensions for its employees 50 years IN ADVANCE. The billions paid each year into this senseless and unprecedented account erodes the budget needed to pay all other operating expenses. In slow times, the retirement obligation puts the agency in arrears.

Watch now as the Republicans crow about the “underperforming” Postal Service, a situation entirely manufactured by Republicans of an earlier time. They always expect Americans to have short memories.

I have an affinity for postal workers. I’ve spoken about workplace bullying at APWU events. A successful NALC arbitration, featuring eloquent Minneapolis arbitrator Bernice Fields, has been showcased in WBI programs since 2000. And most relevant is my participation in Emil Chiaberi’s documentary, Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postal, an exploration of the unseen factors leading to postal workplace massacres.

To bring the story to the present, Trump hates the USPS for reasons different from the historical Republican privatization ideology. He simply hates billionaire Jeff Bezos who owns the Washington Post newspaper that holds Trump accountable for his lies (they maintain a count) and for breaking institutions intended to protect democracy. What does the Post have to do with the USPS? Bezos made his billions from Amazon who ships products via the USPS for discounted, high-volume rates. Trump loves Apple, but hates Amazon.

As various fiscal relief packages work their way through Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump ordered that no funds be given to the USPS. It is a deliberate act of cruelty.

Maybe we can do our part to boost revenue at the USPS.

Colleague David Yamada led me to the recent stamp design “Healing PTSD,” an apt title related to what bullied targets need. It was designed by Greg Breeding with a Mark Laita photo of a green plant sprouting from the ground covered by fallen leaves. The image is intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process, growth and hope.

Single stamps sell for $0.65. A sheet of 20 sells for $13 with $2 going to a PTSD treatment charities.

Buy USPS products — online (scroll to the bottom of page for PTSD stamp) or at your local post office.


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