Post Office Crisis & Closures FAQ
Wait, What's Happening with the Post Office?
The United States Postal Service is preparing to cut nearly a quarter million jobs and shut down post offices all over the country. Hundreds of rural post offices and processing centers face closure on May 15th, when a six-month moratorium on consolidations expires, even though an advisory report by the Postal Regulatory Commission will not be finished until August.
Due to a predictable budget shortfall caused by the current U.S. Congress, the Post Master General has recommended cutting the number of delivery days, consolidating processing centers, ending next-day delivery of first-class mail, and downsizing one of the few institutions ordained by the US Constitution. Essentially, the USPS is being forced into a death spiral through service cuts, revenue drops, and bankruptcy-inducing budget requirements that may soon lead to the total collapse of the national postal service.
Why is the Post Office Broke?
In 2006, Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to pre-fund it's pension system 75 years into the future. This mandate – which costs the Postal Service over $5 billion per year – does not apply to any other government agency or private corporation. In six short years, this manufactured economic crisis threatens to bring the USPS to extinction. Meanwhile, the USPS is a fully self-supporting government enterprise that receives no taxpayer subsidies and delivers affordable services. Yet Congress is determined to blame a fake financial crisis to radically eliminate an essential public good.
Do Taxpayers Fund the Post Office?
Not anymore. American taxpayers used to fund the postal service – from the birth of our nation until the 1980's – but today, the United States is the only nation (except for Somalia) that does not provide taxpayer supported mail delivery services. The postal service has kept an unfunded system running for decades while still providing affordable and reliable services. In fact, mail delivery in the U.S. is remarkably cheap! Regular first-class mail only costs 45¢ – though it can be picked up from your home and delivered in two-days to most of the entire nation. You can ship a 20 lb. parcel post package for about $15 and it will be delivered in less than a week. Plus the post office provides media rates as low as 11¢ and non-profit bulk mail for only 7¢.
Isn't the USPS Old-Fashioned? Hardly Anyone Sends Snail Mail!
Yes, the post office is old – so old our founding fathers thought it vitally important for a healthy and functional democracy. In fact, the postal service is one of the few public services specifically authorized by the U.S. Constitution – you can find it right in Article One – and Benjamin Franklin was the country's first postmaster general. For over 200 years, the postal service has guaranteed delivery to the farthest corners of our nation under the creed that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will slow the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Even though modern communication through email and the internet have decreased the mailing of a traditional letter, many Americans – especially those in rural areas – still depend on the reliability and affordability of the mail system to stay connected to friends and family, receive medications, or deliver products bought online or over the phone. Today, the postal service delivers 660 million pieces of mail per day to as many as 142 million homes and businesses.
The USPS is also a secure and dependable communication system that is uncensored for the most part (except for “indecent” mail such as information about abortion, contraception, or alcohol consumption). Unlike email communication, the USPS prohibits the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant. Under no other circumstances does the postal service provide personal information to outside parties, and the USPS does not market other products or services to customers without their consent. And most importantly, the postal service is covered under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guaranteeing the public with access to postal service records, unless the records are covered by an exemption.
Wouldn't Privatization Be Better?
A handful of private corporations monopolize ownership of our internet and telecommunications infrastructure, and are therefore able to set the terms and conditions of service, yet are not bound to provide universal access. While customers that can afford it often pay exorbitant rates for internet service (frequently with slow or intermittent connectivity), internet providers, search engines, and social media sites are increasingly exerting control over the content and terms of privacy for their customers, which tends to benefit marketers more than freedom of information.
Unlike the cable and telephone companies, the USPS is legally required to provide uniform service, quality, and pricing to all Americans, regardless of where they live. By contrast, approximately 40% of the U.S. population doesn’t have dedicated Internet access, and about a quarter have no access at all. Companies that have received government subsidies to increase rural access have reneged on their promises, sold their companies, or gone bankrupt before fulfilling their commitments, leaving rural areas off the digital superhighway.
What Can I Do About it?
If you want to Save the Post Office, please reach out to your senators and representatives NOW and urge them to support legislation that will correct the underlying cause of the USPS financial crisis without slashing services, eliminating jobs, and destroying the network of plants and post offices that keeps the mail moving. Tell your friends and family in other states about what's happening with the post office around the entire country! Encourage people to call their Senators and Representatives: 202-224-3121 (Capitol Switchboard) TODAY!
What's the Impact in Vermont?
In Vermont, hundreds of people are likely to be out of work, with 15 rural post offices and the White River Junction processing center slated for closure in May. In addition, the USPS has recommended eliminating six-day-a-week delivery and slowing down first-class mail. The shutdowns would amount to an immediate loss of over 250 union jobs, and the loss of a vital community center in rural areas that lack internet and cell phone service. The postal service is a long-standing and respected public good, and many elderly, rural, and low-income Vermonters depend on the reliability and affordability of the U.S. mail system.
In addition shutting the White River Junction processing center, the Postmaster General has currently targeted 15 Vermont post offices for closure:
• Beecher Falls Post Office
• Cambridgeport Post Office
• East Ryegate Post Office
• Florence Post Office
• Gaysville Post Office
• Gilman Post Office
• Granville Post Office
• Highgate Springs Post Office
• Lyman Post Office
• McIndoe Falls Post Office
• North Thetford Post Office
• Rupert Post Office
• Stockbridge Post Office
• Websterville Post Office
• West Newbury Post Office