"Rallies and marches just aren't working anymore," said Tom Dodge, 58, a postal truck driver from the Baltimore area who has participated in several marches and rallies to save post offices. "It's time to take a stand on this. The post office is a part of our Constitution."
The hunger strikers want the Postal Service to shelve its July plans to start closing or consolidating 48 mail processing plants. By the end of 2014, when the plan to shrink the postal network is completed, 229 plants will be consolidated or closed and 28,000 jobs will be gone.
They also want Congress to eliminate a mandate that has been a major financial drag on the service — annual $5.5 billion payments to prefund health care benefits for future retirees. The strikers say say eliminating the mandate would solve the Postal Service's financial problems.
It's a three-day strike, staring today and ending Thursday. It's not a Gandhi/Bobby Sands-level hunger strike, but when US federal employees are hunger-striking at all, you know the system is troubled. The postal service was short $5.1 billion last year and would technically be in the black if not for the mandated payments.