APWU Members Rally with Community to Demand Congress Save the Post Office and Stop Delays

September 16, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

In the previous issue of The American Postal Worker, we reported on the highly successful day of action on June 23 – with the delivery of two million petition signatures to Congress, demanding $25 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief for the USPS. The day of action increased public awareness of the Postal Service’s financial crisis.

However, as this issue goes to press, the $25 billion in COVID-19 funding remains held up in the Senate, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refusing to bring any postal legislation to the floor for a vote.

As postal workers know, in July the newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted a series of harmful and destructive policy changes, including: reducing hours in retail units including Saturday closings, delaying mail, slowing down service, reducing carrier delivery trips, excessive removal of mail processing equipment, arbitrarily reducing work hours and eliminating the majority of overtime.

The National APWU Executive Board immediately responded to the changes with a statement on July 20. “We will unite with the people of the country to defend their right to ‘prompt’ and ‘reliable’ service and the universal service mandate that ensures equal service to everyone – all 160 million addresses every day,” the statement read.

The National Executive Board also reaffirmed their commitment to pressuring Congress “for COVID-related emergency relief of at least $25 billion to make up for projected lost revenue due to the pandemicinduced economic crisis.”

The public response to the delays was strong enough to compel the Postmaster General to announce a temporary halt to some of his policy changes until after the November election.

“These rollbacks would not have happened without public outcry and action. The public would not have been aware of these regressive policies if APWU leaders, members and postal workers around the country had not sounded the alarm and led the charge,” wrote President Dimondstein after DeJoy’s announcement. “While we welcome the temporary suspension of some of these policies as a step in the right direction, they are far from sufficient and the struggle in defense of the public Postal Service, our jobs and our union, is far from over.”

APWU Members and Allies Rally at Post Offices across the Country

As Postmaster GeneralAs Postmaster General DeJoy’s policy changes began causing chaos and harmful delays in communities across the country, media attention on the Postal Service and the APWU rose considerably. Thousands of messages of support came from members of the public, and APWU gained almost 200,000 new followers across its social media channels.

With the crisis facing the Postal Service gaining massive attention across the country, the APWU National organized a Day of Action to #SavethePostOffice with two simple demands: $25 billion in emergency COVID-19 relief and a permanent reversal of DeJoy’s destructive policy changes.

On Aug. 25, APWU members; labor, civil and human rights activists; community allies; and lawmakers joined together at post offices across the country to make their voices heard. An estimated 300 events were held across the country, in almost every state with thousands participating.

“The APWU National put out the call and our local leaders, members, and community allies answered in spectacular fashion,” said President Dimondstein. “This is the People’s Post Office and the people have shown they’re ready to fight for it.”

“The U.S. Postal Service is a bedrock institution for every American,” said Becky Livingston, Saint Louis Gateway Area Local President, to a crowd of dozens in St. Louis. “Our elected leaders must support $25 billion in funding to make sure the Post Office can run effectively, and Postmaster DeJoy must reverse his harmful slowdown policies immediately.”

In Miami, FL, Miami Area Local President Wanda Harris summed up the disturbing state of recent postal changes: “These changes are happening in the middle of a census, in the middle of an election year, in the middle of a pandemic,” Harris said. “All of this is happening right when the American people need us more than ever.”

The sentiment was reflected in New York City. “What we’re seeing is there’s a slowdown and a breakdown of the mail,” said Glenda Morris, a postal retiree, while standing in a crowd lining the steps of the James A. Farley post office. “A lot of people will not be able to get their medication on time… And that’s not normal. That’s not normal.”

In Kentucky, supporters rallied in Inez, near the home of Postal Board of Governors chairman Robert Duncan. “This is his home, so he understands how important rural America is as well. We just want him to see the support,” said Kentucky Postal Workers Union Secretary-Treasurer Clyde Trent.

Day of Action a Success, But the Struggle Continues

By the end of August 25, it was clear that from rural towns to major cities, people across the country are united in saving the public Postal Service. Demonstrations with one single person to those with over a hundred delivered a clear message: the USPS is our national treasure and the people will not sit idly by while it is under attack.

While the day of action was successful, the Postal Service is still in need of a $25 billion emergency appropriation. Additionally, while DeJoy has temporarily suspended some of his policy changes, the struggle continues to make sure the USPS remains a reliable public service committed to serving the people of the country.

On August 22, the House of Representatives passed the Delivering for America Act (H.R. 8015), a standalone bill that would reverse the policy changes and provide $25 billion in emergency funding. However, that bill, as with other legislation providing emergency COVID-19 relief to the USPS, remains tied up in the Senate. The APWU encourages members to continue calling their senators to demand financial relief for the USPS and a reversal of the policies that have caused harmful delays. Call today at 844-402-1001.

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