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Mail Workers Rally to Stop ‘Postal Apocalypse’

August 26, 2020

By Steve Wishnia

New York, N.Y.—More than 100 people rallied on the steps of Manhattan’s main post office Aug, 25, part of a national day of action demanding that Congress appropriate $25 billion aid for the U.S. Postal Service and that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy stop and reverse policies he’s imposed that have slowed the mail down.

“Things are now worse than they were at the worst of the pandemic.” — Dennis O’Neil, Metro Area Postal Union’s Moe Biller-Eleanor G. Bailey retirees chapter

“The public has sent the message that the Postal Service is essential,” Jonathan Smith, president of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, told the crowd in front of the James A. Farley Building on Eighth Avenue. “Our concern is that elderly person who needs their medicine on time.”

Smith said that DeJoy had lied when he told Congress that policies he instituted after taking office in June, such as slashing overtime and removing mail-sorting machines and collection boxes, had not delayed the mail. The Postmaster General was wrong to say overtime was the issue, Smith added: “If we were properly staffed, we would need no overtime.”

The Metro Area Postal Union has called for DeJoy to resign or be fired. A multimillionaire former owner of private shipping companies and a major donor to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, he had no previous experience working in the Postal Service.

The rally was one of more than 200 organized by the American Postal Workers Union, with others in Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami, Oklahoma City, and smaller places such as Douglas, Alaska; Bellingham, Washington; Billings, Montana; and Ypsilanti, Michigan. In the New York area, there were also events outside post offices in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Brooklyn’s Kensington and Sunset Park neighborhoods, and Centerport on Long Island.

“The big thing is delayed mail,” Metro Area Postal Union vice president Kevin Walsh told LaborPress before the rally. What DeJoy is not telling the public, he added, is that “the trucks are being told to leave before the mail is ready. They’re sending empty trucks just to say they went out on time.” 

“The public has sent the message that the Postal Service is essential.” — NY Metro Area Postal Union President Jonathan Smith.

The Trump administration’s ultimate agenda is privatizing the mail, he said. That would mean delivery to rural areas, whose low population density makes them unprofitable, “would cease to exist. Right now, some rural areas are saying they’re getting mail once a week.” Poorer urban areas wouldn’t be cut off as sharply, he added, but mail would be delayed.

“Things are now worse than they were at the worst of the pandemic,” Dennis O’Neil of the Metro Area Postal Union’s Moe Biller-Eleanor G. Bailey retirees chapter told the rally. He said DeJoy’s policies, such as avoiding having to pay overtime by not continuing work at the end of a shift when the day’s mail hasn’t been completely sorted yet, violated the postal creed of “every letter, every day.” He called the Postmaster General, President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “the Four Horsemen of the Postal Apocalypse.”

“These people are working together to kill the Postal Service and to kill democracy,” he said.

Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, called for Congress to pass the HEROES Act coronavirus-relief bill and $25 billion in direct aid to the Postal Service.

With an election coming in which unprecedented numbers of people will be voting by mail, he added, “we want to make sure every vote is counted and nobody is disenfranchised.”

 “It’s time for Congress to deliver,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in a statement Aug. 19. “Up until now, the Trump administration has blocked the USPS from any direct financial assistance even as Congress and the Administration provided over $500 billion of COVID relief to private corporations.”

“Up until now, the Trump administration has blocked the USPS from any direct financial assistance even as Congress and the Administration provided over $500 billion of COVID relief to private corporations.” — APWU President Mark Dimondstein

The House passed a bill Aug. 22 that would give the Postal Service $25 billion, require the Postal Service to replace the mailboxes and sorting machines it got rid of, and bar officials from implementing changes that “impede prompt, reliable, and efficient service” until at least January. The vote was 257-150, with 26 Republicans, most of them representing rural areas, voting yes.  

However, Sen. McConnell told reporters that he did not plan to bring the legislation to the Senate floor, and Trump, posting on Twitter, called it a “money wasting HOAX.”

August 26, 2020

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