WASHINGTON (PAI)—With the Postal Service headed for the financial rocks thanks to the impact of coronavirus-caused closures, the AFL-CIO and other progressive groups have launched petitions to pressure lawmakers to save it.
Without the USPS and its nationwide service, they warn, people would be unable to get needed food, medicines and packages, because its nationwide delivery system – the only one which reaches every address in the U.S. – would collapse.
The federation calls destruction of the USPS “a flagrant attempt to weaken our democracy.” The other petitioners issued similar warnings about the corporate takeover threat.
The coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact has whipsawed the USPS two ways, Postmaster General Megan Brennan told lawmakers earlier in April.
First-class mail volume, which ran at a profit even when the rest of the service didn’t, has crashed as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders caused millions of business closures and added 22 million people to the jobless rolls.
At the same time, expenses rose to handle all the last-mile package deliveries. Plus the USPS runs a large annual deficit due to a $5 billion yearly GOP Congress-imposed requirement to prepay future retiree health care costs.
“We will beat this virus and rebuild the economy, but only if Congress protects workers in the next COVID-19 relief package,” the AFL-CIO said, using the formal name for the virus.
The red ink led ideologues in the GOP Trump White House and Trump himself to push privatizing the USPS, ripping up the union contracts and trashing its 630,000 workers.
But the immediate problem is so bad that Brennan said USPS needs $25 billion in cash, $25 billion for modernization and a $25 billion line of credit. Without it, she says USPS would financially collapse by Sept. 30. One of its big unions, the Postal Workers, puts the drop-dead date at July 31.
Which led the fed, VoteVets, MoveOn, Democracy for America and the Alliance for Retired Americans to launch their petitions. MoveOn garnered the most signatures: 189,335 so far out of a 200,000 target.
“In March, President Trump personally rejected emergency postal service funding, and his administration even suggested it would block the stimulus package Congress approved if it included help for the USPS,” ARA Executive Director Richard Fiesta said.
“Postal workers are the frontlines, working often without face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. At least 500 postal workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. If anything, they need more support, not less,” the AFL-CIO said.
“The coronavirus has hit the US Postal Service hard — and President Donald Trump is refusing to help. Without direct, immediate action by our government, USPS could collapse,” Democracy for America adds.
“Private companies won’t deliver to certain remote areas because it’s not profitable to do so, but the Postal Service is obligated to serve all
Americans regardless of where they live — and, right now, the Postal Service is delivering lifesaving medications and food, supporting voting by mail in primary states, and helping other services necessary for our nation to continue to operate,” Richard Hildreth’s petition on MoveOn says.