DeKALB – About 40 DeKalb County residents protested outside the DeKalb Post Office Friday to rally around dwindling resources for the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The Northern Illinois Democratic Socialists of America organized the Rally to Save the USPS in DeKalb, as well as one in Rockford. Another protest will be held in Rockford at the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building, 501 Seventh St. in Rockford at 10 a.m.. on Labor Day, Sept. 7.
Dave Rathke, the membership chair of the DeKalb branch of the Northern Illinois Democrat Socialists of America, attended Friday’s protest with a sign that read “Let’s Save the Post Office.”
“I’m here because they want to privatize and take away funding for the post office, which is one of the longest and most cherished institutions in our country,” Rathke said. “This issue has been going on a long time, it’s not just the current administration.”
Rathke also mentioned the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.
The Act required the USPS to create a fund to pay for the cost of its post-retirement health care costs, 75 years into the future. No other federal agency or private corporation has the same requirement. The cost to fund retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056 is a $5 billion per year cost.
A surge of mail-in voting before the 2020 General Election has also caused some concern.
Facing public pressure and state lawsuits, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday he is halting some operational changes to mail delivery that critics warned were causing widespread delays and could disrupt voting in the November election.
DeJoy said he would “suspend” his initiatives until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”
The abrupt reversal comes as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be suing to stop the changes. The states, along with lawmakers and others, want to ensure voters are able to use mail-in ballots if they prefer to avoid polling places due to health risks from COVID-19.
The Postal Service said it has stopped removing mailboxes and mail-sorting machines amid an outcry from lawmakers.
Democrats and some Republicans say actions by the new postmaster general, a Trump ally and a major Republican donor, have endangered millions of Americans who rely on the post office to obtain prescription drugs and other needs, including an expected surge in mail-in voting this fall.
J.J. Wett, chair of the DeKalb branch of the Northern Illinois Democrat Socialists of America, said that he saw the defunding of the USPS as “the government taking away something that helps the citizens.” Wett will formally announced his candidacy for DeKalb’s Ward 2 Alderman this Thursday.
“We need to stop the privatization of the post office because it will only allow the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer,” he said.
If community members are interested in speaking out about the possible defunding of the USPS, Katie Barrett, co-chair of the DeKalb branch of the Northern Illinois Democrat Socialists of America, recommends being proactive.
“People should contact their representative if they want the government to continue to fund the postal service,” said Katie Barrett, co-chair of the DeKalb branch of the Northern Illinois Democrat Socialists of America. “The postal service is an important service, a vital service.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: The Daily Chronicle