Caravan of protestors call on Congress to fund US Postal Service

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The AFL-CIO held a protest Wednesday outside the downtown post office as part of the Workers First Caravans for Economic and Racial Justice being held across the nation.

The caravans are being held by the AFL-CIO and its local Central Labor Councils.  By noon there were as many as 30 protesters gathered outside the post office. Each car mailed a letter to congressional representatives asking that they vote to fund the U.S. Postal Service. 

“Today across the country, the AFL-CIO along with workers and community organizations are protesting in caravans, ” June Rostan, vice president of the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Central Labor Council, said. “There will be three lines to represent the three things that Congress needs to deal with. They need to deal with these issues and fund the things that we need.

“The first crisis is the health risks due to the pandemic. And then the second is an economic crisis. And the third is a crisis that we know exists of institutionalized racism in all our communities.”

The Postal Service, which relies entirely on the sale of postage, mail products and services to fund its operations, said in a May the coronavirus pandemic began taking a toll on the service as early as March.

The Post Service said the anticipated toll over the next 18 months may threaten the service’s ability to operate. 

“I’m here to back up our brothers and sisters of the Postal Service. I was the president of the Black Union in APF, local 406, for over 25 years,” Vivian Shipe, president of the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees, said. “That union is over 100 years old. So, we understand we have been fighting racism for years.

“We also know that we need for our essential workers who are still working to be funded and to be protected. COVID-19 has affected the world, but the Postal Service has still gone on. We need to make sure that our workers who are still in the work fields, boots on the ground, are taken care of. So, we are here just to stand and say we’re with you.”

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