Thousands protest Trump and DeJoy’s post office destruction
Members of the Tarrant County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, stand up for postal workers in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 17. | TCCLC via Twitter

WASHINGTON—Augmented by progressives, notably from the group Our Revolution, thousands of Postal Workers, other unionists, and their supporters turned out from coast to coast on Nov. 17 to campaign against Trump Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s resumed destruction of the U.S. Postal Service.

And, speakers added, to lobby lawmakers, particularly GOP senators, to pass the Heroes Act. It includes $25 billion to keep the USPS going and offset the huge crash in profitable first-class mail caused by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic depression.

Enacting that money will ensure “the one stable thing” in a pandemic and a depression “is that the mailman is there,” Metro D.C. Central Labor Council President Dyana Forester told the crowd gathered outside the city’s main Post Office.

The rallies, called by APWU and joined by members of UFCW, the News Guild, the Auto Workers, and other unions, come as Congress again wrestles with renewing aid to the 21-million-plus workers in all occupations who lost their jobs since the pandemic hit.

That’s in addition to those who have tested positive for the virus—11.4 million and counting, including 50,000 USPS workers—and the 249,733 who have died, including 90 who toiled in the nation’s post offices, from the time the pandemic became official on March 13.

Rallies occurred in more than 40 cities. West Coast locations ran from Longview, Wash., to Burbank, Calif. The Chicago rally was at the Uptown Post Office on North Broadway. On the East Coast, they ranged from New York and Boston through Atlanta and five locations in Florida. One was at the Mar-A-Lago front door of DeJoy’s sponsor, GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump.

Trump, too, wants to dismantle and privatize the Postal Service, APWU President Mark Dimondstein told Our Revolution on a Zoom conference call the night before.

Speakers also used the USPS performance through the November election as an argument for the funding. Despite DeJoy’s destruction and Donald Trump’s lies about voting by mail, Letter Carriers and Postal Workers successfully delivered 65 million mailed-in ballots, Dimondstein said.

Money to help the jobless, in $600 federal supplementary jobless benefits—on top of, or in millions of cases, in place of, state aid—is also in the Heroes Act, along with the postal cash, aid to state and local governments and schools, money for airlines only if they retain their workers, and other special pro-worker provisions.

The Heroes Act, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, D-Ky., has deep-sixed, also would order DeJoy to roll back his postal cuts, and permanently ban them. That demand brought the APWU members and their allies into the streets on their National Day of Action to save the Postal Service, and improve it, too.

“We have got to be able, in the Senate, to get these bills passed” with the USPS money in them, APWU Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy told the crowd in front of the D.C. area’s main post office/ processing center in the city’s industrial Northeast area.

“People are suffering and dying, yet that bill,” the House-passed $3 trillion Heroes Act, “is just sitting there” on McConnell’s desk, she said. He won’t allow debate or votes.

The Heroes Act also permanently rolls back DeJoy’s bans on overtime, his orders to have postal trucks leave depots only in normal working hours even if they must leave mail piled on garage floors, his dismantling of postal sorting machines, and his mass removal of the USPS’s blue mailboxes, especially from Democratic-voting central cities.

All that was in line with Trump’s scheme to steal the election by, among other tactics, halting voting by mail. It didn’t work. APWU and Letter Carrier members successfully delivered a record 65 million mailed-in ballots, Szeredy and Dimondstein say.

“Not only do postal workers” from APWU, the Letter Carriers, and other unions “deliver the mail through rain, snow, sleet, and hail, but through COVID (the coronavirus) and anthrax,” added APWU Local 140 President Dena Briscoe.  Just after the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago, an anthrax attack through the mail killed two Local 140 Postal Workers. A memorial to them stands at the main post office.

Under public pressure, DeJoy temporarily stopped his destruction before the election but vowed to resume it afterwards. That’s what APWU and its allies want to stop.

“#1, make sure you call your senators” at 833-924-0085, she said. The call is toll-free. Speakers particularly emphasized lobbying Senate Republicans to buck McConnell and halt DeJoy, a GOP big giver whom the Trump-named postal board put into the USPS’s top job.

“#2, stop and reverse the mail slowdown and policies DeJoy has put through. He says he’s going to put them back after the election.”

“#3, expand the role of the Postal Service” to help it make more money by offering postal banking and increased shipping of medicines, vaccines, and other purchases.

And, she added, repeal the $5 billion yearly pre-payment of future retirees’ health care costs, a GOP-enacted sum that has thrown the USPS into the red for more than a decade. But DeJoy’s delays, plus the $25 billion, were the rallies’ main targets.

“Congress gave private industry $500 billion” in its first coronavirus relief act, Dimondstein told Our Revolution, established by Bernie Sanders supporters, in their Zoom call. “The Post Office got nothing.” Without the new cash, “it would be out of money next year.”

Meanwhile, DeJoy “has started delaying the mail again, so everyone needs to call their senators again” to stop him, Local 140 Vice President Ray Robinson told the D.C. crowd.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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