CHELSEA — Postal workers, politicians, local residents and community activists — among them the famous Raging Grannies — came out in force Sunday to protest cuts that would potentially impact the city and nearby Manhattan neighborhoods.
The protest was part of a national day of action organized to show opposition to the planned cutbacks announced by the U.S. Postal Service last month. Among the cuts expected: an end to all Saturday mail deliveries, termination of services in some areas, and the sale of many currently operating post offices.
Several New York City properties — including the historic Old Chelsea Station on West 18th Street and the landmarked Bronx General Post Office, on the Grand Concourse — have been named possible casualities of the nationwide Postal Service downsizing in an effort to stall worsening losses that have beset the agency in the era of e-mail, culminating in a record $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year. The USPS hopes to sell both to generate funds.
"I don't think they should close one single post office," said Shirley Littman, a 76-year-old Chelsea resident and member of the Raging Granines protestors, who spoke out at a morning protest on Ninth Avenue over the loss of her local office, the Old Chelsea Station.
"What are all the people in this neighborhood going to do? Where are people going to take their packages?" she asked.
"Some friends of mine are on canes and walkers. What are they supposed to do, go to the general post office?" a 14-block schlep from the site.
Adele Rolider, 58, a Brooklynite and also a member of the Grannies, called the idea of shutting down Saturday services "a big outrage."
"So many people rely on the post office on a Saturday, some people's checks come in. This is going to change peoples basic daily lives," she said.
At noon, a group of hundreds, including postal workers and politicians, had gathered at the James A. Farley Post Office, at West 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue.
Taxi cab drivers and other vehicles honked in support of the protesters as the rally went on for three hours near the busy intersection across from Madison Square Garden.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and mayoral hopeful Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, were among those joining the call for retaining six-day a week deliveries.
"We need these people," said de Blasio, speaking of the gathered workers. "The main issue is about people like seniors that depend on a six day service. Sometimes they have to pick up their medications and other packages on that day. The impact on their lives...and job losses for postal workers would be felt by all New Yorkers," he said.
One of the more heartfelt speeches was delivered by a 13-year-old protester.
"In some communities, postal workers don't just deliver the mail. They help people, they save lives... sometimes they are the police," said Victoria Pannell.
"How are the children going to get their Christmas gifts if this happens?" she added.