Threatened cutbacks to the U.S. Postal Service would hit rural Pennsylvania hardest

The USPS, which has not turned a profit in the last 13 years, has come under increasing fire from elected officials calling for the agency to privatize amid debates about coronavirus bailouts. The Trump administration’s fiscal 2021 budget request, released in February before COVID-19 crippled the country, proposed pay cuts for postal workers, as well as more partnerships with private shippers. In April, the president called the Postal Service “a joke.”

Employees say the effects of any cutbacks would be felt hardest by those living along rural routes, particularly if the agency is forced to raise package prices to compete with the private shippers.

“We have a lot of people who are disabled, who can’t get out and move, but still want to live in a rural setting,” said Christopher Neal, a rural letter carrier who has a 90-mile route in Tioga County, about 225 miles northwest of Philadelphia. “I physically hand the package to that person. No private company is going to do that. That’s what we call the last mile.”

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