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St. Louis Postal Service workers demand U.S. Senate approve aid package, reverse cuts to agency

St. Louis Postal Service workers demand U.S. Senate approve aid package, reverse cuts to agency

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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis postal workers, labor leaders and elected officials on Tuesday called on the U.S. Senate to reconvene and advance a House-approved $25 billion emergency relief package meant to shore up the U.S. Postal Service ahead of the November election and reverse recent cuts to the agency under President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The U.S. Postal Service is a bedrock institution for every American,” said Becky Livingston, president of the local chapter of the American Postal Workers Union at a rally outside the Main Post Office, 1720 Market Street. “Our elected leaders must support $25 billion in funding to make sure the post office can run effectively, and (U.S.) Postmaster (General Louis) DeJoy must reverse his harmful slowdown policies immediately.”

The rally was part of nationwide protest by the postal workers union to rally support for the House legislation, which garnered bipartisan support amid concerns that the cuts would lead to disruptions that could potentially affect the delivery of mail-in ballots in Nov. 3 general election.

Postal workers and their supporters, including Cori Bush, the Democratic nominee for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, directed their pleas to the state’s two senators, both Republicans.

“Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Roy Blunt, we’re asking you to do the right thing,” Bush said.

While the St. Louis area has not seen the same cuts to service enacted in other parts of the country, such as the removal of mail-sorting machines, they have caused some delays to delivery, Livingston said. The cuts are aimed at eroding public confidence in the agency, she said, but mail clerks are working overtime to keep deliveries timely, she said.

“The trust that we have, we intend on keeping,” she said.

The cuts have also added pressure to the agency as mail carriers risk exposure to COVID-19 to deliver mail, Livingston said. COVID-19 has sickened 200 postal workers in the St. Louis district, killing two, she said.

As a source of stable, well-paying jobs, the Postal Service has traditionally been an important agency to Black residents of St. Louis, said Lew Moye, president emeritus of the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, who joined the Service Employees International Union and the St. Louis Labor Coalition to support the postal workers.

“It’s a pathway to the middle class,” Moye said.

The agency also makes crucial deliveries for St. Louis agencies and employees, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones said.

“I stand here today for the over 15,000 city retirees who count on getting that check every month that is sent to them,” Jones said. “I stand here today for all the vendors that get checks from the city to pay their employees to keep their businesses going.”

In the House vote Saturday, U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, joined William Lacy Clay, D-University City, in voting to approve the aid package for the postal service.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, voted against the bill. Luetkemeyer represents Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of St. Charles County and Jefferson County and all of Warren, Franklin and Lincoln counties.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, whose Illinois district includes part of the Metro East, was not present for the vote as he attended the funeral of his mother-in-law, a spokesman said.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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