The U. S. Post Master, Patrick R. Donahoe, announced that the U. S. Post Office may discontinue mail delivery service on Saturdays beginning in August. The statement sounded very definitive. However, there is still a legal position that any changes to the Post Office must come through Congress and not unilaterally announced by the Post Office. Senator Harry Reid says the Post Office cannot unilaterally make changes such as discontinuing Saturday delivery. And labor unions are also questioning the move. In the past, there have been bills introduced to prevent the further decline of the Post Office. Unlike the help afforded to Wall Street and banks, Congress has not stepped in yet to help the U.S. Post Office from further decline and assist in its $20 billion gap.
Many people living in urban cities do not believe the effect of Saturday non-delivery will affect them. And that may be true. But in many rural areas, the loss of Saturday mail will be felt by them. And there are other reasons why Congress should step in to help a Post Office bill. The loss of Saturday delivery will affect jobs. And I thought, we were trying to help the economy with more jobs—not less jobs. The Post Office stated that approximately 22,000 jobs will be lost as a result. The Post Office states that many will be as a result of early retirement and other incentives. That’s not always the case.
The Post Office employs a significant amount of African American employees. The U.S. Post Office is battling budget battles, shortages, lay- offs and struggling to stay open and alive. In a bygone era, the Post Office was a refuge job for many African Americans, helping them to achieve the American dream. At a time when blacks were denied many job opportunities due to race discrimination, the US Post Office was a mainstay for many blacks.
During its hey-day of employment, the Post Office employed many college educated blacks with undergraduate and graduate degrees, veterans and others who were often time unable to obtain jobs elsewhere due to discrimination. As a result, they were able to buy homes, send children to college and obtain the middle class dream. Many blacks think fondly today of the Post Office despite the hardships, set- backs and failure to keep up with e-commerce and competing overnight delivery services, due to the opportunities it afforded to African Americans. Today the US Post Office employs approximately 560,000. It is subject to losing about 20% of its work force, many of whom are African Americans. Approximately 20% of the post office work force is African Americans.
According to Professor Philip Rubio and author of There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice and Equality, a Post Office job for many blacks meant a decent salary, benefits—sick leave, annual leave and standing in the community. Rubio’s book discusses how blacks have been afforded opportunity at the Post Office since 1883 up to today.
Congress found ways to help Wall Street bankers. And now it’s time to help the U.S. Post Office from going under. Jobs will be lost without Congressional intervention. And the unemployment rate of African Americans is almost twice that of the national average. We don’t need to add to those numbers with the loss of jobs from the U. S. Post Office.