New Poll Cites Importance of Postal Service to Seniors/Vets; NALC Calls On Congress to Provide USPS With Financial Relief During Pandemic

New Poll Cites Importance of Postal Service to Seniors/Vets; NALC Calls On Congress to Provide USPS With Financial Relief During Pandemic

An overwhelming majority of registered voters aged 60 or above support federal financial assistance for the United States Postal Service in the next round of financial relief legislation, to allow USPS to survive the effects of the pandemic. Military veterans of the same age concur, at even higher rates.

Both groups, furthermore, say that their votes in the fall election will be strongly influenced by whether their elected representatives help provide the Postal Service with the same support provided to other sectors of the economy.

Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed support congressional assistance; the figure is 90 percent among veterans. The support cuts across party lines, with 83 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 97 percent of Democrats agreeing. It also transcends geographic regions (Heartland voters lead with 93 percent support). On support for USPS, there also are no rural-suburban-urban divisions.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for lawmakers who oppose federal support for USPS; a figure that rises to 70 percent among veterans 60 or above.

What makes the findings particularly noteworthy is that voters aged 60 and above lean conservative, compared to the general electorate. They voted for President Trump by a 52-42 percent margin in 2016, for example (for veterans the margin was 57-39 percent) and describe themselves as conservative rather than liberal by a 41 to 20 percent margin.

Underlying these sentiments is the nearly unanimous agreement that the Postal Service is important to their lives and well-being–a view shared by 96 percent of those polled and an extraordinary 99 percent of veterans–reflecting in part the fact that USPS is the country’s largest civilian employer of military veterans, and that millions of veterans get their VA medications and other important deliveries through the Postal Service. Ninety-seven percent of rural voters and 94 percent of Republican voters agree.

The poll shows overwhelming preference for financial assistance as opposed to other options including raising rates or federal loans.

Thus far during the pandemic, Congress has not passed any direct funding relief for the Postal Service, despite calls from stakeholders. The House recently approved $25 billion in the Heroes Act, but the Senate has yet to act.

The poll of 1,200 registered voters aged 60 or older, which included a substantial subset of 336 veterans, was conducted online from July 9 to July 15 by Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research and was commissioned by the National Association of Letter Carriers. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

View the full article here.

U.S. Postal Service, Clorox, Google, UPS, Walmart Top List Of Americans’ Most Essential Companies During Covid-19

U.S. Postal Service, Clorox, Google, UPS, Walmart Top List Of Americans’ Most Essential Companies During Covid-19

NEW YORKJune 12, 2020

The Harris Poll® today released The Harris Poll Essential 100, a ranking of corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans say 100 leading companies played a truly essential role during the crisis.

The top 10, based on the survey, are (in order): United States Postal Service, Clorox, Google, United Parcel Service, Walmart, Amazon, Purell, Microsoft, FedEx, and CVS.

The Essential 100 rates companies based on their resolve, integrity, responsiveness and permanence.

What is clear from the survey is corporate America is seen as part of the solution today, rather than the problem, as was the case during the 2008 financial crisis.

“When they needed it the most, Americans put their trust in the business community to help them through COVID-19,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “We’ve seen widespread approval of the corporate response to the pandemic – whether pivoting to different goods and services, reinforcing supply chains, or seeking cures for the deadly virus.”

The survey also shows that the reputation of companies during COVID-19 has improved in every sector and that trust in business is at a high.

To download the full report, visit www.theharrispoll.com or click here.

Full article here: https://theharrispoll.com/u-s-postal-service-clorox-google-ups-walmart-top-list-of-americans-most-essential-companies-during-covid-19/

The new normal

The new normal

A day in the life as told by the letter carriers living it

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Postal Service is providing an essential service, and letter carriers are recognized as heroes for delivering during this crisis. Millions of people are in isolation or quarantine in their homes and disconnected from jobs, friends and family. They are depending on letter carriers to be their link to the outside world by bringing needed supplies, documents and medications.

But letter carriers are under tremendous stress at work and at home from putting themselves out in public, delivering mail and packages to every house and business in the country. For many NALC members, much about the way that we work—from preparing to report to the office in the morning to returning from work at night—has changed dramatically.

While there have been a number of new memoranda of understanding and stand-up talks that change the way letter carriers are required to perform their work (all of which can be found at nalc.org/covid-19), each office is unique. So, The Postal Record asked letter carriers what the “new normal” is for a day in the life of a letter carrier. Their answers help paint a portrait of how much has changed and what makes letter carriers tick.

We started by asking about how their preparations for going to the office have changed.

“I bring my own mask, gloves, sanitizer and wipes to clean the vehicle. And a tall can of Lysol to spray down everything I touch for the day.” – Lisamarie Garcia of Los Angeles Branch 24

“I bring everything related to my workday along pre-sanitized, where applicable, such as my water and lunch containers.” – Christopher Wetzel of Woodstock, VA Branch 3376

“I used to eat a fast breakfast, but now I make sure to eat a hearty meal to hold me off as long as possible. I sanitize my personal vehicle before I head to work, pack my lunch in disposable bags and put my phone in a Ziploc bag. When I get to work, the first thing I do is sanitize my whole truck top to bottom. Refill the hand sanitizer.” – Aaron Thompson of Tulsa, OK Branch 1358

“I bring my own mask and use hand sanitizer disinfectant to clean my truck, and make sure I have gloves with me to get gas. I carry only a small bag with those essentials and my license and debit card.” – Kathleen Paolillo Heltke of Connecticut Merged Branch 20

“I have been methodical about leaving the house by gathering all my things before I put on my shoes, so I don’t step in the house again.” – Alfredo Dwan of Seattle, WA Branch 79

“The new steps in my morning routine include: wiping down my pocket items such as my badge, my ink pen, my black permanent marker; washing with soap and water my locker key and rubber thumb. I spray disinfect (151 proof alcohol with just a little water) on my hat and mask. I am a shop steward. I started keeping all the NALC-released COVID info in a three-ring binder. In mid-March, there was something new every day to find, print, read, understand and have on hand to answer questions for my co-workers. It’s a lot of info to keep up with. I read the new info as I eat breakfast. The binder is in a tote bag with other things I have to bring from home.” – Nona Roop Hall of Roanoke, VA Branch 524

“The before-work routine has become wake up, take temperature, coffee, make sure I have my mask and hand sanitizer. Try to remember to wear a head band so I am not brushing the hair out of my face and touching my face. Items that I make sure I have every day are my own hand sanitizer, gloves, mask and bleach spray.  The station has supplies, but I will not take the risk of one of those items not being available for me.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“My ability to get to work has been drastically improved. Traffic is nonexistent.” – Aaron Thompson of Tulsa, OK Branch 1358

“I try to play more positive, upbeat music on my way to work to help keep my spirits up.” – Marc J. Mancini of Pittsburgh, PA Branch 84

Once at the office, for many, even clocking-in has changed.

