The United States Postal Service continues to garner omnipresent attention in public discourse. Amid both a contentious funding battle in Congress and a widespread national conversation about mail-in voting, hashtags like #saveUSPS and #buystamps have become popular. Affected by layoffs and increased parcel volumes, the USPS is in the midst of a storm that affects democratic functions.
The Postal Service boasts a more than 40 percent female workforce, making it one of the largest employers of women in the United States. It is also amongst the most diverse federal agencies, with people of color comprising 39 percent of its workforce. It also employs a large number of veterans.
With so many women and minorities employed by the Postal Service, any issue within the institution is not only a democratic one, but an intersectional feminist one.
The mail carrier we have known and loved since 1971 is reportedly set to run out of funds by April 2021. All eyes are on Congress to pass a relief bill. The agency that has been responsible for getting us our packages during this pandemic surely deserves relief.
However, we have yet to see any action taken to sustain the USPS. On the contrary, we are seeing the USPS stripped of resources.
A vital civic institution
The USPS serves as a concurrent function of feminism and democracy. This year, the Postal Service will carry hundreds of thousands of mail ballots, protected by over 200 federal security laws. It will also carry essential goods to those who are homebound or who live in rural communities.
The vital civic institution is in crisis. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy scheduled the dismantling of more than 600 high-speed mail sorting machines from postal facilities this summer. Hundreds of mail collection boxes were removed from sidewalks across the nation in recent months. It wasn’t until public outrage spread across social media that a Postal Service spokesman reported that the removals would cease until after the election.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the financial crisis of the USPS, and the politicization of an essential government agency all pose a threat to democracy and to feminism. The removal of mail collection boxes and mail sorting machines make it more difficult for women across the nation to access their right to vote this fall.
Keeping the USPS accessible means keeping it that way for women, for voters, for POC, for rural Americans, for the disabled, and so many more. The Postal Service is not a business; it is a public service. Women should support the USPS because the USPS supports women.
For just 55 cents, anyone can send a letter anywhere in the United States. Purchase stamps today and support the USPS. Our democracy and the women working for the USPS depends on it.