Approximately 250 postal workers and supporters protested loudly in the lobby of Postal Service headquarters after they were denied entry to a “public” meeting of the Board of Governors’ on Nov. 14.
But they cheered wildly when APWU President Mark Dimondstein read aloud a text message he had received from one of the few union members who managed to gain entry to the meeting: Postmaster General Donahoe had announced he was stepping down, effective Feb. 1. Delegates to the APWU’s National Convention voted unanimously in July to call for his resignation. (Click here to read Dimondstein’s statement on the announcement.)
The event was organized by the four postal unions, which had vowed to send a message to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the Board to Stop Delaying America’s Mail! The Washington, DC, protest was one of 150 organized as part of a National Day of Action to protest management’s plans to reduce service standards and close 82 mail processing plants.
Postal workers began lining up to pass through the Postal Service’s notoriously slow security station an hour before the meeting was scheduled to begin, but after approximately 50 people entered, Postal Inspectors announced that the room was filled to capacity and refused to allow admittance to the others who had assembled.
An APWU staffer who arrived early said he observed chairs being removed from the meeting room. Others reported most of the room was filled with headquarters’ personnel.
Undaunted, postal workers and supporters from AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees) CWA (Communications Workers of America), ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) and CLUW (the Coaltion of Labor Union Women) who were denied entry remained in the lobby and chanted ”Let us in,” and “Shame on you.”
Postal officials said that they would make special accommodation to allow the presidents of the postal unions to enter the meeting, but Dimondstein refused, saying that he would stand with the people.
At approximately 9:25am union members from both the meeting and the crowded lobby gathered just outside USPS headquarters for a rally, where they were addressed by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Both members of Congress gave stirring speeches in support of a public Postal Service. National Postal Mail Handlers Union President John Hegarty, National Rural Letter Carriers Association President Jeanette Dwyer, National Association of Letter Carriers Director of City Delivery Brian Renfroe, and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborer’s International Union of North America, also spoke.
The program was closed by Dimondstein, who called for a referendum among the assembled protesters for maintaining current mail service standards, keeping all 82 mail processing plants open, re-opening the processing plants that have already been closed, retaining six day delivery, maintaining door-to-door delivery, and serving the people with prompt, reliable and efficient servies. The crowd responded with enthusiastic shouts of “Aye.”