Large placards covered supporters’ cars during the Portland, Ore., caravan for essential workers held May 21. It started at the East Portland Post Office, circled two Fred Meyer grocery stores and ended at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital. The event was hosted by Communities and Postal Workers United and attended by a number of local groups and organizations.
“U.S. Mail Not for Sale” signs protested President Trump’s aggressive plan to privatize the people’s post office. Trump is blocking a $25 billion coronavirus aid package for the U.S. Postal Service, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. As a condition for receiving aid, he has demanded the USPS quadruple package rates, which would kill affordable, universal delivery to every address in the country. Trump appointed the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who has contributed $2 million to the Trump campaign and Republican causes since 2016 and has a record of killing jobs and opposing unions when he was the owner of New Breed Logistics.
The Fred Meyer grocery chain has terminated the $2-an-hour “Hero Bonus” pay for essential workers. “Essential employees are literally putting their lives on the line for their employer and communities,” said Dan Clay, president of the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555. The union has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among union members. Clay said there is a great risk in letting up on safety measures, like testing and contact tracing for all essential workers and their families. (tinyurl.com/y7xl25ja)
Nurses at Legacy Emanuel Hospital who face constant exposure to patients with COVID-19 left work to join the car caravan. They are fighting for greater safety at work, necessary personal protective equipment, social distancing and paid leave.