Members of the South Bronx Community Congress joined postal workers on the steps of the Bronx General Post Office at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse on May 23 to demand that officials of the United States Postal Service suspend plans to move Bronx mail-processing services to Manhattan.
WW photo: Dee Knight
“Once again the post office is trying to reduce services in our community,” said Maxi Rivera, a retired postal worker and an SBCC leader. “We stopped them before and we will stop them again. To permit this would result in the displacement of hundreds of workers and a reduction in vital services.”
Rivera said the U.S. Postal Service scheduled and held a community feedback hearing earlier this month without proper community notification. “It was like a secret meeting,” he said. “They were surprised when some of us showed up. We are demanding that the post office provide widespread community notification before a second hearing is held.”
Workers World spoke with several members of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, N.Y. Metro Local, who work at the Bronx General Post Office, including Luz Mendez, Mayra Colon and Josefina Rivera. “We’re fighting for our jobs,” said Rivera. She questioned the USPS argument that it would be “cost effective” to move the Bronx mail processing to Manhattan. “Our efficiency is higher,” she said, pointing to a 98 percent rate of next-day delivery, compared with about 72 percent in Manhattan.
Ramon Jimenez, another SBCC leader, said the fight for postal services and local jobs is part of the bigger battle against austerity budgets at city, state and federal levels. “The storm we predicted has arrived,” Jimenez declared. “It seems all levels of government have decided to make the poor and working class pay for the bankers’ crisis. We won’t allow it.”
Jimenez detailed plans for an Action Assembly on June 4 at Hostos College — directly across 149th Street from the post office. This will be the first borough-level Action Assembly of four planned for early June. They plan to map out a fightback plan against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-banker budget, which is under debate in the City Council and is to be voted on in late June.
“We are committed to forcing a rejection of this budget or stopping it in its tracks. We need a People’s Budget,” Jimenez said.
“A People’s Budget would put people’s needs first before the banks,” Jimenez explained. “It would save rent control and Section 8 housing subsidies to protect people’s right to a place to live. It would stop the drive to shut schools and cut 6,000 teachers’ jobs. Instead of raising City University tuition, it would eliminate tuition fees, because we have already paid for them with our taxes, which must not go first to the banks.
“A People’s Budget would also guarantee that all fire houses remain open with full service to protect against fires,” Jimenez said. “We remember too well a generation ago when half of the South Bronx was allowed to burn to the ground.”
A planning committee for the June 4 Action Assembly met at Hostos College immediately after the press conference at the GPO. In addition to South Bronx Community Congress members, it included representatives of the Freedom Party, Service Workers Local 32BJ Schools Division, AFSCME District Council 37, Bail Out the People Movement, Picture the Homeless, the Coalition for Public Education, the People’s Power Movement, Students United CUNY and the CUNY Mobilization Network.