Hunger strike protesters make stop in Vancouver

They are protesting postal service cuts

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

Updated: June 25, 2012, 6:38 PM

 

Protesters who have launched a hunger strike against postal service cuts demonstrated outside of a Vancouver post office between 4 and 5 p.m. Monday at 2700 Caples Ave.

It was expected to be one of several stops they make throughout the state during the first part of the week. The hunger strike participants are affiliated with postal workers unions and have told other media outlets that the typical marches and other demonstrations they've had in the past aren't working.

The federal government is considering a proposal to consolidate U.S. Postal Service offices throughout the country and cut thousands of postal service jobs.

One of the hunger strike participants, David Yao of Seattle, said he was choosing not to eat in protest because, "Congress is starving the postal service by pumping money out of it." He also opposes the plan to eliminate first-class, next-day delivery.

Yao began his hunger strike at 8 a.m. Monday and said he plans to end it at 5 p.m. Thursday. This is his first hunger strike. Although he cannot eat solid food, he planned to drink liquids such as juice or soy milk, he said.

The country's postal service is 236 years old, and although it is a government agency, it has not relied on tax money since 1971, postal service advocates say. The agency receives its income through postage fees, with tax money sometimes designated for mailing voter documents to Americans with disabilities or those living in other countries.

Postal service unions also oppose a requirement that the postal service overpay into its retirement benefit fund for future retirees. Those prepayments caused the semi-independent agency to go into the red by roughly $5 billion in 2011. Had it not existed, the agency would have ended in the black, postal service advocates say.