Florida Postal Workers Protest Staffing Shortages
03/02/2018 - On Monday, Feb. 19, members of the Florida Keys Area Local held an informational picket in front of the main post office in Key West, shining a light on the severe slashes to staffing and service that are causing mail delays and hazardous working conditions.
Along with members of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, APWU members also circulated a petition demanding an end to the cuts, collecting signatures in front of both post office locations in Key West.
Florida Keys Area Local President Omayra Cruz explained that post offices across Florida Keys are not being properly staffed, which leads to temporarily closed post offices, long lines when offices are open, mail not being delivered on time, and carriers working dangerously late at night. Since 2016, there are eight fewer clerk positions in post offices throughout the keys, and many vacant positions are not being filled.
“It’s not just us, we know it’s nationwide,” Cruz said. The APWU and NALC Florida Keys locals, “are two small locals at the end of US 1, but we are loud and we want everyone to know that we may be at the end of the road, but we are here.”
Cruz said the local plans to hold more demonstrations outside of Key West, including in Big Pine, Summerland and Marathon.
APWU Rallies on Service, Staffing Cuts
The Florida Keys picket garnered dozens of headlines, and the story was read by millions of people, serving as a voice for postal workers nationwide. This recent protest was another in a string across the country, including:
- Baltimore, MD
- Charlotte, NC
- Seattle, WA
- Boston, MA
- Des Moines, IA
- Derby, KS
Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson explained that what made the Florida Keys protest successful was the willingness of the APWU local to conduct an informational picket; an alliance with the local NALC; consistent, and yet creative, messaging on service and staffing; visual solidarity with Save America’s Post Office T-shirts; and the ability to organize the terrific media coverage.
“In this way, a small local event was transformed to a large ripple that traveled across the country benefiting postal workers and the cause of better service,” Burelson said.
The Florida Keys Area Local is also utilizing the signatures they gathered at the event to continue to put pressure on decision makers and influential individuals to increase staffing and therefore service to their community.
“Now is the time to step up and into the streets,” Burelson said. “Street actions educate the local community and when combined with good media coverage, the message is amplified to educate the public in many other communities as well. We need all the allies we can get to increase staffing and service at the Post Office.”
If local or state organizations are interested in conducting an informational picket on this issue, please contact the APWU National Clerk Craft Division for assistance.