“The Brentwood Post Office is located in the heart of the pandemic here on Long Island. It became so serious in this area that a few weeks ago a COVID-19 testing site was set up and has been operating just a quarter mile from the office. The way we operate has changed dramatically. The carriers would all start, en masse, at 7:30 a.m. Now, there are four shifts, to prevent large groups gathering at once. The first shift starts at 7 a.m., with the last starting at 9:15 a.m.” –James Padilla of Long Island Merged, NY Branch 6000

“I wait in my car until it’s very close to time to start. The entire office is now separated into four different waves to clock in. I use the corner of the time card to punch the buttons on the clock. People I used to chat with every day, I now rarely see.” – Nona Roop Hall of Roanoke, VA Branch 524

“My time clock process has changed in the fact that I am usually a couple clicks over my start time to avoid crowding at the time clock.” – Kristina K. Pickering of Central California Coast Branch 52

““We have plenty of PPE in our office….each route got a jug full of sanitizer and a little container on our key chains to take to the street with us. Boxes of gloves and masks.” – Paul Romanies of Bux-Mont, PA Branch 920

Vehicle checks take a lot more effort, as sanitizing the workspace has become a priority.

 “My vehicle check process hasn’t changed too much. Since Day One I have always been aware of how filthy our job is. So being a regular on my own route, I have always had my own disinfectant wipes within my truck. The funny thing is, now I won’t get talked to for using my full vehicle check time. I have made it known I don’t wish the custodian staff to clean my case or my vehicle, which is why I do it myself. The less hands and people in my personal workspace, the better.” – Kristina K. Pickering of Central California Coast Branch 52

“I use a Dodge Ram van for my route. When I start my vehicle inspection, first I wipe down the door handles, a 6-inch square where I purposely use to close the door and the lift gate handle. Wipe down the Ram emblem (this is key later). Open the lift gate and wipe down the inside handles used for closing. Wipe down the inside of the back where I lean in to grab parcels during the day. I grab the handle and pull down like I’m spinning the wheel in the “showcase showdown” on the “Price is Right.” Then I make sure to place my hand on the emblem to finish the closure of the lift gate (instead of having to clean across the entire width of the lift gate). Then I move to the inside driver’s side and wipe down the door, the blinker, the heat/air controls, the cup holder, seat adjusters, the seat belt, buckle and latch, steering wheel and gear shift. Then I get inside and wonder what I forgot and if my hands were clean enough when I started cleaning so then I use some hand sanitizer.” – Nona Roop Hall of Roanoke, VA Branch 524

“The very first thing I do in my vehicle is spray the entire cab with the bleach water spray. I let that sit while I preform the outside inspection and then start the 2-ton to finish the inspection.  My 2-ton smells like a swimming pool at all times.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“Our managers clean our cases and vehicles twice a day. We do not have a janitor and the postmaster wants to be sure that everything is being sanitized. Marks on the floor remind us to social distance. We have an entire safety station set up with disinfectant, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and all the stand-up info posted. All the employees respect each other’s space, so staggered times are not necessary. We support and encourage one another.” – Leslie Hardman Nielsen of Springville, UT Branch 2821

There are other changes in how letter carriers interact with clerks, supervisors and others at the office.

“Sometimes the mail is there at the case and sometimes it’s not. Changes on a daily basis.” – Calvin Rich of Pasadena, CA Branch 2200

“The clerks in our office refuse to wear masks as they sort the parcels, even though Michigan’s governor has ordered masks to be worn if social distancing cannot occur. Management keeps telling us we don’t have to follow Michigan’s guidelines because we are federal workers. Our local health department also instituted guidelines to be followed before employees are allowed into a workplace, which we have yet to do.” – Matthew Amlotte of Alpena, MI Branch 259

“Management has informed us that custodians are now sanitizing our MDDs [Mobile Delivery Devices] before we use them. Custodians will leave a sheet of paper signed and dated to inform us our MDDs have been sanitized. There are times where I’ve gone to grab my MDD and had to ask the custodian to please sanitize mine next since she hadn’t gotten to mine yet. Usually, they comply and we don’t have to wait too long. Other times I don’t see them being sanitized, nor do I see the sheet of paper stating MDDs were sanitized, which is hard to prove on a daily basis. I usually sanitize my MDD throughout the day with my personal sanitizing wipes.” – Calvin Rich of Pasadena, CA Branch 2200

“We must stagger times to retrieve scanners to keep social distancing.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

“The interaction with management has changed. We have to remind each other to stand 6 feet apart. PS 3996 are more of a challenge to estimate because of having to return to pick up packages and the time to run them off.  The environment has changed. It used to be fun in the office, joking around with your co-workers. Now everyone just wants to get out of the office.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“Swing assignments are written down on a whiteboard and unless carriers need overtime on their own assignment, there is no verbal interaction.” – Alfredo Dwan of Seattle, WA Branch 79

“We are still filling out 3996s, but management is approving by scanner message, not coming to carrier cases per usual.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

“Some clerks are very good at calling us over to sign for accountables and providing us social distance, but others just stand there near you handing you certifieds and keys. Old habits are hard to change, unfortunately.” – Calvin Rich of Pasadena, CA Branch 2200

“Our clerk rolls around the cart, case to case. They tell us verbally what we need to get from the cart, then they back away and we go out to the cart and grab and sign for all the stuff they just told us about.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“They don’t care about 3996s anymore. Nobody knows how long a day will take when the mail shows up whenever it shows up. We’ve lost, on some days, a third of our workforce. I haven’t worked under 11 hours a day in probably three weeks.” – Rob Cover of Utica, MI Branch 4374

With businesses closing and changes of residence, forwarding and holds are more complicated. 

“We put bars in the case for closed businesses. Most won’t put in changes of address and instead pick up mail here and there. I started 10-day holds and was going to send it all back MLNA. There’s no good regulation applying to these times.” – Rob Cover of South Macomb, MI Branch 4374

“There are more holds with no extra case shelf space, making our workspace cluttered and crowded. [There are] many closed businesses and holding [of] unclaimed mail from full mailboxes for residents who are away.” – Mary Kinney of Columbia, MO Branch 763

“Our office has moved the hold from each carrier’s case to one location to minimize clerks walking to every case.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

“More change-of-address orders are being filed by residents who moved away months ago, so they can receive their government stimulus check. It results in more time spent by me filling out forms to cancel their MLNA and correcting to their new addresses.” – Mary Kinney of Columbia, MO Branch 763

Break times in the office are different now, when they are even held there.

“We have smaller groups taking breaks at 8:45 a.m., 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. We pretty much just stay to ourselves and text each other. The funny thing is, some carriers FaceTime each other while they are still in the same building and chat. Pretty cool. But they are being responsible, that is for sure.” – Richard Ray of Staten Island, NY Branch 99

“We used to have a full break room where stories and life would be shared every morning. Now, no more than three people have taken a break in the break room together.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“The morning break is chaotic in my office. As the steward in my office, I went around and asked each carrier if they wanted to keep the office break or take two street breaks. About half the office decided to keep the office break. Then with staggered start times, we came to agreement with the postmaster to have the carriers start their office break 30 minutes after punching in. So, break times are at 8:15, 8:45 and 9. It is weird, but working so far.” – Samuel H. Farley of Elyria, OH Branch 196

“No office break. Switched to two street breaks. Took a few weeks to get used to because it felt like the day dragged on.” – Jacqueline Mayes of Seattle, WA Branch 79

Out on their routes, letter carriers are adapting to the new rules of work. 

