The U.S. Postal Service has been under attack for many years by Republicans.
Published on Oct. 28, 2023
During the Bush administration, Republicans passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA) which essentially mandated that the USPS would have to fund retirement health care benefits for the next 75 years, within 10 years of that bill passing in 2006.
In more recent years, Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as the Postmaster General. DeJoy had donated over $2 million to Trump and other Republicans since 2016.
DeJoy eliminated overtime and created labor shortages that stopped mail from being delivered. DeJoy also destroyed decades of knowledge within the organization by reassigning or displacing 23 high-ranking officials in the Postal Service.
Despite USPS being the most popular government entity by far and serving reliably across the country for decades, as well as being the main reason why rural areas are able to stay connected to each other and the world, it still is under attack by the Republican Party.
Mail service became a heavy topic of debate during Covid because the Republican Party, and particularly Trump, wanted every possible advantage to win the election and had issues with mail-in ballots that increased voter turn-out, especially among people of color and low-wage workers who would be more likely to vote Democratic.
However there have been mixed signals from DeJoy himself who delivered hundreds of millions of COVID-19 test kits in 2022, promised to transition the Postal Service’s fleet to electric vehicles by 2026, and helped Democrats with the Postal Service Reform Act.
Whether this is out of kindness or alarm over the polarizing issues with Donald Trump that have been peaking as of late, it is a good change that may indicate a better future for the USPS despite all the damage DeJoy has caused already.
DeJoy is also attempting to enact a 10-year plan apart from these reforms which would make a delivery service that deals more with packages, centralizes the delivery network, converts 100,000 part time employees to full time, and will partner with local retailers to help compete with Amazon.
If these promises are delivered, it would improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers, weaken Amazon which could help workers there unionize and improve their quality of life, as well as bolster local businesses to break the grasp over the market Amazon currently has.
DeJoy seems to be complicated and has clearly been against the interest of the USPS in the past, but he seems to be taking strides in the right direction and had implemented a union idea to expedite mail ballot delivery and to set up a panel to oversee election mail which turned out to be a major success.
DeJoy has also helped dismantle the PAEA which financially burdened to the extreme the USPS with front-paying for future pensions. Biden allocated $3 billion to the USPS with the Inflation Reduction Act to help the USPS go electric.
Along with DeJoy helping to get test kits delivered, investigations into him by the FBI and Federal Election Commission over campaign contributions were dropped.
DeJoy is still a controversial figure as the Postmaster General and there are still people trying to get him out of office, however he has stated he intends to move on from the USPS when the “job is done.”
The average workers in the USPS currently have concerns. There is a situation with the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association (NRLCA) and the USPS over how rural workers should be paid, which resulted in the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS). Forms detailing this system were given out on April 1 and April 8 when the first pay period under these rules began. Rural USPS workers expected to get their first RRECS-based check on April 28.
Many workers are not seeing increases in pay, and many are seeing reduced hours with some reports of people going from six days a week to just one or two days. Many workers now have reduced pay, with cuts up to 30 percent or more.
This is leading to staffing shortages and of course mail being delayed or not being delivered. This seems to be the most recent negative development with the USPS and unless DeJoy is serious about trying to help the organization stay alive and thrive, then this may spell out much more trouble for the USPS.
Postal clerks have union protection with the American Postal Workers Union (AWPU). They have an official Twitter @ APWUnational and a website which can be found at https://apwu.org/. There is also the National Letter Carriers Union (https://www.nalc.org/) and the Rural Letter Carriers (https://www.nrlca.org/), along with a handful of other unions which makes the USPS one of the most unionized national enterprises.
Some ways to support the AWPU is to check their website for the most up to date legislative goal, and call your Senator and tell them to support it. As of May, 2023, this has helped to secure $10 billion in COVID-relief for the USPS along with the nomination of three postal governors the union supported. You can dial (844)402-1001 or go to https://apwu.org/savepostoffice and fill out the form they provide. They have plenty of other resources to show solidarity which range from flyers to letters and signs, a social media presence to support, the hashtag #SaveThePostOffice, and more on their site along with information on their causes and current events.
by Baine Loughran