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‘Privatization of the P.O. is the first domino’

Published Mar 15, 2012 10:02 PM

John Dennie

John Dennie retired 11 years ago from his 28-year stint with the Post Office and its management, split evenly between 14 years as letter carrier and 14 as mail handler while he helped raise two families, all on Staten Island, N.Y. He told Workers World this:

I still have many good friends in the P.O. and I strongly believe that the degradation of the P.O., leading to its eventual privatization, will not be good for our society. The privatization of the P.O. will be the first “domino”; Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will soon follow.

Certainly, the Internet has made and will continue to make inroads in mail volume. An imaginative, “outside the box” management would have foreseen this long ago.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who spends their entire career as a Letter Carrier. It is a grueling job which gets tougher as one ages. Also, the bosses are sadists. Their attitude is that we are goofing off all day and they need to “catch” us. Current carriers tell me it’s even worse now.

My happiest years in the P.O. were as mail handler. Heavy lifting, but we worked in spurts, unloading it in a flash, but the bosses left us alone until the next one came in. Earnest cutbacks had not really begun by 2001, when I retired, but I saw creeping privatization, more work done by private, low-wage, nonunion contractors.

Morale is lower than ever. What bothers me the most is the comment: “It’s a done deal. There’s nothing we can do about it.” I feel like a football coach and want to exhort them: “No, fight! Don’t give up. It’s not over until they pull the machines out of the building.” It’s not even over then as the Frederick, Md., workers are showing us.

I started four years after the 1970 strike, but to me the lesson of 1970 is the power of the rank and file. Thanks to the rank-and-file militants, I was able to raise two families and I have decent health care in my retirement. For the opportunity to honor them alone, I am extremely grateful to Johnnie Stevens for organizing the rally March 17. And that’s only the beginning of the resistance.