U.S. Postal Service workers, like health care workers, go to work every day risking exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Over 900 USPS employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 35 have died. On Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, postal workers in Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle plan vigils to highlight the dangers these frontline workers face.
Trillions of dollars have been announced to combat the pandemic, but the 600,000 vulnerable U.S. postal workers who sort and deliver the mail have been omitted — despite being the public’s favorite government workers, according to a 2019 Gallup Poll.
Postmaster General Megan Brennan told the House Oversight and Reform Committee on April 9 that if the USPS didn’t get relief, it would run out of money by September.
“Trump made it clear he would not approve the so-called stimulus package … if there was any relief for the U.S. Postal Service,” said Chuck Zlatkin, legislative director of New York Metro Postal Union. “Trump has no idea how many people depend upon the USPS to get medications that keep them alive or keep them from excruciating pain. The answer is that it delivers 1.2 billion prescriptions annually.
“Most people don’t realize the Postal Service receives no taxpayer money. It supports itself on the sale of stamps and other services. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economy and with it the income of the Postal Service.” (Consortium News, April 23)
The American Postal Workers Union issued this statement on its website in April: “Postal workers are keeping our country moving and the U.S. economy working for us during this time of crisis — getting prescriptions delivered to people sheltering in place, making e-commerce possible and keeping families connected. It is the emergency distribution system when our country is in crisis.
“But at this unprecedented time, that work is under threat. The Coronavirus shutdown is plummeting postal revenues while increasing costs. The Postal Service could run out of money by the end of the summer, and the Trump administration is trying to leverage the crisis to sacrifice our public Postal Service at the altar of private profit.
“The loss of the USPS would shatter our response to the Coronavirus pandemic, hit already weakened businesses and ravage communities. Our public Postal Service needs all American leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike — to provide urgent and ongoing financial support from the federal government during this public health and economic crisis.”
Supporters can sign a solidarity statement at apwu.org.
Welsh is a retired letter carrier.