Commentary: Like receiving mail? Then speak up for Postal Service

By Susan Henderson

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” 

These are words we associate with our letter carrier and likely tease him or her about during such weather conditions.

However, this may all come to an end though if action is not taken.

The United States Postal Service is a trusted presence across the country, especially for the elderly and disabled who value a daily visit and assistance when needed. Local post offices serve as community hubs and letter carriers perform acts of everyday heroism when house fires, car accidents, or crimes befall ordinary citizens.

Susan Henderson

In a Gallup poll dated April 17, 2019, the Postal Service remains the top-rated government agency. The USPS has fully funded itself through the sale of postage since the early 1980’s, and plays a vital role in our economy, society, and health care system.

As part of the nation’s only truly universal delivery and communications network connecting 160 million homes and businesses, it’s the hub of a mailing industry generating $1.6 trillion in sales and employing nearly 7 million private sector workers. The USPS, with 640,000 employees, is among the largest employers in all 50 states and the single largest civilian employer of veterans.

The USPS plays an important role in the U.S. health care system by handling 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments a year, nearly 4 million every day, six days a week. For elderly and rural residents, this is crucial.

As a matter of public health, there is no substitute for the Postal Service’s universal delivery network, especially now with medical needs rising exponentially. A collapse of the Postal Service or a severe disruption of service would undermine our fight to defeat the COVID-19 virus.

The USPS is also crucial for fighting the pandemic-induced recession. Small businesses increasingly depend on package deliveries to continue generating revenue and employing workers. It provides “last-mile” delivery for tens of millions of packages for FedEx, UPS and Amazon.  It is also vital to the national government during this crisis, offering an affordable universal means to distribute paperwork for Small Business Administration loans, stimulus checks, tax returns and Census mailings.

What we need now is urgent, bold action to save the agency from the devastating impact the COVID-19 virus will have on its ability to operate and serve people.

Mail volume has plummeted and the pandemic-induced loss of revenue facing the USPS is no less dramatic than that facing the airline and hotel industries. The USPS, and the segment of the private economy it supports, needs the same level of assistance provided those industries.

The CARES act provided support to the airlines ($61 billion), private cargo shippers ($17 billion), other corporations ($425 billion). The USPS got $10 billion in new debt authority, subject to control by the Treasury Department’s Federal Finance Bank, giving no guarantee that the USPS would receive access to this credit.

Congress can and must do better. Democrats and Republicans should work together to ensure that this pandemic does not destroy the U.S. Postal Service, a true national treasure and a vital part to America’s response and eventual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please call our senators and congresswoman asking them to make a direct “public service” appropriation of at least $25 billion to the Postal Service to help weather the pandemic and the resulting deep recession.

Although the Postal Service has not received taxpayer appropriations since the early 1980s, the present crisis warrants such appropriations now.

Senator Tom Carper 302-573-6291

Senator Chris Coons 302-573-6345

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester 302-830-2330

Please call and have your voice heard. The Postal Service as we know it depends on you.

Susan Henderson is a letter carrier and member of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 906 who lives in Dover.