Save the Postal Service - beyond November!
Rory Gawler, UV DSA Digital Media Coordinator
September 1, 2020
The United States Postal Service is enshrined in the U. S. Constitution. In the early years of this country, the construction of post offices and roads to serve postal routes, as well as the subsidy of rail lines, and other networking made the exchange of information possible in a fledgling nation. To the extent that America was ever made great, the Postal Service played a huge role. But the Constitution will not protect this institution from privatization.
It may be tempting to think that the wealthy elite want to privatize the mail simply because they stand to profit from its demise. I believe there is a much larger and more sinister aim at work.
The USPS is the largest public employer in the U.S., and one of the largest overall. It is also one of the best source of good, middle-class jobs in many underserved communities and employs a huge number of veterans and people of colour. It is also one of the largest unions in the country, with over 300 000 members. This poses two important threats to the hegemony of the ruling class.
Firstly, this makes postal workers powerful. They are in every community, they are well known, and liked. The USPS works well, and helps everyone, and the workers are unionized. This means that if they came together and rallied around an important cause they could bring to bear enormous people power. This is not something the ruling class can tolerate.
Perhaps more importantly, the USPS is a shining example of how a publicly run service can serve all of the people of this country efficiently, effectively, and without funneling enormous profits to a tiny number of people. It is living proof that we could have healthcare for all of our citizens, a reminder that education can and should be freely and equally provided, that child and family care ought to be the responsibility of all members of society, not foisted disproportionately on women, especially poor women of colour who are employed at poverty wages to care for the children and families of the wealthy and middle classes, both privately in homes and in dilapidated day care centres.
This example cannot stand, for it proves the lie that ‘government doesn’t work’. And what better way to ‘prove’ that public programs don’t work than to deliberately sabotage it. In this case, by passing crippling and unique pension requirements like the PEAE, arbitrarily removing sorting machines, hamstringing local management’s ability to make decisions about overtime and stopping carriers from passionately performing their duties to make sure the mail gets there on time by requiring them to adhere to arbitrary schedules.
When the mail is late, and the mouthpieces of the oligarchy can tout the ‘budget shortfall’ that they themselves created, they think they’ve proven that the system is broken. In fact it is functioning just fine because of the herculean efforts of our brave sisters and brothers in uniform - postal service uniforms. But we cannot continue to ask this of them. They need our support.
You may think that the mail is a dying service - e-mail and electronic communication will soon bring about its demise anyway, why bother saving it? Many senior citizens and veterans get their prescriptions in the mail. It is vastly more secure for voting than any digital or online system and would enfranchise millions of voters who can’t get time off of work, or who are not being adequately provided with a reasonable polling location. And there’s more - post offices are in every community and are a trusted institution. They could and should provide banking services to underserved communities.
The USPS is a fabric that ties our nation together, and now more than ever we must stand together and fight for what binds us. Solidarity with the USPS!