Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why we need to support USPS workers

Today marks the day of national action to save the United States Postal Service (USPS). Congress, along with the support of the Postmaster General, are threatening to lay off up to 120,000 workers and close 3,700 post offices around the country.

USPS is a universal service that represents something more than just mail. It's a service to which everyone is entitled, no matter race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. As I have been biking across this country, there may not be much of anything in a town but there is always a post office. No matter the size, as long as you have a zip code, there is a post office where you can get mail and send mail at an affordable price.

So, is this a real crisis or is it a manufactured crisis (like the great economic recession)? It's definitely a manufactured crisis. The threat of default by the post office is a result of a law that made the USPS overpay into the treasury to fund retirement benefits for workers for the next 75 years. Basically, this means that they are putting money into the treasury account for post office workers retirement who aren't even born yet. By law they have had to put $5.5 billions into this account every year. No other government agency has to do anything like this. Congress could easily allow USPS access to their own money to prevent default and continue to operate without laying people off using a lot of that money to modernize USPS. Obviously, this solution isn't discussed nearly as much as it should be in the overall conversation about how to solve the crisis.

USPS has a work force that is 39 percent minority with 21 percent being African-American. Historically, USPS has been a place where African-Americans could have a secure job. With the unemployment rate already 17 percent for African-Americans (the overall population is at a little over 9 percent), this type of attack would only inflat that number.

The powers that be aren't interested in saving jobs and moving forward in a sensible way. They're interested in busting the union of the post office, privatizing and denying access to the most vulerable people in this country. This fight has everything to do with the government and corporate leaders agenda to attack the working class in the name of the economic crisis. We saw this in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Verizon, the Tacoma Public Schools. This is about a set of priorities, where we won't tax the rich in the name of the crisis or end the wars, rather we will attack the most vulnerable people in our society while Wall Street benefits from million dollar bonuses. If we don't fight back, the attacks will only continue and expand

The only way that we can fight this is through struggle. The government and corporate leaders may have money but we the people have the numbers. As we continue to see struggle happening throughout the U.S. and the world we have to fight the attacks through protesting, taking workplace action and fighting the attacks from the bosses and the government.

Today this struggle is just getting started with a protest happening in every single congressional district in the country from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. This is only the beginning and the Tacoma, WA Teacher's Educational Association showed us that strikes can win and as this fights moves forward we need to connect these struggles and learn what works and how we can win.

Here is some more information about where to protest and the issues:

Uniting to defend postal jobs

Save America's Postal Service

Shock Doctrine at U.S. Postal Service

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