From the National Association of Letter Carriers to the City Letter Carriers to the American Postal Workers Union, your neighborhood postman has never been hard pressed to find a union to join, and recently, never had an easier time finding a local protest to voice his cause and fight against layoffs.
This week in Washington, a group of members from various unions are meeting to up the ante: They will not eat for four days. From sunup Monday to sundown Thursday, 10 current and former postal workers from Baltimore to Anaheim, Calif., are consuming only fruit juice and V-8 while traveling around the city, stopping at the Capitol, the Treasury and Postal Service Headquarters to protest the agency's plan to start closing or consolidating 48 plans next week.
They're also fighting a congressionally imposed requirement that the Postal Service pay future employee's health benefits, a $5.5 billion annual cost. They're knocking on doors of Congress members, including Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is holding a bill that would apply pensions of postal workers toward paying for the requirement. The group met with Issa's staff Monday but they say the congressman declined their request to meet in person.
The hunger strikers blame the funding requirement for layoffs and the poor customer service that followed, though the Postal Service cited the recession and declining mail volume as other reasons for it's $5.1 billion loss last year.
One of the organizers, 58-year-old mail truck driver Tom Dodge of Baltimore said hunger brings national attention to the issue. And he's getting it. Dodge was interviewed on CNN and contacted by FOX Business News after his group protested in front of the Treasury Tuesday morning.
Though hunger strikes are uncommon among blue-collar workers, retired mail carrier and fellow organizer Jamie Partridge of Portland, Ore., hopes the strike will catch on in other industries.
"I'm here to inspire blue collar workers to stand up and fight back," Partridge said.
Partridge was recently arrested while occupying a post office set to close in Portland. The postmaster general who made the final decision to shut it down, and Partridge's former boss, sent him a text message Tuesday.
"Take care of yourself. Eat something," she sent Partridge in a text.
Photo: Tom Dodge, 58, a mail truck driver from Baltimore who helped organize the event.
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