NALC President Fred Rolando has responded to GOP Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty’s recent attack on the US Postal Service:
Dear Govenor Pawlenty:
I write on behalf of the 280,000 members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Our members live and work in almost every city and town in America, in blue states and red states, and we come from all backgrounds. Almost a third of us are veterans and our political beliefs reflect the full range of American opinion â€” we are Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. However, I believe I speak for all our members when I express our deep disappointment with your shallow and uninformed treatment of the Postal Service in your economic policy speech in June.
Your simplistic â€œGoogle testâ€ for determining what the role of the federal government should be â€” was rightfully panned by most economic observers. But your suggestion that the â€œpost officeâ€ was â€œbuilt for a different time in our countryâ€ demonstrated profound ignorance about what the U.S. Postal Service does today. And contrary to what you said in your speech, left to their own devices, private companies would not provide universal mail delivery at affordable, uniform rates (44 cents for a basic letter).
Indeed, both FedEx and UPS use the Postal Service to deliver millions of packages every day in places where it is not profitable for them to serve, Ending the Postal Service would cut affordable service to tens of millions of Americans in rural states and inner city neighborhoods where private companies could not make a profit. I understand that political candidates often pander to the prejudices of their â€œbasesâ€ and rely on hyper-partisan rhetoric in their speeches. But as a former governor, I would have expected better from your campaign.
So let me tell you a little bit about the Postal Service. As a function expressly authorized by our Constitution, the post office is as old as the republic. Since it was reorganized as a financially self-sufficient agency in 1970 it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. It has not received any taxpayer support since 1982 and has strong public support â€” an 83% approval rating, as a matter of fact. It provides the most affordable, high-quality postal services in the world. Six days a week, we deliver to 150 million American homes and businesses serving the postal needs of banks, magazines, online merchants, advertisers and ordinary American citizens.
Although the impact of the internet is doubtlessly reducing mail volume and changing the mix of mail (fewer letters, more packages), the Postal Service remains a vital infrastructure service in the American economy. Not only does it employ 575,000 Americans and generate $65 billion in sales annually, it also serves as the hub of a $1.3 trillion mailing industry that includes paper manufacturers, magazines, shippers, financial service providers, direct marketers and merchants of all kinds.
Trillions of dollars of transactions flow efficiently through the mail each year. In fact, more than half the bills received by American households are still paid through the mail, making the USPS a vital part of the nationâ€™s financial payments system. The mailing industry that surrounds the Postal Service employs some 7.5 million Americans and accounts for a significant share of the nationâ€™s GDP. Yes, our industry is changing and may become smaller, but we are certainly not the obsolete institution you insultingly portrayed in your speech.
A lot of our members are Republicans. Like their fellow letter carriers who are Democrats, they will be very active in next yearâ€™s primary campaigns. I urge you to win their votes by treating them with the respect they deserve as hard-working Americans who provide an important public service.
Fredric V. Rolando