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A History of Challenge in Serving
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS Executive Vice President
As we enter the month of October in a national election year, some in this heavily partisan era are waiting with bated breath for the October “surprise” that could sway an election from victory to defeat. Unfortunately, the postal version of this surprise has happened much earlier.
As I have stated in past articles, we have faced proponents who have advocated for the privatization of America’s Postal Service since the enactment of H.R. 17070 (91st), “An Act to improve and modernize the postal service, to reorganize the Post Office Department, and for other purposes.” The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 passed by Congress abolished the then-United States Post Office Department. Until that time, the Post Office Department was part of the cabinet.
In its place, the United States Postal Service was created as a corporation-like, independent agency with an official monopoly on the delivery of mail in the United States. President Richard Nixon signed the act into law on Aug. 12, 1970. This legislation was a direct outcome of the U.S. postal strike of 1970.
Since these legislators’ engagement, we have seen countless attacks on the foundational structure of this American treasure. These attacks have come from various entities.
United Parcel Service (UPS) has 495,000 employees and 21,000 retail locations. Its 2019 revenue was $74 billion. It delivers only when and where it can make a profit. UPS pays the USPS to deliver 100 million to 300 million parcels annually to less profitable locations, according to the industry watchdog group, Courier Express and Postal Observer. UPS has a stake in eliminating its main U.S. competitor—the Postal Service. In 2019, UPS spent $7.3 million on lobbying.
FedEx employs 245,000 workers and recorded $37 billion in revenue in 2019. It also delivers when and where it is profitable and uses the USPS for a percentage of its ground mail delivery. The USPS pays $1.5 billion annually to move letters and parcels via FedEx air cargo planes. FedEx spent almost $10.5 million on lobbying in 2019.
Pitney Bowes has 11,000 workers worldwide. Its 2019 revenue was $3.2 billion. It paid for a “White Paper” in 2013 that recommended privatizing postal trucking, retail and mail processing. In 2002, Pitney Bowes became the largest U.S. presorted mail network. Pitney Bowes would vastly increase its profits if those recommendations bore fruit. Pitney Bowes contributed over $1 million to lobby Congress in 2019.
These aren’t the only companies that would benefit from postal privatization. On Aug. 12, CNN reported that PMG Louis DeJoy continues to hold a multimillion-dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a United States Postal Service contractor, likely creating a major conflict of interest, according to newly obtained financial disclosures and ethics experts.
Outside experts who spoke to CNN were shocked that ethics officials at the Postal Service approved this arrangement, which allows DeJoy to keep at least $30 million in XPO holdings. DeJoy and the USPS have said he fully complied with the regulations.
We have faced these proponents of privatization for many years, while maintaining our commitment to serving America. With our legislative friends in Congress, we have been able to sustain the attacks on this American institution. We also have seen the introduction of numerous bills by our legislative champions with the express purpose of increasing the sustainability of America’s Postal Service. Fighting together, America wins.