Across the country, letter carriers picketed post offices last night during rush hour in protest of stalled contract negotiations. In Baltimore, the result was a steady but deafening cacophony of car horns blaring in support of the over one hun- I dred workers picketing the main post office on Fayette Street. Similar actions were held at five other post offices in the city.
The president of the local letter carrier’s association, Joseph Portera, stressed that the protest was an “informational picket.” | As the Postal Service is a quasi-government agency, its employees are barred from striking and work disturbances.
He said that letter carriers had been working without a contract since November 20, 1998, and are now going into a second round of arbitration talks with the ’ postal Service. The picketing was organized to coincide with the revived negotiations and underscore the public’s support of its snow, sleet, and rain men.
There are two major points, according to Portera. The first is the Post Office’s insistence on a two-year contract. In the past, contracts had been negotiated every four years. The second point was the rising human toll of automation.
Portera said the union supported the automation of letter sorting; however, he said that the result has been more work-related injuries and longer shifts on the streets for the letter carriers.
Many of the placards worn by the protesters read “Share That 5 Billion,” referring to the record profits the Postal Service has enjoyed in the past four years. The National Association of Letter Carriers represents 244,000 individuals nationwide. The offices picketed in the Baltimore area yesterday were Govans, Gwynn Oak, Dundalk, Highlandtown, Parkville and the Main Post Office.