'US mail, not for sale': LI postal workers rally amid privatization push

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HUNTINGTON -

Long Island postal workers gathered Monday in Huntington Station as part of a nationwide rally against the Trump administration's plan to explore privatization of the U.S. Postal Service.

Some holding signs, the workers chanted, "U.S. mail, not for sale," at the rally that was organized on the Columbus Day holiday, when post offices were closed.

The Trump administration claims the Postal Service "can no longer support" the current universal service requirements of mail delivery six days a week to 157 million addresses, including about 1 million homes on Long Island.

Opponents say selling the service could lead to higher prices and service cutbacks for customers. Some fear it could also lead to job cuts.

"We've got about 500,000 postal workers, 35 percent of those are veterans,” says Walter Barton, president of Branch 6000 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "The president talks about supporting veterans, he's going to do away with their jobs if that happens."

Tony Guardino, of Bay Shore, is a Vietnam War veteran who has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for nearly 40 years. "Hopefully President Trump doesn't disrupt the service, doesn't change anything around. We want to keep it federal," he says.

In a statement, the Postal Service said, "First, and just as a point of information, the Postal Service certainly respects the right of our employees to participate in off-the-clock informational picketing on issues of concern to their membership. This activity today is theirs."

The statement continued, "That said, the consistent position of the Postal Service has been that our flawed business model is the root cause of our financial instability because it imposes significant costs on us without giving us adequate business flexibility to enable us to pay for them. Ultimately, it will be for Congress to decide whether the best path to financial sustainability is to preserve the Postal Service status as a government institution focused on our mission of public service, while giving us more authority to meet our responsibilities, or whether a profit-maximizing corporate model is preferable. We will continue to address these significant public policy issues."

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