By SHERI GASSAWAY
St. Louis-area postal workers wearing shirts and carrying signs saying “U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale” rallied in Downtown St. Louis Oct. 8 against the Trump administration’s potential plan to privatize the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The St. Louis day of action, which was held in front of the Eagleton Federal Building, was one of over 100 rallies across the country sponsored by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA).
In June, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget released a report that the USPS “can no longer support” the current universal service requirement which requires daily mail delivery six days a week to 157 million U.S. addresses.
The report previewed likely recommendations from a presidential task force that would include selling off the USPS. The task force report that was due on the president’s desk Aug. 10 has not yet been released.
COST OF PRIVATIZATION
Bill Lister, retired NALC St. Louis Branch 343 president and one of the organizers of the St. Louis rally, said postal workers aren’t sitting back and waiting for the report to be released to voice their opposition to the idea.
“Privatization of the Postal Service will take the country’s most extensive communication network and crumble it to pieces,” he said. “It will result in higher prices and service cutbacks for customers and lower wages and benefits for union employees.”
The St. Louis Labor Council Executive Board passed a resolution Oct. 15 unanimously condemning the privatization effort.
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Lister also noted that opposition to privatizing the Postal Service is mounting in U.S. Congress with resolutions in the both the House and Senate to block the Trump administration from moving forward with privatizations plans.
“So far, 219 U.S. House members have signed the House version of the resolution and 41 U.S. senators, including senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, have signed the Senate version,” Lister said. “The resolutions have bipartisan support, and more members are adding their names every day.”
Trump has called USPS’ current business plan “unsustainable,” as shown by billions of dollars in yearly red ink – caused mainly by a $5.6 billion yearly GOP-Congress-mandated Postal Service pre-payment of future retirees’ health care costs, which was imposed in 2006.
Without that spending – unique to USPS – the Postal Service runs in the black. With it, it runs in the red, giving the Trump administration and GOP majority Congress an excuse to advocate ending the USPS as a public but independent agency.
“Private companies are going to raid the precious resources of the people’s Postal Service, which have only grown more valuable due to the growth of ecommerce,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in a news release. “Then these companies are going to raise prices, cut service and leave rural communities isolated, senior citizens stranded and many businesses without a reliable means of reaching their customers.”
The Postal Service, which does not receive taxpayer funds, employs more than 500,000 workers and delivers 40 percent of the world’s mail.