Ralph Nader’s Speech at the Berkeley Post Office.


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.

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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.


Not Bending, Not Folding, Definitely Not Spindling; Just Keepin’ it Lively Outside of Staples.

This is the one week anniversary of the Berkeley Staples table and outdoors occupation, staffed continually.  Dave Welsh honored that one-week anniversary by bringing his keyboard and playing from his repertoire of resistance songs, along with other musicians.

Meanwhile, a number of people, some from Berkeley Post Office Defenders, some from Save the Berkeley Post Office, passed out flyers to passersby, engaging them and convincing them not shop at Staples, while Occupy SF / First They Came for The Homeless peeps continued to staff the table.


Why We Are Here At Staples.

We are the Berkeley Post Office Defenders.

We are here to say

  • “No!” to union busting,
  • “No!” to McJobs,
  • “No!” to privatization of our constitutionally-guaranteed Postal Service,
  • “No!” to austerity,

Not only is Postal Service management selling off historic Post Offices like ours in Berkeley and others all over the country, they are engaged in an unheralded attempt to privatize the entire Postal Service workforce.

Starting Oct. 2013 eighty-four Staples stores began operating full-service Post Ofice counters, commencing a “pilot program” for the USPS. These counters are being staffed NOT by trained and Postal Employees making a living wage ($20-$30/hr with benefits) but with near minimum-wage Staples clerks ($9-$12/hr with few or no benefits) with no training in safe mailing handling.

This is just a first step. If Postal Service management is successful in this, their initial attempt to replace living wage, union jobs with low wage employment the program will roll out in over 1500 Staples all over the country; then management will certainly demand that something similar be extended into other kinds of postal employee work and large numbers of Post Offices will be sold off. Up to ½ million good-paying jobs are at stake!

The principle that government services should neither be privatized nor provided by employees who don’t make enough to keep themselves out of poverty is being directly challenged! We already provide food, housing and health subsidies to half of Walmart’s workforce because they can’t make ends meet on low wage jobs. Does it make sense to do the same for USPS workers?

We are here to demand

  • That Staples remove their Postal Service counters and cancel this pilot program, in Berkeley and across the country.
  • That the Postal Service stop playing the privatization game and pay all those who process the mail a living wage.
  • That the Postal Service discontinue its attempt to sell the downtown Berkeley Post Office and other Post Offices around the country, That the Postal Service provide adequate services at these beautiful, historic, centralized public buildings.


Lots more pictures here.

Occupyin’ Staples! Jammin’ the Sale!

At the beginning of June some Occupy San Francisco peeps took up stations outside of a Staples in San Francisco, protesting Post Office privatization and union-busting, and stayed there, 24-7, for nine days, garnering national attention.

Now they’ve come over to the East Bay, to Berkeley, setting up a table in front of the downtown Berkeley Staples store at Shattuck & Durant.They’ve been there for three days and counting. Visitors welcome, but don’t shop at Staples!

Here is the Facebook page they’ve established (with lots more pictures from both Berkeley and San Francisco) which goes by “First They Came for the Homeless.”

Meanwhile, Berkeley Post Office Defenders has been busy organizing for a “Jam The Sale!” event. If you’re a musician check it out below and let us know, or if you know any musicians, ask them to check out our flyer, send them our way and let BPOD know they are interested!



We’re Planning to JAM THE SALE!

A Musical Mobilization to Stop the Sale of our Post Office

 From morning to night musicians will play on the Berkeley Post Office steps proclaiming our community right to retain our Post Office and protesting the privatization of public resources.  

Berkeley Post Office Defenders thank all the musicians who have given their time and energy for the past two years to stop the United States Postal Service (USPS) from selling Berkeley’s beautiful, historic, publicly owned Main Post Office building at 2000 Allston Way. The building has been emptied of almost all services except for a couple of understaffed retail windows, but no sale has been announced.

This fight is now at a crucial juncture, and all musicians who care about the public commons and the public good are invited to help win it once and for all. Please come to the front steps of our post office, with your friends and families and fans, and play music! Sign up here so we can find you when the event is scheduled.

Things are happening fast.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a surprising and welcome observation that far from being an obsolete institution, the Post Office is ideally suited to provide nationally plenty of necessary and even profitable services, from internet access and package delivery to basic banking. The OIG also released a report finding that USPS has failed to meet its responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act to protect the public art, architecture and history our Post Offices hold, recommending that no sales take place until those issues are adequately addressed.

The Plan to Play

The OIG’s next report is expected to address the sales themselves. Our plan for action to stop the sale of Berkeley’s Main Post Office is to meet the release of that report with a demand for immediate withdrawal of our post office from sale. And we will make this demand with the persistent resistance that only music can sustain. From morning to night musicians will play on the post office steps under banners proclaiming our refusal to have our postal services discontinued and our building stolen:

“Haven’t you heard us yet?

Our Post Office is Not for Sale!”