Letter Carriers, allies gird in solidarity for fight against privatization

DETROIT—Letter Carriers and their allies – union and non-union – are girding for a fight against GOP President Donald Trump’s scheme to privatize the U.S. Postal Service.

 

And they’ll need it, speakers at the union’s convention, in mid-July in Detroit, said. That’s because the corporate interests behind Trump’s scheme really plan to use it to take over postal business for themselves, crushing and firing workers in the bargain.

 

Trump announced his privatization plan earlier this year and included it in a budget outline sent to the Republican-run 115th Congress. Its backers include right-wingers, such as the Koch brothers – rich oilmen from Kansas City – and anti-union private package shippers.

 

The privatization scheme is one of two big fights the nation’s postal unions, including the Letter Carriers (NALC), the Postal Workers (APWU) and the Mail Handlers-Laborers (NMHU) face. In August, a Trump postal “reform” task force is expected to recommend privatization.

 

The other is to get lawmakers to rewrite the 12-year-old GOP-enacted postal “reform” bill which saddled USPS with a permanent $5 billion yearly payment to the Treasury to cover future retirees’ health care costs. The unions want lawmakers to kill that payment while enacting other revenue=-raisers for the USPS, which runs in the black without it.

 

But postal reform was put aside for the moment in the face of the privatization threat.

 

Though NALC President Fredric Rolando spent some time in his keynote address on postal reform, he devoted much of it to wider threats from the right-wing GOP regime.

 

“Elections have consequences,” he declared. “They’ve been largely negative for Letter Carriers, postal workers and other American workers. Postal reform has stalled and federal employee unions have been targeted by the new administration and its Capitol Hill allies.”

 

But the GOP also blew a $1 trillion hole in the federal deficit through its tax cut for corporations and the rich, Rolando said. Now lawmakers are trying to eliminate some of the red ink they created through cutting the pay, pensions, benefits and protections of federal works – including NALC and APWU members.

 

“Our capacity to lobby and represent Letter Carriers is crucial. But at the end of the day, lobbying only goes so far. The best way to influence legislation is to determine who serves in Washington. That requires political organizing and political action,” including for this year’s “crucial” mid-term election, he warned.

 

NALC’s anti-privatization fight picked up notable support from APWU President Mark Dimondstein, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson and from Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the public health pediatrician – and now a Writers Guild-UAW member – who blew the whistle four years ago on the lead contamination in drinking water in nearby Flint.

 

 

“Those in power mean business and want their hands on the $70 billion in revenue” USPS takes in annually, “for their private profit,” Dimondstein warned on the conclave’s second day. “For us, it must be a call to action” and to the joint alliance, of postal unions and other groups, established more than a year ago to defend the Postal Service and its workers.

 

“The attacks on federal workers, the attacks on union rights, are really about getting rid of the last roadblock to those who have the power and money to control everything,” Nelson said. Those same interests, she said, rolled roughshod over airlines and their workers in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Flight Attendant friends of hers were murdered among the 3,000 who died when hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers.

 

Repeating a theme she’s pounded before, Hanna-Attisha called the Flint fiasco “more than just a water crisis” but a crisis of inequality, injustice and erosion of democracy. Union members get it, she added.

 

“The fight against privatization of the post office – our public post office – is the same as our fight to preserve public spaces and public resources. And it’s the same as our struggle in Flint to fight for affordable and safe public water,” she declared.

Source: PAI