Retired Portland letter carrier and union activist Jamie Partridge is heading to Washington, DC, for a four-day hunger strike. The action begins June 25, in protest of massive cuts to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Partridge — a long-time member of Portland-based National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82 — will be joined by seven other activists from around the country for the fast, which will coincide with rallies outside the U.S. Capitol, at USPS headquarters, and at the Washington Post. Caravans are planned from Baltimore and New York City for the final day of the protest, as well as solidarity demonstrations in half a dozen cities.
The postmaster general has announced that half of all mail processing facilities will close over the next two years, with closures starting July 1. As a result, tens of thousands of USPS workers will lose their jobs, and the USPS won’t be able to guarantee next-day delivery for regular first class mail that stays in the local area. And in nearly half the post offices in America, hours of operation will be cut from 25 percent to 75 percent.
The growth of online bill payment has sapped USPS revenues, but the activists say Congress is to blame for the USPS cuts. They argue that Congress could “stop starving the Postal Service” — by eliminating an unusual requirement that USPS “pre-fund” health benefits for future retirees, and by refunding money they say USPS overpaid into the federal workers pension system.
The hunger strike and protests are being organized by Communities and Postal Workers United, a newly-formed national grassroots network of union and community activists.