Save America’s Postal Service
APWU Members Keep Up the Pressure
(This article first appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Hundreds of members of the APWU and National Postal Mail Handlers Union rallied in front of post offices around the country Tax Day, April 17, to save America’s Postal Service.
At the main post office in Royal Oak, MI, Local 480-481 President Roscoe Woods said he and his members have a simple message. “Congress created this mess,” he said, “and Congress must fix it.”
Woods was referring to the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retirement health benefits for the next 75 years, and do it in a 10-year window. No other government agency or private business bears a similar burden, which drains $5.5 billion in postal revenue each year.
“We’re reminding folks that we run on zero tax dollars,” said Woods.
The picket in Royal Oak was just one of eight rallies in Michigan and several hundred around the nation.
In Vermont, protesters held rallies at the White River Junction mail processing center as well as in Manchester and Montpelier.
“We need to put pressure on Congress to act,” said Lorraine Clough, an employee at the White River Junction facility. “They just keep putting it off, and if they keep doing that they’re going to continue to close plants,” she said.
As union members began leafleting on April 17, the Senate began debate on the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789). The APWU and Mail Handlers Union worked with supportive senators with the goal of amending the bill to protect service standards and keep plants and post offices open. On April 25, the Senate passed an amended version of S. 1789, which makes some important changes but falls short in other areas. Action now moves to the House of Representatives. (See page 24.)
In Buffalo, NY, postal workers and supporters gathered outside the William Street post office protesting the pending closure of that facility.
“It’s a very stressful period for our people right now,” said Frank Resetarits, president of the Buffalo Area Local and the New York State Postal Workers Union. “Our hope is that Congress will step in, and not allow the service standard changes to take place.”
In Bloomington, IL, members of Bloomington Area Local pitched a tent and gave out leaflets outside the city’s Processing & Distribution Center. Local President J.R. Haslett said closing the plant is a bad idea. “We’re right in the middle of the state. It’s just not a very good idea,” he said.
In Portland, OR, over 200 postal workers and supporters carried picket signs protesting closures and service cuts in a demonstration that spanned several blocks at the Main Post Office. Leaflets proclaiming “NO TAXES NEEDED to Save America’s Postal Service” were handed out to passersby.
In Oregon, four distribution centers and over 20 rural post offices are marked for closure. “These closures will cause huge disruptions to mail service, eliminating the overnight first-class delivery standard, delaying delivery two or three days, and forcing hundreds of thousands of postal patrons to travel many miles to nearest post office.” said Cara Shufelt of the Rural Organizing Project (ROP).
In Charlotte, NC, postal workers spent hours on the side of the road by the mail processing center handing out flyers to passersby calling on North Carolina’s senators to fix S. 1789.
“If customers no longer can rely on us to get their stuff overnight, they’re going to use other options. And when they do, we’re going to lose more revenue,” said LeRoy Moyer, president of the Charlotte Area Local.
On May 17, postal officials announced they would extend the timeframe for implementing the consolidation plan. They also announced that new service standards would take effect June 1.
|Charlotte, NC||Royal Oak, MI|