Post Office Employee Interrogated for Union Activities

On , Nat Hentoff’s column in The Village Voice carried a story of a post office employee and union organizer who was interrogated at length by postal inspectors in the wake of a strike threat. Excerpts:

“…one of the gentlemen pulled a file out of his briefcase. It looked like it contained about 200 or 300 pages. They went through it. Nat, I was shocked! There didn’t seem to be one thing — personal, private, or otherwise — that they didn’t know.

“The file went back 13 years when I led a strike at the … Country Club at the age of 14! … They spoke about my personal life. My wife recently had a miscarriage. They inferred that I was responsible because she was so worried and upset due to my political and union involvement.

“This was the only time I got mad. I told them, and I quote, ‘Why don’t you shut the fuck up?’

“They spoke about my sister, who is retarded, and asked who would take care of her if I proceed with my actions. At this point I should interject that at certain intervals I would answer a question with things like, ‘That’s a nice tie you’ve got on.’ ‘I think it’s going to rain.’ All irrelevant comments which really infuriated them.

“They spoke about private things which they could only have known by tapping my phone. They talked about my in-laws, my neighbors, the fact that I moved from … County because I couldn’t arouse the migrant workers enough. I did inter-act with migrant workers there. Their facts were very accurate.

“They also spoke about my political activism. I am involved with and support in varying degrees: ACLU (they said it was Communist), Black Panther Party, Young Lords Party, Inmates Liberation Party … the Committee for a Fair Trial (Berrigans), People’s Coalition, Clergy and Laymen Concerned, War Tax Resistance.

“I have been very involved with War Tax Resistance. I have not paid any excise phone tax for two years. In , I filed a new W-4, claiming 17 dependents. In letters to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, President Nixon, and our two Senators, I explained that I could no longer abide by their narrow interpretation of what constitutes a dependent and that because I was so concerned with the senseless slaughter of Asians and Americans in Southeast Asia; economic repression of Blacks, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and Indians here; and the complete absence of humanism in the distribution of our tax dollars, I was claiming 17 of these people and would use the money to support them and groups which seek to liberate them.

“The men who had identified themselves as postal inspectors spoke on the subject for about 40 minutes, indicating … I was the only federal employee in the country who has filed what they called a fraudulent W-4 form. They said they would be correcting that situation shortly.”