Vermont delegation backs postal workers in opposing privatization

Postal workers in 140 cities across the country rallied this week against a White House proposal to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

While members of the American Postal Workers Union did not hold rallies in Vermont cities, protests were held Monday throughout northern New England, including in Concord and Manchester, New Hampshire, as well as in Brockton, Massachusetts, and two locations in Maine.

The protests were in response to President Donald Trump’s proposal to restructure the Postal Service with the goal of taking it private, arguing the USPS continues to lose money and display an inability to adjust in the age of digital commerce.

Trump has repeatedly said that the Postal Service loses “many billions of dollars a year” and that this is in large measure a result of not charging Amazon enough for its deliveries.

The president is not wrong when he says the USPS has been losing billions, with the Postal Service reporting that just between April and June 2018 it had a net loss of $1.5 billion.

But the Postal Service says that this loss is due to a Bush-era mandate that has required the agency to pre-fund 75 years of retiree benefits to employees who haven’t been born yet, which costs the USPS about $5.5 billion every year.

In spite of the losses, as an independent agency the Postal Service doesn’t currently receive tax dollars for operating expenses, which are funded through the sale of postage and shipping services.

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