Kelly: The Post Office’s Crucial Role in Working-Class History

Labor News

Reprinted from Teen Vogue by on August 27, 2020.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the bad news: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in trouble, and the current president is doing his damnedest to destroy it. Despite the agency’s overwhelming popularity and the essential nature of its labor, Republicans have been trying to kill off the post office for a very long time. They scored a body blow in 2006 with the bipartisan Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which required the USPS to fund retiree health care benefits decades in advance — something no other government agency has been compelled to do. Unsurprisingly, the agency has since been bleeding money (and jobs), and the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped matters. As Mark Dimond­stein, the president of the Amer­i­can Postal Work­ers Union (APWU), told In These Times in April, if Congress doesn’t step in with emergency funding, “some time between July and Sep­tem­ber, the Post Office will like­ly run out of mon­ey. And when they run out of mon­ey, their oper­a­tions will cease.”

Now, at the end of August, things have gotten much worse. Trump has continued to block desperately needed funding, and postal workers have been sounding alarms over a slate of worrisome new changes engineered by Trump’s postmaster general appointee, Louis DeJoy, a wealthy businessman with significant financial stakes in companies that compete directly with the USPS, and the first postmaster general in nearly 30 years to have come from outside the agency. Those worrisome changes include reassigning or displacing 23 USPS executives, a cut in overtime hours, reduced post office hours, and most troublingly, the removal of hundreds of iconic blue mailboxes. With multiple congressional inquiries underway, and a lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), DeJoy has grudgingly promised to halt his “reforms.” But the extent of the damage remains unclear. Mail-in voting — which has been embraced by Democrats and lambasted by Trump — remains under threat. (It’s worth noting that Trump himself requested a mail-in ballot for himself and his wife.) …

Teen Vogue 8/27

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at