A Grand Alliance: The Postal Service and Our Democratic Rights

By Sheryl Hamlin

Day 3 of A Grand Alliance was broken into two segments: THE POSTAL SERVICE AND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS and THE POSTAL SERVICE AND VIBRANT COMMUNITIES.

Segment 1: The Postal Service and Our Democratic Rights

The panelists were Jennifer Lamson, Democracy Initiative, Hilary Shelton, NAACP, Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation with moderator Susan Harley, Public Citizen.

Hilary Shelton from the NAACP reminded the audience that the NAACP was a non-partisan organization in its 112th year. The attacks on the USPS, he said, are part of a process to chisel down the resources. The country turned out in record numbers to vote in 2020 due to the hard work of the Postal Service and with the “right people” in the Department of Labor now, he felt confidence progress could be made to cut the attacks. 5000 card carrying members of the NAACP are excited about the Grand Alliance, he reported.

According to Jennifer Lamson, The Democracy Initiative is a social justice coalition with a collective membership of 75 million committed to the promise of American Democracy in which the USPS is a central pillar. Vote By is a key reform initiative the Trump administration attempted to sabotage, she said. Half of voters in 2020 voted by mail, yet 43 states have subsequently enacted new voting laws in 2021, she said. See the list here.

Melanie Campbell concurred with the two previous speakers. She related a story about her mother who drove herself to the Florida Post Office which was a gathering place. USPS provides pensions and protect families, avoids racial prejudice and segregation, is a lifeline for families and rural communities and an American treasure.

Questions

The panel was asked questions about turning back the attacks. The state legislation could be mitigated by HR1, the Voter Restoration Act. But, the Biden nominees to the Board of Governors must be vetted. Ms. Campbell pointed out that the issue is not black versus white, but us versus them, where anyone who disagrees is under attack. Hilary said that voting should be easy and fraud difficult. Jennifer Lamson said the issue was the filibuster which must be muted.

To the question about removing the Postmaster General, there were no answers nor were there responses about the newly nominated Board of Governors to the USPS.

To the questions about privatization, Hilary felt the environment was more advantageous now. Jennifer said that although there were changes to the filibuster made during the Obama administration, the filibuster was used to block many Obama appointees. History shows, she said, that the filibuster has been used as a tool by segregationists. He reminded the audience that HR1 creates automatic voter registration.

Melanie reacted strongly saying January 6th indicates we need to make change. Elected officials work for us.

Segment 2: The Postal Service and Vibrant Communities

The panelists were Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA, Neha Desaraju, Sunrise Movement and Andrew Butcher, Greater Portland Council of Governments. The moderator was Susan Harley from Public Citizen.

Annie Leonard said the 230,000 vehicles of the USPS average 10 mpg and pollute. They advocate replacement with EVs made in the USA; however, Postmaster General DeJoy would only commit to 10% USPS vehicles converted to electric. To the Postmaster’s statement that there is no money, she suggested using the $20 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Other green ideas included solar panels on all USPS roofs and buildings, clean air monitoring and real-time reporting devices on all USPS vehicles, and community events at closed USPS facilities in order to meet neighbors.


Source: Butcher presentation

Andrew Butcher discussed the role of underutilized real estate and how it effects communities. Currently there are 1600 suspended or discontinued USPS locations which are assets to be repurposed. There are 32,000 USPS facilities, 23,000 of which are leased at a cost of $1 billion. He suggested indirectly that lessors should know USPS is a “stable tenant” so they should look at partnerships.

High School student from Dallas, Nehe Desarafu, reiterated that the climate crisis affects low income people, thus the need for a “Green New Deal”. The USPS aids local communities around the world, she said, and told a story of her visit to India where she shipped local spices back to the US. President Biden could/should be as bold as FDR’s New Deal including training for green jobs, many of which would be centered around the USPS green transformation.

Questions/Discussion

One audience member said that Amazon ordered 100,000 EV’s for delivery. Read that announcement here. Panelists Butcher suggest an appeal to automakers.

A Canadian member of the League of Postal Workers from the audience suggested electric charging at postal stations. Andrew Butcher responded that USPS has started to engaged in strategy and recently attended a Clean Community Coalition Meeting hosted by Carnegie Mellon.

Annie said apartment dwellers or others who do not have a driveway or a garage cannot charge their EV’s, so a charging infrastructure is necessary in the long range plan. Neha said the economy could be stimulated over ten years with good green jobs.

Breakout Groups

As in previous days, the audience was divided into breakout groups with three chosen to report back. However, the notes from the chairs of each breakout group will be in the convention report.

Ending Statement

Mark Dimonstein, president of APWU, ended the meeting philosophically saying this is the beginning of the next chapter where the USPS will expand and grow.

Previous articles on the convention are Day 1 and Day 2.

The video and materials are available here: Resources

To read more about the author, click sherylhamlin dot com


Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments