Photo by Steve Metsch
Ed Maurer (from left) and Bill Beaulieu hold signs protesting recent changes to the postal service.
By Steve Metsch
Charline McGrath does not want the U.S. Postal Service to stop being a reliable and dependable government entity.
“ We are highly dependent on our post office. My postal worker is great. She’s on time, all the time. If there’s a problem, she takes it back with her,” said McGrath, of Chicago’s West Beverly community.
McGrath and about 25 others — most of them postal employees — gathered last week for informational picketing outside the Moraine Valley Post Office, 7401 W. 100th Place, Bridgeview.
“ I’ve lived in rural areas in Wisconsin — and if they didn’t have mail delivery — those folks are busy on their farms and have a hard time getting into town,” McGrath noted.
Urban dwellers in the Chicago area, of course, are also very dependent on the postal service.
That’s why the informational picketing was scheduled for Aug. 27, said Charles E. Maurer Jr., of Chicago Ridge, the president of Local 6266 of the American Postal Workers Union.
Maurer, a 40-year employee of the postal service, works in maintenance at the Moraine Valley office.
Much of protest was focused on removing new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Appointed by President Donald Trump, DeJoy orchestrated removal of nearly 700 high-speed sorting machines nationwide and has been reluctant to pay overtime to busy employees, Maurer noted.
“ It’s affected every post office nationally, including ours and any of the offices we represent. We’re out here to protest those changes… to make the public more aware of what they’re doing behind the scenes,” Maurer said.
Several passing motorists sounded their horns in support.
“ We’re asking that Postmaster DeJoy be replaced. It’s just terrible,” Maurer said.
Maurer was joined by other longtime employees and by Marie Newman, the Democratic candidate in the 3rd Congressional District.
Newman said it’s imperative for Congress to approve $25 billion in emergency pandemic relief to the postal service.
“ If you’re not willing to take the help, that says you are clearly lying about the problem,” Newman said.
Trump, she said, “is unscrupulous” and more interested in “postal service competitors making lots of money.”
“ Ninety-one percent of America loves, not likes, loves the post office,” Newman added.
“ Once, hopefully, we win the Presidency, the Senate and make the House stronger with more Democrats, we can start working on this,” she said of future funding concerns.
Speaking to those gathered, Newman said, “This is not over. … You all do the hard work so we can have better lives…. Protect these workers like they’re your loved ones, because they are.”
About DeJoy she said: “I have not seen a bigger fibber in my life, oh, maybe the President.”
Newman added that, “Two of my loved ones receive medication through the mail. … A personal ‘thank you’ to all of you.”
Bill Beaulieu, 68, of Oak Lawn, who carried letters for 37 years before he retired, said “The overtime is tremendous, and absenteeism of 20 percent is not uncommon.”
That’s because of COVID-19 concerns, he said.
“ Say you have 100 routes here. If you have 800 hours of work and 20 people don’t show up, that’s going to require overtime. Somebody has to sort the mail, divide the mail and the carrier has to carry it,” Beaulieu said. “The Post Office has never had issues like this.”
DeJoy recently said no more sorting machines will be removed and no more hours will be cut, but the impact has been made and folks are still leery, Maurer said.
Some critics see that Trump’s goal is to make the office less reliable and to slow the mail-in votes for the presidential election.
“ All these delays and changes in the mail are meant to discourage people from voting (by mail),” Maurer said.
“ It’s always been the highest-rated government agency for years running. If you effect the reliability of the post office, they want to make our rating go down and tarnish our image to the public so there’s not as much reliance on vote by mail,” Maurer said.
Bruce Myles, 41, of Plano, said he has enjoyed his 22 years with the postal service. A clerk at the Fox Valley office in Aurora, he said, “The changes are bad because they’re not letting us get the mail out like we need to.”
Beaulieu added “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, this is the No 1. (postal) service in the world.”
Fliers distributed to post officer customers urged them to call Congress at 833-924-0085 to urge support of the relief plan.