Around 150 postal workers and supporters held a protest in the snow on Sunday, rallying against the planned shutdown of Saturday mail service later this year. In front of the Des Moines Main Post Office, the crowd lined the streets, urging passing cars to honk in support, part of a nationwide effort. Jerry Stake works at the Pleasant Hill branch of the post office and says they’re busier than ever.
“Six days a week, we hardly have enough time to even catch up,” Stake say. “I don’t know how they expect to move the mail in five days. We can’t hardly keep up with six days delivery.” Stake says the plan to end most service on Saturdays would back up delivery for days, while having a negative impact on rural Iowans and the elderly.
Thomas Dawlins, a letter carrier from De Soto, says he’s protesting proposed cuts to his own hours and wages, in addition to cutting services to those who depend on it. “My folks live out in the country and if you stop delivery out there, there’s nobody else that’s going to take that stuff out to the country because UPS and the Fed Ex guys don’t deliver out there,” he says.
Dawlins says it isn’t just about paper mail, either. “I deliver to the south side to a lot of veterans in the trailer parks over there and they absolutely rely on the post office to give them their medications,” Dawlins says. “I call it my medical route, because every time I go over there, there’s 30-to-40 parcels of medication going out to those folks on a daily basis.”
Along with the well-publicized end of Saturday delivery in August and consolidating major mail centers, another move that’s hitting home in rural America is the plan to cut staff and hours at about 13,000 post offices.