Thursday, September 23, 2021, in front of Brookfield Asset Management's NYC office, 250 Vesey Street, the Rally to Save the Public Post Office: Dump DeJoy & Bounce Bloom was loud and strong. Ron A. Bloom is the Chair of the Postal Board of Governors & also the Vice Chair & Managing Partner of Brookfield where he heads up their $60 billion investment fund. Recently, the Washington Post had an expose that showed that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has purchased $305,000 in bonds from his boss Ron A. Bloom's company: Brookfield. DeJoy also helped give a $125 million contract to his former company XPO Logistics from the Postal Service. Somehow DeJoy is allowed to keep $30 million in stock that he has in XPO. Bloom's company also holds 1.2 million in stock in XPO Logistics.
The story of mail ballots in 2020 is the story of a union postal workforce willing to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that every vote got delivered. Postal workers did this despite the deliberate holdups created by new Postmaster General Louis “Delay the Mail” DeJoy, and a workforce hit hard by COVID. More than 65 million people voted by mail this fall—a record. And the Postal Service has been working at reduced numbers for months. As of August 40,000 postal employees had been forced to quarantine. Roscoe Woods, president of the 480–481 Area Local of the Postal Workers (APWU) near Detroit, said the workforce he represents is down 30 percent.
Despite a national order not to reinstall letter-sorting machines that had been dismantled over the past month, the Postal Service plants in Tacoma and Wenatchee have done just that, according to workers there. Forty percent of the letter-sorting machines in the Seattle-Tacoma area had been disconnected by Tuesday, when the Postal Service announced a halt to a nationwide machinery purge until after the November election. “I have seen a lot of machinery that has been taken out,” Postal Service truck driver Bob Bockman of Tacoma said.
Facing mounting public pressure and a crush of state lawsuits, President Donald Trump's new postmaster general announced Tuesday he is halting some operational changes to mail delivery that critics blamed for widespread delays and warned could disrupt the November election. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he would "suspend" several of his initiatives — including the removal of the distinctive blue mail boxes that prompted an outcry — until after the election "to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail." "We will deliver the nation's election mail on time," DeJoy said in a statement. The abrupt reversal from DeJoy, who is set to testify Friday before the Senate, comes as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be suing to stop the changes. Several vowed they would press on, keeping a watchful eye on the Postal Service ahead of the election.
The family that owns an Oakland screen printing business said they feel “angry, concerned and threatened” after they learned that cloth masks they made for protests around the country were temporarily seized by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which suspected they might be “non-mailable matter.” Rene Quinonez of Movement Ink in Oakland said he and his family stayed up late and worked for several days to produce 2,500 masks, which read “Stop killing Black people” or “Defund police.” The masks had been ordered by The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a Black Lives Matter-affiliated organized, to distribute to protesters in New York City, Washington D.C, St. Louis and Minneapolis.
Blame it on the unions. When corporations, governments, or public agencies are facing financial challenges, this is often the default explanation. We saw this knee jerk response at a recent Senate hearing on the U.S. Postal Service. The Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs called the March 12 hearing to discuss recommendations from a task force appointed by President Trump that include cutting or privatizing various postal services, increasing delivery prices, and — you guessed it — eliminating employees’ rights to collective bargaining.
WASHINGTON - American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan: “This administration has displayed nothing but contempt for the 2 million federal workers who serve the public each and every day. Instead of improving health care access to veterans who deserve our very best, administration officials have used the new authorities Congress provided them at the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire thousands of rank-and-file workers like nursing assistants and housekeepers. “Instead of working with employee representatives to make the workplace safer and more inclusive, this administration has violated labor contracts at the Department of Education, Social Security, HUD, and elsewhere to deny employees the representation they are entitled to under the law.
The Amazon spat is a cover for the formal unveiling of a long-wished right-wing project to destroy the post office and have private industry take over its infrastructure, which taxpayers funded long ago. All the executive order really does is create a report; it would take a willing Congress to deliver the final hammer blow. But that report, with a government imprimatur, will become part of that right-wing wish list, living on for decades in think tanks and private shipping company boardrooms as a fervent dream. Let’s look at the executive order, which is a bit deceptive in its intentions. The policy section manages to mention that the Postal Service routinely earns the highest public approval rating of any agency in the federal government. But then it layers on the bad news: the decline in first-class mail volume—$65 billion in losses since 2009, an “unsustainable fiscal path.”
