A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service
Washington Post Gets It Wrong
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
In a Feb. 13, 2017 opinion piece, “The Postal Service needs more than a Band-Aid,” The Washington Post editorial board issued a troubling public stance on postal reform.
The Post created a false dilemma for its readers: that we must curtail postal services (including Saturday delivery) and eliminate jobs to save the USPS from certain deterioration and failure. They claim the Postal Service “can’t pay their bills” and is sluggish to innovate.
They began with “The U.S. Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink.” Although they do criticize the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) for putting certain restrictions on the USPS and for creating the prefunding mandate, they left out the fact that the burden of the prefunding mandate is onerous and unparalleled.
As APWU members well know, Congress manufactured USPS’ “crisis” by imposing an unfair, crushing financial mandate on the Postal Service that no other government agency or private company is forced to bear. The PAEA compels the USPS to pay approximately $5.5 billion per year to fund future retiree health care costs 75 years in advance. Without this unreasonable burden, the USPS would have enjoyed an operating profit of $610 million in 2016 and over $1.2 billion in 2015. Including the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017, USPS has seen an operating profit of $3.7 billion since the start of FY 2014.
This same legislation holds the Postal Service back from introducing new non-postal services, services that would strengthen them. Congress created this crisis, and it can be corrected.
The Post editorial board went on to criticize recent efforts at reform for failing to address collective bargaining or eliminating Saturday delivery. We’ve seen these calls for cutting services and jobs many times before, from corporate forces who aim to demonize, destroy and ultimately privatize our public Postal Service.
The Truth Speaks for Itself
The Postal Service continues to rank highest in public support among all federal agencies, while providing affordable mail service to all without a dime of taxpayer money. Every day, the Postal Service ties together communities, supports commerce - including the boom of e-commerce - and provides the foundation for financial stability for workers from all walks of life.
The more than 100 organizations which make up A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service believe that the public good must not be sacrificed for private profit. We advocate for an alternative vision, one of expanded and enhanced services that sustain a vibrant public Postal Service for generations to come. Local post offices could offer not-for-profit, consumer-friendly financial services, for example. Other ideas include outfitting post offices to serve as hubs for local food banks, internet access and green energy infrastructure. Let’s continue to work together to bring these ideas into reality.