Push Back in Pasadena

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Earlier this week, members of Occupy Democracy – Pasadena joined postal workers, union officials, and area politicians to hold a rally near the steps of Pasadena’s City Hall to protest the closing of the Mack Robinson mail distribution center, where the consolidation process is set to begin at the end of this week.  

“They’re calling it a ‘limited consolidation’ but it’s limited only in name,” Congresswoman Judy Chu told the crowd of 150.  “If the post office goes through with its plan, it will have significant consequences for San Gabriel Valley residents, businesses, and our dedicated postal office workers.”

“I remember when we came here to dedicate this facility and I’m here to say that Mack Robinson is part of our community,” said Congressman Adam Schiff. “These are good, dedicated public servants who deliver our mail, who bring us our packages, and they are part of our community.”

The consolidation will mean the loss of 260 jobs, which will cost the city millions in lost revenue.  Most of these workers will have to commute long distances to other locations, move away, or find another job.  But the problem is not just in Pasadena and the other 230 communities where processing plants will be closed. 

The problem is what’s happening to the mail. 

The chorus of people chanting that the Postal Service needs to be given the freedom to act “like a business” — meaning the freedom to close plants and post offices and lay off tens of thousands of workers — should read the piece by Ron Nixon in today’s New York Times: “With Cuts on the Way, Postal Service Customers Already Bemoan Delays.”

 “Even before the Postal Service begins closing hundreds of processing centers to cut costs, several businesses say they are beginning to see a decline in service,” writes Nixon.  The article goes on to cite many examples of newspapers arriving when the news isn’t news anymore, advertising flyers arriving after the sale they’re promoting has ended, and businesses losing customers because of all the delays.

“The problems only seem to be getting worse,” Max Heath told the Times.  “And the odds of it getting better is almost zero when you consider the changes the Postal Service is about to make, closing plants and lowering its delivery standards.”   Heath knows what he’s talking about.  He's been in the community newspaper business for 45 years, and he's now a consultant for the Publishing Group of America, whose magazines are distributed through small newspapers.  In testimony before the Postal Regulatory Commission earlier this year, Heath said,  "“Frankly, in my view, I think the Area Mail Processing system has been quite a disaster for most mailers,".

Postal workers may be the ones taking to the streets right now because they are most immediately affected by the consolidations.  But it’s the whole country that’s going to come out at the losing end. 

There’s more about the Pasadena fight in this excellent post, and there’s more on this week’s demonstration here and here.

(Photo credits: Patrick Briggs.  Photos here.  Slideshow created with flickr slideshow.)

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