Sunday, October 2, 2011

Protests Against Postal Service Cuts

Recent years have been hard on the workers at the U.S. Postal Service.  With the Post Office loosing billions of dollars, thousands of positions have been eliminated through attrition, forcing the remaining workers to do more and more work.  And if President Obama and Congress gets their way things could get much, much worse - with 120,000 more postal workers loosing their jobs, the shuttering of more than 3,700 post offices, and the ending of mail delivery on Saturdays.
The Post Office's financial woes have a number of oft cited causes: increased use of the internet, financial restrictions placed on it by Congress, competition from private delivery companies, and of course, the Recession.  But like many government services being threatened with cuts and privatization, the primary problem is political.  It should come as no surprise that after year after year of the Democrats and Republicans cutting taxes on the rich, spending hundreds of billions on imperialist wars, and the Wall Street bailouts government agencies have budget problems.  And keeping in the spirit of how things are done in Washington, the powers that be are seizing this created crisis to demand even more cuts that will negatively affect working people, while enriching the millionaires and billionaires who own the Congress and the White House. 

In reaction to both the president's plan to cut Saturday mail service and shut down hundreds of mail facilities, and the even more draconian proposals coming from some in Congress to scrap postal worker union contracts, postal workers took to the streets on September 27.  In response to a call by the four main postal worker unions (the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association), workers and their allies turned out for protests in 492 cities and towns across the country.

Here in Duluth, about 75 union members, retirees and supporters gathered at the steps of the Federal Building to opposed cuts in the Postal Service.  Several speakers outlined the issue, and a petition was delivered to Congressman Cravaack's office, inside the building.

It was an outpouring of solidarity that was a powerful demonstration on the support that postal workers have, and the value people place in having a public postal service. 

The postal workers' unions are opposed to any cuts in service.  Rather than closing rural and other post offices, and discontinuing mail delivery on Saturdays, the unions are calling for Congress to change some of the financial restrictions that have been placed on the Postal Service.  Specifically, they are demanding that the Postal Service be allowed to cover its current financial shortcomings by using already existing financial reserves that they already have, but are unable to use.  They point out that the Post Office has actually earned $611 million net profit over the past four years, but because of a 2006 Congressional mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, they've been operating in the red.  Here we see Washington's refusal to implement meaningful health care reform yet again rebounding to the detriment of working people and the few remaining public services available to them.

We live in the richest nation in the world.  There is absolutely no need to be cutting government services, like the mail.  In fact what we need is a dramatic EXPANSION of government services, to held those in need, provide much needed jobs, and begin to undue the relentless attacks on the working class and our standard of living that we have been enduring for decades.  We need to reject the Democratic and Republican lies about budget shortfalls, and instead demand that the rich finally be made to pay their fair share!

The September 27 protests were a good first step in building a broad, independent working class fight back against cuts in government services.  Here is to many more, and bigger, days of action to come!

> The article above was written by Adam Ritscher.  To keep tabs on this important struggle, be sure to regularly check the Save America's Postal Service website.

No comments: