Five protesters arrested at private airport mail facility in Portland OR

From Communities and Postal Workers United

pdxFive protestors, calling themselves “postal protectors”, were arrested today in an occupation of a private air cargo facility slated to handle and process US mail.

“Postal mail handlers and mail processing clerks are losing their jobs to profiteering, private corporations,” declared Jamie Partridge, a retired letter carrier who joined the civil disobedience action at the Matheson Flight Extenders facility, just next door to the US Postal Service’s Portland Air Cargo Center. “We protest the privatization of the public postal service. We oppose the destruction of family wage, union jobs and the delay of the people’s mail. We intend to disrupt this attack on our communities.”

Protest organizers, Portland Communities and Postal Workers United, are demanding that Matheson management pull out of negotiations for the subcontracting of postal jobs. PCPWU is also targeting postal operations manager, Lisa Shear ( 503-294-2206), demanding that she put a halt to the privatization.

PCPWU has been fighting cuts and closures to the postal service for the past year. In May of 2012, ten activists were arrested occupying Portland’s University Station post office, which has since been closed. In April of this year, five protesters went to jail for a civil disobedience action at the Salem mail plant, which is now being dismantled with mail processing machines moving to Portland. In June, the Portland-area USPS District had the slowest mail delivery in the nation — 83% overnight first class compared to the 98% goal.

Postal mail handlers and processing clerks are losing their jobs in Salem as the work is being subcontracted to the low-wage, non-postal, non-union Matheson corporation in Portland.

At the same time, Portland postal truckers are being put on standby while the low-wage, non-postal, non-union Dill Star/ LAPO trucking company takes their work.

“This privatization and union-busting is being carried out in the name of a phony financial emergency,” said Rev. John Schwiebert, one of the protesters occupying Matheson’s facility. “The security, safety, and timely delivery of the mail are all at risk. Rural communities, seniors and the disabled, small businesses and low-income communities are hit the hardest. Postal management needs to stop and reverse these closures, cuts, and subcontracts which are sending our beloved postal service into a death spiral.”

Mail sorting machines being moved from Salem cannot fit into the Portland Air Cargo Center, so space is being leased next door in the Matheson (Asiana Cargo) facility. But when the SWYB machine is moved into the Matheson space, it will be worked by twelve non-postal mail handlers and six non-postal processing clerks, hired by Matheson. USPS management says the sub-contracting is necessary to save labor costs in this “financial emergency”.

The “financial emergency” is phony. Since 2006 the USPS has been forced to spend nearly 10% of its budget pre-funding retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. No other U.S. agency or private business faces such a crushing financial burden. Not only would the postal service have been profitable without the mandate, the USPS has also over-paid tens of billions into two pension funds.

In the past year, the Postmaster General has closed 30% of mail processing plants, reduced hours by 25% – 75% in half of post offices, put 10% of post offices up for sale, subcontracted trucking and mail handling, eliminated tens of thousands of family wage, postal jobs and delayed mail delivery.

The USPS own studies (revealed at the March 22, 2012 meeting of the Postal Regulatory Commission), showed that big mailers leave the system as a result of such delays, costing more in lost revenue than is saved by lowering labor costs, not to mention the dramatic increase in trucking costs as mail is transported hundreds of extra miles to be sorted in the closest still open facilities.

Postal workers have seen their wages cut by 25% for new hires. Bottom-tier Postal Support Employees (truckers and clerks) and Mail Handler Assistants now make less in wages and benefits than the non-postal, non-union sub-contract workers.

The postal service is not broke. Subcontracting work is unnecessary and costly. However, the agenda of corporate America, their friends in Congress and in postal management, according to the CPWU, is to cripple the USPS, to soften it up for union busting and privatization. The USPS is a $65 billion annual business with over $100 billion surplus in its pension and retiree health benefit funds, over 30,000 post offices and 200,000 vehicles. Postal activists claim that America is being confronted with a huge transfer of public wealth to for-profit, private corporations.

