Oct 13 2022
Postal Workers: Keeping Communities Connected in a Changing Industry
The technical term for the postal workers who deliver mail to our homes is “letter carriers.” Granted, you may not remember the last time you sent a letter. But the last time you received a mail-in ballot, got your prescription medications in your mailbox, or stooped down to pick up a package delivered by a USPS employee was probably quite recent. In this episode, we walk a mile in the shoes of mailmen and mailwomen from around New England.
Postal workers keep our communities connected, even as digital communications, private competition, and political shifts threaten their livelihoods and add stress and hours to their days. Some see their job as more than just delivering mail, like Maggi Burns in Providence, Rhode Island. Maggi says when a customer sees her out in a snowstorm and tells her “you shouldn’t be out in this weather,” she replies “Oh, I'm not really out here to bring you your mail. I'm out here so that you see that everything's gonna be okay.”
In April 2022, postal workers celebrated a major victory with the passage of the Postal Reform Act. The legislation requires the United States Postal Service to continue to operate Monday through Saturday. And it eliminated a retiree funding mandate that put an unsustainable burden on the agency.
The Postal Reform Act was the result of a decade of efforts by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the American Postal Workers – unions that represent the majority of postal employees. But it’s just a start. For this episode, we spoke with postal workers and community members who want more from the USPS– things like basic banking services at post offices, and more competitive starting salaries. You’ll hear from veteran workers reflecting on a career of service, and a young manager working to bring more dignity to her employees' careers.
South Coast Working is a project of the UMass Dartmouth Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center. Learn more at umassd.edu/labored.
Voices in this episode
Maggi Burns, letter carrier in Providence, Rhode Island
Erin Durkan, postmaster in Somerset, New Hampshire, and host of the podcast Postal Blues
Peter Arsenault, retired letter carrier and former NALC president, Rochester and New Bedford, Massachusetts
Corinn Williams, Executive Director, New Bedford Community Economic Development Center, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Contributors to this episode
Host and producer: Andrea Muraskin
Writing and additional production: Susie Armitage
Research and fact-checking: Johnny Handel
Executive editor: Kim Wilson
Special thanks: Camilo Vivieros, Jim Snow, and
Music in this episode by One Man Book, Meavy Boy, Poddington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, and Doctor Turtle
Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/south-coast-working/message