More Hellacious News for the PO & Voting by Mail
(a companion piece is this July 25, 2020 ‘Grim News’ that contains a lot of the history of privatization attempts, mass numbers of PO closures, suggestions by Save the Post Office, etc.)
First up: ‘Who decides the fate of the US Postal Service?’ Kayla Costa and Shuvu Batta, 4 August 2020, wsws.org (with permission)
“Workers have responded with outrage to the recent leaked memos detailing efforts to privatize the United States Postal Service (USPS) by implementing major cost-cutting measures, slowing down the mail delivery speed, and making the federal agency seem unreliable in the middle of an election year that will see an increase of mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The internal memo, released July 10, stated that mail deliveries would be delayed due to cost-cutting and prohibitions on overtime, with “more to come.”
On July 27, newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy declared: “The Postal Service is in a financially unsustainable position, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, and a broken business model.”
DeJoy continued: “We are currently unable to balance our costs with available funding sources to fulfill both our universal service mission and other legal obligations. Because of this, the Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis.”
Costa and Batta reiterate some of their earlier reports in their:
“The campaign to privatize the Postal Service
This is only the latest in a campaign to privatize the Post Office spanning over a half century, which began in 1970 with the adoption of the Postal Reorganization Act after a nationwide postal workers’ strike. The law, first proposed under President Johnson in 1967, outlawed strikes in favor of binding arbitration, and spun off the Post Office Department, formerly a cabinet-level agency, into a publicly owned corporation, the United States Postal Service.
By the 1980s, the USPS was cut off from all federal funding, forcing it to rely solely on revenue from its own products and services. In 2006, George Bush’s Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act forced the USPS to fully fund retirement benefits without governmental assistance, creating a mountain of debt for the agency. The USPS has had declining revenue since the early 2000s as a result of the decline of paper mail delivery, and it has been losing money since 2007.
In 2018, the Trump administration released a plan calling for the USPS to either be sold off to a private company or become a publicly traded entity with shares bought and sold by wealthy investors on the stock market. […]
“For the ruling class, it is not a matter of if the USPS will be privatized, but when and how it will be done. Those who currently manage the USPS are well aware of their aims.
Who runs USPS?
The USPS’s Board of Governors, equivalent to a board of directors for a private company, is given the power to direct and control its expenditures, review its practices, conduct long-range planning, approve officer compensation and set policies on all postal matters.
Board members are appointed by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate. The Postmaster General is appointed and voted on by the Board of Governors. Since 2006, members serve terms of seven years and supposedly must represent “public interest generally and cannot be representatives of special interests.”
But the current members of the USPS Board of Governors represent their class with all of its criminal, profit-driven, and anti-worker characteristics.
This section could serve as more evidence that it’s not the Evil Republicans at play, but a uniparty screw job. Their names and short bios also feature some of their photos:
Louis de Joy
Robert M Duncan
Ron A. Bloom
John M. Barger
Roman Martinez IV
Donald M. Moak and William D. Zollars
The bipartisan gang-up against the USPS and the response of the working class.
In short, the USPS is headed by former Wall Street and corporate executives, whose collective millions are derived from decades of corporate raiding and financial speculation, ramping up corporate profits at the expense of the working class.
The fact that all of the current members received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate demonstrates that regardless of their pretensions, both Democrats and Republicans are united in their assault against postal workers and the social rights of the working class. This truth obliterates the claim by the unions, Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Socialists of America that postal workers can “save USPS” by pressuring Congress to provide adequate financial assistance.
Moreover, the presence of many union advisors on the Board shows that unions themselves are involved in this bipartisan conspiracy. No doubt the postal unions stand to receive billions of dollars in public stock and other financial incentives, similar to the 2009 restructuring of the auto industry when the United Auto Workers became the largest shareholder in General Motors.’”
I’d found this link at Defendthepostoffice.com, and they must have put some sort of good Mojo on it…as I was permitted to read it:
‘Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting’ ; The president’s long campaign against the Postal Service is intersecting with his assault on mail-in voting amid concerns that he has politicized oversight of the agency’, July 31, 2020, nytimes.com
WASHINGTON — Welcome to the next election battleground: the post office.
President Trump’s yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.
In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a “CORRUPT ELECTION” that will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY” and become the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.” He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.”
The authors then reference the memo sent to postal workers by Trump’s choice on new Postmaster General, Luis deJoy, noting that there will no longer be pay for overtime ensuring that mail will be delivered by the close of day. According to wsws, postal workers report first class mail and unsorted packages being left on the ground in different mail centers across the US.
“Voting rights groups say it is a recipe for disaster.
