Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Save the People's Post Office" campaign in Berkeley

San Francisco Community/Labor Coalition to Save the People’s Post Office
Contact: Dave Welsh [510 847 8657] [SPPO@sonic.net] [SaveThePostOffice@sonic.net]  
Community & Postal Workers United [cpwunited.com]
Save the Post Office [savethepostoffice.com]




"Police raid after 33 days on steps of Berkeley’s Post Office; Tent City to privateers: Hands off the public commons! Stop the theft of our Post Office!"
2013-11-10 by Dave Welsh:
The Tent City on the steps and grounds of Berkeley ’s historic main post office lasted 33 days, until broken up by police on August 27. Two dozen campers slept in tents for a month to rally opposition to the grand theft of the people’s Post Office being engineered by Postmaster General Donahoe and his collaborators in Congress. “These post offices were paid for by our grandparents,” said one camper. “Why should they be sold off to enrich some greedy private investors?”
Postal inspectors/police came by periodically, sometimes after midnight poking flashlights into the tents, threatening to remove the camp and its banners and arrest everyone. But the Tent City , calling itself Berkeley Post Office Defense, stood firm. Their message, emblazoned on banners over the entrance, said it all: “Our Post Office is Open – Let’s Keep it that Way” and “Our Post Offices – Not for Sale !”
The encampment got great media, including daily live reports from all local TV channels; articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Nation magazine; local papers and internet. A visitor said he saw our Tent City on CNN at his home in New Jersey .

It seemed an entire city wanted to keep the Post Office -
Every day dozens of passers-by signed up at the information table, to help halt the sale of the building and support the occupation. It’s like the entire city of Berkeley wanted to keep the P.O. as a public institution, stop it from being privatized, and preserve living-wage postal jobs.
Participants in the encampment included a minister, two graphic artists, a computer programmer, a retired letter carrier, a builder, musicians, a gardener, a livestreamer and a former mail handler. Some campers had no fixed place of residence.
An active support group organized hot food every night, flyers and palm cards, and a sound system. Many postal workers stopped by to visit the Tent City, including traveling letter carriers from Greensboro, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; and Salem, Mass.
Protesters denounced the Postmaster General's decision to sell or close thousands of post offices and mail processing plants, and lay off 100,000-plus postal workers. “Young people today are being robbed of future employment,” commented a camp visitor, an agricultural inspector. “What jobs will be left for my young son and my daughter?”
Destruction of the public Post Office would have a devastating effect not only on the half million postal workers, but also on the 8 million whose jobs depend directly or indirectly on the mailing industry. Today people of color make up 40% of the postal workforce; 21% are African Americans, 40% are women and 25% are veterans.
For many workers, it is one of the few places where living-wage jobs are still available in our low-pay, ‘post-industrial’ economy. The campaign to privatize and de-unionize the USPS is a threat to the livelihood of every affected worker and neighborhood. But it stands to hit hardest the elderly, the disabled, veterans, and in those rural areas and communities of color that are already suffering unemployment at Great Depression levels.

Saturday concerts, hot food and “movie night” on the P.O. steps -
Evenings at the Tent City featured a delicious, freshly cooked dinner; a daily meeting to decide on strategy and tactics; and “movie night.” Opening night featured the acclaimed Italian-language film, Il Postino (the Postman), and later on, The Postman, a Hollywood blockbuster; Matewan, about the coal wars and union organizing in Appalachia; and a film about the Great Postal Strike that shut down the country’s mail service for a week in 1970.
The post office steps were well used as public space during the month-long encampment. Saturday afternoon concerts featured local and traveling musicians, including longtime labor troubadour Anne Feeney [with rapper Michael O’Brien on an 11-state Summer of Solidarity tour to support labor struggles], Bay Area rockers the Funky Nixons, rapper Rude Boy, the Occupella Choir, as well as local musicians: guitarists Hali Hammer and Chicago, keyboardists Redd Welsh and Damian, drummer Ian Saxton, and the Oakland Phat Love Band.
There were teach-ins on the fight to save City College of SF; on the 1970 Postal Strike; and on the Debt Crisis, where big banks and finance companies are using debt to bankrupt homeowners, students and cities like Detroit . There were blues, reggae and rap jam sessions lasting till late in the afternoon.
The post office defenders also organized a march through downtown Berkeley , led by the MAG marching band and a jazz trumpeter named John, stopping for protest rallies at United Parcel Service and FedEx, which stand to gain from privatization of the USPS. Marchers took the streets, trading chants on the mic, before ending up at the Richard C. Blum Center on UC-Berkeley’s campus.
Blum, who is a U.C. regent and married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is also board chairman of real estate giant CBRE, which has the exclusive contract to sell off the Berkeley and other historic post offices. [See the new short book Going Postal, by investigative reporter Peter Byrne, for the slimy, self-dealing details of the ongoing campaign to sell off the Post Office for private profit. In one example, a prime parcel of USPS land in Boston was sold at a bargain price to Goldman, Sachs, one of the principal owners of CBRE.] 
http://berkeleycalling.wordpress.com/tag/peter-byrne/

