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Hunger Strikers Charge Congress with Starving Postal Service

Since Monday, ten postal workers and consumers have been hunger striking on behalf of the embattled U.S. Postal Service.

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Dodge agrees.  “You’re just going to cut yourself right out of business,” he warns.  “Which is exactly what’s happening…We’ve been doing things literally just to drive customers away from the Postal Service.” “There’s ways to restructure this,” adds Dodge, “without cutting service. You just have to be creative and give the Postal Service a little more flexibility.” Among the suggestions made by labor and Democrats are allowing post offices to perform additional government functions, including some license and notary services; ending the ban on shipping alcohol by USPS; and offering new internet-enhanced options, like scanning and e-mailing postal mail.

In April, the US Senate passed a tri-partisan compromise bill with a combination of cuts and changes. Unions and their allies were largely unsuccessful in their efforts to amend the legislation. The legislative focus has shifted to the House, where Issa is pushing a bill opposed by postal management and labor alike. But Dodge says he doesn’t expect a law to reach the President's desk until after the November election.

“The Postal Service is still providing a necessary service to an awful lot of people,” says Dodge. He warns that cutting tens of thousands of postal jobs “might be just the tipping stone to actually push us right into the recession.” He blames USPS’ current predicament on politicians he says do the bidding of private companies seeking to “bankrupt the post office and sell it off for pennies on the dollar.” Dodge adds that he believes conservatives are also out to break postal unions as part of “class warfare” to weaken the labor movement. If they succeed, he says, “all of the other unions will be easy pickings.”

“It was hard to get people to do this…” says Dodge, who is drinking juice but forswearing food during the fast. “Just to stop eating is something pretty dramatic.” He says he’d never fasted before a day in his life, and that Monday’s heat “really took a toll” on him.  “By the end of the day, boy was I hungry.”

“I’m hungry, I’m exhausted, I’m ache-y,” Partridge said yesterday. “But I’m endangering my personal health because I want to make any impact on these people [in Congress], and I think we are. They’re looking very uncomfortable around us.”

Josh Eidelson is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. He worked as a union organizer for five years. Check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

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