The Postal Service has announced that as of March 1st it will sever its relationship with Staples. No longer will minimum wage workers with no benfits process the US Mail, taking living wage jobs away from unionized postal workers.
A Nov. 8 ruling by the labor board [NLRB] required the Postal Service to discontinue its retail relationship with Staples… The board ruled that the Postal Service had violated the union’s collective bargaining rights by implementing the Staples deal, and said it must end the partnership with Staples upon request of the union.
The fight against the Staplization of the Postal Service may have ended with a board ruling in Washington, but it began right here in Berkeley.
Thursday, December 22nd, in Federal Court in San Francisco, Judge William Alsup declined to dismiss the Federal Government’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley. The lawsuit claims that Berkeley’s new zoning of the Historic District – which includes the downtown Berkeley Post Office – is unconstitutional. This zoning ordinance, which prohibits most commercial uses of the properties around Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley, was passed in 2014.
In refusing the motion to dismiss, Judge Alsup stated something pretty close to “This case needs a trial. A real trial. With evidence and witnesses… With blood on the floor.” (Really. I’m not making that last up).
A trial date is set for December 4th, 2017. The judge directed the Postal Service and the City of Berkeley to begin settlement discussions under the direction of a Federal Magistrate Judge. Those could happen as early as February, 2017.
See here and here for more on the lawsuit.
Courthouse News reports on the hearing here.
The transcript of the proceedings is here: 16_12_22_transcript.
Judge Alsup’s ruling rejecting the City of Berkeley’s Motion to Dismiss is here: motion-to-dismiss-denied.
On October 19, 2016 The Berkeley City Attorney, Zach Cowan (middle), filed a “Motion to Dismiss” the US Post Office’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley challenging Berkeley’s right to zone the 2000 Allston Way property, Berkeley’s downtown Post Office, as a part of the Historic District.
The lawsuit claims that the new zoning has dissuaded the USPS from putting the Post Office building up for sale again because it’s value has been reduced by the new zoning requirements, and that Berkeley cannot do this because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.
The Motion to Dismiss is was original scheduled to be heard in Judge Alsup’s court on December 1st, 2016, but was postponed until December 22nd, sometime between 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM ,at 450 Golden Gate in San Francisco. Judge Alsup’s courtroom is Courtroom 8 on the 19th floor.
In April, 2016, the Postal Service through the Department of Justice, threatened to sue Berkeley if Berkeley did not rescind the Historic District Zoning Overlay Ordinance, passed in September of 2014, that made most commercial uses of the zone (see right) – which includes the Post Office at 2000 Allston Way (8) – illegal.
This ordinance was passed in the middle of a four-year fight to save the downtown Berkeley Post Office from sale and privatization, begun in 2012 and ended, at least temporarily, by a Federal Judge’s decision in April of 2015.
On August 22nd, 2016, after the Berkeley City Council over the summer essentially refused – by neither formally replying to the DoJ threat letter nor voting to rescind the ordinance – the Postal Service carried through with their threat. (C.f. The actual complaint as a PDF: Complaint-08-22-16).
On June 18, Postal Police destroyed the garden (which they had already put behind a fence). Apparently, growing food on public land is a crime punishable by eradication. Photos to come.
Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party nomination for President of the United States, participated in a guerrilla gardening exercise through the fence of the Community Garden after she spoke at the invite of Berkeley Post Office Defenders (BPOD) and the local Green Party on June 3rd, 2016 on the steps of the downtown Berkeley Post Office.
In late April Postal officials had installed a metal fence, blocking access to the BPOD and First They Came for the Homeless initiated Community Garden at the Post Office. Two weeks earlier they had evicted the FTCftH protest occupation from the Allston/Miliva corner, removing the bike rack. That area was also fenced off.
About one hundred people came at 4:30 PM to hear Dr. Stein speak on the state of the economy, the state of our politics, the plight of the Post Office and what she would do about it all (good stuff!) if elected.