(This article was first reported on Jul 26, 2017, 5:14pm EDT on the Charlotte Business Journal website)
More than a dozen postal service workers and union supporters rallied Wednesday against job cuts and service reductions outside Charlotte’s government building.
Jamie Horwitz, a spokesperson for the American Postal Workers Union, told CBJ that Charlotte faces a cutback of 36 positions in its postal service workforce. Horwitz said that number does not include window clerks. There are roughly around 1,600 postal service employees in Charlotte. There is speculation that U.S. Postal Service will cut about 12,000 positions across the country, Horwitz said.
“What’s been going on in the Charlotte area is that they did get some notifications that they were going to be reverting jobs,” Debby Szeredy, executive vice president of the American Postal Workers Union, told CBJ at the rally.
According to the rally pamphlet, recent USPS cuts have caused fewer window personnel, decreased post office hours and delays in first-class mail deliveries. Revenue from first-class stamps is the postal service’s major profit generator, Szeredy said.
Horwitz said first-class mail is down because of e-commerce conglomerates but added that companies like Amazon still get the majority of their packaging from USPS. Szeredy said digitalization is only a small part of the decline and that there is still a lot of mail processing.
Sylvin Stevens, president of the local branch for National Association of Letter Carriers, said postal service cutbacks adversely affect the community and small businesses. “The business community relies on timely deliver of mail. When it gets there on time, they get to make deposits and stuff like that so that they can keep up with their finances. It trickles down from there,” Stevens said.
Anthony Wilson, president of the APWU N.C. Council, said more than 140 postal service plants have closed around the country since 2012. Szeredy said postal workers are working overtime more than ever before because the turnover rate for new staff has been high.
“We are so short staffed all over the country,” said Szeredy .“That’s why there’s so many long lines. We now have a service standard that was changed and now the mail has been delayed. There’s also been some consolidation of plants and with everything together, we’re putting up a battle to try to save the post office for the community. Not just for us but for the community.”
Participants in the rally held signs and shouted “Cut back! Fight back!” and “Gear it up! Fight back!” in chant. MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of North Carolina AFL-CIO, spoke alongside Szeredy, Stevens and Wilson during the rally.
No business leaders or council members were present to comment. APWU is also holding postal service rallies in Seattle and Portland against potential cutbacks.
Philip Bogenberger, N.C. spokesperson for the USPS, said the organization is adjusting employee staffing and scheduling because of the overall decline in mail volume.
“The U.S. Postal Service is a responsible employer that prudently matches our workforce to an evolving workload and adjusts staffing continuously,” Bogenberger told CBJ. “This year to date, despite growth in the package segment of our business, overall volume has declined by more than 2.5 billion pieces, and we are therefore adjusting employee staffing and scheduling. As the market changes, we will continue to manage our operations while providing first-rate service to the American public.”