Portland, Oregon - Dozens of Portland postal union members, union and community leaders rallied Feb. 20 in support of postal workers, demanding “good service, good jobs and a good contract.” Drivers passing by honked and showed support. “Our U.S. Postal Service is under attack,” read one of the rally leaflets. Signs and chants called for dumping Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who is trying to privatize the Postal Service. Speakers told how cuts to the Postal Service are creating mail delays and understaffing and forcing postal workers to work excessive overtime.
Massive mobilizations and strikes have been witnessed in the UK over the last couple of months against the Tory government for failing to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis. Postal workers, railway workers, public service workers, barristers, dockers, garbage collectors, Amazon workers etc. have walked out and gone on strike to demand better pay and better working conditions. TRNN delves into the postal workers’ strike and its roots in over a decade of Tory austerity measures. This strike of postal workers is one of dozens taking place across the UK, with nurses, ambulance drivers, teachers, railway workers, and more walking out this winter amid a spiraling cost of living crisis. Britain’s Royal Mail is in a royal mess. After 500 years as the postal system of the British state, it was privatized in 2014, leading to what these posties are calling an ‘Uberization’ of their work: worsening working conditions, less secure contracts, and bringing in agency staff to lower wages.
Across the country and here in Portland, Oregon, carriers are working 12-, 14-, and 16-hour days, into the dark as late as 9 p.m., 10 p.m., even midnight! At several stations we have begun to bring the mail back at 12 hours (or 10 hours) and stop work at 60 hours in a week. We are refusing orders to continue delivering. Filing form 1767 (hazardous conditions, “exhausted”) and form 1571 (undelivered mail). And we are getting away with it. We heard it through the grapevine. Several carriers in Seattle refused to carry past 12 hours and brought the mail back. Their discipline (for “insubordination”) was overturned because management had violated not only Article 8.5G (Hours of Work) but also Article 14 (Safety and Health). The leadership of Letter Carriers Branch 79 (Seattle) created a pamphlet, distributed to all carriers, titled “Stop Working More Than 12 Hours a Day!” with a section on “How to bring back the mail.”
A letter carrier who helped organize a militant campaign of refusing forced overtime has won national office in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, with the goal of taking that direct action approach nationwide. Roland Schmidt, president of the local in Edmonton, Alberta, won a national election in May to became CUPW’s third vice president in charge of internal and external organizing. Three years ago he won his local presidency on a platform of reviving shop floor militancy. Under his leadership the local has trained hundreds of members in direct action, revitalizing its workplace culture. Schmidt has been a postal worker for 18 years. He was first drawn to Canada Post for its storied union history—CUPW had won collective bargaining rights for the federal sector, and maternity leave, which eventually became mandatory for all Canadians.
With its contracts expiring in 2022, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is stepping up the fight for its own vision of the post office of the future. It’s a model for exactly the kind of Green New Deal campaign that U.S. unions should be launching now for a post-Covid economic recovery. For several years, CUPW and its allies have proposed a visionary plan called Delivering Community Power. It advances a big but simple idea: take Canada Post, an institution that’s already publicly owned and embedded in communities, and reinvent it to drive a just transition into a post-carbon economy. The post office would help to jump-start green vehicle production and infrastructure; it would provide free Internet access for all; it would create a nationwide system of public banking.
Every year, workers at the Postal Service and UPS expect to work long hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This is like our Super Bowl,” said Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers (APWU). “Employees really do rally together.” But this year has been like no other. Workers were still catching their breath from last year’s holiday peak when the pandemic struck and online ordering ratcheted up. It was like Christmas all over again—and it never stopped. Package volumes at the Postal Service are up 40 percent compared to this time last year, and understaffing is intensified by Covid—more than 50,000 of the 600,000 postal workers have had to take pandemic-related leave.
Postal workers in several depots across south west London and other parts of the capital have mounted a de facto wildcat strike/work to rule over concerns regarding coronavirus safety. They did so in the face of the refusal of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to mount any protest against Royal Mail management.
