By Elisha Anderson of the Detroit Free Press
September 1, 2010
Thousands chant: ‘Five day, no way!’
Wearing blue shirts, thousands of American Postal Workers Union members packed Campus Martius in downtown Detroit on Tuesday to protest the U.S. Postal Service’s proposal that Congress agree to eliminate Saturday mail service next year as a cost-cutting move.
The APWU estimated more than 3,000 members from across the country walked from Cobo Center to Campus Martius, many chanting “Five day, no way!” The APWU, which represents postal clerks, maintenance workers and drivers — but not mail carriers — is holding its 20th Biennial National Convention in Detroit this week.
The Postal Service lost nearly $7 billion last year and is projecting a similar loss this year, said Ed Moore, Postal Service spokesman in Detroit.
The Postal Service delivered 177 billion pieces of mail last year, which is 25.6 billion fewer pieces than delivered in 2008. Moore blamed the decline on e-mail, text messaging, direct deposit and the use of the Internet to pay bills. As a result, officials say, there isn’t enough mail to support a six-day system.
Saturday would be the least-disruptive day of the week for people not to get mail, he said.
APWU President William Burrus said in a news release that ending Saturday service would drive away business and lead to the demise of the Postal Service. Instead, he said Congress should relieve the Postal Service of a law that requires it to pay $5 billion a year to prefund health care benefits for future retirees. Postal workers blame the law for a large portion of the operating deficit.
Even if that happens, Moore said the Postal Service would still be in the red.
The possible loss of jobs if mail service goes to five days a week was a big concern among many of the protesters.
“People have gone from being very confident and sure that this is a lifetime career to now not being so sure,” said Kim Sauceda, 34, a postal custodian from Tallevast, Fla.
Sharon Claude, 61, of Metairie, La., who has worked as a postal clerk for 27 years, said she thinks the proposed changes target poor people.
“A lot of those people don’t have cars, don’t have computers to receive correspondence,” she said.