Belabored Podcast #204: Protect the Post Office

Belabored Podcast #204: Protect the Post Office

As public fear rises over potential disruptions to mail-in voting in the lead-up to the election, we talk with three postal workers about what’s happening to our mail and the people who handle it.

A postal worker in El Centro, California (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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The United States Postal Service seems to be in a chronic state of crisis. But for the past few weeks it’s been at the center of a new political firestorm, as public fear rises over potential disruptions to mail-in voting in the lead-up to the election. Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been working to overhaul the postal service in the name of “efficiency,” and many fear that he is fulfilling a longstanding conservative goal of destroying and ultimately privatizing the postal service. While Trump falsely claims mail-in balloting will lead to widespread voter fraud, DeJoy provoked outrage with aggressive reforms at the agency, including the mysterious disappearance of mailboxes and mail sorting machines from many communities nationwide. Though DeJoy walked back his reform plans earlier this week, lawmakers and labor advocates are skeptical.

We talk to three postal workers in Washington, DC; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Portland, Oregon about what’s happening to our mail and the workers who handle it at this most beloved of federal agencies. In other news, we look at a fast food worker strike at Bojangles, a strike that almost happened at Detroit nursing homes, the reinstatement of graduate wildcat strikers at University of California Santa Cruz, and a British sandwich-maker’s sad sick pay policy. 

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Fast food workers continue strike over restaurant’s handling of COVID-19 (ABC News)

Metro Detroit nursing home workers delay strike planned for Monday (Detroit Free Press)

Makers of M&S sandwiches faced pay dock if they self-isolated, says union (The Guardian)

UC Santa Cruz Reinstates 41 Fired Grad Students (Inside Higher Ed)

UC Santa Cruz Reinstates 41 Graduate Students After Months-Long Strike (Vice)



Alex Fields, mail carrier in Knoxville, Tennessee

Arrion Brown, facilities maintenance technician in Washington, DC

Larry Guarnero, clerk in Portland, Oregon and steward for the American Postal Workers Union

USPS Suspends Changes After Outcry Over Delivery Slowdown (New York Times)

‘Postmaster DeLay’ Takes One Step Back amid Media Scrutiny, Public Protest, and Worker Resistance (Labor Notes)

Michelle: Postal Workers Want Investment and Hazard Pay (Dissent)


Argh, I wish I’d written that!

Michelle: Shoshana Walter, American Rehab Chapter 8: Shadow Workforce, (Reveal)

Sarah: Barbara Madeloni, Educators Demand Virtual Schools as ‘Least Bad’ but Safe Option, (Labor Notes)