WBEZ | postal workers http://www.wbez.org/tags/postal-workers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago letter carriers carry on http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-letter-carriers-carry-109469 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/letter carrier.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Victor Austin works fast. He&rsquo;s got his mail presorted into bundles, and he pushes his mail cart forcefully through the snow-packed sidewalks. Despite being weighed down by layers of clothing, Austin moves quickly from gate to gate on a side street in Chicago&rsquo;s Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side. A good thing too, since this is the city&rsquo;s coldest Jan. 6 on record.</p><p>&ldquo;I got a sweater on, and I&rsquo;ve got a little thing covering my chest, and this coat right here,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;My long johns, my pants, and then these things right here,&rdquo; he added, pointing to standard, blue windbreaker pants issued by the U.S. Postal Service.</p><p>While many employers urged their employees to work from home, and city officials urged Chicagoans to stay indoors to avoid dangerously low temperatures, that wasn&rsquo;t an option for Austin and his fellow letter carriers with the USPS. Their jobs require them to work outside &ndash; even in the most adverse weather conditions.</p><p>On Monday, the USPS tried to make things easier for its employees, knowing wind chill temperatures were 35 degrees below zero. &ldquo;They let us know beforehand (to) take as little mail as possible, like the first and second class and the priority packages,&rdquo; Austin said. Still, he anticipated that his route would take the usual 4.5 hours.</p><p>Austin said getting through tough weather is largely a mental battle. Instead of thinking about the cold, he&rsquo;ll try to focus on warm places, like Florida. If he starts to get too cold, he said he might wait in the heated entryway of an apartment building, or in a restaurant, for a few minutes until he warms up a bit. Most important, he says, is to keep moving.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t really eat lunch &ndash; like, days like today I don&rsquo;t really eat no lunch until I&rsquo;m finished because as long as I keep moving, then my body (will) be warm,&rdquo; Austin said, not pausing as he continued moving between homes. &ldquo;Once I stop, then you have to start it back up again, then I&rsquo;m gonna be in trouble.&rdquo;</p><p>His advice to newbie letter carriers? &ldquo;Stay warm, dress in layers,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you get cold, go get warmed up, don&rsquo;t try to be no hero out here. Basically just be safe, use common sense.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-letter-carriers-carry-109469 Chicago mail carriers protest proposed cuts of Saturday delivery http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595 <p><p>More than 100 postal workers rallied in Chicago Monday to protest a proposed plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/postal-service-cut-saturday-mail-trim-costs-105372" target="_blank">announced the cuts earlier this month</a>, and has since gone head-to-head with members of Congress over whether the U.S. Postal Service is authorized to cut six-day service without congressional approval.</p><p>Postal carriers have responded with protests across the country. In front of a post office in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood Monday, mailmen spilled out onto the street holding signs and calling on Postmaster Donahoe to step down.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79829709" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of other cost-cutting measures they can try that they haven&rsquo;t even tried yet,&rdquo; said Janet Rendant, who has been a mail carrier for 25 years. &ldquo;At least give us a chance, give the public a chance.&rdquo;</p><p>She and others accused the post office of cutting union jobs before seeking out other savings, and said they don&rsquo;t believe cutting mail service will actually save the post office much money because it will also result in a loss of customers.</p><p>Mark Reynolds, who represents the postal service in Chicago, said they&rsquo;ve already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/postal-service-close-naperville-processing-center-96657" target="_blank">closed facilities</a> and consolidated rural post offices to cut costs.</p><p>&ldquo;Obviously these are very difficult decisions that we have to make,&rdquo; said Reynolds. &ldquo;But what we&rsquo;re trying to do is to maintain customer service to the extent possible.&rdquo;<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F79853510" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The U.S. Postal Service ended its 2012 fiscal year nearly $16 billion in the hole, and they say cutting Saturday delivery will save them $1.9 billion annually. The <a href="http://deliveringforamerica.com/" target="_blank">National Association of Letter Carriers</a> believes Congress can address the deficit by getting rid of a requirement that the postal service pre-fund its pension obligations.</p><p>A Congressional mandate that requires the post office to deliver mail six days a week expires March 27, but the cut to Saturday delivery would not go into effect until August. Delivery to PO boxes and package delivery would continue on Saturdays. Still, some <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/saturday-mail-delivery-cut-is-subject-of-senate-hearing.html" target="_blank">congressmen think the postmaster general is outside of his purview</a>, claiming any change to delivery days must be approved by Congress.</p><p>Mark Osier, a postal carrier for 38 years, attended the Chicago protest because he was concerned about younger postal workers&rsquo; jobs &ndash; and about his postal customers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7033_002-scr%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: right; height: 310px; width: 310px;" title="Mark Osier has been a postal carrier for 38 years. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;People look forward to the mailman coming,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Especially older people. It&rsquo;s their day&rsquo;s event.&rdquo;</p><p>The postal service paid for <a href="http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_024.htm" target="_blank">a survey</a> in February that found that 80 percent of Americans favor cutting mail delivery to five days a week.</p><p>But Osier said six-day postal delivery is symbolic. He and others at the protest say they believe cutting Saturday service marks the beginning of the end for postal workers, and for a long-standing tradition of unionized postal delivery jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an institution, this is as American as apple pie,&rdquo; Osier said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gotta keep it going.&rdquo;</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mail-carriers-protest-proposed-cuts-saturday-delivery-105595 U.S. Postal Service in Chicago avoiding layoffs amid closings http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/us-postal-service-chicago-avoiding-layoffs-amid-closings-94637 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-06/(AP PhotoMatt Rourke, File).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ's Odette Yousef <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620" target="_blank">heard from</a> local residents worried about losing their local post office. Now, we turn to the letter carriers. Officials at the <a href="https://www.usps.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Post Office</a> said they were not planning to lay off postal workers; instead, they will be reassigned. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> caught up with Chicago mail carrier Barbara Gannon Monday to hear her reaction to the service cuts. On Tuesday, Chicago District spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, Mark Reynolds, joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>to discus how the expected closings will affect customers and carriers alike.</p><p><em>Music Button: Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms, "Diesel", from the album Spacer, (Delmark)</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/us-postal-service-chicago-avoiding-layoffs-amid-closings-94637