The U.S. banking establishment has been at war with the post office since at least 1910, when the Postal Savings Bank Act established a public savings alternative to a private banking system that had crashed the economy in the Bank Panic of 1907. The American Bankers Association was quick to respond, forming a Special Committee on Postal Savings Legislation to block any extension of the new service. According to a September 2017 article in The Journal of Social History titled “ ‘Banks of the People’: The Life and Death of the U.S. Postal Savings System,” the banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government savings bank for the next 50 years. As far back as the late 19th century, support for postal savings had united a nationwide coalition of workers and farmers who believed that government policy should prioritize their welfare over private business interests.
In early April, the US Postal Service won. They got a Federal Judge to dismiss, without prejudice, Berkeley's lawsuit against the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office. Funny thing though, nobody in Berkeley thinks the Post Service won, and for Postal Service management it was at best a pyrrhic victory. In order for them to extract that ruling, they had to attest that the 2000 Allston Way building was no longer for sale, and aver that they had rescinded their decision to move services out of the building. In an amusing twist Judge Alsup had asked the Postal Service lawyers during oral arguments whether they would rescind their "Final Determination Regarding Relocation of Relocation Services in Berkeley."
In the face of aggressive attacks, a wide range of national organizations have come together to create A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. These organizations are united in the demand that the public good must not be sacrificed for the sake of private investment and profit. A strong public Postal Service is our democratic right. The Alliance is fighting to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now – and for many generations to come. The launch of A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service featured the debut of a 2-minute video, “Our Postal Service,” featuring actor-activist Danny Glover. For Glover, it’s personal. In the video, he recounts what the Postal Service has meant to his family and many others.
Local developer Hudson McDonald failed to reach an agreement regarding the sale of the Downtown Berkeley post office last week after months of negotiations and prolonged community protest. Despite termination of the sale and recent police intervention, some protesters remain outside the building on Milvia Street and Allston Way after more than a month of occupation. The protesters represent a coalition between Berkeley Post Office Defenders and First They Came for the Homeless and have opposed the sale and privatization of the post office for more than a year. “The postal service is selling itself out of business, one post office at a time,” said Mike Wilson, organizer for the Berkeley Post Office Defenders.
The selling off of the US Post Office continues. The dismantling of the Post Office, laying off of workers, efforts to reduce service and make deals with private corporations to fulfill some Post Office responsibilities as well as the absurd requirements for paying the health and retirement benefits of postal workers 75 years into the future, seem to be a formula for setting up the privatization of the US Postal Service. From the San Jose Mercury News: Confirming rumors buzzing around City Hall, the U.S. Postal Service told this newspaper Friday that the historic downtown Berkeley Post Office is “under contract but not yet sold.” From the Berkeley Daily Planet: The Berkeley City Council has received a letter from City Attorney Zach Cowan saying that he believes that the Berkeley Post Office might already been sold or at least the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in contract with a potential buyer. Pursuant to previous authorization from the Council, the city of Berkeley has authorized attorney Antonio Rossmann to file a lawsuit, hoping to prevent the sale.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) management just ran into a possible game-changing obstacle to its shameful pursuit of a fully privatized post office: labor solidarity. Here’s the background. For a decade the USPS has been aggressively shrinking, consolidating, and outsourcing the nation’s postal system. In July 2011 management upped the ante by announcing the rapid closure of 3600 local post offices, a step toward the eventual closing of as many as 15,000, half of all post offices in the nation. A groundswell of opposition erupted. Citizens in hundreds of towns mobilized to save a treasured institution that plays a key and sometimes defining role in their communities. In December 2011, after Congress appeared ready to impose a six-month moratorium on closures USPS management voluntarily adopted a freeze of the same length. In May 2012, the moratorium ended but management, possibly concerned about reviving a national backlash, embraced an ingenious stealth strategy. Rather than closures, management moved to slash hours at 13,000 post offices.
The deal between Staples and the U.S. Postal Service jeopardizes mail service and the viability of local post offices. In fact, post offices across the country are at risk -- along with thousands of good jobs. The Staples deal will replace full-service U.S. Post Offices with knock-off post offices in Staples stores that are not staffed with U.S. Postal Service employees. Consumers have a right to post offices staffed by workers who are accountable to clientele and topostal services provided by highly trained Postal Service employees, who are sworn to safeguard your mail. The Staples deal is bad for consumers, who will pay the same for less service. And if Staples and the USPS move forward with this deal, it could lead to the end of the Postal Service as we know it. In the meantime, the Staples deal is replacing good-paying jobs that our communities depend on with low-wage, non-union jobs that hurt our economy.