Postal workers protest consolidation, staff cuts

The Baltimore Sun

As part of a nationwide movement, postal workers picketed in front of the main branch of the Baltimore post office on Fayette Street yesterday, protesting anticipated consolidation and ongoing cuts in staff they blame for worsening customer service.

About 40 American Postal Workers Union members, joined by Service Employees International Union workers, chanted to the toots of whizzing cars.

"Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Postal cuts have got to go," they chanted.

But thus far, Baltimore and most of Maryland remain unaffected by the U.S. Postal Service's consolidation plans.

In Maryland, only the Cumberland office is under review for a potential consolidation, said Freda Sauter, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service who observed yesterday's demonstration.

Sauter said the Postal Service is reviewing moving some of its Cumberland operation to Frederick.

Nevertheless, union officials yesterday said the impact of switching more than 100 clerks to mail handlers, as well as cuts in the number of mailboxes, has affected service.

"The United States Postal Service has been hijacked by commercial mailers," said William Burris, international president of the D.C.-based APWU.

Burris accused the Postal Service of catering to its business customers, at the expense of individuals.

He and others pointed to longer lines at post offices, fewer mailboxes, mail delivered after dark and the rising price of stamps as examples.

"This is not about jobs, this is about service to the public," Burris said.

Gloria Drake, a clerk craft director in Baltimore, said she sees the effects every day at the Fayette Street branch, where she works.

"There are long lines, and customers constantly complaining about service," she said.

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