Philip F. Rubio: Who Will Deliver the U.S. Postal Service from Destruction?
Philip F. Rubio is a retired postal worker and an assistant professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University. His second book, There's Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice and Equality (2010), won the 2011 Rita Lloyd Moroney Award for scholarship on the history of the American postal system.
The unthinkable now threatens the US Postal Service: bankruptcy. With no relief forthcoming from Congress, the USPS hopes to save itself by planning the closing of about 3,700 post offices next year, along with 252 mail processing centers.
Around 120,000 postal workers will lose their jobs with another 100,000 positions going unfilled. Saturday delivery will be gone, and first-class letter delivery will be slowed. Some historic postal buildings, including those with New Deal-era murals, have already been sold off.
How could this venerable institution founded in 1775, which ran deficits for most of its existence as the "US Post Office Department", face a possible shutdown?
Don't blame the internet. Online communications and transactions have cut into first-class mail use, but have also helped generate mail volume, particularly parcels. The internet is not the source of USPS red ink, although it provides a popular narrative for those who have wanted to privatise the USPS for years and are using the current crisis to push that agenda. The USPS still delivers 40% of the world's mail, and has done so without any taxpayer subsidies for 40 years....
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