“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.”
The authors bring a quote from Barack Obama on ‘voter suppression’ had delivered at John Lewis’s funeral, the hypocrisy of which is epic, considering the over 3700 PO closings under his administration, many of which featured exquisite WPA murals; DiFi’s hubbie Richard Blum had the exclusive contract for their sales. But srsly: attendees at Lewis’s funeral used their time to make partisan hay? Shame on them all!
They then proceed to note how many more people in various states are voting by mail, and some of the states that require ballots to be received by voting day, not just postmarked on voting day. They also describe what a debacle voting in New York has been, given the state’s rules, one being that the counting of the votes can’t even start until the polls close.
Then comes a longish section on postal officials’ reactions to Luis deJoy’s New Rules.
This ‘News’ from the WaPo gets a bit tricky, not only to re-write a bit, but due to the fact Dems are rather equal to Saints as far as I can tell.
‘Treasury agrees to lend Postal Service $10 billion in trade for rivals’ shipping contracts; The debt-laden mail service will provide the agency proprietary information on its agreements with private-sector competitors’, WaPo (Bezos’s rag), July 29, 2020
“The Treasury Department agreed to loan the U.S. Postal Service $10 billion in emergency coronavirus relief funding Wednesday in exchange for proprietary information about the mail service’s most lucrative private-sector contracts.
The Postal Service, subject to confidentiality restrictions, will provide Treasury copies of its 10 largest “negotiated service agreements,” or contracts with high-volume third-party shippers such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS, and receive a crucial injection of cash that postal officials say will keep the debt-laden agency solvent for at least another year, according to a copy of the loan’s term sheet obtained by The Washington Post.
The Postal Service contracts with private-sector shippers for “last-mile” delivery from distribution centers to consumers’ homes, and it offers those companies small discounts because of the volume of packages they provide
President Trump has derided the agency over those deals, which industry experts say only account for a roughly 5 percent savings. He has called the Postal Service Amazon’s “delivery boy” and falsely claimed the agreements are the reason the agency has struggled financially.
In April, Trump said he would not approve any emergency funding unless the USPS quadrupled package delivery prices, a move analysts say would quickly bankrupt the agency by chasing away customers to private-sector competitors.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously sought to leverage the loan, attached to an early round of coronavirus relief spending, in exchange for sweeping operational control of the Postal Service, including provisions that would allow the Trump administration to approve senior postal personnel decisions, service contracts with third-party shippers, collective bargaining negotiation strategies and high package prices.” […]
“The loan deal requires the USPS to provide Treasury with monthly and quarterly financial and volume reports. It also must spend any money it draws from the loan within 30 days and cannot access any of the funds if it has a cash balance of more than $8 billion. The funding expires in March 2022.
“While the USPS is able to fund its operating expenses without additional borrowing at this time, we are pleased to have reached an agreement on the material terms and conditions of a loan, should the need arise,” Mnuchin said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with Postmaster General DeJoy to fulfill the President’s goal of establishing a sustainable business model under which USPS can continue to provide necessary mail service for all Americans, without shifting costs to taxpayers.”
Bogage writes additionally that Dems had publicly advised the PO leaders not to accept the Treasury’s loan IF it meant relinquishing control of the agency; that an earlier bipartisan agreement in the Senate giving the USPS a $13 billion grant, but DT had threatened to veto of the whole $2 trillion dollar package with funding for unemployed workers, small businesses and other industries ravaged by the novel coronavirus pandemic-related recession — if the postal appropriation were included.
He also writes that Mnuchin had told ‘lawmakers’ it was all or nothing: a loan with those terms, or #STFU. What does the following mean?:
“Desperate to save the agency that was at the time predicted to run out of money by October, lawmakers accepted the loan provision.”
Now this section simply slayed me: Borage writes that Dems’ spirits were buoyed by USPS reports of better-than-expected financial results in May, and that’s due to surging package volumes are at Christmastime levels, and that the USPS has close to $14 billion on hand! (Never mind that earlier reports have noted that they are desperate for $25 billion just to make it through the year.) He finishes:
“That is enough money, experts said, to tide the agency over till May 2021 as a worst-case scenario, or October 2021, if package volumes remain high. The loan from Treasury will buy the Postal Service at least five more months of liquidity, but perhaps as much as a year’s more cash if package revenue continues to make up for declines in first-class mail, the agency’s most profitable product.”
p.s. Do any of you know how to reach CB (black cat, golden eyes) in RL? He's been gone since early June, and I'm concerned. (He hadn't signed up w/ the Members Contact Project.)
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)