Students fight to save USPS

By Jonathan Alingu of University of Central Florida

On September 27, 2011, the Student Labor Action Project chapter at University of Central Florida in solidarity with the American Postal Workers Union 1462, the National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Handlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Union embarked on a journey to the Orlando office of our 24th congressional district representative, Sandra Adams. It was a simple mission objective: to put pressure on Rep. Adams to support and help pass H.R. 1351. The bill would stop the United States Postal Service from defaulting on their loans, and save over 200,000 jobs across the United States. The bill would put an end the 2006 postal service reform law, which “requires the USPS to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits within just 10 years”. The 2006 law was shocking in the fact that no other agency, public or private, has been required to do this and it has cost the USPS millions of dollars per year that could be used to heal their debt. H.R. 1351 would give the Postal Service the option to use that money to keep their operations running. Failure to pass this bill and letting the postal service default on their loans would not only mean a loss of jobs, but citizens in rural communities would not be able to receive their mail, citizens across the country who cannot afford the alternative shipping methods would have no option, and even those who could afford to use other ways would be suffer from a lack of efficiency because the USPS often times helps them deliver their mail.

We were 40+ strong on Aloma Drive on Tuesday afternoon and our numbers did not stop at Sandra Adams’ office. We also stood in solidarity with the USPS at the office of John Mica of Florida’s 7th congressional district, and at the office of Daniel Webster of the 8th congressional district to show them we want to save our workers’ jobs, and that this was their chance to walk the walk. At the end of the rally in each of the offices, a group of delegates entered the offices and handed over a stack of petitions to signify the support we have in the Orlando community for the men and women of the Postal Services. SLAP at UCF was able to gather over 100 signatures from students on and off campus to support H.R. 1351 in less than a week.

The day was not favorable for an action. It was as hot as an ocean is vast. The humidity was pushing us to question our mortality, but with the wise thinking of our brothers and sisters of the Postal Service, we were properly prepared with water for the numbers we had. There were many faces there braving the elements; different races, different ethnicities, all with different stories. Rest assured they too were beading sweat, stressed from the heat, and chugging water like I. Their sacrifice however, was over a 1000 times larger than mine. The SLAP representatives, Curtis Hierro and Frank Hegedus, could return to school and continue our education, but these workers out here, urging the Orlando faithful in the hot sun to support them, have everything at stake. I put my worries in perspective and realized that if these workers were out here giving it their all, at the very least, I should match their intensity and dedication.

Showing solidarity for the Postal Workers today will help them keep their jobs and the effects of that will show exponentially in the future, for their children. A job saved for a family in 2011 will keep food on the table in 2012. It is also important to highlight the principle. We as students will eventually be in this same position if we do not gain and build power now, because if this can happen to public servants who bust their behind through, “rain or shine, snow or sleet” everyday for our benefit, it can happen to anyone of us. We should not have to get people to sign petitions to save hundreds of thousands of jobs when all we hear from politicians is their backbreaking effort to bring jobs. Now we know what the situation is. Let this be a catalyst to what we as young people need to do. We must not be taken advantage of. We must fight these battles, and hold our representatives accountable in the war to overturn the system to where we won’t have to worry about making ends meet.

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