CRANFORD, NJ — In an effort to stand ground across the nation, thousands of people gathered on Aug. 25 at numerous post office locations to rally together and save the U.S. Postal Service. Joining this initiative, Cranford residents raised awareness about the Postal Service’s dire position. Residents chanted in unison and lifted signs into the air.
Organizing the event was Cranford resident Mary Heller, who led the demonstration near the busy intersection of Miln Street and North Avenue West, where the Cranford post office sits. Passing cars displayed support by honking their horns. Postal Service employees saw the support of a community coming together as a united front.
“We are trying to save the U.S. Postal Service because it is under attack for a couple of different reasons, but Postmaster DeJoy has been slowing down the mail by decommissioning and trashing sorting machines all over the country,” Heller said on Aug. 25. “By refusing to fund worker overtime when it’s needed, this has resulted in backlogs of mail and people noticing that their mail is slowing down.
“We think that this is a twofer, for the Republicans, first of all,” she continued. “Wall Street and the GOP have been trying to privatize the post office for decades, because it’s all this money sloshing back and forth and they’re not getting a cut. Second, they are determined not to allow vote-by-mail, because, as Trump said in March, if we get vote-by-mail, Republicans will never win another election. Also, in August, Trump said they can’t get that $25 billion relief package, which the House of Representatives just passed, because if they don’t get it, they can’t do universal vote-by-mail.
“The postal service is under attack, and, second of all, the vote is in jeopardy in November. We are concerned. This is the problem.”
The upcoming election greatly concerns Heller.
“This will certainly raise people’s awareness that it’s going to be a necessary thing to have a secure vote-by-mail mechanism,” Heller said. “Here in New Jersey, I’m happy to say that the governor has pledged to get every registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot. For that, the White House is suing the state of New Jersey, but we want people to be aware that they can call their senator, which is Cory Booker or Sen. Menendez, or call their congressman, and see if these representatives and senators have any ideas of how to get that $25 billion through the Senate. No doubt, it’ll be vetoed by the president, but that’s him trying to sabotage the mail, and it makes it really obvious that that’s what’s going on,” she continued. “This is to raise voter awareness and to raise the awareness of the patrons of the postal system that both the vote and the postal system are in jeopardy.”
According to Heller, the main purpose of the Aug. 25 gathering was to rally people for the cause.
“The impact of what’s going on here today makes people confident that someone’s paying attention,” Heller said. “It gets people energized so that they will take action. I have a phone number here where people can call to make their wishes known to their elected representatives. Also, I would ask people to say thank you to a postal worker when you see one, because they’ve been at it ever since this crazy pandemic started. They deserve our appreciation.”
Cranford Township Committee candidate Brian Andrews supported the initiative.
“I’m here showing support for the Postal Service,” Andrews said on Aug. 25. “It’s a valuable resource for our entire country, particularly our community here, and it’s even more important with all of the vote-by-mail we’ll be seeing in November. So, we want to make sure mail gets delivered on time. Everyone’s votes count.”
The event exceeded Andrews’ expectations.
“I think this is a great event,” Andrews said. “I didn’t know what to expect. You show up and you see dozens of people here, and it’s really heartwarming that people care about these institutions. They want to have their voices heard.”
Cranford participant David Heller stands firm in his support of the nonpartisan post office.
“There has been a campaign, by the Trump administration, to destroy (the U.S. Postal Service) and I think there’s two reasons for it — one, because of the pandemic,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of vote-by-mail this November. I think Trump knows the more people vote, the less chance he has to win. So, in order to keep people from voting, he wants to sabotage the delivery of mail for November. The second thing is, for years, I won’t mention the names of the companies because some of them have three letters, but they want to have all this package and first-class mail for free and have the post office lose money. They have a guy from that industry as the postmaster general, who’s destroying the infrastructure.
“They take out the mail-sorting machines? That’s crazy in my opinion,” he continued. “He says because they’re not being up to capacity. No one uses them to capacity in August. They’re for Christmas, and the mail in November for voting. So, if he cuts back to the point we’re at capacity in August, we’re going to have a disaster for the election, and that means that the president gets to say the election was rigged, which is not true and we’re trying to stop it.”
David Heller also criticized the Senate for not distributing the $25 billion approved by the House of Representatives to reestablish the infrastructure of the post office.
“The Senate refuses to even take up the bill for debate — that’s crazy,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s an intentional ploy to destroy the post office or at least leave it so hobbled that it’s of no use in November. There’s not a lot of gray area there. That’s what it is.”
David Heller hopes this demonstration will spread awareness.
“We didn’t expect this kind of a turn out,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of leaflets and flyers out to people. On the back of each one is the number of our senators. In our case, our senators are for it. We’d want to give Sens. Booker and Menendez the support. This is being done across the country. This is not a unique demonstration. It’s going to put enough pressure on the Senate that they’ll do the right thing.
“That’s up to us.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman