Postal workers protest
plan to cut Sat. delivery
More than 193,000 jobs slashed since 2006
|March 24 protest at main post office in New York City against plans to end Saturday delivery. “This is about greed,” said postal clerk James Moore. “They tell workers ‘do more with less.’”
BY NORTON SANDLER
LOS ANGELES—Postal workers and their supporters rallied in hundreds of cities from California to New York March 24 to protest plans to eliminate Saturday delivery.
The actions were initiated by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The protest in the Hollywood neighborhood here drew some 600 participants from Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Among the participants were members of the American Postal Workers Union, which organizes clerks and other post office workers, and other trade unionists.
“We have to fight to keep the six-day mail delivery. If we don’t, where will it stop? Four days, three days?” postal worker Connie Callegari told the Militant at the protest.
The actions were called in response to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s February announcement that six-day delivery for everything but packages would end in August of this year.
Although since 1981 Congress has required the Postal Service to deliver mail six days a week, Donahoe said the law no longer requires that all services be provided because previous language was not included in a new spending resolution. Some legislators dispute this interpretation.
Donahoe says the move will save the Postal Service $2 billion a year. The post office had a $15.9 billion deficit in 2012.
Union officials have tried to argue that the cuts won’t make the Postal Service more profitable. Instead they have lobbied Congress without success to end a mandate on funding retiree health benefits for decades in advance, which they say has cost the Postal Service $32 billion since 2007.
The Postal Service has eliminated more than 193,000 jobs since 2006, according to the Letter Carriers union. In May last year, post office bosses said they planned to close 229 facilities by 2014, 92 this year, most in rural areas or working-class neighborhoods.
“They’ve been attacking other workers drastically and now they are coming after us with guns blazing,” APWU Local 917 President Richard Cantu told the Militant. “They are consolidating mail centers, closing post offices and trying to privatize the post office.”
The cuts “affect the younger generation,” noted Vikki Eady, a Los Angeles mail handler. “I’m almost ready to retire, but those of us who retire, get injured on the job or get fired are not replaced. So there are less people at the same productivity rate.”
In New York some 800 rallied at the main post office.
“This is about American greed,” said James Moore, a clerk at New York’s Morgan post office in Midtown. “Look at how the bus companies and Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked the school bus drivers. Now we are under attack. They tell workers ‘do more with less.’”
Milagros Cancel, member of Parents to Improve School Transportation, which supported city school bus drivers who recently ended a one-month strike, joined the New York action. “We have to support the postal workers,” said Cancel. “I have three children with impediments. It is important to support services like the post office and school bus drivers.”
Erline McWillis has worked 31 years as a clerk at the Triborough station in Upper Manhattan.
“Contracting out of jobs of tractor trailer drivers, mail carriers and clerks has gone on for about three years,” she said. “They are trying to get old-timers and permanent workers out. They cut the pay of contract workers by half with no health insurance until after one year. The union is here to protect you, to protect our jobs.”
Carmen Ortiz, a letter carrier in Oakland, was one of hundreds at the San Francisco rally. She said that the push for five-day delivery is just the latest of many attacks on post office workers, including attacks on wages, benefits and working conditions that have hit new hires the hardest. “It’s not just what’s happening at the post office, but I’m here in response to all the things they are taking away from us,” she added.
“I’m hoping for larger turnouts in the future,” said Danetta Logan, one of four letter carriers who subscribed to the Militant during the San Francisco protest. “We need more of us involved.”
“Their aim is to lay off 20 percent of the workforce, some 200,000 workers,” said Bob Garron, who works out of the Miami Beach facility.
“In the postal service and in manufacturing they have workers backed into a corner. We can’t just take it. We have to fight back at some point,” postal worker Eric Brown, said at the Atlanta protest.
Janice Lynn in Atlanta, Anthony Dutrow in Miami, Dan Fein and Deborah Liatos in New York and Betsey Stone in San Francisco contributed to this article.
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