BY MAGGIE TROWE
In a national day of action organized by four postal unions Nov. 14, several thousand people demonstrated outside 150 U.S. Postal Service facilities in all 50 states to protest job cuts, outsourcing and other union-busting measures — as well as to defend the basic mail service that working people above all depend on.
Nearly 200,000 postal jobs were cut between 2006 and 2013 and more than 140 mail-processing facilities have closed since 2012. Another 82 mail processing and distribution centers are on the chopping block for Jan. 5, 2015, and the Postal Service plans to virtually eliminate overnight delivery, as well as direct-to-door delivery in most new housing developments.
“Over 100 jobs, including mine, will be abolished on my shift this week,” Rinda Ma, a mail handler at the Pasadena, California, rally of 50, told the Militant.
“Their intention is to bust the unions,” Maurice Anderson, a postal worker and shop steward in Hialeah, Florida, said as he passed out flyers at the action at the Pembroke Pines distribution center. “That’s what the Staples deal is about,” he said, referring to the Postal Service campaign to outsource some postal service to more than 1,500 Staples stores across the country.
“They want to use Staples as a knock-off post office, not using postal employees and not paying a living wage,” said William Flanagan, one of 60 pickets at the central post office in Atlanta.
Two hundred gathered on the steps of the main post office in New York. “We’ve organized informational pickets at 18 of the 23 Staples stores in Manhattan,” Mike Suchomel said. “We don’t want the workers at Staples to lose their jobs, and we’re for expanding service, but they should become postal workers and get the same wages and benefits as we do.”
Anderson said management is encouraging early retirement “in order to save on benefits. The career employees are replaced by ‘postal support employees,’ who get less pay and benefits and don’t have set hours and days off.”
Some 250 filled the lobby of the Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C. They chanted, “Let us in!” and “You might be next,” when denied entry to the meeting of the Board of Governors where Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe was giving a report. Donohoe announced the same day his plan to retire early next year.
Postal workers were joined by other unionists who support their fight, including members of the American Federation of Government Employees, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Screen Actors Guild, Teamsters, Musicians Association, United Food and Commercial Workers and American Federation of Teachers.
Kevin Cole, American Postal Workers Union shop steward in Los Angeles; Naomi Craine in Miami; Sara Lobman in New York; Sergio Zambrana in Washington, D.C.; Janice Lynn in Atlanta; Mary Martin in Seattle; Andrea Morell in San Francisco; Jacquie Henderson in Omaha and Joe Swanson in Lincoln, Nebraska, contributed to this article.
On the Picket Line