DETROIT (WXYZ) — The U.S. Postal Service is facing a massive crisis. If there are no new funds appropriated it is expected to run out of money by September. On Tuesday, people rallied in front of the Detroit Post Office on Fort Street calling for it to be saved.
The message from protesters is that this isn’t just about saving the post office. It is about protecting democracy as our founding fathers called on us to do.
The first Post Master General was Benjamin Franklin. As one of our nation’s founding father’s he said it was vital that all be able to communicate for the sake of democracy.
Protesters demonstrating agree as we head into an election year and many plan to vote absentee.
“Many people don’t have cars. They don’t have transportation and now they are having fewer voting locations. Many people will not be able to get there,” said Jane Duggan, U.S. Postal Service Retiree.
Protesters are fighting a conservative idea that times have changed, the U.S. Postal Services is no longer necessary and should be dismantled or privatized. Efforts have been underway for years.
One policy critics say aimed to cause the Postal Service artificial financial problems requires it prepay 75 years in advance retiree benefits.
“That is actually funding for people who are not even born yet,” said Keith Combs, President of Detroit Area Local 295.
That went into effect in 2006. The Post Office, which is self-funded has operated at an annual deficit since 2007.
The COVID-19 pandemic cost the Postal Service billions, as income decreased as people did less business. Plus workers say they paid a price as they took risks doing an essential job.
“Of course we had many people who took ill. We had two deaths in this building, so it has been a very difficult time,” said Combs.
Now President Trump is calling on the post office to increase prices threatening privatization if it doesn’t.
“UPS, FedEx do not deliver in every area like we do. We deliver in the rural areas. We go where no one else goes,” said Lopinia L. R. Rowe, U.S. Postal Service Retiree.
Postal workers say the president vetoed billions in funding in the stimulus packaged earlier this year - and it is needed to help it get through the pandemic.
They say they cannot rapidly increase rates in an emergency, due to laws requiring a time-consuming process.