New York Metro Fights ‘Relocation’ Smokescreen

September 10, 2014

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(This article appears in the September/October 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.) 

An impassioned community turned out in force on Aug. 27 to a public hearing sponsored by the USPS about plans to “relocate” the College Station Post Office in Central Harlem. The message from participants was unanimous, said Flo Summergrad, a member of New York Metro Area Postal Union: We need College Station open and here.

Speakers from the community included 94-year old Katherine Nicholson, who rebutted management’s claim that the proposal to move the station was prompted by a need to downsize. “I’m old but not senile,” she said, “and I can see that more people live here than before.” A representative of Community Board 10 opposed the plan “because it would create a severe hardship” for the many people who walk to the post office.

APWU members challenged the very notion that the station is being relocated. “Relocation” is smokescreen for USPS plans to sell offices that are located on prime real estate, they said. Postal bosses prefer to designate post offices for “relocation” rather than closure because there are fewer requirements for community input and fewer avenues for appeal, they pointed out.

“College Station is slated to be closed, not magically lifted up and ‘relocated,’” said resident Daniel Villa.

Retired Mail Handler John Dennie reminded meeting attendees of an exposé in the Washington Post about the Postal Service’s exclusive deal with CBRE, the world’s largest real estate firm, to sell postal property. CBRE has been accused of selling USPS property for less than it is worth in transactions where the company represented both the buyer and the Postal Service.

Community Input a Farce

Residents who attended the meeting complained that the Postal Service made a farce of “community input.” There was no microphone, no recorder, and official minutes were not taken, they pointed out.

New York Metro President Jonathan Smith blasted the USPS for “attacking and disrespecting the poorest communities” in the name of saving money. “The Postal Service was created to serve the people, not make profits,” he said. Proposals to offer banking and other services that would help the community and generate revenue for the USPS are ignored, he said.

Actor Ron Canada said the Postal Service is on “a suicide mission to help the privatizers.” Mary Pannell, a member of the National Action Network, vowed to go door-to-door to alert people to the threat of privatization of the Postal Service.

The raucous meeting ended with participants chanting, “Who’s Post Office? The people’s Post Office!” 

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