New Jersey BMC Workers Rally Against Privatization

October 30, 2008

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Given a boost by local and national elected officials, APWU members rallied in northern New Jersey on Oct. 27 to protest plans by the Postal Service to privatize Bulk Mail Centers.

(Left to right) Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, and U.S. Reps. Albio Sires and Donald Payne listen to a union speaker denounce USPS plans to privatize the Jersey International Bulk Mail Center.

Reps. Donald Payne and Albio Sires, both Democrats, addressed an estimated 300 postal workers and their supporters.

“This Postal Service seems to have the Wall Street mentality that it can privatize everything,” Sires said at the gathering in front of the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center.

Payne echoed those sentiments. “Our agenda is to work for the benefit of working people,” he said. “This question of privatization and outsourcing has proven not to be efficient. The GAO cannot come up with conclusive evidence that privatization is working.”

Both Congressmen have signed on as co-sponsors of the Mail Network Protection Act (H.R. 4236), which would require the Postal Service to bargain with its unions before engaging in significant subcontracting to private entities.

“These workers need those jobs,” Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said of employees at the nation’s largest BMC which employs 2,400. “Half of those workers are Jersey City residents,” Healy said. “Their families need those jobs.

“Our city needs those jobs,” he said. “We have to fight this.

“What has privatization wrought in the past?” he asked. “They say it will improve service, it’s going to keep the jobs, and it’s going to save taxpayer dollars. What I have seen, they are 0 and 3. None of that has occurred. We will fight to keep this bulk center open, we will fight to keep the workers here, postal workers and union members.”

Northeast Regional Coordinator Liz Powell praised the legislators for their support. “No one had to twist their arms to sign on as co-sponsors of H.R. 4236,” she said, referring to Reps. Sires and Payne. “They were two of the earliest signers.”

Commenting on the rally, APWU President William Burrus said that the USPS has launched a program of “incremental” privatization. “The Postal Service’s drive to outsource and subcontract is undermining productivity and service to the public.”

“We must do everything we can to protect the service we provide to the American people and to preserve the Postal Service as a public institution.”

Also at the rally was Idowu Balogun, National Representative At-Large and BMC Coordinator.

“We are planning to have events like this at every one of the BMCs,” Balogun said. “We are tired of them taking it to us — We are going to take it to them. With our friends in Congress behind us, we are going to take the fight to them.”

In attendance as well was New York Metro Area Local APWU President Clarice Torrence. “They told us that the Bronx [consolidation] was a done deal,” she said, “but we made sure that it was undone.”

“We are going to continue this fight,” Torrence said. “We are not going to let them take these bulk centers.”

Members of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union also participated.

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