Standing in Solidarity with WNC Postal Workers
Monday February 20th, Occupy Asheville, Occupy Hendersonville, and the American Postal Workers Union held a joint rally at Pack Park’s McGuire Green. At the rally participants called for an end to attacks on postal worker jobs and attempts to privatize public services and resources.
This will not be the first time USPS workers, participants in the Occupy movement, and other members of the public have come together to stand against attacks on postal worker jobs. On the evening of November 21st, about 250 union and community members attended a hearing at AB Tech on Postal Service management’s plans to close the Asheville Processing Facility. Among those hundreds of people standing up for union jobs in western NC, were about thirty participants in the Occupy Asheville movement. They wore signs that read: “Occupy Asheville stands in Solidarity with APWU. We are the 99%.”
After about an hour of public comments, postal service management said that the building would be closing soon and called the hearing to an end. But as Angela Curtis, Mid Carolina’s district manager quickly exited the building, she had to pass by a circle of Asheville community members who were continuing the hearing.
Curtis must have heard Martin Ramsey of Occupy Asheville shout “mic check” and those in the circle reply in kind “mic check!” Ramsey then explained that he had spoken with AB Tech security, and they would not be by to close the building for another 45 minutes. “The people’s mic is open.” announced Ramsey. “The people’s mic is open!” the crowd responded.
For about twenty minutes community members and union members continued with a public hearing of another sort. Members of Occupy Asheville thanked the postal worker unions for standing up for good public sector jobs and decried the movement to privatize public services. They remembered together that the tactic of “occupying” as a means of direct action is a tactic borrowed from the sit down strikes in the labor movement.
At the public hearing on November 21st members of the public were informed that they would have until December 6th to submit written comments on the proposal to close the Asheville Processing facility. Since these comments had to be post marked by December 6th, participants in Occupy Asheville worked with APWU local 277 to organize an action in front of the downtown post office on December 5th. They printed up post cards which read: “For jobs, for quality service, for our community, keep the Asheville Processing Facility Open.”
Then they distributed the post cards (with stamps) to postal service customers at the downtown post office from 11am to 1pm. Not only were they able to get 100 more pro-job comments in the mail but they were able to talk to many postal service customers about the proposed cuts to services and the impact those cut would have on the local economy.
“I chose to stand in solidarity with the postal workers, as a part of Occupy Asheville. At a time many are struggling to find or keep jobs, I found it unconscionable to send jobs out of state, when the local postal workers have shown themselves to be committed to provide a valuable service and support our local community,” explained TJ Amos a participant in Occupy Asheville who took part in the December 5th action. “These are people’s lives and families being affected, and, as a citizen, I find it shameful public servants would be discounted as “unnecessary” or expendable.” As postal service customers filled out post cards Amos’ nine year old daughter Hannah spirited them over to a blue USPS drop box, to make sure they got in the mail.
Photo by Bill Rhodes, courtesy of Mountain Xpress.