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Postal Service More Than Mail for Rural Tennessee

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Experts say the U.S. Postal Service could run out of money by summer without federal assistance. (Adobe Stock)
Experts say the U.S. Postal Service could run out of money by summer without federal assistance. (Adobe Stock)
May 14, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Postal workers in Tennessee are among those calling for swift action by Congress to save the U.S. Postal Service.

Keith Pullen, president of Nashville Local 5 of the American Postal Workers Union, says postal workers have been crucial in serving the public during the COVID-19 crisis -- delivering absentee ballots, medical supplies and other necessities to people sheltering in place.

However, he says mail volume is down 50%, which could have a major impact on revenues.

"People don't understand that the post office is the number one delivery service," he points out. "Social Security benefits, Social Security checks, bills, medicines, packages, you name it, the Postal Service delivers it all."

The union is calling on Congress to provide one-time funding of at least $25 billion to cover immediate revenue loss, as well as ongoing support for the duration of the crisis.

The Postal Service has been left out of federal COVID-19 financial relief, while private corporate and other business interests have received almost $1 trillion in assistance.

By some estimates, the Postal Service could run out of money by the end of summer.

Pullen says should it collapse, rural customers would have to rely on private shipping companies that don't have as much infrastructure in smaller communities.

And he says local post offices are culturally significant.

"Tornado warnings or get-togethers or events or caucuses -- the post offices in rural communities is our gathering place," he stresses.

President Donald Trump and some Republicans have questioned the sustainability of the Postal Service, and have at times called for it to be privatized.

The most recent census data estimated there are more than 12,000 U.S. Postal Service employees in Tennessee.

Disclosure: American Postal Workers Union contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - TN