Working for a year to save the Post Office -
The Tent City  was the culmination of a year-long campaign. The entire City Council came out against selling the Berkeley Post Office, as did both houses of the California state legislature and Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The mayor said they’d sell the post office “over my dead body.” In the course of the year, many hundreds came out to demonstrate and pack the hearings, or gathered on the steps and in the lobby to sing songs celebrating the Post Office, including “Please Mr. Postman” with new lyrics, led by Berkeley entertainer Hali Hammer.
Legal action to stop the sale is under way, as well as a plan to rezone the P.O. as part of a historic district of public buildings, so it can’t be sold to private investors. Activists were heartened by a temporary victory in Stamford CT , where a judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt the sale of an historic post office.


"Postal Union Calls For a ‘Grand Alliance’ to Save the Public Post Office"

2013-11-07 from "APWU News Bulletin 21 [http://www.apwu.org/news/nsb/2013/nsb21-dimonstein-grand_alliance.htm]:
In an impassioned speech before more than 1,000 union members, the newly-elected national president of the American Postal Workers Union, Mark Dimondstein, issued a call for a “grand alliance” to save the USPS as a public postal service and to protect postal jobs.
“Writing to Congress is important,” he declared, “but it is not enough. Lobbying for legislation is important, but it is not enough.” To succeed, postal workers must build a movement, he said.
“When the Flint sit-down strikers occupied a General Motors plant in the 1930s, labor law reform was won. When women took to the streets to demand the right to vote, they won. When courageous civil rights workers fought segregation with sit-ins and boycotts, the 1964 Civil Rights Act followed,” Dimondstein said.
“History shows that movements move Congress. Movements create legislative victories, not the other way around,” he said.
“We must build a grand alliance between the people of this country and postal workers,” he proclaimed. “We must mobilize our allies and their organizations, including seniors, retirees, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, the labor movement, community and faith-based organizations, the Occupy movement, and business groups in defense of America’s right to vibrant public postal services,” he said.
The labor movement is in dire straits, Dimondstein acknowledged. “Anything that stands for the public good — public libraries, public education, public utilities, public transportation and public postal services — is under severe attack, as are public workers and our unions.”
But postal workers are not alone, he said. Public workers in Wisconsin stood up and fought back, he noted. “Wal-Mart workers are stirring. Fast food workers are demanding a living wage.”
“A revitalized labor movement is indeed possible,” he declared, as he urged union members to join together to defend a public Postal Service and good union jobs.
Eighty APWU national officers were sworn in on Nov. 7. Their three-year terms begin Nov. 12.


Rally & Concert to Save the Berkeley Post Office featuring Peter Byrne.
September 28, 2013 @ 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Downtown Berkeley Post Office 2000 Allston Way Berkeley,CA 94704
Contact: Dave Welshsub@sonic.net
Berkeley Post Office Defense et al will be holding a rally/concert/teach-in on the steps of the Berkeley Post Office. Come learn about the latest news in the struggle to save the Berkeley Post Office and prevent the privatization of Post Offices across the country.
Enjoy the music and use the public commons as it should be!
* Music by the Funky Nixons, Hali Hammer and Redd Welsh.
* A Quick Update on the status of the proposed zoning ordinance for the Historic District which includes the Berkeley Post Office may be provided by Berkeley City Councilperson Jesse Arreguin.
* An Update on what’s happening with the ever-closer threatened eviction of the Albany Bulb residents will be provided.
* Food!
* Special Guest Speaker: Peter Byrne, author of "Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap..."
National award-winning investigative journalist Peter Byrne reports that the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been selling post offices at bargain basement prices—often to his own business partners. Richard C. Blum is the chairman of CBRE Group Inc., the largest commercial real estate firm in the world. In 2011, the Postal Service awarded Blum’s company an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America. Byrne’s in-depth investigation details the many apparent conflicts of interests driving the CBRE deals. It brings to light a scathing government audit of Blum’s contract that is being ignored by the Obama administration. The investigation reveals how Senator Feinstein pressured the Postmaster General to stop a postal construction project, and to favor the interests of a developer working with her husband’s firm. Byrne explains why the Post Office is not really broke and how powerful forces on Capitol Hill are angling to franchise the U.S. Mail monopoly. We learn that the post office executives in charge of Blum’s contract have been up to a financial shenanigans of their own. This is first class investigative reporting on a vital issue of the day that you will not find anywhere else.



"Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office Move Forward in Their Fight"  
2013-08-19 message from "Save the Berkeley Post Office" [SavetheBerkeleyPostOffice@gmail.com]:
Visit the national campign website at [nationalpostofficecollaborate.com]
Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office worked for the last year to prevent the sale of our historic Civic Center Berkeley Post Office building. They count among their successes the local and national press coverage of the issue, broad public support and continued pressure on the U.S. Postal Service. 
To build on these successes, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office are now concentrating on the lawsuit challenging the Post Office sale, legislative action by our State and Federal representatives, and a city of Berkeley effort to rezone the downtown as a governmental, cultural and educational district. 
The group is also working with other communities across the nation who are threatened with the sales of their post offices. From the Bronx to Santa Monica, the USPS is selling the historic post offices that were entrusted to it. 
Because of the need to focus on legal, legislative and community matters, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office finds that it is time  to withdraw from participation in the camp at the Main Post Office as of noon, Sunday, August 18. 2013. We deeply appreciate the commitment of those in the encampment, but need to withdraw to work on other priorities. The encampment or In-Tents Defense of our Post Office is self-governed by Berkeley Post Office Defense which shares our goals of public ownership of our historic post office and a United States Postal Service that serves the common good. 
Several thousand Berkeley citizens have signed letters to our legislators and support the fight. The whole community--the city of Berkeley, the California Assembly and Senate, and federal representatives have supported the efforts to prevent the sale of this historic building. Media coverage includes the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, KTVU, KRON, KABC television. Congressional proposals are in process by Senator Bernie Sanders and from our own Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  
Recently, the U.S.Postal Service notified Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates that the appeal of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office is under consideration by the U.S. Postal Service Postal Regulatory Commission, and it will make a decision within 120 days. If the USPS finds that they will continue with the sale, we may return to the encampment. Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office would like to thank its many supporters and encourage them to join with us in the continuing effort. We will still have tables and information in front of the post office to keep people aware of the issues.    
In Berkeley, work proceeds at several levels to prevent the sale of our cultural heritage. 
* Legally:  Save the Berkeley Post Office is joining with the National Post Office Collaborate to take legal action with other communities, such at La Jolla, the Bronx, and Chelsea, NY, to stop these sales. 
* Legislation: Senator Bernie Sanders is being asked to amend his bill to prevent the sale of historic post office. Thirty Senators and 167 Congressman are co-sponsoring his bill and the companion bill in the House. We are also trying to rezone the area.
* Education and Outreach:  The Committee continues to table and leaflet in front of the Post Office to encourage Berkeley residents to support efforts to save the building for the public which it was meant to serve and which paid for it.
* Fundraising:  the public is asked to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Post Office Collaborate to support the legal efforts to stop these sales. Please go to [nationalpostofficecollaborate.com], then click on DONATE. Or mail a check to the National Post Office Collaborate, P.O. Box 1234, Berkeley, CA 94701.  
"We want these post office buildings to stay within the public domain," said Jacquelyn McCormick, who organized the National Post Office Collaborate to prevent these sales. It is working with Harold Hughes, retired USPS General Counsel, now an attorney with Utah-based Ford & Huff, to look at legal strategies.  In April the Postal Service approved the sale of three other historic post office buildings: the Wall Street post office in La Jolla, Old Chelsea on West 18th Street in New York City, and the Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse.
As in Berkeley, these three post offices contain New Deal public artworks.The murals in the Bronx by Ben Shahn are masterpieces, monumental in scale and extremely well-known. We, along with these cities, are legally challenging the U.S.P.S.' right to sell these historic buildings. There is no real financial need for the USPS to sell off its assets. As of 2003, the USPS real estate portfolio had an estimated worth of $110 billion. The process of privatizing USPS real estate holdings may yield enormous commissions to CB Richard Ellis, the giant commercial realty firm that was awarded an exclusive contract for USPS property sales.  University of California Regent Richard Blum is the chairman of CB Richard Ellis and the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein. 


Bulletin #3 – Day 12 of Tent City on steps of Berkeley’s Post Office; Tent City to privateers: Hands off the public commons! Halt the heist of the Post Office!
Berkeley , California , August 7, 2013 – The Tent City on the steps of Berkeley ’s main post office is now in its 12th day. Two dozen campers have been sleeping there to rally opposition to the Grand Theft of the people’s Post Office being engineered by Postmaster General Donahoe and his right wing collaborators in Congress. “These post offices were paid for by our parents and grandparents,” said one camper. “Why should they be sold off to line the pockets of a handful of big corporations?”
Postal police and postal inspectors come by every day and all night, threatening to remove the camp and its banners, and arrest the protesters. But the Tent City , now calling itself Berkeley Post Office Defense (BPOD), is standing firm.
The action has attracted broad support in the city, and some great media coverage including daily live reports from all TV channels. Every day hundreds of old and new supporters stop by the information table, volunteering to join the campaign to halt the sale of the building and defend the people's Post Office. Their strong support for the occupation is heartening. It seems that virtually the entire city of Berkeley wants to preserve the P.O. as a public institution, prevent it from being privatized, and defend the public commons.
Participants in the encampment include a retired postal letter carrier, a minister, two graphic artists, a computer programmer, a builder, musicians, a gardener, a livestreamer and a former mail handler. An active support group provides food, flyers, supplies and and sound system.
Protesters denounce the Postmaster General's decision to sell historic post offices in Berkeley, the Bronx (NY) and LaJolla (CA), close thousands of post offices and mail processing plants, and lay off 100,000-plus unionized postal workers making a living wage, in what they say is a "systematic plan to dismantle and privatize the postal service."
“Young people today are being robbed of future employment,” said one passerby, “What jobs will be left for my young son and my daughter?” The Postal Service is one of a rapidly diminishing number of employers offering a living wage job, and is the largest unionized workplace in the nation with 550,000 workers. That makes it a prize target for the privateers who hope to bust up the Post Office and transfer the work to private companies paying Walmart wages.
Destruction of the public Post Office would have “a disproportionate effect on workers and communities of color,” according to Tent City occupant Dave Welsh, a retired postal worker. “Today people of color make up 40% of the postal workforce (20% for African Americans). For many workers of all nationalities, it is one of the few places where living-wage jobs are still available in our low-pay, ‘post-industrial’ economy. The campaign to privatize and de-unionize the USPS is a threat to the livelihood of every affected worker and neighborhood. But it stands to hit hardest in those communities of color that are already suffering unemployment at Great Depression levels.
“We need a movement that puts in the forefront those most impacted by the postal crisis – Black, brown and rural communities; elderly, disabled and low-income people,” Welsh added.
Every evening at the Tent City features a delicious, freshly cooked dinner; music by local and traveling musicians; a daily meeting to decide on strategy and tactics; and “movie night.” Opening night featured the acclaimed Italian-language film, Il Postino (the Postman), followed up by The Postman, a Hollywood blockbuster; Matewan, about the coal wars and union organizing in Appalachia; and a film about the 1970 Postal Strike that shut down the country’s mail service for most of a week.
The Post Office Defense action is the latest in a year-long campaign. The entire City Council came out against selling the Post Office, as did both houses of the California state legislature. Many hundreds came out to demonstrate and pack the hearings, or gathered at the steps and in the lobby to sing songs celebrating the Post Office, including “Please Mr. Postman” with new lyrics.
Legal action to stop the sale is under way, as well as a plan to rezone the P.O. as part of a historic district of public buildings, so it can’t be sold to private investors.
Organizations supporting the struggle in Berkeley include Save the Berkeley Post Office committee, Berkeley Post Office Defense (BPOD) and Strike Debt Bay Area. For more information, go to www.savethebpo.com or www.bpod.us or http://strike-debt-bay-area.tumblr.com/ A good source for the overall struggle to save the P.O. is www.savethepostoffice.com or www.cpwunited.com

To see photos and article on Tent City , and samples of TV coverage: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/06/1229362/-Enter-the-Postal-Police-Day-10-of-the-Berkeley-Post-Office-Occupation http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielarauz/9436414593/in/set-72157634933471546

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=9188100&pid=9188138&syndicate=syndicate&section
Save the Berkeley Post Office Protesters Set up Camp | NBC Bay Area*


2013-08-05 "Direct defense of Berkeley P.O. now in its second week; Tent City on the steps of our historic Post Office"
by Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, who is an organizer with Save the People’s Post Office, a community/labor coalition [www.SaveThePostOffice.com]:  
Berkeley, California, August 5, 2013 – The growing Tent City, now over a week old, is still up and running on the steps of Berkeley’s main post office. Some 25 campers in a dozen tents are getting ready for their 9th night in direct defense of this historic post office.
The action has attracted broad support in the city, and some great media coverage. Every day hundreds of old and new supporters stop by the information table, volunteering to join the campaign to halt the sale of the building and defend the people's Post Office. Their strong support for the occupation is heartening. It seems that virtually the entire city of Berkeley wants to preserve the P.O. as a public institution, prevent it from being privatized, and defend the public commons.
Protesters denounce the Postmaster General's decision to sell historic post offices in Berkeley, the Bronx (NY) and LaJolla (CA), close thousands of post offices and mail processing plants, and lay off 100,000-plus unionized postal workers, in what they say is a "systematic plan to dismantle and privatize the postal service."
Participants in the encampment include a retired postal letter carrier, a minister, two graphic artists, a builder, musicians, several computer specialists, a gardener and a former mail handler. An active support group provides food, flyers, media support, supplies and a sound system.
Evenings feature a delicious, freshly cooked dinner; music by local and traveling musicians; a daily meeting to decide on strategy and tactics; and “movie night.” Opening night featured the great Italian-language film, Il Postino (the Postman), followed up by The Postman, a Hollywood blockbuster; Matewan, about the coal wars in Appalachia; and a film about the 1970 Postal Strike that shut down the country’s mail service for most of a week.
The defense action is the latest in a year-long campaign. The entire City Council came out against selling the Post Office, as did both houses of the California state legislature. Many hundreds came out to demonstrate and pack the hearings, or gathered at the steps and in the lobby to sing songs celebrating the Post Office, including “Please Mr. Postman” with new lyrics.
Legal action to stop the sale is under way, as well as a plan to rezone the P.O. as part of a historic district of public buildings, so it can’t be sold to private investors.


"Save the Berkeley Post Office Protesters Set up Camp"
video-stills from "ABC7 News" [abclocal.go.com/kgo/video?id=9188100&pid=9188138&syndicate=syndicate&section=]





2013-07-29 "Tents on the Post Office Steps - 3rd night of "direct defense" of Berkeley P.O."  
by Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, who is an organizer with Save the People’s Post Office, a community/labor coalition [www.SaveThePostOffice.com]:  
Berkeley -- On Saturday, July 27, after a "Save the Post Office" rally/fiesta of 200, local activists launched a direct defense of this historic post office. The action attracted broad support in the city, and some great media coverage.
By Monday evening, about 15 campers were getting ready for their third night of sleeping in nine tents on the steps of the P.O. Hundreds of supporters stopped by throughout the day, volunteering to join the campaign to stop the sale of the building and defend the people's Post Office.
Protesters denounced the Postmaster General's decision to sell historic post offices in Berkeley, the Bronx (NY) and LaJolla (CA), close thousands of post offices and mail processing plants, end door-to-door and Saturday delivery, and lay off 100,000-plus unionized postal workers, in what they said was a "systematic plan to dismantle and privatize the postal service."
Every evening features a delicious, freshly cooked dinner; music by local and traveling musicians; a 6 p.m. meeting to decide on strategy and tactics; and “movie night.” Opening night featured the great Italian-language film, Il Postino (the Postman).
The defense action is the latest in a year-long campaign. The entire City Council came out against the sale, as did both houses of the California state legislature. Many hundreds came out to demonstrate and pack the hearings, or gathered at the steps and in the lobby to sing songs celebrating the Post Office, including “Please Mr. Postman” with new lyrics.
Legal action to stop the sale is under way, as well as a plan to rezone the P.O. as part of a historic district of public buildings, so it can’t be sold to private investors.





"Building a powerful nationwide grass-roots movement to Save the People’s Post Office"
by Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, who is an organizer with Save the People’s Post Office, a community/labor coalition [www.SaveThePostOffice.com]:  
Without question, the big-business class – and their agents in USPS headquarters, the executive branch and Congress – are on a path to dismantle the Postal Service, privatize the profitable parts of it, and neutralize or destroy the postal unions.
Their whole economic system is in crisis. It’s not working. So the 1% are trying to pull their own chestnuts out of the fire by a full-bore attack on unions, the workers and the poor – an attack on our union contracts, our jobs, economic security, wages, benefits, conditions, and social services. Their assault on the Post Office is part of this strategy.
The Post Office was founded July 26, 1775 by the Continental Congress, to provide public mail service. Today private companies like Pitney Bowes are salivating over the prospect of grabbing a chunk of this highly successful, $69-Billion-in-annual-revenue business. The plan? – to close post offices in poor and rural areas; shutter mail processing plants delaying the mail by 1 day to 1 week; eliminate door-to-door and Saturday mail delivery; wipe out 100,000+ union postal jobs in a time of high unemployment. They also want to sell off historic landmark post offices that they own free-and-clear like those in the Bronx, New York , and Berkeley CA , containing priceless New Deal artwork, and then pay top-dollar to rent retail space to replace it.
How can we fight it? By itself, the legislative strategy – trying to influence Congress – is not working. Congress is bought and sold by the 1% – they won’t begin to listen to us until we’re in the streets, mobilized in all our numbers.
The rank and file postal workers, and our communities, who support us – this is the source of our real strength. We need to reach out and tap into it, just as we did in the Great 1970 Postal Strike. That grassroots upsurge brought about a big change in the relationship of forces between postal workers and the bosses. What used to be work for poverty wages became a living-wage job, with a union contract to protect the workers’ rights. Any postal worker can see this.
A statement by the Million Worker March movement helps to clarify the situation we face today: “All important social movements …in this country were started from the bottom up (rank and file/grass roots) and not from the top down….A handful of the rich, and powerful corporations have usurped our government. A corporate and banking oligarchy changes hats and occupies public office to wage class war on working people. They have captured the State in their own interests.” (Oct. 17, 2011)
When Reagan took office as President, one of his first acts was to bust the PATCO air traffic controllers union, ushering in three decades of attacks on the union movement and steady decline in the living standards of the working class.
Today, the 1% have a much bigger target – the Postal Service. They hate the fact that the 574,000 who work for the nation’s second biggest employer are under union contract and making a living wage.
They hate the fact that in 1970 the postal workers took their destiny into their own hands and shut down the entire mail system for the better part of a week, demonstrating the power of the workers and disrupting business as usual. And the 1970 nationwide postal strike taught another lesson: that the wealth of the 1% only exists because the 99% creates it for them.
The nation’s largest employer is Walmart. The employer class would dearly love to reduce those 574,000 postal workers to Walmart wages and non-union status. But just because they want it, doesn’t mean they’ll get it.
The racist side of the campaign to demolish the P.O. and bust the unions
There’s another side to the move to dismantle and destroy the public Postal Service, this country’s largest unionized employer. And that is the disproportionate effect it would have on workers and communities of color.
If you’ve ever seen a group picture of postal workers from before the second world war, in many places it would be a practically all-white group, and mostly men. But after World War II things began to change, with the development of the civil rights and Black liberation movements. The P.O. began hiring Asian Americans, Latinos, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and a lot more women. So that by the time of the 1970 Strike, it was a much more integrated and diverse work force.
Today the Postal Service is the largest single source of Black employment [20% of the postal workforce]. For many workers of all nationalities, it is one of the few places where living-wage jobs are still available in our low-pay, “post-industrial” economy.
The campaign to privatize and de-unionize the USPS is a threat to the livelihood of every affected worker and neighborhood. But it stands to hit hardest in those communities of color that are already suffering unemployment at Great Depression levels. We need a movement that puts in the forefront those most impacted by the postal crisis – Black, brown and rural communities; elderly, disabled and low-income people.

Building Community/Labor Coalitions in every city and town -
We can and must build a powerful, nationwide movement to defeat privatization, maintain living-wage postal jobs, expand postal services, and save the Post Office as a public entity operating in the public interest.
This grass-roots effort has already begun. Community-based coalitions are springing up, with some creative tactics. Here’s a sampling:
* In New York City, Community-Labor United for Postal Jobs & Services organized large neighborhood protests to stop the closing of postal facilities in Harlem, South Bronx, Staten Island, Chelsea , and Coop City – as well as keep 6-day delivery and preserve living-wage postal jobs. The youth group of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network participated in a “Don’t Close It” march and occupation of a Harlem station. The coalition also organized a march of 500 to the Main Post Office on the anniversary of the 1970 postal strike, and a campaign to save the historic Bronx GPO, with active participation by the Puerto Rican community. http://clupjs.com
* In Portland, Oregon, a chanting crowd of 100-plus including postal union heads massed outside University Station, on the USPS chopping block for closing. Inside the station, one retired carrier and nine from Occupy Portland unfurled 10-foot banners reading, “Occupy the Post Office” and “No Closures, No Cuts!” and were arrested when they refused to leave. Media were all over the story. The community coalition includes Jobs with Justice and Rural Organizing Project, which has mounted a “Return to Sender” campaign to preserve full-service post offices [without reduced hours] all over rural Oregon . When the USPS replaced union postal truckers with scab contractors, the coalition blocked the scab trucks.
* In San Francisco, a large crowd with an Occupy the Post Office banner took over the lobby of the Civic Center post office– one of four in the city that the Postmaster General wants to close. The station is a lifeline for the many people without homes, or living in city-supported “single room occupancy” hotels for the very poor – who get their mail in P.O. boxes or at the “general delivery” window. Some 200 people took part in the rally, march or occupation of the P.O. It was organized by Save the People’s Post Office, a coalition that includes NALC and APWU activists, Living Wage Coalition, SF Labor Council, Church Women United, Green Party, Gray Panthers, Occupy SF Action Council, Union of Unemployed Workers, and Senior Action Network. After the action at Civic Center P.O., the Postmaster decided not to close the four S.F. stations after all. SaveThePostOffice@sonic.net
* Local coalitions have banded together to form Communities and Postal Workers United. CPWU organized a four-day hunger strike in Washington DC . The 10 fasting postal workers’ message to Congress: “Stop Starving the Postal Service!” The fast was heavily covered by national and local media – a breakthrough in explaining to the public about the pre-funding mandate and other efforts to sabotage and privatize the service. The week ended with a protest at USPS headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza. Retired mail handler John Dennie attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of Postmaster General Donahoe for the PMG’s criminal actions in seeking to destroy the service. [Dennie charged the PMG with violating 18 US Code 1701, Knowingly and Willfully Obstructing Passage of the Mail, and 18 USC 1703, Delay of the Mail.] When police grabbed Brother Dennie, demonstrators sat-in. Since then, CPWU chapters have sprung up in many cities and towns, including Tucson AZ and a very active chapter in southern California . www.cpwunited.com
* At the U.S. Capitol - Last December, when Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rep. Darrell Issa announced their intention of using the lame-duck session of Congress to eliminate 6-day mail delivery, CPWU members called a hunger strike for the duration of the session; camped out in a banner-strewn tent on the National Mall facing the Capitol; rented a horse-drawn carriage to bring a giant “Save Saturday delivery” postcard to the White House; hand-delivered to the postal Board of Governors a dossier documenting long delays of mail after the closing of the Frederick, Maryland processing plant; and staged an hour-long sit-in at Issa’s office, which led to one arrest and an impromptu 20-minute debate with Rep. Issa himself.
* In Berkeley, CA a year-long campaign to stop the sale of our historic post office has energized the community. The entire City Council came out against the sale, as did both houses of the California state legislature. Many hundreds came out to demonstrate and pack the hearings. Many gathered at the steps and in the lobby to sing songs celebrating the Post Office, including “Please Mr. Postman” with new words. Legal action to stop the sale is under way, as well as a plan to rezone the P.O. as part of a historic district of public buildings, so it can’t be sold to private investors. On July 27, 2013, after a rally/fiesta of 200, activists launched a “direct defense” of the historic post office, sleeping overnight in tents on the steps of the P.O., providing freshly cooked meals and signing up volunteers. Each night is “movie night,” starting with a great Italian film, Il Postino (the Postman). Great media coverage.
The movement is under way and growing, initiated by rank and file letter carriers, clerks and mail handlers and aroused communities who don’t want to lose their Post Office. We can no longer wait for “someone else” to get things going. That “someone else” may very well be you.


2012-07-15 "Forum on Fighting Post Office Closings [Labor Fest event]"
Sunday, 10:00 AM - 2133 University Ave., Berkeley [Berkeley Arts Festival Space] 
With Gray Brechin [UC Project Scholar], Dave Welsh [Letter Carriers], Jose Carlos Riquelme [Postal Workers]
***Video: June 27 S.F."Save the P.O."rally [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux9fHfuaEeU]
***Video: March & occupation [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St5QjL48LaI]


2012-06-28 "Save Our Post Offices" by Patricia Jackson
[http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/28/18716505.php]:
The Community Labor Coalition to Save Postal Jobs & Services of SF takes it to the streets to save Civic Center PO.

March to Save the People’s Post Office -
 Wednesday, June 27, Community Labor Coalition to Save Postal Jobs & Services held a rally, march, and occupy of the Civic Center Post Office which serves many of the city’s homeless. We gathered in solidarity to support the national June 25-28 Hunger Strike by postal workers in Washington DC. This movement is growing across the country to stop threats of eliminating 220,000 living-wage jobs and closing 3,700 post offices including four in S.F. The majority of post offices threatened are in poor neighborhoods and rural areas.
 These job-cutting, service-slashing ideas affect people who depend on deliveries of medications, social security, and pension checks. Though we live in a digital communication society, the arrival of our mail is the only communication in the country that reaches everyone 6 days a week. This service is a public resource and these measures are steps toward privatization.
 Why is this public institution since 1792 in danger? In 2006, Congress manufactured a “budget crisis” through the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which forced the United States Postal Service to pre-fund its future health care benefit payments to retirees for the next 75 years. This jeopardized USPS with a $20 billion debt. No other government or private corporation is required to do this.
 The rally at the Federal Building kicked off with speakers from the coalition including, postal workers, labor and community groups, occupy Oakland and occupy SF.
 Coalition member, Michael of SF Gray Panthers spoke of the effects on seniors and the importance of keeping these good wage jobs traditionally held by people of color. Anne from Living Wage told of the necessity of keeping the PO open for folks to receive Social Security checks. Angela, a postal carrier asked what can congress be thinking by allowing the lay off of 220,000 people. There are already hundreds of thousands of workers already unemployed and many have run out of unemployment!
 Gary of the Union of Unemployed Workers, called for organizing the unemployed. The organization will have a march July 11 at noon from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Oakland unemployment office. Unionofunemployedworkers [at] gmail.com
 After the rally, people marched through UN Plaza, took the street and continued to the Civic Center PO chanting;
* The 1% full of greed Don’t’ let them take away what the people need!
* Whose Post Office? Our Post Office!
* No Closures No Cuts No Ifs’ ands’ or buts’!
* Our Post Office is a People’s Institution It’s been around since the Constitution!
 The entire protest reached the Civic Center PO and occupied it! We continued chanting and listening to people talk of saving the post office. Dave sang us his song, “Mr. Postman” “Mr. Postman, don’t go away, you walk down every street in the USA.” All then walked outside to continue protesting. With our show of determination and power, we can keep this post office, and all others open to keep serving the public. And we will be back!”
 Build a nationwide movement!
Defeat privatization!
Keep living-wage jobs!
Keep Saturday Delivery!

Photos by Patricia Jackson ( patricialee [at] earthlink.net ) 

Postal worker speaks at June 27 protest in San Francisco outside PO

Dave sings his song

Our Post Office

We enter the PO

march thru the Plaza

Inside the PO

Generations together

on the march 

No closing no lay offs

Occupy 

occupy outside

on the march 

outside the PO 

ave our Post Office

Marching

start of March

Taking the streets 

Angela 

Gray Panther Banner

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