As the United States Postal Service (USPS) closed on Monday for a national holiday celebrated by many municipalities as Indigenous Peoples Day, workers across the country held a day of action to protest President Donald Trump's proposal to privatize the postal service.
Under the proposal—unveiled in June as part of a 32-point plan (pdf) to significantly reorganize the federal government—USPS would "transition to a model of private management and private or shared ownership." The White House argued that "freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs."
Critics warn that such a transition would not only negatively impact service but also bring awful consequences for postal workers, who demonstrated on their day off in cities across the United States on Monday to tell the president that USPS is #NotForSale.
They're chanting "US mail is not for sale!" Protests like this are happening across the country today pic.twitter.com/NKpCe1MtRS— Renata Di Gregorio (@renatawzdx) October 8, 2018
"Postal workers are rallying to urge lawmakers to stop the selling off of the public postal service for private profit—and to remind everyone the Postal Service is yours," Julie Bates, a 22-year postal worker, wrote last week.
Pointing to similar moves by other countries—including the United Kingdom—as cautionary tales, Bates warned that if USPS is sold off to private interests, the public should anticipate "higher prices, slower delivery, and an end to universal, uniform, and affordable service to every corner of the country."
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While recognizing that the national mail service has faced problems in recent years, as Bates explained:
The truth is that the USPS's problems were largely created by Congress.
A bipartisan 2006 law, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, mandated that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits 75 years into the future. That means we have to fund retirement benefits for postal employees who haven't even been born yet.
It's a crushing burden that no other agency or company—public or private—is required to meet, or could even survive.
Some Democratic members of Congress—including Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) as well as Reps. Grace Meng (N.Y.) and Dwight Evans (Penn.)—joined demonstrations in their states:
Hell No our Post Office is #NotForSale! Rallying for the women and men of all the unions that represent post office workers in front of the very first one in the history of our country. #1U #UnionStrong @AFLCIO @PAAFL_CIO @NALC @APWUNational pic.twitter.com/Rwy58yZ7DD— Dwight Evans (@DwightEvansPA) October 8, 2018
"Our postal system is older than the country itself. It was a vital component of our country's public good then. It still is today," Bates concluded. "And along the way, one fundamental fact has always been true: Our postal system has never belonged to any president, any political party, or any company. It's belonged to the people of this country."