Film on postal struggle of 1978: ‘Signed, Sealed and Delivered’
“Signed Sealed and Delivered: Labor Struggle in the Post Office,” is a 45-minute-long film made in 1980 by Tami Gold, Dan Gordon and Erik Lewis. The film was shown at the Interference Archive in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 20.
On July 21, 1978, thousands of postal workers walked off their jobs when their contract expired, saying “no” to mandatory overtime, forced speedup and unsafe working conditions.
As a result of the wildcat strike — the local one took place in Jersey City, N.J., at the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center — 600,000 postal workers won a better contract. However, 200 workers were arbitrarily fired by postal management for “illegally” striking.
The film showed the above events and the struggle of postal workers to win back their jobs. The film follows their fight into the streets, onto the floor of the American Postal Workers National Convention and among workers and communities nationwide.
It took the tragic death of Michael Mc Dermott, however, a 25-year-old mailhandler who worked at the N.J. Bulk Mail Center in Jersey City and was sucked into a conveyor belt and crushed to death, to bring their hazardous working conditions to national attention.
Three workers who had participated in the New Jersey wildcat strike were in attendance at the film streaming. One of the workers was unsuccessful in getting his job back. After the film showing, members of Community Labor United for Postal Jobs & Services (CLUPJS), and other workers participated in a spirited discussion.
Some points underlined in the discussion included a view on the biggest challenges facing postal workers today and on the current crisis in the U.S. Postal Service. Activists said a struggle must be waged to keep postal services public, to struggle against privatization and to get the community and labor involved to save the Postal Service.
The writer is a retired postal worker and union activist.