“We have to touch a lot of things during a workday. It still has to be done to deliver the mail.” – Mary Kinney of Columbia, MO Branch 763

“I always used hand sanitizer in collections because I have a compromised immune system before COVID-19, but now I use it a lot more often.” – Kimberly Arnhold of Pasadena, TX Branch 3867

“CBU and blue box collection points have not changed too much, other than politely asking congregating customers to maintain distance and to hand sanitize after touching these multi-contact surfaces.” – Christopher Wetzel of Woodstock, VA Branch 3376

“I have many cluster boxes on my route; some are located outside and some are located inside closed mail rooms. I don’t know which are worse. I have to ask customers to stay back when I am delivering to the outside boxes, which frustrates everyone. Then when I am delivering to my mail rooms, I have to leave the doors closed to keep customers out, which then isolates me from them and the questions they have about their mail.” – Susan Ugone of Hartford, CT Branch 86

“Some [businesses] want you to use the mailbox. Some come to the post office to pick up mail. Some Lysol it on sight. One wants you to put it in a file folder. It took some time to not take it personally.” – Rob Cover of South Macomb, MI Branch 4374

“My route has many closed businesses. I’m holding the mail for some, delivering some with mail receptacles. I’m sending some mail for business owners who live in town to the carrier who delivers to their home and some to those who also have P.O. boxes.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

“I don’t let anyone touch [the MDD] to sign for accountable mail. I ask if I can sign it for them. Anything with a return card gets a pink slip so they can pick it up at the office.” – Tish Seymour-Wells of Cleveland, OH Branch 40

“I spray the scanner down daily with my own supply of bleach and keep it in my possession at all times.” – Christopher Wetzel of Woodstock, VA Branch 3376

“More dog encounters have become normal. Some owners get it and others do not, and it has caused extra conflict during these challenging times.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“I have made some new dog friends and have also made some more dog warning cards.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

Many carriers reported that they have had to adjust their work for all of the government offices and businesses that are closed, as well as for the other businesses that have increased packages. 

“We take mail to home addresses instead of businesses for those who don’t want to hold it for pickup.” – Laura Bogart of Hays, KS Branch 2161

“I have a mall on my route that is closed, but I call the security guard every day and he lets me in to deliver mail to the cluster boxes. I also have a closed nail salon on my route, but the owner lives on the street behind it, so I deliver their business mail to their home. There’s also an eldercare facility, but I now leave the mail on their vestibule instead of taking it to the main desk.” – Tish Seymour-Wells of Cleveland, OH Branch 40

“I have a CVS pharmacy on my route, and pickups have increased significantly, and I usually come by to do a second collection before returning to the office.” – Charles Milde of Shawnee Mission, KS Branch 5521

“My public school is closed. They pick mail up at our station. I have a church office open for regular business. I wear my mask into the office. I also have a Catholic school where the office is open to me. I never see anyone, but wear my mask in also.” – Debra Kluesner of Sioux Falls, SD Branch 491

One of the biggest changes for carriers on their routes is how they take their breaks and comfort stops.

“I take [breaks] alone and in my truck as much as possible.” – Debra Kluesner of Sioux Falls, SD Branch 491

“I can’t eat my morning snack until I pull over and sanitize my hands. I do the same on my lunch break, which I pack and eat in my truck after I also wipe down the steering wheel, ignition, parking brake and my phone.” – Tish Seymour-Wells of Cleveland, OH Branch 40

“I have a hospital/medical center that butts up to my route. That used to be the place I replenished my water bottle, heated up my lunch (if need be), and used the bathroom. Now with COVID-19, it’s not a practical option.” – Kristina Pickering of Central California Coast Branch 52

“I mostly use a bathroom without hot water, because all the others are closed. It’s fun!” – J.T. Thorstad of Tacoma, WA Branch 79

“No one is letting carriers use their bathrooms. We go back to the station.” – Richard Ray of Staten Island, NY Branch 99

“Most bathrooms are not accessible due to closures. The couple I still can get to and use have become critical. I take my lunch at the exact same place each day so I can go use the bathroom and thoroughly wash my hands before going back to eat.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“First the two leasing offices on my route closed, then two weeks later the park bathroom closed. I was thankful for the park having its bathroom open until it finally closed. Once I saw the sign on the door stating that the bathrooms were closed, I got angry. As I walked back to my truck, I had an overwhelming load of feelings from…everything. I cried as I walked back to my truck. Sat for a minute, then proceeded to drive to a bathroom that is not near my route.” – Jacqueline Mayes of Tacoma, WA Branch 79

Letter carriers take pride in the work they do and often interact with their customers, but that interaction has had to change.

“In all honesty, quarantine has been rough. When the first stay-at-home order was issued, I sent out a handful of personal letters to my customers at risk who would possibly need me to go above and beyond my normal duties. Our customers become a part of our hearts. The communities we serve are often more so our neighborhood than where we live. To make sure they’re OK is a part of what makes the USPS so above and beyond different than any possible competitors. Social distancing with customers has been rough, but at the same time, if we explained to them how the 6-foot distance is critical, they understand. I always explain to them that if I was to be the cause of any of them to get sick, it would break my heart, especially with how much interaction and touching of mailboxes we do.” – Kristina Pickering of Central California Coast Branch 52

“For many customers, I am the only outside person they get to have interactions with each day and it is critical to their mental well-being. I take this very seriously. I had one woman passed out from drinking too much on the sidewalk, and I couldn’t just ignore her. So I woke her up, helped get her on her feet and safely back home before continuing the route. It was scary because I couldn’t keep a safe distance and I simply had to hope she wasn’t sick, too, but I couldn’t leave her. She, like so many others, was simply having a difficult time coping in that moment.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“I cannot shake hands or touch or hug my customer friends.  Many cross the street to avoid sharing the sidewalk with me, or retreat inside their house when I approach to avoid us sharing space. Parents restrain their small toddler children from walking toward me for their ‘used to be’ usual hug from me. That makes us sad.  I cannot visit my elderly residents or help them like I used to.  I can sense the loneliness and desire for connection from many people.” – Mary Kinney of Columbia, MO Branch 763

“For customer interactions where I knowingly deliver to those immune compromised or elderly, I attempt to sanitize my hands prior to delivery.” – Christopher Wetzel of Woodstock, VA Branch 3376

“One day I was delivering on my route and one of my customers left a mask for me at the mailbox. As it instructed, I washed the mask before using, and since that day I have worn a mask. You have no idea how appreciated you are until someone does that for you. And I feel appreciated with every breath. I have a lot of great customers, and many like to meet me by the door to get my mail. But, as of a month ago, I have resolved to discontinue handoffs as much as possible. By my estimation, I have turned down at least 100 handoffs. Most customers are very understanding and encouraging when I let them know what I am doing, and I occasionally let them know how many handoffs I have turned down, reminding them that that number is a reduction of direct exposures they themselves have avoided. …My customers have been wonderful. While I focus on my work, I do keep my eyes open and see their sense of humor as I walk, like the little girl who wrote ‘Closed’ on a piece of paper and put it on her front door, or the customer who put corona masks on her pink flamingos. The signs of thank you, especially from the kids, are incredibly moving. And the countless thank-yous I get from my people as I walk along. To them, I say the same thing to everyone: ‘As long as I have two feet and healthy lungs, you will get your mail.’ ” – Charles Milde of Shawnee Mission, KS Branch 5521

“I feel this is hardest on our elderly customers. They want to see you and make sure you are OK. We feel the same about them. I have a fear of passing the virus to one of them, even though I do not have any symptoms. I worked in a nursing home and saw how easily the regular flu could spread; I do not want to bring any harm to any of my customers.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“I have a lot of older customers who regularly get medications delivered. A couple customers of mine have higher-risk children and definitely do a lot of online ordering so they don’t have to leave the house at all.” – Debra Kluesner of Sioux Falls, SD Branch 491

Letter carriers also understand why their work is essential and know what would happen to the communities on
their routes if they were not there.

“Small businesses would be completely closed. They rely on my work picking up outgoing parcels every day to keep some money coming in through the door, and I’m the only delivery service that they can count on to come by every day. People would be scared. Just our daily presence lets them know things are OK and not that bad. Take us off the street and panic will set in quickly. I do all the stuff (grocery after work, other pickups, shipping, etc.) for some of my immune-deficient customers so they can safely stay at home until this all ends. They rely on me for all external needs.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“I have customers who rely on me to deliver financial security items, both in check and statement forms. There is an increase in the elderly now using online purchases to help them social distance and likewise many people who rely on us to deliver other essentials such as medicine, prosthetics and equipment.” – Christopher Wetzel of Woodstock, VA Branch 3376

“The customers on my route expect to see me out there every day delivering their packages, birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, medicine and ads. We are the ‘normal’ that the American people look forward to.” – Samuel H. Farley of Elyria, OH Branch 196

“I transport a lot of medications to the other offices to be delivered, so [customers] would be affected physically and medically.” – Kimberly Arnhold of Pasadena, TX Branch 3867

“I’ve been on this route for more than 20 years and plan to retire at the end of June. I have developed many friendships and been witness to many life experiences, hardships and changes with my customers. I am sometimes the only person they interact with each day.” – Mary Kinney of Columbia, MO Branch 763

“I don’t think people who haven’t done this job really realize we are the heartbeat of the community. I have customers who I deliver pharmaceuticals to regularly and I have a couple customers who I do welfare checks on regularly.” – Kristina Pickering of Central California Coast Branch 52

“I have the elderly customer who trusts you to come into their home to carry packages for them. The customer trying to give you their raincoat because you got caught mid-loop without yours. My having to wear a hat in the winter on one loop because it upsets Mr. Burns when I don’t have it on and he will get up to give me the business if I don’t. The customer that has a hot cup of coffee for you every day in the winter and an ice-cold water in the summer, because you have to stay warm or hydrated. People care about us as much as we care about them.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“Our customers have been lonely. If we weren’t delivering, many wouldn’t be able to get things from loved ones far away, or essential items you can’t find in our small town.” – Laura Bogart of Hays, KS Branch 2161

“If I’m not here, my route will probably be keyed out for pivots and overtime. My customers would get their mail late or not at all. I also have a CVS on my route and I used to pick up scripts maybe once a week; now it’s at least five a day. If the packages happen to be my customers, they get them delivered the same day. That will not happen if I get sick.” – Tish Seymour-Wells of Cleveland, OH Branch 40

“I have an old-age complex on my route. Many people get their medication delivered through the mail. I also have businesses that have started to do or are doing more shipping with the USPS since they are no longer open to the public. I’m making these pickups every day.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

“We in New York, we had to deal with 9/11, we had to deal with Hurricane Sandy, but I never got so many thank-yous in my entire time with the Post Office. Our customers need us now more than ever. They’re getting everything they need delivered to their doors.” – Richard Ray of Staten Island, NY Branch 99

When carriers return to the station, many try to maintain social distancing.

 “Upon my return to the office, my routine is pretty much the same, but I will keep my distance before sorting through my nixies and forwards. My CVS parcels, which are considered secure, are tubbed, and I often slide the tub over to the supervisor or clerk, instead of making a handoff. Clocking out is still unsafe, but we try to keep 6 feet from one another. Still, there is an occasional person who likes to hang over the clock while carrying on a conversation. As you can imagine, this is usually one of the people who opt not to wear a mask.” – Charles Milde of Shawnee Mission, KS Branch 5521

“This is a very awkward situation where safe spacing breaks down due to rush to dispatch mail every day. We still have to do it all ourselves and it’s all in a narrow walkway where it is impossible to safely keep space unless it’s done one person at a time.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“We must leave items at the accountable cart and step away for the clerk to clear.” – Dan Wheeler of Massachusetts Northeast Merged Branch 25

But the day doesn’t end there. Letter carriers have to make sure they’re safe to return to their homes and their families.

 “Before I leave [work], I change into regular clothing. I put my uniform in a plastic bag before I walk in the door. My outer clothing comes off. My wife sprays me with Lysol, takes my plastic bag and my clothing that goes right into the washer, and I take a shower before I do anything.” – Richard Ray of Staten Island, NY Branch 99

“Change out of uniform right away. I have two small children and one of them is high risk (heart/lung). If it is my days with them, I will shower before I pick them up from their dad’s, who works from home.” – Debra Kluesner of Sioux Falls, SD Branch 491

“When I get home, I go through a decontamination ritual of wiping down my car, keys and any items I bring into the house. Early on, I began to play a game I call ‘Typhoid Mary’—a dark distraction while trying to think of where I need to kill the dangerous cooties in and around me as I come home.” – Charles Milde of Shawnee Mission, KS Branch 5521

“Once I get home, I immediately throw my uniform on the laundry floor [to not mix with other laundry] then shower. I have told my daughter to not hug me until I shower a few times after she rushes to the door to hug me. I rinse off my iPhone and Apple watch. I even rinse off my prescription glasses. I always hug and kiss my daughter on her forehead; I have limited that.” – Jacqueline Mayes of Tacoma, WA Branch 79

“After work is an entirely new routine. I make sure I leave my shoes outside and spray myself with Lysol before I walk in the house. I immediately go to the laundry room, change out of my work clothes and wash them. I then go shower before I give my kids a hug. I no longer give them kisses, just in case.” – Amie Gallo of Salt Lake City, UT Branch 111

The stress is taking a toll on carriers and their relationships.

 “We are working long hours. We are stressed out and burning out. We come home, eat dinner, try and spend some time with the family, then go to bed and get up and do it all over again. Letter carriers take pride in the work we are doing, providing reliable, efficient mail deliveries to all of our customers.” – Samuel Farley of Elyria, OH Branch 196

“I don’t think anybody wants to be there, at work, while this town is at the epicenter of the pandemic. We were told that four of our co-workers tested positive. One has returned, after being out for a month. No word on the condition or work status of the other three. And now, I just learned of a fifth carrier associated with our office who not only has tested positive, but has in fact been hospitalized. But, at the same time we are extremely grateful that we do have a job to go to. So, we soldier on. We social distance on, even with those we’ve known for 25 to 30 years. Don’t shake hands. Don’t even do the elbow touch anymore. I walk past the numerous discarded masks and gloves, laying in the streets and parking lots on my route, throughout the day, and just shake my head. Many people do wear protective goods, but sadly, there are some who still congregate, not all wearing protective gear.” – James Padilla of Long Island Merged, NY Branch 6000

