In this unprecedented situation, essential workers are trying to bring normality to our lives. Some often forgotten members of that workforce are the men and women of the U.S. Postal Service. They ensure our mail and packages meet their destinations, bills are processed, government correspondence circulates and medical supplies and basic goods arrive — while risking exposure to COVID-19. The USPS is the backbone of a $1.4 trillion industry, similar to airlines and hotels. Unlike those industries, the USPS is a constitutionally mandated service touching every American household and business.
Before COVID-19, unlike many other industries, the USPS already was facing financial uncertainty. Congress mandates that the USPS make payments to retiree health care funds far in advance. Postage rates are capped and facilities and services have been cut, resulting in delays. The latest stimulus package ignores all this. While it allows the USPS to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department, it’s a poor bandage for internal bleeding. Our financial well-being is in the hands of an administration calling for privatization and limiting services.
As Congress and the administration consider the next stimulus packages, our union urges officials to realize USPS’ impact and necessity, and the importance of its sustainability.
Editor’s note: The writer is president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 300 (New York City metro area).