By Jim Bowman
Asked where he stood on the five-day week for mail delivery yesterday, Feb. 10, at the library, Rep. Danny Davis gave a litany of experts who had chimed in on the matter — lawyers, economists, and others, including "actuarians."
It's "an old issue," he mused, picking his words with deliberation but ignoring the question. "Sometimes Congress quickly decides a thing, sometimes not," he said.
Businesses, unions (as letter carriers), and other groups have opposed the change, he said — including Amazon, a major U.S. Postal Service customer, the USPS district supervisor, Peter Allen, added later.
"I've been in countries," Davis continued, "where five women are put to clean a hotel room. In one of these, he asked the government host about this. "You Americans don't understand. We believe that it's important for as many to work as possible.'
"We have not reached that point," Davis said, reporting the incident as something to ponder.
Addressing the five-day issue, he spoke of "the democratic process," noted that he is "[only] one vote," as if to plead his inability to influence its passage, speaking almost apologetically, as if unable to support a good thing.
He still hadn't answered the question. The questioner asked again. Abruptly shifting his tone from philosophizing and reminiscence, he raised his head and said firmly, "No, I do not support the five-day week."
It was a remarkable moment. Davis had called the meeting, to which maybe 75 people had responded. Complaints had multiplied, the postal service man had answered bravely and substantively. This was Davis's constituency here. Being largely (but not all) Oak Parkers, odds are most had voted for him.
But he had fended off a direct question, there in front of voters and assorted public and postal officials and his own staff, who sat up front saying nothing, so that when he gave it, an odd silence descended for a few seconds on the gathering.
More later on his answer and why Danny Davis opposes killing jobs and offending major business interests with a shorter postal work week that gets directly at the service's being shorthanded, if not at its being very badly managed for sections of his suburban constituency