“They told us not to speak to the press.” Maria, my letter carrier, anxiously blurted out. She continued saying- that the local postmaster made a rare appearance on the workroom floor today, swooping around in a nervous frenzy, cautioning the carriers to “keep mum.”
I relayed to Maria, that when I was a carrier, if we ever held the mail back or purposely slowed delivery, we could be fired. She agreed the rules were still the same. So how is it that the Trump-appointed Postmaster General DeJoy can blatantly slow down the mail, delay delivery, dismantle high speed sorting machines, remove collection boxes, and cut delivery hours? And these are only a few of the strategies that we, the public, have heard about.
Mr. DeJoy is a major donor to Trump’s reelection campaign. He has large financial interests in postal competitors such as UPS and Amazon. He, personally, stands to benefit handsomely if he destroys the Postal Service.
Since voting-by-mail has national preference during this COVID-19 pandemic, there are no surprises behind Mr. DeJoy’s monkey wrench tactics. Slowing down delivery of the absentee ballots will disenfranchise voters. If they don’t get their ballots in a timely fashion, and if the mail is slowed down in the return process, then the ballots will arrive too late to be counted.
Trump feels that by suppressing mail-in-voting he can win this election. Researchers have found that there is no proof that mail-in-voting favors either party, so Trump is also disenfranchising Republican voters as well.
The plan to destroy the Post Office as a federal public service and privatize the institution has been in the works for many decades. George W. Bush handicapped the USPS back in 2006 with his 10 year “prefunding mandate,” thereby requiring the agency to set aside $5.5 billion annually for 10 years- for retirees’ healthcare projecting- 75 years into the future. This was funding for people who had not even been born! Of course, this hamstrung the agency and by 2011, the post office could no longer make the payments. To say that an annual payment of $5.5 billion dollars hampered innovation is an understatement.
Scroll ahead to now. People wonder why the post office is in such financial trouble? Well, COVID-19 has devastated businesses. Restaurants, gyms, salons, sporting events, theaters, travel agencies, hotels, shopping centers… All have temporarily closed, gone bankrupt, or are on life supports. These businesses would normally be sending flyers, ads, sale papers, and promotionals. Such mailings generate revenue for the post office and now that’s gone. Package volume has increased as people shelter-at-home and shop online. However, that does not offset the post office’s loss in mail volume. And like most other American industries, the USPS has needed financial relief due to this pandemic. Trump has consistently refused any financial aide to the USPS. He said the “Post Office is a joke.” And now he snickers and tweets- if they don’t have the money to handle mail-in ballots, well then they can’t do the job. No thanks to him.
The post office is the most trusted agency in our government. It has a 91% approval rating. To be able to trust anything at this uncertain moment is nothing sort of a miracle. Now Trump plans to destroy it. People in rural areas rely heavily on their mail deliveries. Letter carriers deliver medicines, veterans and social security checks. Delays in mail deliveries can cause severe financial hardships and medical emergencies. Farmers are complaining that the baby chicks are dying before they get delivered. It’s heartbreaking. As a former letter carrier, I am furious watching this happen.
If you are angry too, and want to stand in solidarity with 630,000 postal workers to shout in defence of our beloved post office, there are a few rallies coming up on the calendar. MoveOn.org has one this Saturday- August 22nd.https://act.moveon.org/event/save-the-post-office/search/? The APWU (American Postal Workers Union) https://usmailnotforsale.org/is hosting a nationwide rally on Tuesday, August 25th. Both protests will take place in front of local post offices. Make a poster and show up! And/or you could write a letter to your local paper to express your feelings. You could post supportive remarks on Facebook or tweet #savethepostoffice. If you have not yet contacted your- senators and representatives, please urge them to vote emergency funding for the post office with the next stimulus relief package. The post office belongs to all of us. We have to fight for what is rightfully ours and demand an end to the Trump/DeJoy hijacking of a national treasure, our postal service.