Letter Carriers To Postmaster General: Go

PHILADELPHIA–The Letter Carriers have a 1-word message for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe: Go.

He’s so mismanaged the Postal Service and is so focused on cutting service, including Saturday pickup and delivery, and jobs that he should leave, union convention delegates said.

Better yet, the postal service board should kick him out the door.

The “motion of no confidence” in Donahoe came from the floor on the fourth and final day of the union’s convention in Philadelphia in late July, as NALC also celebrated its 125th anniversary.  Adopted by an overwhelming voice vote, the resolution demanded the USPS governing board replace Donahoe with “someone more positive about” the Postal Service.

“It’s up to us to save the Postal Service, just as we have always done,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said in his keynote address to the 5,300 delegates three days before.

“We can-not count on USPS management or board of governors members.  We have to stay strong and mobilize enough allies to force change in Congress.  We need a new USPS governance structure and new management.

“Imagining and building a dynamic postal service for the 21st Century is the challenge for the next two years and for the next 25 years as well.  Together, brothers and sisters, nobody can defeat us.  Nobody can divide us, and nobody can get in our way.”

The demand that Donahoe depart was one of the top convention actions.  Delegates also voted to continue a massive public campaign to save the Postal Service from further management cost-cutting.  The campaign will feature local public meetings to educate people on the issue and plans for a massive rally in D.C. “to defend and expand public service.”

Letter Carrier delegates also voted to ask other public service unions to help them create a joint campaign emphasizing the value of public service over privatization.

The anti-privatization resolution, offered by Portland, Ore., Branch 82, singled out privatization of prisons and schools as well as Donahoe’s – and GOP lawmakers’ – schemes to privatize the Postal Service.

“Privatization turns public services over to the control of for-profit entities, which drain taxpayer dollars and reduce the quality of services, in the interest of private profits,” the NALC declared.  It also “reduces the transparency and accountability of the services, and reduces the degree of democratic control that citizens have over them.”  And “privatization is frequently inefficient, usually more expensive, and often conducive to corruption,” the resolution added.

In line with that stand, delegates endorsed an NALC board decision to join the Postal Workers’ boycott of Staples, and urged other unionists to do so.  That’s because Donahoe has subcontracted out mail services to Staples stores – in a no-bid deal – as a “cost-cutting” move.

Donahoe plans to replace middle-class unionized full-time USPS workers, including Letter Carriers, Postal Workers, and Mail Handlers, with part-time low-paid non-union Staples workers.  He also wants to fire 100,000 USPS workers and let another 100,000 go by attrition.

Donahoe’s cost-cutting has also resulted in short-staffing and deliveries, often in dangerous conditions, after dark.  The delegates decided to campaign against that, too.  At least one Letter Carrier, in the D.C. suburbs, has died in the last year, murdered while delivering mail after normal daylight hours.

“In most instances, routine delivery in the dark increases the risk of crime, safety issues and injury,” the delegates decided.  Service has suffered due to late deliveries and non-delivery “caused by poor management decisions, understaffing, late start times and inadequate mail processing and transportation,” their resolution added.

“The dedicated men and women who deliver our nation’s mail should not work in unsafe conditions, whether during daylight hours or after dark,” so delegates told the union’s leaders to “address all unsafe delivery issues, whether during daylight hours or after dark” and to insist on proper staffing, early start times and a better processing and transportation network.

Donahoe has also been cutting processing centers.  In a June 30 letter to Mail Handlers President John Hegerty – who also addressed the NALC – the Postal Service said it would resume closing processing centers on Jan. 15, and listed 82 to be shut down and consolidated with other centers.  That would cut costs and eliminate jobs, USPS told Hegerty.

Metro area mail sorting centers USPS plans to shut include Huntsville, Ala., Tucson, Ariz., Stamford, Conn., Gary, Ind., New Orleans, Lexington, Kent., Newburgh and Queens, N.Y., Akron, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio, Redmond, Wash., and Madison, Wis.  Other centers, located in smaller cities amid less-populated areas – such as Mankato and Duluth, Minn., and Cape Girardeau, Mo. –  would be shut and their mail merged into centers in major metro cities.

Donahoe wasn’t the delegates’ only political target.  They also aimed at congressional foes who want to cut Saturday service, trash union contracts and lower the Letter Carriers’ pay and standards of living.  Not all of those are Republicans, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. – one of many invited guest speakers – said.

“It is crucial Congress do all that is possible to ensure” USPS “fiscal solvency.  It’s the Letter Carriers who are the front lines of making  that happen,”  Fitzpatrick said.

Discussing his efforts to save 6-day delivery and to work with the union to eliminate the top cause of USPS red ink – requiring the agency to pre-fund 75 years of future retiree health benefits in 10 years, which began in 2006 – Fitzpatrick added some lawmakers “even hinted the Postal Service is not needed in the 21st  Century.  To them I say, ‘That’s dead wrong.’”

Fitzpatrick’s comments, Rolando said, are “a reminder the Postal Service is not a blue state service or a red state service.  It is an American service that deserves broad, bipartisan support.”

-PAI