Public Service Means Public Input

January 8, 2024

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As postal workers, we know that one of the strengths of our union and of our work is the commitment to public service. The Postal Service is one of the very few institutions in the country that touches every home and business, every single day, no matter who we are or where we live. For generations, the public has overwhelmingly regarded postal workers and the post office supportively – a 2023 Gallup poll indicated 77 percent of the public views the USPS favorably.

But while the Postal Service proudly reaches the entire public every day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for that very same public to engage with the Postal Service regarding its initiatives for the future of the organization.

For years, the Postal Service has allowed public comment at open sessions of meetings of the Postal Board of Governors. At a November meeting of the Board, they announced a serious rollback in opportunities for public comment.

The Board typically meets in public session four times per year. In the past, the public was given the opportunity to address or ask questions at the conclusion of those meetings. In the early months of the pandemic, they extended public comments to online and virtual comments as well.

The November announcement, however, suggests that future public comments will be limited to in-person attendees, during just one meeting a year, at the future November meetings of the Board.

As a public institution, the public should rightly be able to engage the Postal Service with its views on service plans and management initiatives. While the previous arrangement was by no estimation a radically transparent process, efforts to rollback public comments are a step backward for the Board of Governors and postal management.

These public comment periods have been important opportunities for postal workers and our allies to engage with the Board and postal management on all manner of important topics. Recent commenters have been critical of management’s initial paltry commitment to purchasing electric vehicles for the new delivery fleet (NGDV). Union sisters and brothers from the UAW have challenged management on plans to produce the NGDV in non-union South Carolina. Others have been critical of changes to mail delivery standards, of management’s slow-walking initiatives to expand services and grow revenue, and other controversial proposals.

Our efforts to preserve and expand the Postal Service won’t stop simply because the Board of Governors and top management are uncomfortable facing the public they serve at open meetings. But it is important for postal workers and A Grand Alliance to insist that the Board of Governors continues to make their meetings open and available to the public, and to ensure that the mailing public have an opportunity to be heard by those leading the country’s most trusted public institution.

It’s no secret that the Postal Service is undergoing a period of massive transformation. The Delivering for America Plan, implementation of the Postal Service Reform Act, new service standards and the deployment of new products and services, all mean that the USPS is changing, and quickly. While postal management and the Board are focused on pursuing their transformation plans, they can’t neglect their responsibility to represent the public interest. And that means they have to hear from the public, more than just once per year.

Postal workers and our allies can pressure the Board to reconsider their new policy and insist on transparency and accountability for the Board of Governors and postal management.

You can make your voice heard by using the QR code on this page or visiting apwu. org/public-comments to add your name to the growing list of postal workers and the public demanding real accountability for the Postal Board of Governors. ■

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