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Guest view: USPS will deliver every ballot without fail
Guest column

Guest view: USPS will deliver every ballot without fail

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I have two messages: First, you can trust the men and women of the United States Postal Service to deliver your ballot safely and securely. Second, while the Trump administration may be trying to sabotage the USPS, we’re fighting back, and we’ll win.

In 1973, after I returned home to Great Falls as a U.S. Marine veteran from the Vietnam War, I started working at the USPS loading dock, packing 70-pound bags of mail. Nothing was automated back then. Our only machinery was the imprinter that canceled the stamps. Over the years, one thing has remained absolutely the same: My colleagues and I have handled millions of pieces of mail, and we have always done it with accuracy, patience and care.

Do not feel confused or scared for the integrity of our postal system — ask for a mail-in ballot and send it in.

Make no mistake about it, the American labor movement and our allies are fighting hard today to protect the Post Office — starting with the 500,000 postal union members who are standing up to President Trump and Postmaster Louis DeJoy every single day.

The United States Postal Service, founded in 1775, is one of America’s greatest institutions. It is specifically designated in the Constitution, and the USPS does exactly what we were charged to do: Connect everyone all across the country — urban, suburban, rural.

It is a beloved and effective agency because of its dedicated public servants. These are quality jobs that support working families and contribute to our communities.

Consider the facts: In 2019, the Postal Service delivered an average of 470 million pieces per day, six days a week — and scaled up to deliver more than 650 million pieces of mail per day during the peak holiday period in December.

These days, with the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the USPS delivers about half that volume, meaning that it has considerable excess capacity to handle a surge in mail volume like what happens during an election season.

USPS has been central to our democracy since the founding of our nation. The Postal Service disseminated the Federalist Papers and promoted widespread literacy by the low-cost distribution of newspapers and books. During the Civil War, American soldiers voted by mail. The Post Office has been essential to our system of elections ever since.

That’s why Montana’s unions of USPS workers are pushing Sen. Steve Daines to move his party’s leadership to pass the HEROES Act, which includes $25 billion in funding that the Postal Service needs to deal with the consequences of the worldwide health crisis.

That’s also why we need to spread the word that Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte voted against the House bill passed last month to protect and fund the Postal Service.

It’s also why we will not be satisfied until the Postmaster General and President Trump are legally prevented — by federal law, by collective bargaining agreements and by court settlement — from doing any further harm to the Postal Service.

This is not a partisan issue. Montana cannot afford to have the Postal Service fail.

We have a message today for the president, for Senator Daines, for the Postmaster General and for anyone who would attack our Postal Service: We will never let you tear down and tarnish the U.S. Postal Service, and we will deliver every last ballot, no matter what.

Gary Philippe, who retired from a long career as a Great Falls postal worker in 2005, is the Montana state president of the American Postal Workers Union.

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