A coalition of labor, civil rights, consumer, religious and community organizations have called on the current postmaster general, Megan Brennan, to ensure that her successor is committed to keeping the U.S. Postal Service a public entity in the face of White House consideration of a privatization plan.
The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service delivered a petition of over 400,000 signatures to Brennan, encouraging the USPS Board of Governors to consider the privatization issue in their selection of a new postmaster general.
“The fight we have here is essential to the civil rights of all Americans,” Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, said in remarks at a Monday rally to keep USPS public.
“We know what the postal service means to the fabric of the United States of America.”
Brennan became postmaster general in 2015 and announced that she would be stepping down from that position at the end of January 2020.
But USPS announced Jan. 6 that Brennan had agreed to delay her retirement to facilitate the search for a new postmaster general.
“We are grateful to the postmaster general for her continued commitment to the Postal Service, and share her confidence in the Postal Service’s strong leadership team members who will ensure that we continue to deliver for the American people,” said Robert Duncan, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors.
Unlike the leadership of most federal agencies, the USPS head is not nominated or chosen by the president. Instead, the members of the USPS Board of Governors — who are presidentially nominated — conduct a search to find and select a new postmaster general, who then joins the board, alongside the deputy postmaster general.
The Board can have up to nine governors appointed by the president, but it currently only has five such members, all of whom were selected by President Donald Trump.
A June 2018 government reorganization plan issued by the Trump administration recommended taking actions that would prepare USPS for a potential privatization push, a move that proponents have said would resolve the agency’s ongoing financial challenges.
But critics of the plan have said that privatization could come at the cost of increased prices and the loss of the universal service mandate that USPS currently operates under. They have also pointed to legal requirements that USPS prefund its retiree healthcare program — something that no other agency is required to do — as one of the main reasons the agency has struggled financially in the first place.
As the Grand Alliance notes, the Postal Service currently has strong public support as is, with an October 2019 Pew Research survey finding that 90 percent of respondents hold a favorable view of USPS, higher than any other federal agency.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.