Pandemic Crisis Brings Double Trouble

Mark Dimondstein

May 20, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

This terrible COVID pandemic again reminds us that it is the working people who make the world go round. Essential front-line workers – postal workers, health care workers, transit workers, truck drivers, firefighters, grocery workers and many others – have stepped up under dangerous and challenging conditions to heal, feed, connect and serve the people.

Witnessing the deep commitment and fortitude of postal workers carrying out the vital mission of binding the country together makes me even prouder to be your national president.

Co-workers, family members and friends have been sickened or have perished from this pandemic made worse by a government failure of readiness, including the lack of widespread and rapid testing.

As a union family, we deeply mourn these losses.

Our union leadership’s main priority has been the health and safety of our members. The APWU has left no stone unturned under Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman’s outstanding leadership. We secured a number of pro-active policies and agreements with management. This includes a strong liberal leave policy enabling workers to best protect their health and safety. (Click here for details on the union’s response.)

Dangerous Economic Troubles

While we work to secure the safety of our members, postal and all workers are now forced to confront a massive economic crisis as well: The pandemic’s economic impact is now threatening the very existence of the public Postal Service, our jobs, health benefits, retirement and the right of the people to universal postal services.

With no taxpayer funding, the Postal Service runs solely on postage revenue. But the pandemic is causing a huge reduction in mail volume and a projected 50 percent drop in revenue. Without Congressional relief, the Postal Service could run out of money by summer and cease operations. Shamefully, this needed relief has not been forthcoming.

Our friend and former CWA President Larry Cohen says “watch the feet” – look at what people do, not what they say.

Without Congressional relief, the Postal Service could run out of money by summer and cease operations. There have now been two massive “stimulus packages” totaling almost $3 trillion, including over $1 trillion for private business. With bi-partisan support from the Republican-controlled Postal Board of Governors, the House requested $25 billion for Postal COVID relief and the Senate $13 billion. Yet the Trump White House refused to sign a stimulus package with postal relief in it!

Our Congressional supporters failed to “flip the script” and declare that there would be no stimulus package unless the Postal Service was included. Watch the feet!

With everything postal workers are facing in this crisis, President Trump had the nerve to call the Postal Service “a joke” and demanded package prices be increased five times the present rates as a condition for any COVID relief. The President did not demand Boeing raise the price of airplanes or hotels raise room rates as a condition for bailouts! Excessive package rates would price the USPS out of the package market, literally causing its demise. After getting heat, President Trump then tweeted how much he “loves” postal workers. Watch the feet!

Backed by plenty of Wall Street and corporate money, this administration has a clear agenda – sell off the public Postal Service to private corporations. They are following the plan laid out in their June 2018 White House Office of Management and Budget report.

It is outrageous that this administration seeks to destroy the people’s Postal Service and 600,000 good union jobs, using this pandemic crisis to accomplish their sinister aims.

The Postal Service always is the highest rated agency by the people. Given the heroic and essential role of the postal workers in this pandemic, it stands higher than ever at 91 percent! People power is on our side.

You may have heard the saying, “If we’re not outraged, we’re not paying attention!” Let’s call Congress, sign petitions and spread the word far and wide. We can only win if we are mobilized and together move our feet! Our future depends on it!


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