United States

The Fight of U.S. Postal Workers to Oppose Privatization and Debunk Self-Serving Anti-Worker Myths in Lead-Up to U.S. Election

Postal workers in the United States have been consistently organizing to keep the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) a public service providing for the public good. This has included opposing efforts by the government to privatize USPS, to slow and disrupt mail delivery, and to undermine working conditions and collective bargaining rights of the workers. In addition, they have been opposing the anti-worker propaganda according to which the postal service cannot cope with mail-in ballots during the pandemic and would thus undermine results in the November presidential election.

The USPS has been in the news lately, mainly as it relates to mail-in voting. Postal workers have brought to the fore that they are capable of handling an increase in mail-in ballots, which is nothing compared to the mail delivered at Christmas time. A lack of money will not stop timely delivery. In the week before Christmas, for example, workers often process and deliver 2.5 billion pieces of first-class mail, or about 500 million cards and letters a day, not to mention packages. Even if every one of the country's more than 150 million registered voters mailed their ballot, the workers could handle the volume.

In their many protests, letters and petitions, workers and their unions say that the bigger problem now is the elimination of overtime, insufficient safety equipment, and the refusal to hire and train more workers to compensate for the estimated 40,000 workers dealing with COVID-19 infections or quarantines. The elimination of mail-sorting machines and mail collection boxes is a problem, one that new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said he will now stop -- with 95 per cent of the machines already removed. He said overtime will only be permitted "as needed," which means it continues to be limited in various ways. There is also a new policy not to treat all ballots as first-class mail, as is usually the case. All of these actions are aimed not so much at impacting mail-in voting, but rather at forcing tremendous speed-up of the COVID-decimated workforce, making it appear the USPS cannot deliver the mail in a timely fashion. This then is used to justify privatization and greater interference by the government, through the Treasury Department, in USPS policies and contracts with workers.

Postal workers, numbering about 630,000, deliver mail to more than 160 million households daily. They provide a crucial public service, especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prescriptions, social security and unemployment cheques, food, medical supplies and more are delivered to homes in cities and rural areas and everywhere in between.

All four postal unions are working together to demand USPS be operated as a public service and not sold off to private interests, and to secure safety equipment, hazard pay and better working conditions for postal workers.

In addition to the estimated 40,000 workers contending either with COVID infections or quarantine, more than 60 have died.

(Photo: American Postal Workers Union)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 34 - September 12, 2020

Article Link:
United States: The Fight of U.S. Postal Workers to Oppose Privatization and Debunk Self-Serving Anti-Worker Myths in Lead-Up to U.S. Election


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