A sweltering heat settled on the group gathered Monday outside a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Baltimore.
“This heat is heat that our members deal with every day, so remember that,” Jermaine Jones, president of the Metro Baltimore AFL-CIO that represents letter carriers, told congressional leaders and Maryland state lawmakers on Monday.
Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, D-Md., joined with other Democratic lawmakers and labor leaders to slam the recent cuts at the U.S. Postal Service under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Also in attendance were Rep. John Sarbanes, state Senate President Bill Ferguson and Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
Van Hollen dismissed the notion that the cuts were aimed at efficiencies. “We need to make it very clear to the American people that we are not going to allow this sabotage to stand,” he said.
The cuts to overtime and removal of some equipment had been part of DeJoy’s restructuring of the USPS,which he said were needed improvements to the “core aspects of our business.”
DeJoy’s reference to the USPS as a business drew sharp commentary from Rep. Kweisi Mfume.
“The U.S. Post Office is not a business,” Mfume said, “It is a service.”
Several speakers at the event in Baltimore made reference to the impact that the delayed mail could have on the upcoming Nov. 3 election and how it’s already being felt by constituents who depend on the mail for the delivery of their prescriptions.
Mfume said that rather than strengthening the delivery of mail, DeJoy’s efforts were resulting in delayed deliveries.
“What he’s actually doing is hurting seniors across this country and veterans who are relying on prescriptions every day,” Mfume said.
Cardin said that the mail has allowed some businesses to continue operating despite the shutdowns generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a matter of health,” Cardin said. “We’re in a pandemic — we want people to use distancing, and that’s the U.S. Postal Service!”
Courtney Jenkins, legislative director with the American Postal Workers Union Local 181, referenced the cuts to overtime and its impact when he spoke.
“We’re not fighting because we just want to get rich,” Jenkins said. “We’re fighting because those things like overtime help us get your mail to your door six times a week.”
DeJoy has agreed to appear on Capitol Hill before a House oversight committee, but Mfume delivered a message to the postmaster general.
“Even before the hearings, submit your letter of resignation,” Mfume said. “Ride off into the sunset and restore the decency and the fabric of the United States postal system!”