May 14, 2020

Gillibrand Leads Group Of Senators To Call For Support For Postal Employees, Including 100,000 Veterans Employed By USPS

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led a group of Senate colleagues calling on Senate leadership to protect and fully support the thousands of employees, including 100,000 veterans employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS), who are playing a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-signers of the letter include: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). USPS employees have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, working to ensure Americans continue to receive essential goods and services, including prescriptions, paychecks, voter ballots, and more. In the letter, the senators pushed Congress to keep veterans employed throughout the pandemic by providing federal funding to keep the Postal Service afloat and to support programs that aid the hiring, onboarding, and retention of veterans.  

“We write to strongly encourage you to protect and fully support the 633,000 employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS), including nearly 100,000 veterans, who are currently playing a crucial role amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote the senators. “These veteran workers and their colleagues are on the frontlines, working to ensure that the American people continue to have access to essential goods and services, including medicine, toiletries, and voter ballots. We ask that you do everything in your capacity to support veteran postal workers by advocating for funding for programs that support the hiring, onboarding, and retention of veterans, along with the USPS as a whole.” 

The senators continued, “supporting veteran postal workers and their colleagues by providing federal funding not only helps millions of working families, but also their communities that rely on these essential services.” 

In financial crises, veterans are especially vulnerable to unemployment and homelessness. Veterans comprise roughly 15 percent of the entire federal postal workforce, and the agency is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country. For many veterans, the Postal Service provides an invaluable and seamless transition from military service to civilian life working in public service. It also acts as a source of financial security, especially for disabled veterans, whom the USPS actively recruits, and provides them with a continuing sense of purpose and fulfillment. As the Trump administration has attacked the Postal Service and refused to provide stimulus funding to the agency, Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues are pushing Congress to provide federal funding to the USPS to support its veteran workers and their colleagues. Keeping veterans employed through USPS would prevent exacerbating the growing problem of unemployment among veterans in the United States. 

Senator Gillibrand recently introduced her Postal Banking Act to revitalize the agency, re-establish postal banking to provide financial security to millions of Americans, and reinvigorate voting rights. The Postal Banking Act would not only establish essential banking services to low-income and rural communities, but it would create approximately $9 billion in revenue for the Postal Service and safeguard democracy by ensuring Americans across the country have access to vote by mail. Additionally, Senator Gillibrand has urged Senate leadership to include at least $20 billion for USPS in the next coronavirus package. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act unveiled this week by House Democrats includes $25 billion in federal funding for the USPS.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

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May 14, 2020

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell          

Majority Leader 

U.S. Senate

H-232, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer

Minority Leader

U.S. Senate

H-204, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

We write to strongly encourage you to protect and fully support the 633,000 employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS), including nearly 100,000 veterans, who are currently playing a crucial role amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These veteran workers and their colleagues are on the frontlines working to ensure that the American people continue to have access to essential goods and services, including medicine, toiletries, and voter ballots. We ask that you do everything in your capacity to support veteran postal workers by advocating for funding for programs that support the hiring, onboarding, and retention of veterans, along with the USPS as a whole.  

The USPS is an essential source of income for thousands of veteran workers and their families, with veterans comprising roughly 15 percent of the entire federal postal workforce, and is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country. For many veterans, the Postal Service provides an invaluable and seamless transition from military service to civilian life working in public service. It also acts as a source of financial security, especially for our disabled veterans, whom the USPS actively recruits and provides a continuing sense of purpose and fulfillment.

The White House’s actions to prevent stimulus funding for the USPS has the potential to derail the livelihoods of thousands of families with a veteran employed by the USPS, who rely on the benefits, pensions, and salaries associated with their service. In financial crises, veterans are especially vulnerable to unemployment and homelessness. With unemployment approaching historic highs, we should be ensuring veterans are able to keep their jobs. Providing federal funding to the USPS to support its veteran workers and their colleagues is an effective action Congress can take to help these frontline workers keep their jobs and financial security, and not add to an already growing problem of unemployment among veterans in our country. 

Supporting veteran postal workers and their colleagues by providing federal funding not only helps millions of working families, but also their communities that rely on these essential services. In many rural communities, the USPS is the only mail carrier available since many private mail carriers do not provide services in those areas. This is also true for many low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal lands in the United States. Allowing the Postal Service to dissolve, especially during a pandemic, will only do more harm to these already vulnerable communities with exceptionally severe consequences for veterans in these areas who rely on these jobs, and may already be struggling to access the benefits and support that they require. This includes other veterans, as well, given that the amount of prescription drugs being mailed has surged due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including medication prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and delivered through the USPS. It cannot be overstated the risks that veterans and their colleagues are taking to fulfill the constitutional duty of the Postal Service. At least one veteran mail handler – Anthony Smith, an Army veteran – has already tragically passed away due to COVID-19.

We stand ready to provide support to our veterans and the industries and services that they support. Veterans bring technical knowledge, professional skill, and patriotic attitudes that are invaluable in urgent crises like these. A whole-of-government approach includes supporting our veterans working on the frontlines, and all other essential employees who are working vigilantly during this public health crisis to ensure that every American has access to mailing services, no matter their ZIP code. We thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,