RALEIGH — Postal workers in the Triangle and all across the country hit the sidewalks Wednesday to protest plans for restructuring the postal system.
The Postal Service is not the monopoly it was 20 to 30 years ago. Increased competition caused the Postal Service to look at alternative ways of reducing its operating costs and improving its service.
This competition is enouraging some people to push for total privatization, and employees will continue to protest any plan that threatens their jobs.
The protesters are fighting against Emery Worldwide Airlines, which is being paid $1.7 billion to operate the Postal Service's Priority Mail network.
The contract calls for Emery to operate ten processing plants where postal workers sort large volumes of mail. Protesters view it as an attempt to privatize the US Postal Service.
"We feel its just part of a growing nationwide trend towards privatization and contracting out," said Ajamu Dillahunt, who is the president of the local APWU. "In the initial stages it is going to mean the loss of 1,400 jobs for postal employees."
Louis Eldridge who manages the processing plant for the Triangle area, said, "No employee will lose his job as a result of this contract."
Eldridge said that the Postal Service is not interested in privatization, but will contract services to enhance its efficiency.
"We're looking to improve the service to our customers through any number of means, but privatization of the postal service is not an option," Eldridge said.
Economist Michael Walden said that increased competition will stir more discussion of privatization.
"Its not like the 50's and 60's when the post office was the post office and there were no competitors," Walden said. "We're definitely in a new world and so it is not surprising that post office is looking at things like privatization."
The American Postal Workers Union said that it will fight any move that appears to be an attempt to privatize.
The Postal Service said that it would take an act of Congress to actually bring about privatization, and it would also heavily weigh such a decision on public opinion.