“I’m both mentally and physically exhausted from this COVID virus. During the day and evening, I keep in touch with my core group. We speak a lot more, as we are all stressed about COVID-19 and the future of the Post Office. With my NALC friends from other states, we reach out more often. We send cards, little gifts and rude memes/GIFs to let each other know we care and that we understand. NALC has given me friendships that I cherish with people I never would have come in contact with otherwise. We are all in this struggle together and any can reach out to me at any time to be talked off the ledge if they need it. I know they would do the same for me.” – Becky Stockman of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

“My wife is out of work because of it all, so she is home all day home schooling our 7-year-old and looking after our 15-month-old. She is stressed and tired by the time I get home from working all day, so I end up doing all the evening stuff with the kids. So. the day doesn’t end until very late and we are both exhausted all the time.” – Willie Groshell of Portland, OR Branch 82

“Having to go to work as well as doing schoolwork with my daughter is extremely stressful and exhausting, especially if a child (any child) has extra needs that need to be met at school. The only other person who helps with my daughter is my mom. She watches her all day for me, so I try to stick to doing the homework at least. I am at work constantly thinking about her homework and wondering what e-mails the school will send next. She has a health condition that I also worry about during this time.” – Jacqueline Mayes of Tacoma, WA Branch 79

“I think everyone is stressed and scared. Some show it; others do not. Some snap over nothing. But for the most part, we are the same. We are family.” – Richard Ray of Staten Island, NY Branch 99

“Before my quarterly daily routine began, I signed up on the [overtime desired list] for the first time ever because my unit needed it.” – Joe Gibson of Central California Coast Branch 52

“City carriers are a tough breed, tougher than woodpecker lips. And, not accounting for how we individually might deal with the disease, I think we can navigate the issues, just as we do every day with heavy coverage, excessive tub mail, new ideas to ‘increase efficiency,’ oh, and the weather. If we remember the stuff we had to do to get where we are today, we will all know in our hearts: We got this!“ – Charles Milde of Shawnee Mission, KS Branch 5521

US Postal Service warns coronavirus pandemic threatens its survival

US Postal Service warns coronavirus pandemic threatens its survival

(CNN)The US Postal Service is warning that the coronavirus pandemic began to harm business in late March which has continued to decline, a trend that threatens its survival.

“It is estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will substantially increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss over the next eighteen months, threatening the Postal Service’s ability to operate,” it wrote in a press release Friday.

The financial struggles of the USPS are not new, but the global pandemic has further strained the mail service. More than 600,000 mail carriers and postal workers have continued working through the pandemic, delivering goods to every corner of the country.

Its second quarter numbers are artificially elevated by mailings tied to the US Census.

“Compared to the same quarter last year, First-Class Mail revenue increased by $89 million, or 1.4%, despite a volume decline of 29 million pieces, or 0.2%. This growth was due to one-time mailings associated with the 2020 U.S. Census, otherwise First-Class Mail revenue and volume would have each declined,” the postal service said.

The Postmaster General is calling on Congress and the Trump administration to help shore up its finances.

“We anticipate that our business will suffer potentially dire consequences for the remainder of the year,” Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan said in Friday’s press release. “At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the pandemic is starting to have a significant effect on our business with mail volumes plummeting as a result of the pandemic.”

Brennan had told Congress last month that the agency will “run out of cash” by the end of September if lawmakers don’t step in with financial assistance.

USPS had requested $75 billion in funding from Congress to stay afloat.

In a Oval Office signing ceremony late last month with President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that a $10 billion dollar loan for USPS was authorized in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, the CARES Act.

It also has not yet been approved for the loan from the Treasury Department, USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer confirmed Friday, saying that the postal service is still in discussions with the department over the terms and conditions of the loan.

“My team is already actively working on that with the Postal Service, if they need the money,” Mnuchin previously said, adding that, “We are going to put certain criteria for our postal reform program as part of the loan.”

Trump then attacked USPS, calling it “a joke” for losing money delivering packages for Amazon “and other internet companies.”

He said if the USPS doesn’t raise its price on packages, “I’m not signing anything” or authorizing the loan.

Read the full article here.

Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Emergency Funds for Postal Service over Increasing Rates

Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Favor Emergency Funds for Postal Service over Increasing Rates

Breitbart News obtained an exclusive poll that details that voters overwhelmingly favor temporary emergency funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) over increasing postal shipping rates.

A poll from North Star Opinion Research and Hart Research Associated found that Republicans, rural voters, and seniors overwhelming support temporary financial assistance to the USPS.

Sixty-eight percent of rural voters said that the USPS is “very important” to them.

Voters across the board approve of giving funds to the USPS. The pollsters asked the following:

The Postal Service is funded entirely by the sale of postage. However, it expects to run out of funds to operate by the end of September due to the coronavirus crisis. The CARES Act passed by Congress in March provided $500 billion in taxpayer funding for airlines and other corporations, but did not include the Postal Service. Would you favor or oppose Congress appropriating funds for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain operations through the coronavirus crisis in the next round of financial relief legislation?

The USPS has roughly 496,934 career employees and serves as one of the largest employers of veterans. The Postal Service employs more than 97,000 military veterans. On its employment process page, employment requirements for the USPS include United States citizens, permanent residents, or citizens of American territories. This means that illegal immigrants cannot be employees of the Postal Services.

Ninety-two perccent of voters favor temporary funding for the Postal Service, including 90 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of independents, 90 percent of rural voters, 92 percent of non-college white voters, and 94 percent of retirees.

Further, voters believe it is better to provide federal funding to the Postal Service than to increase rates rates to make up for the loss in revenue. Seventy-eight percent of voters prefer temporary financing compared to 22 percent who want increases in shipping rates for packages. This figure includes an 74 to 26 percent margin among Republicans and an 81 to 19 percent margin among rural voters.

Further, when provided for an argument against funding, voters continue to support direct financing for the Postal Service by a broad, bipartisan margin over increasing rates.

Voters also overwhelmingly backed funding of the Postal Service by a 70 to 30 percent margin when emphasizing the need for rural Americans who rely on the USPS for delivery. Voters also approve of funding the Postal Service to aid small businesses by a 65 to 35 percent margin.

Rural voters approve of both pro-direct funding arguments, with a 77 to 23 percent margin when rural delivery is emphasized, as well as a 70 to 30 percent margin when other businesses are emphasized. Republicans prefer the direct funding method over the loan arguments by double-digits.

The poll arises as the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, and other trade groups urged congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to provide relief funds to the USPS.

The industry group noted that “no business entity can withstand a 50% or more externally-imposed drop in business and revenues, as USPS projects due to COVID-19, and long survive. That is why emergency funding must be provided now.”

The industry leaders continued, noting how “fundamental” the Post Service is to American society:

The American people have been reminded during this pandemic of just how fundamental to American life the Postal Service still is. USPS is delivering prescriptions, household and business staples, groceries, Personal Protective Equipment, greeting cards and personal correspondence to bridge social distancing, Paycheck Protection Program, Social Security and tax refund checks, CDC advice cards on keeping oneself and family safe, and newspapers and magazines still vital to informing the American people. It is enabling a new wave of businesses along with the e-commerce sector to survive the pandemic through remote order and fulfillment. Postal Service delivery is essential. And it is of particularly acute need in rural areas of the country, where there are no alternatives, and often not even broadband. USPS is a lifeline there and elsewhere throughout the country during these challenging times.

As to how much is needed, we defer to the experts, the bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors appointed by the President, and our leaders in Congress. While substantial sums are needed, they amount to a small part of the emergency funds Congress has provided and will continue to provide, including to sustain small businesses, their employees and the economy. The Postal Service is the backbone of businesses large and small in America, and must endure.

“The American people, 91% of whom approve of USPS, often raise a commotion if a single Post Office is to be closed,” the trade groups concluded in their letter to congressional leaders. “Closing the entire system or imposing a major reduction in service during this time of need would magnify that reaction substantially.”

North Star Opinion Research partnered with Hart Research Associates to conduct the national survey of 804 registered voters from April 10-12, which includes a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Read the full article here.

Amid coronavirus shock, lawmakers look to save USPS from disaster

Amid coronavirus shock, lawmakers look to save USPS from disaster

A group of lawmakers from both parties on Thursday sought to sound the alarm about imminent fiscal danger facing the U.S. Postal Service – and the need for immediate congressional action to keep it in business.

During a press briefing Thursday, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D., said the postal service could go out of business as soon as Sept. 30 – the end of the current fiscal year – if it did not receive immediate financial assistance.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused mail volume, the postal service’s primary source of revenue, to plummet by more than 30 percent when compared with the same period last year. It is facing revenue losses of $13 billion by September.

Coronavirus-related losses could amount to $54 billion over the course of the coming decade.

AS NEW YORK EYES POST-CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC REOPENING, WILL REAL ESTATE REBOUND?

New York Rep. Peter King, R., asked lawmakers to put aside their “grievances” with the agency and support legislation to move an immediate $75 billion in aid.

“We can’t allow the postal service to die because of an agenda some people might have,” King said.

The lawmakers also announced their intention to form a bipartisan postal preservation caucus.

Some Republicans have been hesitant to extend a lifeline to the ailing agency, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

AFTER CORONAVIRUS SUBSIDES, WEALTHY HAMPTONS REAL ESTATE MARKET POISED FOR ‘TAKEOFF’

President Trump has recently weighed in on the status of the postal service, calling it a “joke” during a press availability at the White House last week because it delivers packages for Amazon and other companies at what he considers a discount.

He suggested the courier should raise the price it charges to deliver packages for companies by four to five times.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is working with the agency on a potential loan – which is likely to come with conditions – in the event it does need more money.

The Washington Post first reported the administration planned to leverage a $10 billion loan as a way to enact changes within the postal service.

Trump suggested as much last week.

“If they don’t raise the price of the service they give, which is a tremendous service … I’m not signing anything,” Trump said.

However, he later posted a tweet saying he would never let the postal service “fail.”

King said on Thursday this is not the time for people who want dramatic change within the agency to be bargaining.

Trump has been critical of the agency for years.

Read the full article here.

It’s a Consensus: Republicans and <br>Democrats Support the USPS

It’s a Consensus: Republicans and
Democrats Support the USPS

A recent poll found that the majority of voters support providing financial support to USPS:

It’s Nearly Unanimous

Nearly unanimously, Americans say that the mail and package service provided by the U.S. Postal Service is important to them and their family today. Fully 94% say these services are important, including 64% who say very important. Just 6% feel that USPS’s mail and package services are not important.

Americans in every part of the country, in all types of communities, and of all political persuasions value postal services (see table above). This includes 91% of urban voters and 94% of rural voters, no less than 92% in every region of the country, and 95% of Democrats and 92% of Republicans.

Voters rely on USPS for a variety of highly-valued services, including the delivery of prescription medications (93% important service), receiving and paying monthly bills (92%), and receiving items purchased online (91%). Significantly, they place the highest priority on the role the Postal Service is playing in responding to the coronavirus crisis: delivering official government recommendations, supplies, medications, and test kits related to COVID-19 (95% important, 75% very important).

Voters Want USPS Funded

The survey reveals an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in favor of Congress appropriating funds for the Postal Service to maintain operations through the coronavirus crisis in the next round of financial relief legislation. When voters learn that USPS is expected to run out of operating funds by September, fully 92% of all voters support congressional action, including 90% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats. Agreement is very widespread encompassing every region of the country and all generations of Americans

Direct Funding – Not a Loan

Finally, the survey presented voters with a debate over which of two responses to the Postal Service funding shortfall is better: loans or direct funding. Fully 70% of Americans reject the loan option, because it would weaken the postal system at a time when so many Americans are relying on it, and embrace direct federal funding as the best solution.

Even with loans offered as an alternative, Republican voters agree (61% to 39%) that Congress should provide direct funding to the Postal Service rather than providing only loans. Democrats prefer federal funding by an even more lopsided margin of 79% to 21%. Other groups that strongly prefer direct federal funding include rural voters (77% to 23%), middle- income voters making between $50,000 and $100,000 (73% to 27%), and white non-college voters (72% to 28%).

Background & Methodology:

Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research have conducted a survey among 804 registered voters nationwide, to explore the importance voters place on postal services today and to measure support for Congress providing financial support to USPS. The survey was conducted online from April 10 to 12, 2020, and has a margin of error of ±3.5 percentage points. This memo reviews the survey’s main findings.

 

Read the full report here.

New Poll Cites Importance of Postal Service to Seniors/Vets; NALC Calls On Congress to Provide USPS With Financial Relief During Pandemic

An overwhelming majority of registered voters aged 60 or above support federal financial assistance for the United States Postal Service in the next round of financial relief legislation, to allow USPS to survive the effects of the pandemic. Military veterans of the same age concur, at even higher rates. Both groups, furthermore, say that their… [Read More]

U.S. Postal Service, Clorox, Google, UPS, Walmart Top List Of Americans’ Most Essential Companies During Covid-19

NEW YORK, June 12, 2020 The Harris Poll® today released The Harris Poll Essential 100, a ranking of corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans say 100 leading companies played a truly essential role during the crisis. The top 10, based on the survey, are (in order): United States Postal Service, Clorox, Google, United Parcel Service, Walmart,… [Read More]

EXCLUSIVE: News Ads Launched

Have You Seen Our New Heroes Delivering Ads? New ads began airing today promoting funding to support our heroes who deliver every day and the US Postal Service. Check them out below:   Our letter carriers need your help to continue delivering for America. Click here to take a stand and demand action from Washington… [Read More]

Postal Unions: The Postal Service and the Covid-19 Crisis

Postal Unions: The Postal Service and the Covid-19 Crisis

Excerpts from a letter drafted by four postal unions and sent to members of Congress to show the historical
importance and necessity of USPS, especially during the COVID-19 health crisis.

April 8, 2020

At the height of the 2008-2009 recession, more than 800,000 Americans per month lost their jobs. In recent weeks, millions of workers per week are filing for unemployment insurance.  The Covid-19 crisis is both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. The U.S. Postal Service is a vitally important tool for battling these twin calamities. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Postal Service’s financial situation will pose grave danger to its ability to provide crucial service to our country if decisive action isn’t taken by Congress and the Administration. 

Value of the Postal Service in Normal Times

In ordinary times, the Postal Service, which has fully funded itself though the sale of postage since the early 1980s, plays a vitally important role in our economy, our society and our health care system. 

