Postal Days of Action

August 21-25

Austin, Texas, August 25, 2020

On August 21-22, more than 800 demonstrations involving tens of thousands took place. Workers in every state participated. From Hawaii to Oregon, Montana, Michigan and Maine, from California to New Hampshire, Kansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida, the demand that the Post Office is Not For Sale, that it must remain a Public Service and the rights of the workers and public respected was evident.

More than 100 organizations joined postal workers in organizing the demonstrations, including teachers, veterans, healthcare workers, rural organizers and more. The workers have continued to inform and mobilize various unions and the public in general to stand with them, gaining widespread support. On August 25 another 300 actions took place, organized by unions together with civil and human rights activists. All made clear that the USPS is a public service that should be fully funded and its workers fully protected.

Expressing the support of many unions, the Flight Attendants union said the postal service is a "vital part of the public health response," adding that millions of people get their "life-saving and life-supporting medicines, supplies, food, and other essential goods" through the mail.

The August actions took place after the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, an anti-worker, anti-union fundraiser for Republicans, imposed changes meant to sabotage postal delivery and set the USPS up as unreliable and thus in need of privatization. This included removing an estimated 600 mail processing machines, especially at facilities near airports, and hundreds of blue mail boxes from street corners across the country. DeJoy announced July 10 that the USPS would no longer commit to moving the mail if it required overtime to do so. This meant leaving mail unsorted and undelivered for days -- something workers say is "simply not in their DNA."

When these attacks took place, workers reported getting hundreds of calls, especially from the elderly in need of their medicine. In many places the workers organized to refuse to leave unsorted mail behind. Overtime was mainly eliminated for the initial work done by letter carriers, known as casing, where mail and packages not sorted by machines have to be sorted by the workers before they leave for their delivery routes. Many workers simply refused to agree to the 30 minute time limit imposed and did not begin their routes until that day's mail was sorted. In Milwaukee, for example, "Fightback Friday's" were instituted, where workers gather before starting work to discuss their concerns and how best to oppose the attacks.

The strength of the workers' resistance as well as the public outcry about delays forced DeJoy to temporarily back off. He said retail hours will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are, no mail processing facilities will be closed, and overtime will continue to be approved as needed. However none of the mail boxes and sorting machines already removed will be returned. As well, people in many cities report that while mail boxes are not being removed, they are being locked so they cannot be used.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Seattle, Washington

Phoenix, Arizona

Flagstaff, Arizona

Lincoln, Nebraska

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Dallas, Texas

Chicago; Bolingbrook, Illinois

Orlando; Jacksonville, Florida

Greensboro, North Carolina

Cary, North Carolina

Manchester, New Hampshire

New York City, New York

Boston, Massachusetts

Hartford, Connecticut

June 23 Actions

On June 23 in two dozen cities, postal workers, supported by the public, organized to defend the USPS as a public service. This included demanding funding from Congress and no further attacks on the workers. In Washington, DC a caravan of 75 cars delivered to the Senate a petition with 2 million signatures, demanding that they vote emergency funding for the postal service in the upcoming HEROES Act [still not done.] Around 200,000 people also tuned-in to a video livestream with union representatives.

In New York City there were demonstrations at 16 post offices around Manhattan and the Bronx. Participants handed out leaflets to alert passersby that the Postal Service is in danger of being shut down, asking them to join in and to call or write their senators.

In Philadelphia people rallied in front of various post offices or circled in cars, honking their horns. Workers from other unions and community groups participated, as well as a former prisoner who emphasized how important the mail is to people in prison -- describing "tears falling on letters."

The car caravan in Raleigh, North Carolina, stopped by several local post offices on its way to the Capitol Post Office. The local chapter of the Raging Grannies sang a tribute to postal workers, to the tune of "Solidarity Forever."

In Detroit, a union representative spoke on the importance of the postal service for mail-in voting in November. In Kalamazoo, people waved signs and invited passing pedestrians to write and mail postcards to Michigan's senators. Dozens did. Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti also had actions.

A caravan of 40 cars drove through the heart of downtown Des Moines, Iowa. In Portland, Oregon, demonstrators decked out in "Save Our Postal Service" face masks danced to "Please Mr. Postman." Speakers included veterans and retirees. Seattle held a caravan of cars and bicycles from a post office to the federal building. One homemade sign read: "SAVE the Only Way to Reach Everyone!"

Actions also took place in San Francisco, Sacramento and Roseville, California; Denver, Colorado; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Mankato and St. Paul, Minnesota; Merrillville, Indiana; St. Charles, Missouri; Cleveland and Toledo Ohio; Portland, Maine; Cornwall, Connecticut; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Miami, Florida.

San Francisco, California

St. Paul, Minnesota

Des Moines, Iowa
Joplin, Missouri

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

New York City, New York

Washington, DC

(Photo: American Postal Workers Union, B. Bernard, P.M. Albert)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 34 - September 12, 2020

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Postal Days of Action


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