Stunned disbelief. That’s my response to Tuesday’s election results. Here in North Carolina, especially, I felt that although it would be a close race right down to the wire, Senator Kay Hagan would be able to pull it off. After all, Thom Tillis’s actions in the NC General Assembly have resulted in some very extreme laws being passed. Very extreme, indeed.
First of all, as a retired letter carrier and as an American citizen, I would like to thank all of the activists who worked so hard in an effort to get labor-friendly candidates elected to office. My own union, The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) –thanks to its National Agreement with the USPS — released hundreds of letter carriers into the field to phone bank and canvas on behalf of those candidates who had proven to be friendly to workers in the past, both Democrats and Republicans. Here in North Carolina 11 letter carriers from around the state were released from their carrier duties so they could get the word out to the public about the candidates.They did an awesome job.
But in spite of all the hard work, many of the candidates we supported were defeated, including Senator Kay Hagan. That defeat has been an especially hard pill to swallow. Believe me, it hasn’t gone down easily.
It’s hard to comprehend how certain candidates around the country who have proven to be so unfriendly to workers, the unemployed, the elderly, teachers, women and minorities, just to name a few, could either be elected or reelected. How on earth did Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin win reelection? Or Rick Scott in Florida? Or Mitch McConnell in Kentucky?
Or Thom Tillis in North Carolina? Why would the majority of North Carolinians elect a man to the Senate who has done so much damage to North Carolina? It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
I’ll let the pundits discuss that one.
Now North Carolina finds itself in a most unenviable position: Our political leadership, beginning in January, will be totally “red.” We currently have a Republican governor, a Republican majority in the general assembly and one Republican senator, Richard Burr. The majority of voters in our state obviously felt on Election Day that we needed one more Republican in leadership. Come January, Thom Tillis will join that fraternity.
So, how will Tuesday’s elections affect the Postal Service, its employees and the American public going forward?
In the wake of so many Republicans winning office, it doesn’t look good. Many of the candidates the NALC and other postal unions supported lost their bid for either election or reelection. Although the NALC’s support is non-partisan, supporting those candidates who have shown their support for working families, many of those who won elections Tuesday are decidedly unfriendly toward labor in general and unions in particular. More than likely, based on past experience, they’re not going to support those kinds of initiatives that favor the future viability of the Postal Service. After all, it’s a government agency and those are the ones the conservatives want privatized.
Let’s face it, most of those who were elected Tuesday are more about austerity than prosperity. That means cutting rather than growing. They believe, just as PMG Donahoe does, that the elimination of Saturday delivery and the consolidation of mail facilities, the closing of rural post offices, and replacing curb boxes with cluster boxes is the way the Postal Service should go. We can sum that up in one word:”privatization.” Many of those elected Tuesday, like their colleagues or future colleagues in Congress, are more about making a profit than providing a service. Our current Congress, the most ineffective and the least productive in history, has set a standard for profit over service.
I foresee continued gridlock during the lame duck session as the Republicans bide their time until January. From what I’ve heard one of the items that will top their agenda next year will be an effort to impeach the president. And perhaps they will attempt to shut down the government again.
Somewhere along the way postal reform will resurface and, unfortunately, those bills that would do the most harm to the Postal Service, its employees and the American public, will be the ones receiving the most attention.
So, we’ve lost this particular battle. And it has been a real bleeder, no denying it. But the war rages on and if we are to save the Postal Service from those intent on privatizing it, we must continue to fight the good fight.