Here in Alaska, we depend on the Postal Service more than other states. The Postal Service delivers goods that we cannot purchase locally. The Postal Service also delivers medications. Smaller communities even receive food through the Postal Service.
Why has the Postal Service been in the news so much lately? COVID-19 has brought changes to all businesses in 2020. Many businesses have received federal aid, not the Postal Service. Earlier this year, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted into law. Companies and other government entities are able to receive reimbursement for leave related to COVID-19, not the Postal Service. I just read the third quarter finance reports for the Postal Service. For the third quarter of this year, the Postal Service brought in over $500 million, more than last year. At the same time, the net loss of the Postal Service has gone down $46 million over that of last year. The Postal Service has had a net loss for years, most of which can be attributed to the mandate of prefunding health care benefits for 75 years in advance.
The Postal Service seems to have become a political tool for the current administration. The president has repeatedly claimed that there is voter fraud linked to voting by mail. There is no evidence of this occurring. Mail-in voting has been happening for decades. President Donald Trump himself has voted by mail more than once. The president also claims that the Postal Service is losing money on Amazon deliveries. Currently, there is a law that forbids the post office from entering any contract where they charge less than the cost of delivering a product. Package deliveries are currently the biggest revenue source for the Postal Service. No, the post office is not losing money to Amazon.
Recently, the president appointed Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. DeJoy has no previous experience with the Postal Service, unlike his most recent predecessors. His biggest qualification for the job seems to be donating $1.2 million to the president’s campaign.
A couple of weeks ago, Postmaster General DeJoy issued a mandate to eliminate overtime, even if that meant delaying the mail. Eliminating overtime is not in the Postal Services Best interests. Overtime gives the Postal Service greater flexibility in handling different volumes of mail. The Postal Service has had a greater need for overtime recently as they have had to deal with extended leave by employees due to COVID-19. Businesses need a reliable Postal Service; they need things to be delivered on time. If you pay your bills through the mail, you want them to be delivered on time. By eliminating overtime, the Postal Service is losing credibility and, therefore, business.
On Friday, Aug. 7, the postmaster general committed the “Friday night Massacre” when he reassigned 23 of the top brass in the Postal Service. When you have no experience yourself, why would you move around your top management? Is it just a coincidence that senior postal management had stated last week that the Postal Service would have no problems handling national vote by mail?
The Postal Service has been a valuable asset for this country since its inception.
There is no need to use such a vital service for political gain.
• Mick Lowry is a retired postal worker and former American Postal Workers Union state officer.