Washington (PAI) — Declaring “The U.S. Mail is not for sale!” the Letter Carriers and the Postal Workers have launched a big ad and social media campaign against a Trump administration plan to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.
The plan, the unions note, would eliminate delivery to millions of households, end Saturday service, trash workers and turn over USPS’ billions in revenue to private industry.
The ads, entitled “Keep It. It’s Yours!” refer to the fact that USPS and its workers – members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the Rural Letter Carriers and the Mail Handlers – serve all 157 million U.S. postal addresses six days a week, and at the same rates.
The unions’ ads began airing Nov. 16, just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season, when Postal Service has its heaviest volume and consumers rely on it the most.
KEEP THE U.S. POSTAL
“Maybe every third day. Even for medicine. And packages.”
“You could pay more, too. In rural areas, a lot more… The end of delivering everywhere – to 157 million addresses – at the same price.
“Tell your member of Congress ‘No way.’
“The U.S. Postal Service. Keep it – it’s yours.”
‘WILL FUTURE HOLIDAY SEASONS
FEEL THE SAME?’
“We’re about to enter the holiday season when families will be mailing cards and gifts and ordering
packages for home delivery on Cyber Monday and every other day,” said Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando. “It’s a great time of year. Will future holiday seasons feel the same if the cost of sending a package through a privatized postal service rises and the options for delivery decrease along with the number of post offices? The U.S. Postal Service: Keep it – it’s yours.”
BLEEDING RED INK OVER
The Postal Service itself, which is not involved in the ad drive, reported it lost $1.95 billion in its last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That’s the smallest loss in more than a decade.
Rolando said congressional mandates, imposed by the Republican run Congress and the George W. Bush administration in 2006, caused that red ink by requiring a $5.5 billion yearly pre-payment for future USPS retirees’ healthcare costs and legislating caps on postage hikes.
A related provision that kicked in two years ago cut the price of first-class stamps by two cents – costing USPS $1.9 billion this past fiscal year.
Without the stamp price cut alone, USPS would have earned $49 million, Rolando said.
NALC and the other unions have lobbied lawmakers for years – so far unsuccessfully – to ease the postage rate hike cap and eliminate the health care prepayment.
ASKING FOR THE PUBLIC’S HELP
TO PREVENT PRIVATIZATION
With the ad campaign, the unions are turning to the public for help preventing the ultimate scheme to
privatize the Postal Service.
President Trump named a three-person panel of administration officials earlier this year – freezing out USPS customers and employees – to come up with what he called a “reform” plan for the service.
The panel’s report is now overdue, but Trump’s budget, released in February, provided pre-judged conclusions for privatization, service cuts, slowdowns in delivery and trashing workers and benefits.
WHO WOULD BE HURT
Privatizing the Postal Service would hit rural areas particularly hard, Rolando noted.
He said rural service elimination would be “the kiss of death” for families and businesses facing high transportation costs and lack of broadband service. Though he did not say so, big package carriers FedEx and UPS rely on the Postal Service to deliver their parcels “the last mile” in rural areas.
“Selling off the postal service would be a gift to Wall Street and a setback to everyone in this
country who receives mail,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein elaborated.
“This is the people’s Post Office, older than the nation itself, enshrined in the Constitution, with the highest favorability rating of any federal agency. We need to send a clear message to the White House that the U.S. Mail is not for sale.”
USPS delivers 40 percent of all global mail, and without taxpayer subsidies. But Trump – citing no
evidence beyond the annual deficit – claims USPS “can no longer support” universal daily service.
Trump doesn’t mention the unfair health care pre-payment mandate
imposed by the GOP in 2006.
Trump also didn’t mention rate hikes and unequal rates if USPS is privatized. The unions did. “Because the United Kingdom privatized postal services, for example, rates rose 76.4 percent over a decade, and many post office branches were closed,” they noted.
Past U.S. postal management tried that, too.
In their rush to stanch the red ink the health care prepayments cause, prior Postmasters General closed hundreds of post offices, let thousands of workers go by attrition, hired part-timers, lengthened routes so many carriers deliver
after nightfall, consolidated sorting centers – thus slowing delivery, even within the same city – and even tried to privatize stamp sales, via low-paid non-union Staples workers.
Labor-led public protests and union legal challenges killed the Staples scheme.