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“Thanks for Delivering”
This was the message of one of the signs at last Friday’s informational pickets supporting the U.S. Postal Service. The event was sponsored by local community groups, including the Northeast Area Labor Council, Grandmothers For Peace, and Veterans for Peace.
There were two picket lines; one along Saint Marie Street near the Mount Royal Post Office, and one on West Michigan Street in front of the main Post Office. Both events were held from 3 to 4:30 pm on Friday, Aug. 21. This time was chosen so postal workers coming back from their “appointed rounds” would see the messages of appreciation. The returning route carriers smiled in appreciation of the support from residents who do not appreciate the attacks on the U.S. Postal Service by the current president.
The main theme of the pickets was to thank the postal workers for their service. During the current pandemic, postal workers are risking their health and safety to serve our communities by doing their essential jobs delivering mail and packages.
Mike Mayou, the son of a letter carrier and organizer of the pickets said, “Our independent public postal system is an essential public institution used by everyone. Mail delivery from the Postal Service is truly a universal service in the United States and is critical for businesses, individuals, and our economy.”
Photo by Cathy Wright
Another goal was to raise awareness of recent changes in the postal service management and procedures under the new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. Many people are concerned that Mr. Dejoy’s “cost-cutting” changes are creating a serious slowdown in mail delivery. This may result in many mailed absentee ballots not being delivered by the legal deadlines.
The result would be people not having their vote counted. People are concerned that this is not an “unintended” consequence. Mr. Dejoy has been on the job for only two months, is a major Trump campaign contributor, and has investments in USPS competitors.
Allen Richardson, who manned a bullhorn at the Mt. Royal gathering, wished aloud that Dejoy had a name more amenable to rhyming, such as Postmaster General #50 Hubert Work. Richardson worked hard to find postal rhymes to get the 50-some folks lining Saint Marie Street chanting things such as We don’t want a bailout. We just want to get the mail out! and U.S. mail not for sale and Whose post office? The people’s post office.
“How about, ‘No Mail Trump in Jail’?” said a guy standing near Richardson, who was ready to roll on it, but after two tries with no response, the guy said, “Nobody will touch that one.”
“Radioactive,” Richardson said.
Other consequences of the mail delivery slowdown are people not getting needed medications timely and facing late fee charges.
Pardon the bad joke, but there is no Dejoy in Mudtown for the postal workers, the public postal system, or mail service recipients.
An estimated 50-60 people came to the Mount Royal picket. Many attendees came to the event with personal stories of how the Postal Service has impacted their lives or how our local postal workers have gone above and beyond to deliver the mail. There were plenty of homemade signs expressing support for postal workers, opposed privatization of Postal Service, and calling the removal of the current Postmaster General.
Photo by Pam Nault
I attended the West Duluth picket along with 17 other people. Traffic was brisk and it appeared most people were supportive. This fits with national polls that say 91% of the public like the Postal Service. This includes younger people whom one would assume are more computer- and social media-oriented.
The diversity of positive responses was remarkable. “Thumbs ups” and supportive honks came from a wide variety of vehicles, ages, ethnic groups and gender. Drivers of 18 wheelers to subcompacts showed support. There were many sizes of trucks and many commercial vehicles responded favorably, including UPS, Fed-Ex and other delivery services.
I observed one particularly interesting interaction. A four-wheel drive, 3/4-ton pickup stopped at the light at 27th Ave W. and Michigan. In big bold letters across the top of the windshield was written, “TRUMP 2020.” I waved and the male driver waved back. As the truck pulled away the female passenger gave us a “thumbs up.” What does this mean? Not all Trump supporters are assholes? Not all Trump supporters agree with his attacks on the Post Office? The lady of the house has a different opinion? Who knows, but it was interesting!
Organizers are asking people to take action at home to support the Postal Service by contacting their legislators and the USPS Board of Directors to advocate for 1) halting Mr. DeJoy’s recent changes, 2) removing Mr. DeJoy as Postmaster General, and 3) supporting special coronavirus funding to help the service weather the current pandemic. The USPS, like many organizations, is seeing reduced revenues and increased costs because of the pandemic.
You can get more information and take online action at heroesdelivering.com, and usmailnotforsale.org. Your Congressional representatives and senators can be quickly e-mailed through their office websites.
The public can contact the Post Office Board of Directors by emailing them at the following addresses: Robert Duncan, firstname.lastname@example.org; John Barger, email@example.com; Ron Bloom, firstname.lastname@example.org; Roman Martinez, email@example.com; Donald Moak, firstname.lastname@example.org; Wiliam Zollers, email@example.com.