Dozens of union members and supporters showed up May 8 with signs and balloons outside the Portland Mail Processing Center to show support for postal workers who streamed in and out during afternoon shift change.
It’s estimated that at least 2,000 postal workers nationwide have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and at least 50 have died. Across the country, postal facilities are experiencing loss of personnel due to infection and quarantine.
Meanwhile, the economic collapse brought on by the epidemic has caused a 30% drop in mail volume, and postal revenues are falling precipitously. The Postmaster General predicts that the USPS will run out of money by September. The Postal Board of Governors, the postal service’s governing body, has called on Congress to appropriate $25 billion immediately and additional funds over time to sustain the service. But President Donald Trump said April 24 that he would not approve any bailout for the U.S. Postal Service unless it dramatically increases its prices for package delivery. Trump has called on USPS to double or even quadruple what it charges for packages, but postal officials say that would backfire given competition from UPS and FedEx. Instead, USPS supporters in Congress are calling for an end to an unusual requirement to pre-fund retiree health care, which has been the biggest reason for USPS losses in recent years.