By MALLORY GRUBEN
Almost 60 union supporters gathered outside the East Portland Post Office May 9 for a rally to preserve and protect the U.S. Postal Service. The event coincided with national protests in Washington D.C. outside of the USPS Board of Governors quarterly meeting.
Local postal workers and community members have repeatedly rallied to protest Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year “Delivering for America” plan. DeJoy is slowing mail, raising prices, cutting and closing postal facilities, and paving the way for privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, said Daniel Cortez, Oregon legislative and political director for American Postal Workers Union. Postal unions want DeJoy ousted from the USPS’s top leadership role. The May 9 rally added a new call to action: President Joe Biden must stop stalling and nominate new members of the USPS board.
The board consists of up to nine president-appointed governors who serve seven-year terms. Those governors manage USPS operations much like a corporation’s board of directors. They control the budget, set policies, and select a postmaster general, who serves at the pleasure of the governors for an indefinite term.
The current board includes governors sympathetic to DeJoy. It is not likely to remove him unless leadership changes. Biden had the chance to nominate replacements for two governors whose terms ended in December. He failed to do that, so the board’s makeup is the same, with those governors serving in a “holdover year.”
Cortez and other local union members stood with Save the Post Office, a coalition of more than 300 advocacy groups, to recommend retired Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence for one of the holdover spots. She’s a former postal worker of more than 30 years and longtime defender of the public postal system.
For about an hour, attendees at the Portland rally flanked the road, waving signs with messages like “Save our postal service,” “Good jobs, not cuts,” and “DeJoy must go.” Several drivers honked in support as they passed by and some postal customers paused outside the post office to listen to speeches before going in to pick up or drop off mail. Almost a dozen leaders of unions representing postal workers, nurses, educators, laborers, and teamsters spoke at the rally, including AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor and Northwest Oregon Labor Council Executive Secretary Treasurer Laurie Wimmer.
“Bound by solidarity, there is not a damn thing that can stop a group of pissed off workers,” Trainor told the crowd.