I have been following the developments around the US Postal Service plans to sell Berkeley's (of University of California fame) historic post office to the private sector in order to save money. This is a beautiful building where people have been purchasing stamps, mailing letters and buying related material for 100 years.
There is considerable opposition to the sale as most people agree it is theft of public property. The USPS has plans to close some 4000 post offices throughout the nation and is selling off public property to the highest bidder. The private sector, developers, and all sorts of shysters looking for a quick buck are salivating at the prospect of getting their dirty little hands on public assets. We have pointed out in earlier blogs (What's profit got to do with a postal service) that we reject the idea that the post office is losing money. We don't accept that it should be a business no more than health care should, transportation, education or other social necessities. The USPS is a public service and the money spent running it is simply returning the wealth Labor creates to society in the form of social services.
The $10 billion or so the politicians claim that the USPS needs is a paltry sum in the sphere of things, a couple of human beings rake that in in a year and that's without doing any productive Labor. Berkeley City Council, the mayor and Barbara Lee, the Democratic Congresswoman have all "vowed to fight the sale.". What methods they will use, or strategies they have up their sleeves for stopping the sale and keeping the building public is anybody's guess. But we only have to look at the devastating effects of the capitalist offensive over the past period to see how ineffective these liberal politicians in the Democratic Party (the other Wall Street Party) are. Involved in the deal to sell off the property is the developer and multimillionaire Richard Blum, who is also a regent of the University of California and with his wife and partner, California's Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein have what has been called, "A Marriage Marinated in Money". They are worth lots of cash, made easier by the union of business and politics.
Democratic politicians cannot be relied on to defend our interests whether on the job or in our communities. This party is a party of the 1% and will defend the interests of the 1% despite all the rhetoric. It is workers and our communities that can stop this theft of public assets including the Berkeley post office. As usual, the force that could make a difference is absent, the heads of organized Labor. The leadership of the Bay Area Trade Union movement should make it known that they oppose this theft, that they will mobilize their members, the unorganized and affected communities in to a movement of opposition to this sale. They should publicly call for the occupation and take over of this property by those who own it and help organize this. They should threaten that if this sale goes through all unionized trades will not work there and mass picketing will be applied to prevent any deliveries of supplies or any other necessities to this project.
We know that they will resist doing this, and won't do it, not without a revolt from within their own ranks. But those of us active in Unions should openly call on them to do so pass resolutions for them to do so and argue for them to do so within the movement. This is how pressure and opposition from below is built. We know that the Labor hierarchy will not act as we have seen the student movement a couple years ago that called for strikes and actions to save education and the Union heads refused to support that limiting their activity to harmless protests. We have seen the same with the rise of the Occupy Movement where the ranks of Labor were not brought in to this movement and a united front of opposition to the 1% built.
In the case of the school occupation in Oakland recently to protest closures, the potentially powerful Labor movement was absent----another golden opportunity to build a Labor community alliance lost.
Where the Labor heads won't act, we have to lead. Those opposing the theft of Berkeley''s post office by the private sector cannot limit their opposition to filing a lawsuit and relying on so-called friendly Democrats. Occupations and mass direct action is what will save this post office. The post office is public property and the working public should decide how it is used and what for. If technology has rendered much of its services obselete, the physical space and what it shoudl be used for must be decided by its rightful owners, not coupon clippers like Richard Blum and his friends.
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