CLEVELAND – Opposing a right-wing, big business privatization drive, nearly 100 union and community activists took part in a field hearing here, June 28, to save the publicly-run United States Postal Service.
“This importance of this service,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur told the crowd gathered at East Mount Zion Baptist Church, “is the reason the Founding Fathers placed it in Article One of the U.S. Constitution.”
“But now it is under threat,” she said, from Republican members of Congress and private delivery companies. Their tactics include legislation to slow delivery requirements, close post offices and saddle the USPS with a unique and crushing assessment to pay retiree health care benefits 75 years in advance in a period of 10 years.
Without this assessment costing $5.5 billion annually, the service, which receives no taxpayer dollars and is entirely funded by sale of stamps and other products, would enjoy a $1.4 billion surplus.
“The attack on the postal service is all about the pursuit of profits,” said William Burrus, retired president of the American Postal Workers Union. “The USPS generates $69 billion in revenues. Private companies would like to get five per cent of that in profits.
Violetta Diamond, representing the Campaign for Postal Banking, called for reinstating affordable financial services in Post Offices, including ATMs, bill paying, check cashing, electronic transfers, savings accounts and low-dollar loans that would provide a public convenience as well as protect low income and under-served people from predatory lending companies.
Postal banking existed in the U.S. from 1911-1967 and could be re-established without legislation by an order from Postmaster General Megan Brennan, she said.
Rep. Kaptur recounted how migrant farm workers in her district are often charged 20 percent of their small paychecks when they wire money to Mexico, where families are charged an additional 20 percent to obtain the funds. This exploitation could be eliminated by postal banking, she said
The event was sponsored by A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service, a coalition of 140 labor, religious and community groups. It was the fourth in a series of hearings the Alliance has held across the country. Previous hearings took place in Baltimore, San Jose and New York City. A final event in Greensboro, N.C. was set for June 29. The group can be contacted at agrandalliance.org.
Photo: What Postal Banking would look like. American Postal Workers Union website