ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Dozens of postal workers marched through the streets of Rockford on Labor Day in support of the U.S. Post Office.
“Our goal for today was just to raise awareness of what’s taking place with USPS, but also with workers and unions in general,” said event co-organizer Tom Chennel.
The rally began at 10 a.m. near the Rockford Public School administration building and proceeded to the United States Postal Service office at 111 N. 6th Street, before making its way to Davis Park.
“It’s an extremely important institution of our government and it keeps us connected,” said co-organizer David Soll.
The Post Office has lost money for years, though advocates note it’s a government service rather than a profit-maximizing business.
In June, Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and logistics company executive, took over as the new postmaster general and President Donald Trump tasked him with trying to make the Postal Service more profitable.
DeJoy cut overtime, late delivery trips and other expenses that ensure mail arrives at its destination on time. The result has been a national slowdown of mail.
The Postal Service is hoping for a $10 billion infusion from Congress to continue operating, but talks between Democrats and Republicans over a broad pandemic relief package that could have included that money have broken down.
In addition, due safety concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are opting to vote by mail this year instead of in-person at polling places, which critics say could overwhelm the post office’s ability to get completed ballots delivered to city and county clerks on time.
The move has also generated controversy over claims that it could expose the November election to mail fraud.
Matt Hargrove said his presence at today’s rally was to lend his support for an institution that, he says, all Americans rely on.
“It’s a service that benefits the poorest Americans, but it also benefits all Americans. It’s a democratic institution and it’s a valuable social service,” Hargrove said.
Chennel says a country without a post office would have devastating effects to the community, and would even threaten people’s health.
“People saying you know the post office is essential for their business I’ve had people tell they depend on it for medication,” he said.
“You should absolutely contact your congressperson, whoever that might be,[and] let them know that you believe the Post Office is essential. But also, unions and working class people are under assault and we have to protect them, Republicans and Democrats. This isn’t just one party,” Chennel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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