Federal charges against three “postal protectors” were dropped Aug.1.
Rev. Schwiebert, Jamie Partridge and Jack Herbert were arrested during a demonstration on a postal loading dock last December, protesting the scheduled closure of the Springfield, Oregon mail processing plant. Prior to that, they were arrested in Portland in July for blocking a private truck contracted to transport the U.S. mail.
The three activists said they were singled out by postal authorities, pointing to a United States Postal Inspection Service report that said “these individuals have been involved in repeated protests, demonstrations and trespassing incidents.”
The three protesters accused postal officials of attempting to suppress their right to free speech and assembly.
“I suspect the authorities dropped the charges because their persecution just emboldened us to further spotlight waste, fraud, and abuse at the people’s postal service,” Schwiebert said.
In 2013, USPS shuttered 141 plants — half the mail processing facilities in the nation, including the Salem plant in June. The postmaster general announced that he will continue “consolidations,” with the closure of 82 more plants beginning in January 2015. Among the closures are facilities in Springfield, Bend and Pendleton. Once completed, 300 union-wage jobs will be lost in Oregon.
The new network will see all mail from the Willamette Valley — from the Snake River to the Pacific — processed in Portland. Mail delivery standards are being degraded to allow two- and three- day delays. This delay could compromise Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, union officials said.
“Postal management is tearing apart the infrastructure of the public postal service,” said Partridge, a retired letter carrier. Vowing further direct actions, Partridge declared that “we plan to escalate this fight to save our national treasure.”