Rallies gather in response to planned reduction of USPS services

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

This holiday season, delivering packages is not the only thing on the minds of the United States Postal Service (USPS) employees.

The National Association of Letter Carriers, American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association held a National Day of Action on Nov. 14 in opposition of the proposed cuts to begin Jan. 5.

Talk of cutbacks began in 2013.

The Postal Reform Act of 2014 was introduced in August 2013 to make changes to funding for the USPS operations, revenue, governance, retirement and health care systems.

The presidents from the USPS unions said this act will eliminate overnight mail and cause mail processing and distribution centers to close down in accordance with the closing or consolidation of postal facilities.

Title II of the act requires the USPS to maintain first-class mail services and prohibits the closing of postal facilities for the first two years after the act is implemented.

Changes in the mail system are already underway.

The USPS reported that as part of the second phase of their Network Rationalization program to consolidate up to 82 mail processing facilities in order to save $3.5 billion over the next five years, 15,000 employees will be affected.

The USPS is attempting to reassign all employees impacted by the change.

Sally Davidow, APWU Communications Director, said postal workers protested at 150 locations as part of the National Day of Action.

“Only time will tell the effectiveness of the 150 or so rallies held across the country that day,” said David Yao, APWU vice president of the Seattle area. “Already we have seen an increase in the number of U.S. representatives who have signed onto a letter calling for a one-year moratorium on the plant closings and changes in service standards, from 160 to 178.”

In Washington, rallies were held in Tacoma, Seattle and Wenatchee.

“There were about 65 people at the rally [in Seattle], and it seemed to go well,” said Yao. “One positive was the support from the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, and community allies who support a high level of service from their post office.”

The USPS reported on a daily average it processes and delivers 523 million pieces of mail, 217.3 million of that is first-class mail.

Kathy Cummings, the communications director of the State Labor Council, said the changes the USPS are making will eliminate 18 jobs in Wenatchee and end overnight first-class mail services for places within the same zip code.

Yao said 100 career employees in Redmond, Washington, and 200 in Tacoma, Washington, would be replaced.

“As long as the Postal Service tries to reduce service to the American public, there will be future protests,” said Yao.