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Economy

A Prayer for the Post Office

While USPS workers deliver Christmas gifts, Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers’ Union, is busy fending off demands to privatize the mail.
All together now: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night..."
All together now: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night..."Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

The United States Postal Service has been fighting for its life since it was born.

President Richard Nixon created this vast mail-managing entity in 1970 by turning its old Cabinet-level predecessor, the U.S. Post Office Department, into a government-owned corporation, caving to union demands after hundreds of thousands of postal workers went on strike for better wages and collective bargaining rights. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan tried to change the USPS’s public status and sell it off for cash. He failed, but in 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which mandated that Postal Service retirement health care* be pre-funded, and arguably contributed to a long-term financing crisis that continues today.