Arrested in Portland for occupying the USPS
POLICE ARRESTED 10 members of labor unions, faith groups, neighborhood organizations and Occupy Portland who refused to leave the University Station post office at closing time on May 24.
Unfurling two 10-foot banners reading "Occupy the Post Office" and "No Closures! No Cuts!" the protesters blocked the closure of the retail window while a rally of over 100 supporters chanted and sang outside. Earlier, a line of demonstrators marched through the office, delivering postcards addressed to the Postmaster General.
Portland's direct action to block the closure of a post office initiated a new level in the struggle to save the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Local organizers, part of a new cross-country network called Community and Postal Workers United (CPWU), hope their resistance will spark similar actions in other cities and towns. They vow to increase pressure on postal management and Congress through disruption of what the CPWU calls the "death spiral" of closures and cuts.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is poised to close half the nation's mail processing plants, including Portland's main office, while reducing hours at between 25 percent and 75 percent of the country's 13,900 post offices. Donahoe is also pushing for an end to door-to-door and Saturday delivery.
But none of this will fix the USPS's crisis--because that crisis was manufactured by Congress. Organizers say the financial problems the USPS is experiencing are due to a funding mandate passed by Congress in 2006 that requires the postal service to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. This law was a product of notorious American Legislative Exchange Council, and its Congressional allies who want to shrink and privatize public services.
Community members are pressuring Congress to pass bills HR 3591 and S 1853, which would repeal the pre-funding mandate and protect the Postal Service. "Donahoe is complicit in this plan to gut and cut our community post offices," said Lataya Dailey, an organizer with Occupy St. Johns. "We demand he resign immediately."
The Portland coalition to Occupy the Post Office included Occupy St. John's, Occupy Portland, the Rural Organizing Project and Jobs with Justice. Although locals of the postal unions didn't endorse the action, they invited Occupy to address their membership meetings, and a number of postal union members joined the rally.
According to Laurie King, an organizer with Occupy the Post Office:
People from across Portland are coming out to show that we value our public services, and we will not allow those services to be sabotaged by corporate interests. Today, we defend the postal service, but we know that these public services--our post offices, our libraries, our parks and even our schools are all the target of corporate interest's profit-driven machines. We are coming out to say that all communities deserve access to the mail service, and we will not have it handed over to the highest bidder.