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Jonathan Smith, head of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, entered the Hunts Point Station post office in the Bronx on the afternoon of Oct. 16, accompanied by a dozen-odd retired postal workers, a 4-year-old girl carrying a “The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale” sign, and union communications director Chuck Zlatkin, who was carrying a small cardboard box of petitions with more than 5,300 signatures demanding that the U.S. Postal Service begin offering basic banking services. Their aim was to deliver the petitions to Bronx Postmaster Scott Farrar. But Farrar had declined an invitation to come, and after about 10 minutes, the staff on duty refused to accept the box. Smith and Zlatkin instead handed it over to Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), who said he’d deliver it to Postal Service officials.
Under the proposal—unveiled in June as part of a 32-point plan (pdf) to significantly reorganize the federal government—USPS would “transition to a model of private management and private or shared ownership.” The White House argued that “freeing USPS to more fully negotiate pay and benefits rather than prescribing participation in costly federal personnel benefit programs, and allowing it to follow private sector practices in compensation and labor relations, could further reduce costs.” Critics warn that such a transition would not only negatively impact service but also bring awful consequences for postal workers, who demonstrated on their day off in cities across the United States on Monday to tell the president that USPS is #NotForSale.
By Alexandra Bradbury for Labor Notes - The Staples boycott is over, and the union won. The Postal Workers (APWU) announced January 5 that the Postal Service will terminate its deal with Staples, closing down the 540 "mini-post offices" inside stores by the end of February and nixing plans to expand them to all 1,600 locations. The union fought for three years against the deal, which amounted to contracting out post office work to the low-wage, non-union office retailer. Staples opened its first postal counters in 2013. They offered a selection of the services APWU members provide at post office windows, including stamp sales, first-class domestic and international mail, and priority and express mail. Customers paid the same rates they would in a real post office -- but Staples got a discount from the Postal Service, and pocketed the difference as profit.
By Jamie Partridge for The Socialist Worker - "WE WON! The U.S. Postal Service and Staples deal is over!" proclaimed the headline on the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) website. A three-year battle against the outsourcing of living-wage, union postal jobs to the low-wage, nonunion Staples ended January 5 when USPS management informed the APWU that the "approved shipper" program in Staples Office Supply stores will be shut down by the end of February 2017. The union-initiated boycott of Staples was called off. "I never doubted that if we stayed the course, stuck together and kept the activist pressure on, we would win this fight," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein in a statement .
“Are you fired up? Are you ready to go?” That’s the question APWU Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell asked dozens of supporters who kicked off the May 14 National Day of Action in front of the post office on 14thand L Streets in Washington, DC – just one week before the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. “On this day, May 14, 2015, across the country we are sending a message to Postmaster General Megan Brennan: Not only do you have the postal workers to deal with, you’ve got the rest of the country to deal with,” Powell said. “We’re in this together, it takes all of us.”
Nader’s newest book, “Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015,” a collection of letters to Barack Obama and George W. Bush (whom Nader once called “a corporation running for the presidency masquerading as a human being”), was inspired, he said, by the letters between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and between Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Harold Laski. In Nader’s letters the path to ruin built by corporate and imperial power is laid bare and the vision of a future freed from environmental catastrophe, corporate totalitarianism and financial exploitation and collapse is spelled out with quixotic clarity. Bush and Obama may not have read these letters, but American citizens should. True to Nader’s understanding of the vital importance of public utilities and public service, he dedicates the book to “the U.S. Postal Service, the people who make it work, and those citizens who have defended its critical role in thousands of communities throughout our country’s history starting with Benjamin Franklin.”
Join an Event Near You! Below is a list of actions taking place as part of the November 14 National Day of Action to Stop Delaying America’s Mail! Contact the organizer to sign up and get involved in a local action. And check back frequently as new events are being added all the time. Action will be held in all states, fighting for the union power of the American Postal Service Union. The APWU represents more than 200,000 USPS employees and retirees, and nearly 2,000 private-sector mail workers. For more than four decades, APWU has fought for dignity and respect on the job for the workers we represent, as well as for decent pay and benefits and safe working conditions. As an AFL-CIO affiliate, the APWU supports the struggle for social and economic justice for all working families.
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.