Unions back U.S. Postal Service’s $75B pandemic appeal, oppose right-wing privatization plans

WASHINGTON—Faced with a crash in mail volume and revenue due to closures to battle the coronavirus pandemic—right when the country needs the Postal Service the most to help get vital food, medicine, and other life-saving goods to everyone—Postmaster General Megan Brennan asked Congress for a combination of $75 billion in cash and credit to keep going through the financial disaster.

Her April 9 video briefing request, to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which handles postal legislation, drew immediate support from the nation’s two big postal unions, the Letter Carriers (NALC) and the Postal Workers (APWU).

And even GOP President Donald Trump’s Postal Board of Governors backed it.

“It is vitally important to the American people that the next stimulus package provides funding to the Postal Service sufficient to maintain a revenue stream that allows them to continue operations through this pandemic crisis,” NALC President Fredric Rolando e-mailed on April 10.

APWU posted a petition on its website for consumers and USPS customers to sign. It predicted that without an infusion of cash, the USPS could run out of money by June. Brennan told lawmakers it would run through its cash and line of credit before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The USPS “is the emergency distribution system when our country is in crisis,” APWU’s petition says. “But at this unprecedented time, that work is under threat. The coronavirus shutdown is plummeting postal revenues while increasing costs…. Loss of the USPS would shatter our response to the coronavirus pandemic, hit already weakened businesses, and ravage communities.”

Preservation of the USPS is vital to everyone in the country because it’s the only door-to-door delivery service to every address nationwide. Private delivery services often shun unprofitable areas, most of them rural, or rely on USPS to deliver “the last mile” of routes for their packages.

Brennan and the board want the $75 billion to be in the next stimulus bill Congress considers when it returns from a three-week break. It would be split into thirds, with $25 billion each in emergency money “to offset coronavirus-related losses,” for a grant for “shovel-ready” modernization projects, and for a new line of credit.

In their version of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law last month, the House’s ruling Democrats included $25 billion in cash and forgave the USPS’s prior yearly $5.5 billion payment for pre-funding future retiree health care costs—permanent red ink a GOP-run Congress imposed in 2006.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., didn’t even bother with the House measure. His version, which became law, extended USPS an extra $10 billion line of credit. GOP President Donald Trump said the solution is for USPS to raise its prices—a process that both takes time and that would lessen USPS’s financial advantage over private delivery services.

His right-wing backers want to privatize the agency and rip up USPS’s collective bargaining agreements with the unions, which represent 630,000 workers.

Trump’s and McConnell’s solutions aren’t enough, Brennan, the postal unions, and congressional USPS backers say.

“We cannot allow the Postal Service to collapse,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. “To do so would deepen our nation’s economic crisis and eliminate an important lifeline to individuals who receive lifesaving prescription deliveries and eviscerate the very infrastructure we need to administer the upcoming elections.”

“We are at a critical juncture in the life of the Postal Service,” Brennan told the committee by video. “At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business.”

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

One Response to Unions back U.S. Postal Service’s $75B pandemic appeal, oppose right-wing privatization plans

  1. Trump wants to (or has already) cut funding for the WHO, Trump wants to privatize the USPS; didn’t he cut food stamps, or most of it?
    Trump wans to cut … cut… cut .. your life and mine away. So to him we are the maggots unworthy of anything. And yet, and yet : he has gotten The Treasury Department (would that be Steve Minu chin?) to have Trump’s name printed on the stimulus checks sent via the post office to those of us maggots that would need paper checks vs. direct deposit.
    Were it not for the need we maggots ought to rip those checks to pieces, put them in an envelope with a note to trump saying you can have your name back we don’t want it. You might be fascinated with your name. We are not. The Department of Treasure is not your Trump Tower and last time we checked America was a vast open country that we loved. That is, until you stepped on it and squeezed every decency and democracy as you could out of it. And then we should send the envelope with all the pieces and the note to the White House via the United States Postal Service. COD would even be best, but then, would he accept the mail? Throw it in the trash? or I even hate to think it, use it to further trash the post office.
    Trump is a mad man (insane) and the more he gets to use his power the crazier he becomes.
    And anyhow, what does he do with all the money he cuts from programs that help the people other than take golf trips at tax payers expense?
    What an aberration of a human being … and then this Minu chin whose teeth always look like they need to have a thorough cleaning by a dental professional is not too far off from being an aberration himself. What is it with all this knee bending and this kind of “yes, you are my god” mentality that passes himself for some kind of “dignified” human?
    Well, even if I get one of those checks, I am saying it right here, “I may need the money but I don’t need your stinking name Donald J Trump. And don’t think that your which has sullied what the purpose for that check is, is going to buy you my or anyone else’s vote. You might give yourself the pleasure of seeing your name on our checks, but you will not have the pleasure of buying any of our votes because of it ..Go to a Hospital Emergency Room, see for yourself the tragic reality of what people are living or dying from these days. It is really quite moving and not anything at all like your gilded Trump Tower or Trump name or Trump power–for a man who has to enforce his power really has no power at all. So anyhow, there you have it Donald Trump. A toddler understands and has more compassion in his being than you in your entire 6 feet.
    May you not get away with privatizing our Post Office.