Posts Tagged ‘USPS’
Tuesday, May 19th, 2020
Here’s what the Trump administration has done behind the headlines to gain control over the US Postal Service. The Postal Service Board of Governors has oversight powers for USPS, operating like a Board of Trustees in a corporation. Board membership depends on U.S. Senate nominations (solely Republican determined) and presidential appointments. The Board is currently essentially all Trump appointed.
Recently, Trump has blasted the USPS as “a joke.” The Republicans have long wanted to privatize it so that over 630,000 unionized workers can be compelled to work for pennies on the dollar as non-union rentals. Trump’s only interest seems to be his petty war with Jeff Bezos. The Bezos-owned Washington Post has reporters with eyes wide open writing stories about Trump’s corruption. The Amazon-owning Bezos pays the USPS to carry millions of Amazon boxes the “last mile” for mere pennies per package. The Postal Regulatory Commission establishes shipping rates. Packages make up only about 30% of USPS business.
The USPS is losing money like all businesses, though they have to operate at a distinct disadvantage with the requirement to pay retirement funds in advance for workers not yet born! Now comes the U.S. Treasury dangling a small $10 billion loan as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act). Trump conditioned the loan on the raising of package and shipping rates by 4 times (to get back at Amazon). Note Trump’s reliance upon quid pro quo (again, can you remember Impeachment?). And Treasury demanded managerial control over the USPS in exchange for funding the loan.
Under Postmaster General Megan Brennan, the USPS asked Congress for $75 billion in emergency funding. As a quasi-governmental agency, the USPS does not receive routine funding from Congress.
Vice-chair of the Board, David Williams, a former Inspector General for the USPS, Social Security Administration, Treasury, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before Trump came to office, resisted the takeover attempts by Treasury and resigned on April 30 in protest.
The vacancy allowed the Board to name a new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, replacing Megan Brennan who served since 2015, an Obama appointee. DeJoy donated $1.2 million to Trump’s campaign and millions to the Republican National Committee. He is overseeing fundraising for the Republican National Convention.
“Postal workers are the heart and soul of this institution, and I will be honored to work alongside them and their unions,” DeJoy said in a formal statement. However his record at the firm he founded and led tells a different story. According to David Dayen at the American Prospect, several women workers had miscarriages on the job, after being ignored in their requests to lighten their duties, which included lifting heavy boxes. In one case (when DeJoy was on the board, but not CEO), a woman died on the warehouse floor and workers were instructed to work around her for the rest of the shift.
Two days after DeJoy was named, on May 13, 40-year USPS veteran Ronald Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General, resigned.
The foxes are firmly entrenched in the hen house now. Pray for the survival of the USPS.
Perhaps issue a new stamp to fundraise. We can lick them all!
The Democratic-led House passed $25 billion support package for the Postal Service. Next, it goes to Mitch’s side where the grim reaper and do-nothing Republican Senators await. Let’s see what happens.
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.
Tags: Amazon, APWU, Bernice Fields, Emil Chiaberi, going postal, Healing PTSD stamp, Jeff Bezos, massacres, Murder by Proxy, NALC, Postal Service, postal workers, retirement, Trump, USPS, Washington Post
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