    • It is the nation’s only truly universal delivery and communications network, connecting 160 million homes and businesses in every corner of the country. It’s the hub of a huge mailing industry – comprised of the paper, printing, marketing, publishing and e-commerce and shipping sectors of the economy – that together generate $1.6 trillion in sales and employ nearly 7.0 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 Postal Service provides American citizens, residents and businesses with the industrial world’s most affordable and efficient delivery services. Postal services and post offices are particularly critical to rural areas, small towns, the elderly, military veterans, and most American companies, which are typically small or medium-sized enterprises and include millions of home-based businesses. Households and business depend on the reliable receipt of checks and payments to keep functioning – indeed, hundreds of billions of payments still go through the mails each year.

 

    • The Postal Service is also essential to the political and cultural life of America, delivering hundreds of millions of magazines and weekly newspapers each year, not to mention billions of birthday cards, wedding invitations and other personal communications. It routinely handles tens of millions of ballots delivered to voters who request absentee ballots or who live in states that conduct elections by mail – for elections at every level, from school boards to city councils and state legislature to federal elections. The USPS is also a trusted presence in neighborhoods across the country, especially for the elderly and the disabled who value a daily visit and assistance when needed. Nearly everywhere 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.

 

    • The USPS also plays an important role in the U.S. health care system by handling 1.2 billion prescription drug shipments a year – that’s nearly 4 million every day, six days a week. It also delivers hundreds of millions of lab tests and medical supply shipments – from blood testing strips and insulin needles to contact lenses. The Postal Service is and has been a partner with law enforcement and government agencies that deal with natural disasters and other emergencies.

 

Importance of the Postal Service During this Crisis  

In a major public health crisis like the one we face today; the Postal Service is more important than ever. In late March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a mailing to every American household to give our citizens the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones from the Covid-19 virus.  The FDA is currently working on a self-testing nasal swab that must, once available, be efficiently delivered to 135 million households across America. 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 at this crucial moment or a severe disruption in service would undermine our fight to defeat the Covid-19 virus.

The Postal Service is also crucial for fighting the pandemic-induced recession. With foot traffic plummeting, small businesses increasingly depend on package deliveries to continue generating revenue and employing workers. Without postal deliveries of orders and checks, many will collapse. Similarly, the USPS is stepping up for large enterprises facing disrupted supply chains, empty stores due to quarantines and self-isolating consumers. It offers reliable end-to-end services to these firms while also providing “last-mile” delivery for tens of millions of packages for FedEx, UPS and Amazon. The universal reach of the postal network is invaluable to all Americans, but especially to those in rural, inner city and exurban areas that would not be served if not for the Postal Service.

And the Postal Service is vital to the functioning of the national government during this crisis, offering an affordable universal means to distribute paperwork for vitally needed Small Business Administration loans, household stimulus checks, tax returns and decennial Census mailings – all of which must go forward despite the crisis. 

There is simply no substitute for the U.S. Postal Service as we battle both the pandemic and the deep recession it has caused.

What We Need Now

The Postal Service has experienced financial problems for several years now, for reasons unrelated to the coronavirus, and lawmakers have been considering postal reform measures for more than a decade. But the pandemic has created a separate and immediate threat to America’s postal network. Now is not the time to debate longer-term reforms; now is the time for urgent and bold action to save the agency from the potentially devastating impact the Covid-19 impact will likely have on its ability to operate and serve the American people. 

Indeed, in recent weeks, mail volume has plunged by the largest percentage since the Great Recession of 2008-2010 and is likely to drop by more than it did during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Postal management believes that volume and revenue may drop by 50% or more over the next year. The pandemic-induced loss of revenue facing the Postal Service is no less dramatic than that facing the airline and hotel industries. The Postal Service, and the segment of the private economy it supports, needs the same level of assistance provided those industries. 

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, P.L. 116-137) signed into law on March 27, 2020 did not offer the same kind of support for the Postal Service that it did for airlines ($61 billion), private cargo shippers ($17 billion) and other corporations ($425 billion).  It provided $10 billion in new debt authority, subject to control by the Treasury Department’s Federal Finance Bank (FFB). That is woefully inadequate for two reasons:

First, it fell far short of the stimulus legislation introduced in the House of Representatives on March 23, 2020. That bill would have provided the Postal Service substantial relief, including an emergency appropriation of $25 billion. Second, by making the coronavirus credit line subject to the control of the Treasury Department, there is no guarantee that the Postal Service will receive access to this credit. In any case, adding to the Postal Service’s existing debt is not a real solution.

Indeed, the Federal Finance Bank has restricted access to the Postal Service’s remaining $4 billion in borrowing authority since September 2018, demanding ideological and operational changes supported by special interest groups before extending further loans to the Postal Service. Media reports imply that the Treasury is using the credit line as leverage to force massive price increases on competitive products (which will be especially damaging to small businesses and Americans in rural areas) and to interfere with postal collective bargaining matters. To its credit, the USPS Board of Governors has rejected these unacceptable pressure tactics.

Given this record, the CARES Act offers virtually no relief to the Postal Service – more debt with unacceptable strings attached.  Congress can and must do better in the next round of legislation to strengthen and preserve the Postal Service.  

Therefore, to both protect public health and to stabilize our economy, we call on Congress to enact provisions in the next stimulus bill that would:   

1)  Make a direct “public service” appropriation of at least $25 billion to the Postal Service to help it weather the pandemic and the deep recession it is causing. Although the Postal Service has not received taxpayer appropriations (other than for military/overseas voting and free mail for the blind) since the early 1980s, the present crisis warrants such appropriations now.

2)  Authorize an emergency “public service” appropriation for the duration of the crisis, distributed quarterly, starting in Fiscal Year 2021 (which begins in just six months) to cover the difference between postage revenues and total USPS expenses. This would signal to the American people and the business community that the Postal Service will be there to: battle the pandemic (with the delivery of tests and public health information, etc.); deliver online purchases and prescription drugs; support the economic recovery; and facilitate absentee voting as well as other vital civic functions.

3)  Provide a mechanism to reimburse the Postal Service for the cost of the Covid-19-related leave (both sick leave and family medical leave) provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127).

4)  Ensure equal treatment for postal employees in any legislation that authorizes, and funds hazard pay for other front-line workers exposed to health risks related to the Covid-19 virus. Such legislation should cover postal workers, who face heightened exposure risks to the virus on a daily basis.

5)  Remove the Federal Finance Bank’s discretion to impose operational changes and policy conditions on any of the Postal Service’s existing borrowing authorities – changes and policies that should properly be set by the Postal Service Board of Governors and the Congress, not the Treasury Department – and eliminate any annual limit on these authorities. (These authorities are provided by Section 2005 of Title 39 and Section 6001 of the CARES Act of 2020.)

Conclusion

The postal unions will work with the Congress, stakeholders in the mailing industry and the general public to advance a significant relief package and other measures to preserve the Postal Service, a vital part of our national economic infrastructure.

The USPS is a source of comfort and a welcome sign of normalcy to the American people. That has been true during recoveries from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters in the past, and it should be now as we grapple with the current national crisis. 

All American leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike, should work together to ensure that this pandemic does not destroy the U.S. Postal Service, a true national treasure and a vital part of America’s response and eventual recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read Full Letter to Members of Congress here.

