Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
You know what America needs? More jobs, that's what.
Not Walmart-style "jobettes," but real jobs, stable ones with a good salary and benefits, union jobs so workers have a say in what goes on, jobs that have strong protections against discrimination. A job you could make a career, do useful work, take pride in it, earn promotions, and be respected for what you do.
Believe it or not, there is at least one place where such jobs still exist. But -- and you really aren't going to believe this -- those in charge are pushing like hell to eliminate them, turning positions that ought to be a model for American job growth into just another bunch of jobettes. The place? Your local post office.
Right-wing government haters in Congress, along with the corporate executives now sitting atop the US Postal Service, claim that in order to "save" this icon of Americana, they must decimate it. These geniuses are privatizing the workforce, selling off the invaluable community facilities, and shrinking services. Hello -- the workers, facilities and services are what make the post office iconic and give it such potential for even greater public use.
Their latest ploy is a "partnership" with Staples, the big-box office supply chain. In a pilot program, 82 Staples outlets have opened "postal units" to sell the most popular (and most profitable) mail products. Rather than being staffed by well-trained and knowledgeable postal workers, however, the mini-PO's will have an ever-changing crew of Staples' low-wage, temporary sales clerks with weak performance standards and no public accountability.
Cheapening postal work might be good for a few profiteers like Staples, but it will diminish postal service -- and it's exactly the wrong direction for America to be going. For info and action go to www.apwu.org.
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Photo: Flickr user Donald Lee Pardue, creative commons licensed.