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Do the Postal Unions have the Balls to Win this Fight?

With the 2020 election on the line, we need Postal Unions to fight back like never before

Kris LaGrange's picture
Aug 17, 2020

Trump’s war against vote by mail and the Post Office has brought the two main postal unions, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) into the spotlight. The two unions, which represent about 500,000 current and retired postal workers, have become the proverbial canary in the coal mine in Trump’s attempt to destroy the Post Office. Yet, as UCOMM previously reported, Trumpers have infiltrated their ranks. When we need them most will our postal unions be able to stand up to Trump and save our Democracy?

Trump’s attack is different than the previous attempts to meddle with and defund the postal service. He put in a political donor who appears to be actively trying to prevent the mail from being delivered. "What we've never seen before is a President say, 'I'm going to try to actively kneecap the postal service to encourage voting and I will be explicit about the reason I'm doing it, said former President Barack Obama. "That's sort of unheard of."

Over the weekend, pictures began circulating on social media of blue USPS boxes being removed. New York, Oregon, Montana, and Indiana all reported having boxes moved. These boxes were removed just as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy informed some local branches that their hours would be reduced or that they would be closed. Union officials in West Virginia, Florida, and Missouri also said workers are being told that post offices must close an hour for lunch, but union officials say lunch is traditionally a busy time. “They’ve just kind of slowed everything down,” said John Flattery, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Central Massachusetts Area chapter Local 4553. “It’s just being purposely delayed, and it’s frustrating to watch. It’s scaring the hell out of a lot of people in the Post Office.”

In addition to reducing hours and removing blue boxes, postal unions also say that Trump and DeJoy are removing mail sorting equipment from important locations. CNN found that 671 sorters are slated to be taken offline in 2020 and the agency started removing them in June. The machines are not expected to be replaced. This will mean a big slowdown in the processing of mail around the country.

“Nearly every processing plant in the country has machinery that is idle from time to time,” said the 50,000 member National Postal Mailhandlers union. “This is attributable to the cyclical nature of mail volume, and the ebb and flow of types of mail. There is no reasonable justification to remove processing equipment a few weeks before the start of a peak volume period such as the 2020 November elections, and the NPMHU opposes such efforts. Employees of the USPS are ready, willing, and able to handle the expected surge of vote by mail materials. If permitted, we will get the mail out, like we do every single holiday season; just let us do our jobs.”

Thanks to their work in alerting the public about these changes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called Congress back into session and will be dragging DeJoy before a hearing in the coming weeks. This must continue. It is up to the postal unions to speak out whenever DeJoy and Trump make changes that will adversely affect the election. It is also up to them to make sure that the mail keeps flowing and that ballots get to voters early and back to the Board of Elections before Election Day. Of course, voters can help by applying for mail-in ballots now and mailing them back right away, but Americans need unions like APWU and NALC to be our eyes and ears at the Post Office. So the big question is this; does the average rank and file member with the top brass union leadership have what it takes to take on Trump and save our struggling and sickly democracy? It's a lot of pressure to put on the mailman.

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