Postal Workers saved election, now need help to stop privatization
In this Aug. 25, 2020, photo, retired postal worker Glenda Morris protests postal cutbacks in New York. Trump's election loss hasn't stopped his hand-picked Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, from speeding ahead with plans to destroy the USPS. Postal Workers are asking for help in a Nov. 17 day of action. | Robert Bumsted / AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—The 2020 election may be mostly over, but Trump Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plans to destroy the Postal Service aren’t—and the Postal Workers are leading a wide-ranging national coalition setting up Nov. 17 events to stop him.

The union announced its plans in a Nov. 12 video teleconference nationwide, urging viewers and their allies to stage pro-Postal Service rallies, including “virtual” rallies at post offices nationwide. Rally details and signups available from the American Postal Workers Union.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the Postal Service on Capitol Hill, Aug. 24, 2020, in Washington. | Tom Williams / Pool via AP

And if you can’t make it to a rally—or even if you can—call Congress, too, says Postal Workers President Mark Dimondstein. The toll-free number is 833-924-0085.

At stake, he explained, is DeJoy’s scheme, shelved due to public pressure in the months before the election, to rip out sorting machines, fire thousands of USPS workers—most of whom are unionized, people of color, female, veterans, or combinations thereof—and slow down the delivery of everything from medicines to Social Security checks.

DeJoy made those moves at the behest of his sponsor, GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, to slow, stall, and negate mail-in balloting. The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country made mail-in ballots needed. Trump feared mail-in ballots would encourage higher turnout and sweep him out. It did.

Also at stake, Dimondstein said, is to stop, once and for all, the GOP-right wing plan, backed by corporate mailers, to carve up the Postal Service, sell off its profitable sections to the private sector, and leave the rest of the country to suffer.

“Our opponents are moving in for the kill and exploiting this pandemic with shameful cuts” to services and trying “to sell it off and privatize it,” he stated.

DeJoy, a major Republican donor whom Trump had his hand-picked Postal Service board install earlier this year, began the destructive moves. One result: They left first-class mail, and especially ballot materials, on postal work room floors.

His actions led to a public uproar and lawsuits by postal unions, too. They culminated in DeJoy’s retreat, at least temporarily, plus daily oversight of USPS operations, or lack of them, by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in D.C. In the end, USPS workers successfully delivered 65 million mailed-in ballots to local elections boards, all postmarked on or before Nov. 3.

But DeJoy made it clear his retreat was only temporary. The Nov. 17 events, said Dimondstein, aim to show public support not just for permanently repelling DeJoy’s disastrous agenda, but for positive moves to put the USPS back on its financial feet.

The positive moves include $25 billion, in the House-passed Heroes Act, to ensure continued postal service at old standards, and to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus-produced closures and accompanying drastic decline in first-class mail, which makes money.

American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein speaks at a rally to oppose a plan by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to sell off the U.S. Postal Service to corporate interests, at Freedom Plaza, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. The Trump administration is still at it, even after the election. Dimondstein and the APWU has called for a national day of action on Nov. 17 to save the post office. | Andrew Harnik / AP

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow debate or votes on either version of the Heroes Act, thus killing the $25 billion for USPS, too. One point of the calls and demonstrations: To force lawmakers to make McConnell move.

Positive moves also include restoring postal banking services, abolished in the mid-1960s. With them, the one-fourth of the U.S. that is unbanked can cash checks and do other simple financial services at post offices for little charge, rather than depending on high-cost banks or rapacious payday lenders and pawn shops.

They also include permanent repeal of the $5 billion USPS must fork over yearly to the U.S. Treasury to prepay for future retirees’ health care benefits. A 2006 GOP-passed postal “reorganization” act imposed that cost on the USPS and it’s run in the red, due almost solely to that drag, ever since.

Nov. 17 rally details and signups available here.


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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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