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. Teresa Oller, from the American Postal Workers Union, said management refuses to train employees for better paying positions with benefits. Workers come to work financially insecure and unsure about their future.
“We have seen letter carriers out delivering in the dark, working 10, 12, 14 hours a day, out as late as 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m., even midnight, six and seven days a week,” said Jamie Partridge, a rally organizer with Communities and Postal Workers United. “Senior carriers are retiring early, and new recruits aren’t sticking around. It’s a vicious cycle of understaffing, overwork and delay of mail.”
Multnomah County Commissioner Shusheela Jayapal told the crowd that there are some people who want to privatize the postal service. She said, “We’re not going to let that happen. The postal service is not a business; it is an essential public service.”
The National Association of Letter Carriers is currently in contract negotiations; their agreement expires in May. Raising wages and providing full benefits will attract and retain postal workers and address the understaffing and mail delays. The U.S. Postal Service can afford to agree to a good contract.