Postal unions wary of choice for USPS chief
- By Nathan Abse
- May 12, 2020
Postal workers are telegraphing their concerns -- and profound skepticism -- about the newly appointed postmaster general, seen by many as a political choice in a time of existential threats to the nearly 250-year-old pillar of the American republic.
Under a White House outspokenly hostile to the Postal Service, the Postal Board of Governors recently picked presidential donor and private-sector shipping millionaire Louis DeJoy who workers worry may lean the same direction.
"In this extraordinary time of the pandemic crisis, reliable, affordable and universal postal services are needed more than ever," Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said in a statement.
"The Postal Board of Governors made a unanimous request to Congress for immediate and direct financial assistance to the Postal Service," Dimondstein said, noting APWU’s confusion with the choice of DeJoy. The union president expressed concern that DeJoy -- the first USPS chief in over a generation who did not rise up through the ranks -- is a possible political hack, out of step with a less partisan tradition.
"The APWU is deeply concerned with the appointment process to make Mr. Louis DeJoy, a multi-million-dollar major donor to President Trump, the next Postmaster General and whether the Administration has returned to the days of political interference and patronage," he said.
Still, Dimondstein held out hope. "We hope that Mr. DeJoy will join in this essential request for emergency assistance to replace revenue lost due to the economic impact of the pandemic and to ensure continued public postal services.
"He can choose to be a Postmaster General who implements the destructive plans of this White House: raising postal rates, cutting services, undermining stable union and family-sustaining jobs and selling the public Postal Service to corporations for their private profit," he said. "And if that is his choice, Mr. DeJoy will be met with stiff resistance from postal workers and the people of this country."
Other unions, while less critical of the optics of DeJoy's appointment, also expressed wariness.
Like APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, through its president Fredric Rolando, applauded the Board of Governors for pressing Congress to provide billions to shore up the USPS, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. But, the NALC head also urged "the Board to continue to resist inappropriate meddling by the Treasury Department in postal operations" and hinted at concerns about DeJoy.
"Today, we ask the same of the new postmaster general," he said. "Keeping politics out of the Postal Service and maintaining its independence is central to its success -- this is one of the reasons that 90 percent of all Americans, from both parties and from rural and urban areas alike, support the USPS."
Another major postal union, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, echoed its fellow organizations.
"The question presented ... is whether Postmaster General DeJoy will use his obvious experience in postal logistics to preserve and grow the Postal Service as a unique and thriving public institution," Paul Hogrogian, NPMHU's president, said. "Or whether the new [postmaster general] will seek to use his position and authority to try to implement the misguided goals of the Trump Administration that are aimed at privatizing and ultimately destroying the Postal Service," he said.
"The NPMHU looks forward to having a productive relationship with Postmaster General DeJoy while we jointly work to return the Postal Service to sound financial footing, while maintaining its status as one of the most trusted agencies of the Federal Government," Hogrogian said. "As always, the NPMHU will hope for the best while planning for the worst. Welcome to the Postal Service, General DeJoy."