Postal Service collapse could devastate seniors, small businesses and rural areas

Postal Service collapse could devastate seniors, small businesses and rural areas

If Jack Bainbridge couldn’t get his prescriptions through the mail, the 70-year-old Army veteran would have to make a 90-mile round trip to the VA Medical Center in Kansas City.

Instead, the retired union laborer who lives outside of Odessa, Missouri, can walk outside his door, cross the road to his mailbox and be sure that the mail carrier he’s known for years will have already dropped off his blood thinners and other medication.

The U.S. Postal Service, which traces its origins to Benjamin Franklin, remains a lifeline for millions who count on getting medication and other necessities through the mail.

But the independent agency, which depends on postage for its revenue, is facing an unprecedented crisis caused by a combination of forces: a global pandemic that has drastically reduced revenues, a 2006 law that required the USPS to prepay billions for retiree health benefits and a president hostile to bailing it out.

The prospect of a depleted, or even defunct, postal service is unthinkable to Bainbridge.

“Let’s say they cut down on days of service, what happens when you run out of medication and the medication doesn’t show up?” he asked. “That could be the difference between life and death…To have to go somewhere to pick up your scripts, it’s costly and it’s inconvenient.

”Rural Missouri really depends on the Postal Service.”

If Congress does not figure out a solution soon, it could cause even more hardship for populations already battered by COVID-19, including small businesses, seniors and economically disadvantaged communities.

‘VISION VS ILLNESS’

Deborah Arnold, a 72-year-old retired teacher who lives in Lee’s Summit, said she began receiving prescriptions through the mail to cut down on potential exposure to COVID-19.

“Two of them are eye drops that prevent the worsening of my glaucoma and possible blindness, so not going to stop those!“ she said in an email. “Without USPS I’ll be forced to weigh vision vs illness (possibly leading to death). Not a very acceptable choice!”

The Postal Service delivered 1.2 billion prescriptions in 2019, including close to 100 percent of the prescriptions from the VA, according to the American Postal Workers Union.

Bob Ritzinger, an 81-year-old Navy Veteran who lives in Higginsville, Missouri, receives prescriptions from the VA through mail for COPD, high blood pressure, hearing loss and back problems. His wife, Janet Ritzinger, 71, said the couple picks them up from a box at their local post office.

“I can’t imagine us not having a post office here. It just scares the daylights out of me,” she said. “We don’t have to go to the city to get them (the prescriptions). He doesn’t have to pay extra… It’s such a value to a small community.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat whose district stretches from Kansas City’s urban core to rural Missouri, called potential cuts to the Postal Service a health care access issue.

“If you don’t care about people picking up their mail, maybe you care about people picking up their medication. It’s only urban areas that have CVS every three blocks,” Cleaver said.

“I can tell you that people are going to die if we shut down the Post Office.”

FINANCIAL STRAIN WORSENED BY PANDEMIC

The Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, not tax funds, for revenue. It has operated at a loss for more than a decade, including a nearly $9 billion deficit last fiscal year. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the agency’s long-running financial issues.

Cleaver pointed to a 2006 law passed under President George W. Bush that required the agency to prepay retiree health benefits in an effort to shore up its retirement system. The policy has strained the agency’s operating budget.

The House voted to repeal the mandate earlier this year with bipartisan support, but it has stalled in the Senate. Rep. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican who supported the bill, said it would help stabilize USPS and ensure that 6-day-a-week delivery continues.

The recent stimulus passed by Congress originally included a $13 billion grant to the service. When President Donald Trump objected, the grant became a $10 billion loan.

Trump has long criticized the Postal Service for a shipping contract with Amazon that he regards as too favorable to the online retail giant founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos. Bezos also owns The Washington Post, which has angered Trump with its aggressive coverage.

Cleaver called the loan insufficient in a Friday letter to House leaders and noted that the bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors has asked for $50 billion in emergency grants and $25 billion in borrowing authority. More than 120 Democrats co-signed Cleaver’s letter.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan outlined the financial crisis last week, saying that sales have plummeted during the pandemic and may never fully recover. Brennan said the pandemic is projected to increase the Postal Service’s net operating loss by more than $22 billion over 18 months, threatening its ability to operate.

Lawmakers of both parties said the next coronavirus relief bill needs to shore up the postal service. The idea faces resistance from some on the right who think private entities, such as FedEx and UPS, can fill the gap.

“The marketplace saw an opportunity to provide better service at a better price long ago,” said Dave Trabert, president of the libertarian-leaning Kansas Policy Institute.

But reliance on private entities could further isolate vulnerable populations. A private entity wouldn’t be obligated to provide service to every address as the Postal Service does.

Before entering politics, Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, worked in economic development on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where many relied on access to a post office box because they did not have a numbered street address. The Postal Service is the only way to affordably conduct business in these remote communities, she said.

“I do think were it not for the post office the economic disparities between urban or rural or suburban communities would get worse,” said Davids’ whose mother, Crystal Herriage, a retired Army drill sergeant, has worked at the postal distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas, for 19 years.

Both Davids and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, noted that the agency is one of the largest employers of military veterans with close to 100,000 on the payroll.

“In order to provide certainty to rural America, Congress must recognize financial assistance is necessary and push back on proposals to privatize the USPS,” Moran said.

SMALL BUSINESSES

The postal service has been an economic lifeline to small retail businesses trying to stay afloat during the pandemic by allowing them to ship their products to customers at a reasonable cost.

Love Garden Sounds, an independent record shop in Lawrence, has shipped 378 packages through the post service from March 17, the last day it was open for walk-in business, through Wednesday.

The packages of records, CDs and T-shirts have represented 85% of the store’s business in the last month, said Kelly Corcoran, the store’s owner.

But even in normal times, the store’s ability to sell items online at a competitive rate depends on the Postal Service. The store offers a flat rate of $5 to ship any quantity of records. He said other shops in downtown Lawrence are also dependent on the service’s low shipping rates.

“If they lost a lifeline to mailing things, I think we would lose retailers,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran said that sending a 2 pound package — roughly the weight of two vinyl records — from Lawrence to Bloomington, Illinois, costs only $3.33 through the Postal Service’s media mail rate, a reduced price that makes it affordable to ship books, music and films. Sending the same package through UPS or FedEX would cost over $10.

“As a citizen it makes me angry to allow a great piece of federal infrastructure to crumble out of neglect. I can’t think of a more popular federal thing,” Corcoran said.

“I understand that some people could complain it’s not perfect, but it’s kind of a miracle that anywhere where you’re at they have to deliver to you and that’s not the case with UPS or FedEx,” Corcoran said, noting that some of his online customers are from rural areas where it would be hard to ship a package through a private vendor.

Heather LeClaire, a Wichita teacher who sells crochet gloves and other items through the mail for additional income, said she provides free shipping for all orders in the continental United States. The Postal Service’s low rate allows her to do that.

“This is something I set up purposely because I started having some physical issues and as much as I love teaching I don’t know how much longer… This is a pretty important side business for me,” she said.

A music teacher at Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary School, she’s also using the Postal Service to stay connected to students and family during the pandemic by mailing them letters and art.

“Being here landlocked in the middle of the U.S., they have a network to keep us connected that UPS and FedEx do not. And if it were to go away, it’s like losing part of your voice.”

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