Father Pfleger continues hypocrisies from the podium... Postal Workers Getting Hit Hard

The postal workers — who are facing massive cuts and privatization just like public school teachers — had a spirited rally at the Federal Plaza on Thursday, June 28, 2012. The gathering of about 75 people held signs to save the post office which is being starved public monies.

The speakers said there are now ten hunger strikers starving themselves to demonstrate that Congress is starving the postal service.

The Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has announced that beginning July 1 he will begin the closure of half the mail sorting plants in the country and cut hours from 25 to 75 percent in half the nation's post offices. Tens of thousands of jobs will be eliminated and delivery standards relaxed, including eliminating the First Class overnight delivery starting July 1, according to a flyer distributed by the postal workers.

Over 300,000 jobs have been eliminated in the post office in recent times, but not because of the Internet, speakers said at the rally at Adams and Dearborn downtown.

The hunger strikers are calling on Donahoe to suspend cuts and closures, and allow Congress to stop starving the USPS by repealing a prefunding mandate and refunding a pension surplus. The 2006 Congressional mandate forces the USPS to "prefund" retiree health benefits 75 years in advance, the flyer read. Ten percent of the postal budget, $5.5 billion per year, goes to prefund benefits for people who aren’t even born yet. Not only would the postal service have been profitable without the mandate, the flyer claimed, but the USPS has also overpaid tens of billions into two pension funds.

"Congress is bankrupting our Post Office!" the flyer screamed out. "Not the Internet! Not the recession! Not private competition! Why? Corporate Union Busting and Privatization."

Interestingly enough, one of the speakers at the rally included well-known Chicago Catholic priest Michael Pfleger, who said 'Congress is stupid!" and "damn those people who are trying to eliminate middle class jobs." His fierce oratory helped fire up the crowd.

Afterwards this reporter asked Father Phfleger if he was against eliminating middle class postal worker jobs, why would he support the privatization of Chicago public schools, which is also eliminating middle class jobs when charter schools replace regular public schools and the charter teachers are paid much less with no union representation.

"Nobody said anything about privatization here," Pfleger said, suddenly sounding like a lawyer. "Did you hear me say anything about privatization?"

Pfleger said in education it is all about the quality of the schools. He said it does not matter if it is a public school, a charter school, a private school or even home school, he supports the best schools.

When asked why he would support charter schools when reports show they do no better, he said the public schools near his St. Sabina Church are terrible, and the two charter schools Perspectives and Urban Prep are doing a good job. He said the teachers at Calumet High School, which was closed and replaced by Perspectives, told him to get lost when he wanted to help.

Phleger sounded a lot like pastor and former state senator James Meeks, who briefly ran for mayor and called the Chicago Teachers Union the biggest gang in the city. When this reporter started to challenge Meeks' and Phleger's remarks, both said they did not want to argue and had to leave. When a softball question was followed up, both men suddenly smiled and had all the time in the world.

One of the keys to supporting the privatization and elimination of middle class teaching jobs in the city thanks to corporate America is to hire 'populist' preachers, organizers and community activists, and pay them a lot to repeat the ruling class line.

But in order to keep their creds, guys like Phleger and Meeks have to make sure they continue to preach the truth when it does not matter, so people think they support the people — such as coming out to this rally to save postal workers jobs and the middle class, whereas the Phlegers and Meeks are all about supporting corporate America's attack on unions and the middle class, once they get their checks in the mail.

As early as 2004, Substance reported that Pfleger was teacher bashing and union busting against the real public schools in the community served by his church, according to Substance reporter George Schmidt. "In 2004, when the Board was moving to close Calumet High School," Schmidt said, "Pfleger told the press that Calumet was a bad school, and not a 'school of choice' (his words) for children in his community. Pfleger has not problems with privatization and attacks on the middle class when the Board paid more than $20 million to rehab the Calumet building before giving it to Perspectives Charter Schools at a rental of $1 per year." At the time, Schmidt was Director of School Security and Safety for the Chicago Teachers Union and had been working with the teachers and principal of Calumet to eliminate the presence of the Black P. Stones street gang within the school. "Pfleger was no help. In fact, he acted as if he was on the other side," Schmidt said. "When the Board held the hearing on the closing of Calumet, dozens of teachers, parents, and students from Pfleger's community showed up to defend Calumet, but Pfleger was not there. He prefers to do his teacher bashing and union busting hidden behind the screen of media events where he can be quoted without being held accountable to real people." Calumet's closing dispersed hundreds of students across the South Side over the years from 2004 through 2007 (when the last real public school graduating class left Calumet), but Pfleger failed to notice the increased violence in schools from Hyde Park to Corliss resulting from the influx of students identified with one street gang faction (the "People") at schools where the majority of gang members are affiliated with another (the "Folks").


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