Letter to the Editor: Postal Service faces desperate times

More than 200,000 letter carriers across this country work every day to support a $1.6 trillion mailing industry that employs nearly 7 million private sector workers. Financial relief for the U.S. Postal Service in the next COVID-19 relief package is desperately needed. Although the Postal Service has not needed taxpayer support in decades, it needs it now to survive this unprecedented crisis.

Letter carriers have been on the front lines of this pandemic, delivering mail and essential items to American homes and businesses at peak levels. Although package revenues have temporarily surged, mail volume losses from COVID-19 are likely to equal $5 billion this year and at least $10 billion next year. Additionally, operating costs have significantly increased due to COVID-19 and quarantine-related leave, retrofitting measures for 30,000 post offices and facilities and the cost of personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies for its 600,000 employees.

As the pandemic worsens, the deterioration of the economy makes the financial situation of the Postal Service precarious at best. Recently, a disturbing gross domestic product report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ announcement that new claims for unemployment insurance have exceeded 1 million for 20 straight weeks indicates that the Postal Service’s finances could worsen considerably after Congress adjourns for the election. In the absence of congressional action, the agency has begun to implement shortsighted and counterproductive service cuts around the country — resulting in slower mail service, missed delivery days and disrupted services for American businesses and households.

To protect public health, promote economic recovery, and provide assurance that the Postal Service will be there for the American people and their businesses at this time of need, we once again call on Congress to intervene by providing an immediate emergency appropriation to the Postal Service of at least $25 billion to cover the difference between postage revenues and total Postal Service expenses during this crisis. We also urge Congress to strip the Federal Finance Bank of any discretion to impose operational changes and policy conditions on any of the Postal Service’s existing borrowing authorities, as well as the elimination of the annual limit on these authorities. These provisions are contained in bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate in the HEROES Act (House Resolution 6800) and Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act (Senate Bill 4174).

Just as Congress has taken steps to ensure that this country’s schools, small businesses, hospitals and essential agencies can weather this difficult time, we must ensure that the U.S. Postal Service and its universal delivery network remain fully operational and financially healthy.

Contact your House and Senate representatives and tell them to take action to provide relief to the Postal Service.

Please call Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester at (202) 225-4165, Sen. Thomas Carper at (202) 224-2441 and/or Sen. Chris Coons at (202) 224-5042.

Susan Henderson
Letter carrier, Dover