Pittsfield ralliers give stamp of disapproval to cost-cutting measures at U.S. Postal Service

By Amanda Burke, The Berkshire Eagle PITTSFIELD — Dozens of people rallied outside the post office Saturday morning to protest cost-cutting at the U.S. Postal Service and to offer a show of support for their local postal workers.

About 70 people lined both sides of Fenn Street, the same day that House Democrats were due to vote on a bill that would send £25 billion to the Postal Service and halt so-called operational changes that Lee Harrison, a member of the Democratic State Committee, said have resulted in mail-delivery delays. Harrison also is the son of a mail carrier and co-founder of the Berkshire Democratic Brigades, which organized the protest in collaboration with the NAACP Berkshire Branch. Harrison condemned the operational changes that have taken place under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, criticizing what he said are DeJoy’s attempts to run the Postal Service like a business, rather than a federal service.

“It’s called the Postal Service for a reason; it’s not a business,” he said. “What is absolutely horrifying is the removal of these sorting machines. He’s [DeJoy] a wealthy man and should be made to pay for these himself out of his own pocket, pay to bring them back. It’s a federal crime to hinder the post office and its mission to deliver the mail.

And we have have the head of the post office in the United States of America committing a federal crime every day.” Article Continues After Protesters held signs that carried such messages as “Remove DeJoy,” “Arrest DeJoy” and “Protect the Postal Service.

Protect the Vote. Dump Trump.” The crowd cheered as a mail carrier drove by in an iconic white-and-blue truck, and the carrier smiled and thrust her fist in the air as she passed. Thousands of Pittsfield voters requested vote-by-mail ballots this primary season during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, amid reports of delayed mail deliveries, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin suggested that voters hand-deliver their mail-in ballots to voters’ local election offices as the best way to make sure they arrive before Sept.

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“If you are able to do so, the best way to ensure that your ballot is counted is to deliver it in person,” Galvin said in a news release. Pittsfield residents can return their ballots by dropping them in the secure drop box behind City Hall. Article Continues After

Dennis Powell, head of the NAACP Berkshire Branch, said the recent changes at the Postal Service are causing mail delays that are resulting in people receiving their paychecks and medication late, at a time when many are struggling financially and that constitute a barefaced attempt by President Donald Trump to disenfranchise voters. Trump has been vocally opposed to mail-in voting, though Powell noted that Trump votes by mail. According to NPR, the president submitted a vote-by-mail ballot in the Florida primaries just this week.

“We’re gathered here because, clearly, this guy is not going to stop at destroying our democracy. There’s no end to what he is willing to do to keep people from voting. First, it was Blacks, and women didn’t have the right to vote.

So, he’s just taken us back in history,” Powell said.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.

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