  • Retired Manager

    What is the name of any Postal Employee that lost their job? They might have lost their assignment and been offered another, but still are employed by the USPS. Why did the USPS get Billions in a bailout this year from the Feds? If the Unions would NOT have fought so hard to get rid of Saturday delivery and given the politicians millions, in my opinion, none of this would have happened. The Unions are unwilling to adapt to the current economy. They insist on annual raises, work rules that don’t make sense, increased benefits for all, and waste millions of postal dollars on grievances. The union leadership has a responsibility to protect the current members so that they will reach retirement age and retire, but insist on protecting the jobs of people that are going to be hired 20+ years from now. The USPS is broke and the figures in this article about Billions in retirement and retiree HBP are needed. I do not agree that the USPS must fund the retiree HBP that no other federal agency has to do and the Postmaster General did stop paying those premiums. Why didn’t the article say that the USPS is bleeding more than $500 million each month with no light at the end of the tunnel. Even if PM Donahoe doesn’t pay the retiree HBP the USPS will still bleed every month. Save the USPS by getting rid of Saturday delivery. The only people that want this is the union heads. The current carriers want Saturday delivery gone now. Listen to the membership, take a survey, and do what the vast majority wants or you will not exist and everyone will lose.

    • Magoo

      Retired Manager, What world do you live in? Not a word of what you posted even closely resembles the truth. You’ve evidently spent your entire career with your head in the sand or up your superior’s behind. Your comments seriously suggest a strong doubt that you are or ever were a postal employee – especially not a ‘manager’

      “waste millions of postal dollars on grievances.”, That is MANAGEMENT wasting money. When management voluntarily decides not to follow ITS OWN RULES, and then gets penalized for doing so, How is this a unions fault? Maybe if the USPS required even GED’s for all members of management this situation wouldn’t exist.

      The unions have never – EVER – took the position that five day delivery was an answer to the ‘fiscal crisis’. The unions have however, shown time and time again, that this purported ‘fiscal crisis’ – DOESNT EXIST.

      The unions do not ‘insist on annual raises’, If you ever did work for the USPS you would know how ludicrous this sounds. The only raises craft employees receive are those negotiated WITH the unions, typically 3 raises over a six year period and ‘cost of living allowances’ based on the Consumer Price Index. Of the last SEVEN scheduled COLA increases, spanning the last 8 years – only three were actually awarded to employees, and COMBINED those COLA’s total less than $1000 per year.

      The unions have NEVER asked for increased benefits. Benefits have been reduced as employees percentage costs have increased every single year – for the last two DECADES. If anything, the unions have only tried to ‘hold the line’ on that decline.

      ” The current carriers want Saturday delivery gone now” – Are you serious? Who are you trying to kid with a statement like this? All of the postal unions – with the exception of the supervisors unions, have held demonstrations nationwide with tens of thousands of members from all crafts and supporters from other business present with the intention of eliminating five day delivery. How many have thrown there support behind this ill conceived notion? ZERO.

      Over the years, All of the craft unions have made SEVERE concessions, and have jeopardized their own stability in the process. Career positions have been lost to contracting, newly hired employees are no longer offered living wages, and are hired in as temporary employees called PSE’s and CCA’s. The only union that has made absolutely no concessions in over twenty years is – yep, you guessed it, NAPS – “The National Association of Postal Supervisors”

  • the mailhandler

    what about the wasteful 7 million dollars spent on a useless customer call center my processing plant in edison n.j. was just closed and all clerks ,maintenance and et’s were forced to become telephone operators and almost all the mailhandlers excessed to other plants!

  • DanaSalo

    Retired Manager said, “The current carriers want Saturday delivery gone now.” This is not true. I am a current carrier and I want to preserve Saturday delivery. This retired manager also pretends to speak for all carriers. I’d comment more, but tomorrow is Saturday and I need to rest up for work.