Tag: United States Post Office

#SaveUSPS: How You Can Support the United States Post Office and Its Workforce

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Last week, the Washington Post reported the White House rejected a bail out proposal for the United States Post Office, which is suffering mightily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To quote the article:

“Trump threatened to veto the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, if the legislation contained any money directed to bail out the postal agency, according to a senior Trump administration official and a congressional official who, like others in this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

“We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [money for the Postal Service] was in it,” the Trump administration official said. “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.” Instead, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) added a last-minute $10 billion Treasury Department loan to the Cares Act to keep the agency on firmer ground through the spring of 2020, according to a Democratic committee aide.

The Postal Service projects it will lose $2 billion each month through the coronavirus recession while postal workers maintain the nationwide service of delivering essential mail and parcels, such as prescriptions, food and household necessities.

That work often comes at great personal risk. Nearly 500 postal workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and 462 others are presumptive positives, USPS leaders told lawmakers. Nineteen have died; more than 6,000 are in self-quarantine because of exposure.

Even the $10 billion loan will likely not be enough, according to ForbesPostmaster General Megan Brennan told lawmakers on Thursday that the agency may run out of cash by September thanks to a $13 billion loss in revenue this year.

This crisis threatens the jobs of around 600,000 workers, a large percentage of who are people of color. It also threatens access to voting by mail, census counting by mail, and rural deliveries.

In the past few days, political leaders, journalists, celebrities and concerned citizens have been rallying behind hashtags such as #SaveThePostOffice, #SaveUSPS and #SaveTheUSPS to amplify the issue and publicize ways individuals and communities can help prevent the nation’s Postal Service from destruction:

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren says she plans to call on Congress to save USPS.

Sherilyn Ifill, President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and sister to the late journalist and broadcaster Gwen Ifill (who was honored with a Black Heritage Stamp earlier this year), encourages citizens to call on Congress and the White House to #SaveTheUSPS:

“AM Joy” host Joy Reid tweeted more suggestions for citizens to support the Postal Service:

Additionally, scores of concerned citizens such as Tina L. Kris are doing their part to take action and spread the word:

New York Times writer Nicole Hannah Jones offers a thread of tweets worth clicking through to read about how USPS workers are disproportionately black and brown, and how devastating it would be to communities to lose post office jobs, benefits and pensions:

Actor and activist Danny Glover, whose parents both worked for the Post Office, weighed in on the need to protect USPS last July, and offered ideas such as postal banking to help low-income Americans and help the Post Office generate sustaining revenue:

In his excellent opinion piece in USA Today he wrote:

Today, the Postal Service remains a critical source of good jobs for African Americans. Black employees make up 28.6% of the postal workforce — more than double their share of the U.S. population.

In 2018, average Postal Service wages were $51,540 a year, just slightly below the average for all U.S. workers. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, wages were substantially lower in the nine other occupations in which blacks make up at least 25% of employees. For example, home health aides, 26.1% of whom are black, averaged just $25,330 per year. Barbershop employees, 30.8% of whom are black, earned $33,220.

Instead of more cuts, policymakers should do away with the onerous pre-funding mandate and explore new profit sources, such as postal banking. One government report found that expanding services such as check cashing, bill payment and electronic money orders could generate as much as $1.1 billion in annual revenue after five years — all while dramatically expanding financial services for low-income Americans.

To learn more on the history of black postal workers, check out “Defend the Post Office, Defend Black Workers” in Jacobinmag.com.

Lena Horne, Legendary Performer and Civil Rights Activist, Honored with U.S. Forever Stamp

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The U.S. Postal Service today celebrates the life and legacy of Lena Horne as the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Peter Norton Symphony Space.

“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.”

Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Gail Lumet Buckley, an author and Horne’s daughter; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio.

The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color Horne frequently wore. Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weather album, with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp. Anyone can share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #LenaHorneForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, on June 30, 1917, Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans as a dedicated activist for civil rights.

Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, both released in 1943.

During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.

Horne’s awards and honors include a special Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; three Grammy Awards; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. She was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984, and her name is among those on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

Customers may purchase the Lena Horne Forever stamp at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Office facilities nationwide. A variety of stamps and collectibles also are available at ebay.com/stamps.

U.S. Postal Service Honors National Museum of African American History and Culture with Forever Stamp

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by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Opened just a year ago on Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) became the 19th Smithsonian museum and the only national museum devoted exclusively to African American life, art, history and culture. The museum’s collections, which include art, artifacts, photographs, films, documents, data, books, manuscripts and audio recordings, represent all regions of the United States and acknowledge the cultural links of African Americans to the black experience around the world as well.

To commemorate NMAAHC, the United States Postal Service is issuing a Forever Stamp in its honor. The stamp art is based on a photograph of the museum showing a view of the northwest corner of the building. Text in the upper-left corner of the stamp reads “National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

The First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony will be held on Friday, October 13 in Washington DC at the NMAAHC, and the stamp will be available for purchase nationwide that same day.

The U.S. Postal Service will post a video of the event at facebook.com/USPS. Share the news on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #NMAAHC and #APeoplesJourney.