100 Days of Occupation!

staples-oct-hangout
The sidewalk outside of Staples in Berkeley has been Occupied now for over 100 days. As First They Came For the Homeless, the SF Occupier group that organized the effort posted recently on their Facebook.

Over 100 days and counting. The siege of staples in Berkeley continues. Still no valid complaints about our occupation. We number between 15 and 20 nightly split between 2 groups. The main info table is in the front and the tent city is in the back.

The group would love to have more community support – 100 days is a long time to be sitting in one place! Comraderie, food and soft drink are most welcome! Come by and visit them pretty much any reasonable hour at Shattuck and Durant in downtown Berkeley, just two or three blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART.

The Staples protest and occupation is in support of the nationwide Staples boycott that began in Berkeley some 10 months ago when Berkeley Post Office Defenders first rallied in front of Staples and was adopted by the American Postal Workers Union, spreading it across the country with their Stop Staples campaign. It is there jobs at stake should the Post Office continue to install miniature Post Offices staffed by low-wage, non-union Staples employees within those emporiums.

 photo postal-workers-picketing_zpse70d2f06.jpg

14 Months, 1 Occupation, 1 Petition and 1 Ballot Initiative Later, It’s Done: We (And Many Others) Rezoned the Post Office.

One year and two months after the idea was first floated, legislation to rezone Berkeley’s Historic Civic Center, including the US Post Office property at 2000 Allston Way, became law last night.

Why is this of interest to anyone outside of Berkeley? Because the new zoning ordinance is part of a long and bitter national struggle against the selling off of our public commons and the privatization of the Post Office.

Read the entire article, explaining the history and implications of the new ordinance, as posted to Daily Kos.

For background, see those Damned Hippies. They’re Saving the Post Office.

 photo polb-stop-the-sale_zps0e6df9c3.jpg

Yes on Measure R – Which Includes the Zoning Overlay for the Post Office – Comes Out in Full Regalia for Solano Stroll.

Solano Stroll is a yearly street fair in North Berkeley and Albany. Happening close to the election, it attracts political action groups, and this year was no exception.

The ‘Yes on Berkeley Measure R‘ Committee, which includes members from Berkeley Post Office Defenders and Save the Berkeley Post Office, put on quite the show, marching down Solano with a stiltwalker, streamers, umbrellas and green and white signs, passing out flyers supporting Measure R along the way.

Sallie Nelson, BPOD and SBPO veteran, organized the entire march.

JP Massar is riding shotgun in the car in the first picture, Harvey is driving with the ‘Stop Staples’ T-Shirt, and the stiltwalker to the rear. Sharon is in the right front in the 2nd picture, with a ‘Save Our Public Post Office’ sign in the background. There was also a booth, as you can see in last picture below, up Solano at the old Oak Theatre, masterfully put together by Sophie Hahn (not pictured), one of the measure’s proponents.

measure-r-solano-car-jp

measure-r-solano-save-pomeasure-r-solano-booth

Fourteen Months Later – Berkeley City Council Passes the Zoning Overlay Ordinance!

On September 9th, 2014, approximately fourteen months since the idea of a zoning restriction was proposed, The Berkeley City Council passed (by consent, unanimously) the Civic Center Zoning Overlay Ordinance, restricting the Civic Center area, including the Downtown Post Office, to civic uses.

In other words: Ding!

(It’s not quite soup yet; it still needs a second reading at their next meeting)

Also, again by consent, the resolution supporting the boycott of Staples was passed.

Susan Hammer of the APWU spoke in support of that resolution and got a big round of applause.

No one spoke in opposition to either motion.

Thanks go to Greg Jan, who came up with the idea those fourteen months ago; to those who planned and carried out the initial Post Office Occupation, drawing national attention to the fight to Save the Berkeley Post Office, to everyone who gathered petition signatures directed at the Mayor back in January; to those who spoke at City Council meetings and public hearings for almost two years now; and to those who gathered petition signatures for the Green Downtown Initiative (which includes the Zoning Ordinance). Getting that initiative on the ballot ultimately forced the City Council’s hand, at least those on it who had betrayed us in March by burying the ordinance in committee.

The USPS can still sell the Post Office; this just makes it harder for them and less attractive for potential buyers. There is no indication as yet that they will stop being pig-headed about wanting to sell it, as the example of the recent sale of the Bronx Post Office indicates.

The fight will continue until the privatization of our public commons ceases. But we can say – on this day – we won!
BeUDcpDCYAAmma8

A Letter of Solidarity from Vicenza, Italy!

