OUR VIEW: The Postal Service MUST be saved

An open letter to our Congressional delegation

To our Congressional representatives:

We believe it is imperative to save the United States Postal Service and urge you to provide enough funding to enable USPS to survive and serve its customers, the American people, during this exceptionally trying time.

We, as part of a postal-reliant industry that generates $1.6 trillion in sales and employs 7.3 million workers, have long supported a self-sufficient Postal Service. But no business entity can withstand a 50 percent or more externally-imposed drop in business and revenues, as USPS projects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and survive. That is why emergency funding must be provided now.

The American people have been reminded during this pandemic of just how fundamental to American life our postal service is. Through rain, sleet, snow, dark of night and a national health emergency, the Postal Service is still:

  • Delivering prescriptions, household and business staples, groceries.
  • Delivering personal correspondence to bridge social distancing, PPP, PPE, Social Security and IRS refund checks.
  • Delivering CDC advice cards on keeping oneself and family safe.
  • Delivering newspapers and magazines still vital to informing the American people.
  • Enabling a new wave of businesses along with the e-commerce sector to survive the pandemic through online orders and fulfillment.

It should be noted, the Postal Service, which doesn’t receive any tax dollars for its operating expenses, has longstanding financial issues.

USPS reported a loss of nearly $9 billion last year. Some of that is due to a congressional mandate that the Postal Service prepay the health care costs of retirees 75 years into the future – prepaying health care costs for current and anticipated future employees, some of whom haven’t even been born yet! No other business in America has this requirement. Some of it is also due to a years-long decline in the volume of first-class mail.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a reduction in some types of mail. But it has also resulted in an increase in package delivery as people shop online from their homes – postponing an imminent cash crisis the Postal Service predicted would hit earlier this summer.

President Trump has frequently criticized the Postal Service, alleging it gives favorable deals to online retailers such as Amazon. In truth, a government study found, e-commerce package deliveries are profitable for the Postal Service — though not enough to offset the decline in other types of mail.

Newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy – a major donor to Trump and other Republicans, who previously headed a North Carolina-based logistics company – seems intent on making the Postal Service more of a business than a service.

He already has called for eliminating second runs, leaving late-arriving first-class mail on the floor to be delivered the next day, and eliminating overtime.

Postal Service delivery is a vital, essential service.

In rural areas, where there are no other alternatives for delivery, and often not even broadband service, the Postal Service is an essential lifeline, just as it is throughout the country in these challenging times.

We defer to the experts – the bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors appointed by the President – and our leaders in Congress on what will be needed to save the Postal Service. Substantial funding is needed, to be sure, but it amounts to a small portion of the emergency funds Congress already has provided to sustain small businesses, airlines and other sectors of the economy.

Long a gateway to the middle class, the Postal Service is the backbone of small business in America. Indeed, it is the backbone of America itself, stretching all the way back to Benjamin Franklin.

The American public supports the Postal Service. According to the Pew Research Center – 91 percent of Americans – and equal 91 percent shares of Democrats and Republicans – have a favorable view of the surveys conducted earlier this year. They will not quietly accept closing post offices, slashing service or allowing the agency to be scrapped or forced into the hands of privatization profiteers during this time of national crisis.

We strongly urge you to deliver the support needed to save the Postal Service and preserve this fundamental lifeline to hundreds of millions of Americans.

TIM ROWDEN, Managing Editor

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