Cars honked and passers by cheered as about 30 people gathered, chanted and held signs in front of Baltimore’s central U.S. Postal Service facility on Tuesday in a show of support for the beleaguered agency.
The demonstration was one of many that took place across the country as part of a day of action by the American Postal Workers Union, as pressure over sweeping policy changes at the Postal Service continues.
“This has been a long term-problem, and it’s gotten to a crisis point,” said Margaret Flowers, the co-director of national advocacy organization Popular Resistance and one of the event’s organizers.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major donor to the campaign of Republican President Donald J. Trump, has been under increased scrutiny for cost-cutting measures such as removing mailboxes and sorting equipment throughout the country. Postal union officials and lawmakers say the moves are responsible for significant mail delivery delays reported in Baltimore and nationwide.
Concern previously swirled around the disappearance of a mailbox at 31st Street and Abell Avenue in the city’s Abell neighborhood during mid-August. However, officials confirmed the mailbox was taken away because of construction in the area, and it returned to the intersection as of Tuesday.
DeJoy testified in front of Congress that the new measures would not impede mail-in voting and even pledged to suspend some cost-cutting measures until after the November election. But that didn’t assuage protesters’ concerns, with the Postal Service expected to handle a record number of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Honestly, I’m really scared with all of the changes that have happened with the postal service and extremely worried about how this could affect the election,” said Carole Memegrez, one of the protestors.
Courtney Jenkins, a postal worker and legislative director of APWU local 181 in Baltimore, noted that Tuesday’s event aimed to show that “the post office belongs to the people” and advocate for stimulus funds. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a $25 billion funding bill, though it’s not likely to clear the Republican-led Senate.
“Just remember that attacking the postal service is an attack on democracy,” Jenkins said. “We reach everyone. Regardless of race, gender, religion, orientation, preference of any kind — if you have an address, we’re coming to you six days a week.”