March 27, 2003
Adele M. Stan
(202) 639-6435
Steve Hollis
(314) 539-6347

Rally To Stop The Privatization Of Public Sector Jobs

WHEN: Monday, March 31st
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: St. Louis, Missouri
Memorial Plaza Extension Park
17th & Market
(across from Main Post Office
and Abrams Federal Building)

(St. Louis)—Voicing their opposition to the proposed outsourcing of millions of public sector jobs, a coalition of labor organizations, along with citizens who contest the flow of their tax dollars to corporate privateers, will rally in the shadow of two notable government buildings: the main Post Office and the Douglas L. Abrams Federal Building. Bobby L. Harnage, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will address the gathering, joined by National President William Burrus of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU).

If the Bush administration has its way, the transfer of billions of taxpayer dollars—and control of public services on which citizens rely—will go to corporations like Halliburton, Enron and other big-business campaign donors and profiteers. The administration has already announced its intent to privatize more than one million federal and postal jobs in the next two years. Plans are afoot to outsource some 850,000 federal jobs to private corporations, and the president has appointed a Commission on the U.S. Postal Service, apparently concocted to justify the farming out of postal workers’ jobs to corporate contractors.

“At the rate things are going, federal workers serving in the armed forces reserves in Iraq may come home to find their jobs eliminated—sold off to private contractors,” explains AFGE President Harnage, who presides over a union that represents some 6,900 Department of Defense (DoD) employees in the St. Louis area. “Meanwhile, the administration’s privatization plans could turn the federal workplace into a gargantuan spoils system for campaign contributors and others who have ingratiated themselves with the party in power.

“In an era of economic hardship, it is fiscally irresponsible to replace appropriately compensated federal workers with the poorly paid employees of private contractors,” Harnage adds. In the St. Louis area, the jobs of 26,788 federal employees contribute $1.2 billion in salaries annually to the local economy. In addition to its members at DoD, AFGE represents employees in St. Louis area offices of the Departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Housing and Urban Development; Social Security Administration; the National Archives, among others.

The President’s Postal Commission has been described by APWU President Burrus as “a thinly-veiled attempt to dismantle the Postal Service as we know it.” The commission is charged with reconsidering the very underpinnings of the Postal Service, including service to every US mailbox, uniform rates for urban and more remote locations and six-day-a-week delivery. Postal service could soon become a commodity available only to those who live in the right places or who have the means to live far from urban centers.

The rally is endorsed by the Missouri AFL-CIO, Greater St. Louis Central Labor Council, American Postal Workers Union, NALC Branch 343, American Federation of Government Employees, Defense Conference 03, AFGE St. Louis Area Council, AFGE Locals 96, 905, 2192, 3354, CWA Local 6355 Missouri State Workers Union, AFSCME Council 72, St. Louis Area Jobs for Justice.

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