They rallied Sunday morning in front of the facility on Tilco Drive.
A large crowd of postal workers gathered Sunday morning in front of the now-closed Frederick Processing and Distribution Plant to demand that it reopen. They chanted "Just Say No Delays" and "Save Out Post Office," and waved signs reading ""Reopen Frederick" and "Say Yes To On Time Delivery."
The US Postal Service closed the facility on Tilco Drive in November as a way to save money. Officials said customers would not notice any change in delivery services. But Steve Bruns, a retired postal employee who used to work at the Frederick facility, literally laughed off those comments. "They said there would be no problems, and they said that they would save the Postal Service millions," he said, with a chuckle in his voice. "Friends, brothers and sisters, there are just three problems: the mail is late, everybody knows, and they didn't save any money."
Since its closure late last year, there have been complaints about slow mail service, with stories about medications not arriving on time, along with bill payments received past the due date and customers being hit with late fees. Chris Moore, who used to work at the Frederick plant but now works in the Baltimore area, says a friend of his in Sharpsburg has had that experience. "She got a catalog delivered last month on the cover it said 'order out of this catalog by December 11th to get it delivered by Christmas.' It was just delivered last month."
The main speaker at the rally, Rich Shelley with local 181 of the American Postal Workers Union, said with the closure of this facility and others plants and post offices around the country, the enemies of the US Postal Service are trying to destroy it in order to justify privatizing mail service. "The American people are witnessing an attempt to pull off the greatest swindle in the history of our Nation, larger and wider in scope than Enron and Bernie Madoff combined, the theft of an entire National Institution and Treasure enshrined in the Constitution of the United States since 1776," he said.
Despite what some people have said about the Postal Service losing money, it's actually making a profit, says Ken Lerch, president of Branch 3825 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. He says these closures are "unnecessary." "The Postal Service is very profitable. Most people will look at you like you're crazy when you say that," he says. "You've heard the weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction, they kept saying that over and over, it was a lie. The Postal Service being broke is a lie."
Lerch says the US Postal Service made more than $611-million over the last four years, when you subtract the $5.5-billion to pay for future retiree health benefits. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed in 2006, requires the USPS to prefund future retirement benefits through 2082. "Some of these people haven't even been born yet," he points out.
That bill was on a list of demands read during the rally on Sunday. Participants called on Congress to relieve the Postal Service of this mandate. They also demanded that the money from pension overfunding be used to stabilize, enhance and protect the Postal Service. The postal workers also called for the immediate resignation of Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe, and he be replaced with someone who will protect the US Postal Service. They also demanded the reopening of the Frederick Processing and Distribution Plant, and the criminal prosecution of postal officials who are responsible the delay of mail and misconduct. A statement from The APWU alleges that an official at the Baltimore District falsely labeled first class mail as "delivery attempted" and then placed them in the recycling system to be destroyed. A complaint alleging this violation was filed with the Postal Service Office of the Inspector General.
During the rally, a representative from MoveOn Frederick lent support to the cause.
Town hall meetings are scheduled to address these issues. One will take place on Tuesday, March 13th at the New Market Volunteer Fire Hall at 76 West Main Street. A second one is scheduled for Thursday, March 15th at the Williamsport Volunteer Fire Company at 2 Brandy Drive. Both meetings will take place from 7:00-9:00 PM.