The Berkeley Post Office Defenders (BPOD) say
- “No!” to union busting,
- “No!” to McJobs,
- “No!” to the privatization of our constitutionally-guaranteed Postal Service, and
- “No!” to austerity.
Those who run the Postal Service are taking the next step in the dismantling of the US Post Office: union busting. On Nov. 10 the USPS announced it was launching a pilot program to put postal retail units in Staples stores across the country. Eighty-four trial sites were selected, and many of them are already in operation – one in Berkeley.
These full-service Post Office counters are not staffed by trained and unionized USPS workers making $20-30/hr plus benefits, but by Staples employees earning poverty wages ($9-12/hr with few or no benefits). Unlike USPS workers, Staples clerks are not trained in the safe and reliable handling of the US Mail.
This new arrangement between the USPS and Staples is a significant move toward privatizing our public postal service. If these new post office counters are successful, that could result in more than 1,500 Staples USPS stations spreading over the US. In the vicinity of each store, US Post Offices will be put up for sale. If other retail chains make similar arrangements every post office in the country could be threatened with closure. Not only are 500,000 good union jobs at stake, but over 30,000 pieces of publicly owned real estate could be sold off to private interests.
On Saturday, Dec. 21, at 1:00 PM, BPOD will establish a presence in front of the Staples store at Shattuck & Durant in Berkeley. We will make visitors aware of what’s at stake: the needless elimination of half-a-million good jobs, the reckless sale of public assets that are vital to social welfare, the further enrichment of the 1%, the end of a publicly-controlled means of communication, and much greater hardship for those who depend on the USPS to deliver and send our mail. (More in the action here.)
- That Staples remove their Postal Service counters and cancel this pilot program
- That USPS stop the privatization game and pay those who process the mail a living wage
- That the Postal Service discontinue its attempts to sell the Berkeley Post Office and other Post Offices around the country, providing adequate services at existing locations.
Mark Dimondstein, the newly elected President of the American Postal Workers Union, released a statement on building a Grand Alliance to defend the Post Office
Writing to Congress is important, but it is not enough. Lobbying for legislation is important, but it is not enough. To succeed, postal workers must build a movement. We must build a grand alliance between the people of this country and postal workers. 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.
We must defend the public ownership of our postal service so that it can thrive, so that we can thrive, and so that we can prove our strength as a vast and massive community of equals.
Here in Berkeley, we are putting up that defense in front of Staples and on the steps of that national treasure of a post office on Allston Way, by doing everything we can to keep it in the hands of the people the US Postal Service belongs to.
Come out and join us.