by Patricia Jackson
The Community-Labor Coalition to Save the People’s Post Office rallied, marched and occupied the Civic Center Post Office in downtown San Francisco on June 27. This critical post office 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, D.C. 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 San Francisco. The majority of post offices threatened are in poor neighborhoods and rural areas.
This job cutting and service slashing affects 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 six days a week. This service is a public resource and these measures are steps toward privatization.
Why is this institution that has belonged to the public 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 the Postal Service 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 Lyon 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 post office open for folks to receive Social Security checks. Angela, a postal carrier, asked what can Congress be thinking by allowing the layoff of 220,000 people. There are already over 25 million workers unemployed and many have run out of unemployment compensation.
Gary of the Union of Unemployed Workers called for organizing the unemployed. The organization marched July 11 at noon from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Oakland unemployment office. Email Gary at Unionofunemployedworkers@gmail.com.
After the rally, people marched through U.N. Plaza, took the street and continued to the Civic Center Post Office chanting: The 1 percent, 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 Post Office 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! In all, some 200 people took part in the rally, march and occupation.
Build a nationwide movement! Defeat privatization! Keep living-wage jobs! Keep Saturday delivery! Save the people’s post office!