The next four years will require us to resist the growing push to hand over control of public goods to private corporations.
Earlier this month, public employees showed us one way to win. The U.S. Postal Service announced it would soon discontinue a partnership with corporate giant Staples. Come March, the “mini-post offices” providing shipping services in nearly half of all Staples stores will close.
This is a huge win for Postal Service workers, who process 509 million pieces of mail every day. At Staples, mail was handled by the chain’s workers, many of them part-time and paid at or near minimum wage. The Postal Service launched the partnership in 2013 to “grow the business,” but the result was U.S. mail in the hands of lower paid, untrained workers rather than clerks employed by the public.
It’s also a win for the economy. Public sector work offers stable, middle class wages, pumping up consumer demand. And the workforce is relatively diverse. Nearly 60 percent of public sector jobs are held by women, and one in five black workers work for the public.
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After three years of public demonstrations and boycotts, postal employees prevailed. They endured attacks from politicians and corporations bent on handing the Postal Service to the private sector. They successfully countered the spin that the Postal Service is in financial crisis—the “crisis” was, in fact, manufactured by a Republican-led Congress.
The economy needs more than just jobs; it needs more stable, living wage jobs. Let’s be loud and clear: a public Postal Service is good for the economy.
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