26 August 2010

Postal Workers Protest 5-day Delivery Plans in Detroit

Detroit News

Thousands of postal workers and supporters flooded downtown Detroit on Tuesday, protesting plans to nix Saturday delivery.

Chanting "Five Days, No Way," members of the American Postal Workers Union -- in town for a national convention at Cobo Center -- marched to Campus Martius with union officials and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to demonstrate against the proposal by the U.S. Postal Service. Congress still must sign off on the change, which postal officials say would save $3 billion.

The Postal Service contends it's facing a massive deficit due to declining volumes of mail because of electronic communications. It is eying Saturday because that day has the lowest volume of mail, and more than a third of businesses are closed.

Union member Michael Arrabito is against it.

"When the U.S. Postal Service was established by Congress in 1792, it didn't say anything about making a profit," Arrabito said.

"People rely on six-day-a-week delivery for prescriptions by mail and for checks."

William Burrus, president of the union that represents mail handlers, clerks and other workers but not carriers, said Congress should instead eliminate a portion of the 2006 postal reform act that requires the Postal Service to prefund health care benefits for future retirees. That costs $5 billion.

At Campus Martius, Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney vowed, "We're going to win this fight because everyone who has a mailbox agrees with us."

Jackson, whose late father was a postal worker, urged the crowd to remember the issue when they vote in November.

"We are marching for jobs," Jackson said. "We intend to bring America back, and we want our mail delivered every day."

Detroit resident Darlene Rivers watched the marchers and signaled her support.

"I don't want them to cut back on delivery either," Rivers said. "Don't they know that not everybody has access to the Internet?"

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