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You've Got Mail -- Or Not: Why a Job-Killing Congressional Attack May Close Your Local Post Office

If Congress is allowed to destroy a trusted institution's chances of success, millions of good American jobs will be lost.

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Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union and a Vietnam veteran,  told Congress “As postal workers, we have been able to fulfill the American dream of holding a job that pays a living wage and provides health insurance for families with a dignified retirement when we can no longer work.”

My little community in Northern California could lose its post office, a hub of local activity. My sister-in-law, a letter carrier in Southern California, could lose her job.

In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt told the CIO convention delegates that union members need to tell their stories and educate the public about their problems. It’s time for postal workers to tell their stories to their customers. 

It’s also time for all of us to stop and ask the men and women who deliver our mail, sell our stamps and ship our packages what is going on? Then it’s time to tell our members of Congress what we have learned. I would begin by asking representatives in Congress about repealing the 2006 law that set this unprecedented retirement burden on the postal service. As Eleanor Roosevelt told the union delegates, “We can’t just talk. We have got to act.”

Brigid O’Farrell is an independent scholar affiliated with Mills College and the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. This article is based on her most recent book is She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, Cornell University Press, now available in paperback.