TO BERKELEY POST OFFICE DEFENSE
(formerly Direct Defense Action Team to Save the Berkeley Post Office in coalition with Strike-Debt Bay Area)
on the occasion of the talk by
RALPH NADER
on the steps of the Berkeley Main Post Office, July 29, 2014
July 28 2014
We citizens of the town of Vicenza, Italy, are aware of the struggle of the citizens
of Berkeley, California, and of other towns in the USA to retain the US Postal
Service as a service for the public, to prevent its privatization, to defend the jobs
and the rights of its postal workers as part of the public sector, and in particular to
stop the sale of its precious historical buildings to private investors who will make
large profits off them by providing expensive private commodities instead of
public service.

Continue reading

Ralph Nader’s Speech at the Berkeley Post Office.

Transcript:

I want to ask you, at the next rally, how many of you can get one additional person? How many can get two? You get the idea? It’s got to be a momentum, growing and growing. Those of us back East, we look to Berkeley for leadership [applause].

So you saved this wonderful, majestic building, that’s got historic significance. The inheritance of Benjamin Franklin, who didn’t exactly think that after a couple centuries and a half the PO would mutate into Staples, or other big box stores where they want to have kiosks, and get rid of the local PO. There are 32,000 branches and central offices, more than Walmart and MacDonalds and a couple of other big chains combined. You’ve got 32,000 outlets, community outlets, non-profit outlets, gathering places, places where federal information about your needs and your rights can be posted, where people can talk things up, and meet, as well as get postal services. So this is not just a matter of stamps, or delivery on Saturday, important as that is. This is a fundamental institution that binds the country together. It can be updated, it can be freed from the shackles of UPS and FedEx and others who have made sure that the PO is prevented from delivering beer and wine, for example, and other things it can’t do to get revenue increases.

Now watch what happens when the myth, the propaganda of the collapsing PO, is exposed. The USPS is a public corporation. It’s the only major corporation in the US that is a creditor of Uncle Sam; a creditor of the US Treasury. Since it was established in 1970, it hasn’t received a penny in subsidy from the taxpayers. Very few people know that. In 2006, a Trojan Horse bill was passed through Congress that requires the PO to overpay – vastly overpay – for its pension benefits for which it has a $60 Billion outstanding credit to it from Uncle Sam, or the US Treasury. That’s where being a creditor. Of course, the US Treasury has already spent the money on wars, like supporting Israeli imperialism, or the military-industrial complex, and the F35, and the Trident submarines, which can blow up 200 cities per submarine, around the world in 45 minutes. They don’t have any money for the USPS, but they don’t need that money. They just need to repay the overpay on retiree benefits, and the huge overpay for health insurance. There’s no corporation in the country that is required by law to prepay 75 years in advance of health benefits. So, if you eliminate these prepays and get down to normal, crude accounting, the PO about breaks even. Can you imagine, even with the Recession, even with the internet, even with all the young people abandoning the PO, imagine if they would ever send a thank-you letter, by postage – they don’t even know what postage is – even with all that, according to the data, and Senator Bernie Sanders has put this out – go to his website – it’s about breaking even in the last 5-6 years, just about breaking even. So this is an exaggerated crisis, built in with Trojan Horses, in order to fulfill a number of purposes.

One is to deliver more business to the parasite private corporations. The second is to deliver real estate to the developers, and their brokers. This is not just a historic PO; this is a piece of valuable real estate. All over the country they want to convert, if they don’t knock them down, they’ll convert them into other commercial operations.

Continue reading

RALPH NADER WILL SPEAK ON THE POST OFFICE STEPS!

RALPH NADER

WILL SPEAK ON THE STEPS OF THE BERKELEY POST OFFICE.

ABOUT THE POST OFFICE, PRIVATIZATION OF OUR PUBLIC GOODS AND SERVICES & THE FIGHT TO DISMANTLE THE CORPORATE STATE

TUESDAY, JULY 29th 

MUSIC FROM 2:00 PM
TALK AT 2:30 PM

2000 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA


“Postmaster General Donahoe has demonstrated that he lacks the political courage
 to stand up to Congress and tell them that they caused this mess and they need to fix it. Instead, time after time, he has chosen to take the easy road and dismantle the USPS piece by piece – whether it is by cutting post office hours, closing post offices, cutting service and delivery standards, increasing postage rates, or now ending Saturday delivery.”

-      Ralph Nader, February 6th, 2013.