Posted June 26, 2012
Black preachers back postal hunger strikers
"The actions this week in the
nation's capital seek to defend the U.S. Postal Service and hundreds
of thousands of unionized jobs. This is of critical importance not
only for labor but for every community in this country. For the
African-American community it is especially critical since the USPS
is one of the largest employers of Black workers in the country. The
unemployment rate for Black workers is officially over 16 percent.
The real number is double that or more. These are depression numbers
for Black America and the loss of more than 100,000 decent-paying
unionized postal jobs will be devastating. The courageous hunger
strikers protesting in
Washington, D.C., June 25-28 are helping shine a bright light on
what is happening in the boardrooms of Wall Street and in the back
rooms in the Capitol Building. Congressional agents of Corporate
America are consciously trying to starve the Postal Service as part
of a grand scheme to privatize this national treasure. We are
determined to stop them through the building of a powerful
"The postal service has been an
important lifeline for African-American communities. Our community
has depended on the postal service to provide reliable delivery of
mail, excellent customer services, accessible post offices, and
living-wages jobs. The proposed downgrade in services, closing of
post offices, and elimination of thousands of jobs will be
devastating to our community. We need a strong and dependable postal
service and believe that our united efforts will convince Congress
to protect and strengthen this vital national resource."
"If the United States Government
continues its course to close postal offices, the primary
communities that will be affected are those who are already
vulnerable, the Black and Brown communities across
Chicago and across this nation. The post office closures in this
desperate economic climate will cost jobs that will push even more
families into poverty and homelessness, and cause communities
already suffering from higher unemployment to be more at risk!
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has announced that he will begin closure of half the mail sorting plants in the country, cut hours from 25 to 75 percent in half the nation’s post offices, downgrade delivery standards and eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. Hunger strikers claim that a 2006 Congressional mandate, which forces the US Postal Service to prefund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, is responsible for the financial crisis facing the service. Without the mandate, postal revenues came close to matching expenses over the past six years. The USPS has also overpaid tens of billions into two pension funds.
The hunger strikers are calling on Donahoe to maintain delivery standards and suspend cuts and closures while allowing Congress to fix the finances by repealing the prefunding mandate and refunding a pension surplus.
"Not the internet, not private competition, not the recession – Congress is responsible for the postal debt," said Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier traveling from Portland, Oregon for the hunger strike. "Corporate interests, working through their friends in Congress, want to undermine the USPS, bust the unions then privatize it."
"We will not stand by as our beloved postal service is destroyed," said Tom Dodge, a hunger striker and postal worker from Baltimore. "We will shame Congress and denounce the Postmaster General. We will engage in dramatic actions on Capitol Hill and at the US PS Headquarters to turn up the heat on decision makers."
Sympathetic hunger strikes and other local protest actions are being organized by Communities and Postal Workers United, a national grassroots network.
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