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Book Assails Corporate Influence on Postal Service

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader on Preserving the People’s Post Office


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… Ever since President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a commission to reorganize the Post Office on “a business basis” in 1967, the postal system has become increasingly frozen into a defensive posture, tied down in a manner akin to Gulliver in his travels by demands from such groups as major corporate mailers, competitive rivals, and partisan politicos. There has been no place for bold new ventures of the past, such as Rural Free Delivery, Parcel Post, Postal Savings, Air Mail, or even the ambitious, yet fruitless, Missile Mail experiment of the 1950s. If the Post Office Department had been responding to the profit-making demands of the market or to the political influence of large corporations none of these advances would have even been attempted. Parcel Post, lest we forget, was introduced in the face of corporate competitors’ opposition due to the fact that they were providing entirely unsatisfactory, oftentimes price-gouging, service to large parts of the nation. [read more]

(February, 2007) A new book that exposes how Postal Service operations are being molded to suit the interests of corporate mailers and USPS competitors at the expense of workers and consumers has become a “must-read” for union and community activists.

Preserving the People's Post Office, by Christopher W. Shaw, makes a compelling case for giving citizens and workers a stronger voice in determining the future of the Postal Service. Published by Ralph Nader's Center for Study of Responsive Law, the book traces the history of recent postal “reform” efforts and exposes how corporate interests and conservative ideologues are conspiring in efforts to reshape the nation’s postal service.

Shaw covers a wide range of issues, many related to the decade-long drive for reform, and he echoes many of the APWU’s concerns, from consolidations and “outsourcing” to below-cost postage discounts for big mailers and maintaining reliable and affordable mail service for every American community.

The book credits the union for standing up for consumers’ interests. “The American Postal Workers Union has been the sole union voice consistently advocating the universal public service principle,” Nader writes. “Greater efforts on this front could reap even larger rewards for both postal employees and postal patrons, as united they could forge jointly a more robust and vital Postal Service.” [author’s emphasis]

Ralph Nader provides an introduction. “The lack of citizen-consumers’ involvement in the recently passed postal reform legislation has highlighted the need for a public dialogue about the future of our postal system,” a system, Nader adds, that is threatened by “promoters of a corporate postal system who would ultimately like to steal the Postal Service from its owners, the American people.”

“Instead of focusing on new ways to serve its citizens,” Nader says, “service reductions — such as closing post offices, removing collection boxes, and ending door delivery — have shifted emphasis to business practices that fracture public service policies of equity and fair cost allocations.”

Shaw and Nader call for Congress to direct the Postal Service to invite patrons to join an “independent nonprofit Post Office Consumer Action Group” to counteract the “inordinate influence presently wielded by large corporate mailers, corporate-funded privatization' efforts, and rival express companies." Shaw added, “The time is overdue for the owners of the Postal Service to have an organized voice.”

(To purchase a copy of “Preserving the People’s Post Office, send a $25 check or money order to Postal Book, POB 19367, Washington, DC 20036.)

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