It’s not every day that we make national news. But Monday we did when 70 folks packed the sidewalk in front of the Gateway Post Office on the busiest day of the year for the USPS — part of the Gateway Mail Processing Center slated to close in February — talking with customers, sharing homebaked goodies, political songs, and our collective vision of what the United States Postal Service should be. Seven brave human dignity leaders and ROP supporters were arrested after refusing to leave when the manager refused to meet with them about keeping the plant open.
It was a great day! We set up in front of the publicly accessible post office on the sidewalk where an estimated 70 folks gathered. Folks there included the local union representing the workers in the plant (American Postal Workers Union), local politicians (Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy emceed, County Commissioner Sorenson and State Representative Lively spoke to the many services the USPS could evolve to include), allied urban organizations (Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network, Portland Community & Postal Workers United, Portland Jobs with Justice, and the Portland APWU & NALC locals sent folks), and human dignity groups, including the Community Alliance of Lane County, Occupy Cottage Grove, Blackberry Pie Society, Veterans for Peace Linus Pauling Chapter, and more.
We kicked off with ROP setting the tone of the entire event: we want to see the postal service evolve to meet our communities’ needs. What would it look like to have postal banking? One-stop shops for government services? Internet accessibility? How are we going to build the postal service so it meets our needs when we need it now more than ever?
Next up were the Ragin’ Grannies of Corvallis and Eugene who sang political parodies of Christmas carols singing the praises of the US Postal Service, organized labor, and then they threw in another song shaming Congress for upholding the interests of corporations over people.
Every politician shared their vision for what they want to see their post office to evolve to include. Leah Bolger, organizer with Veterans for Peace Linus Pauling Chapter out of Benton County, also did a great job of highlighting the fact that our tax dollars are going to fund unpopular wars while not a cent of our tax dollars fund the postal service. Our own Patrick Vroman, human dignity leader and ROP Board member out of Klamath Falls, read a letter from Senator Wyden who expressed his full support of encouraging the postal service to experiment, innovate, and evolve. The local APWU president-elect spoke to his great appreciation as a young father of twins for his reliable job with benefits, and how important it was to see the community rallying around this plant, demanding the service we need and deserve.
Next, the folks who had planned to be arrested led the group around the corner of the building to the bulk mail loading docks, chanting,”save the mail or go to jail!” Once there, we were given a ten minute notice to get out or get arrested, so a good twenty folks piled onto the already full loading docks to chant and sing. When the postal inspectors (the Postal Police) came out to threaten arrest, folks politely heckled that they were fighting to save their jobs, too.
Seven folks were arrested in total, including Bart Bolger (organizer with the ROP member group Veterans for Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter in Benton County and rural letter carrier out of Philomath), Leah Bolger (organizer with the ROP member group Veterans for Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter), Peg Morton (82 year old legendary human rights organizer out of Lane County and longtime supporter of ROP), Jamie Partridge (our very own volunteer ROP Road Warrior, retired Portland letter carrier, and organizer with Portland Community & Postal Workers United), Jack Herbert (retired AFSCME member, ROP supporter, and organizer with Portland Community & Postal Workers United), Reverend John Schwiebert (ROP supporter and organizer with Portland Community & Postal Workers United).
We are so proud of the human dignity leaders and ROPers who stood their ground!
Today the Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC not only covered our action in depth on national television, but actually used our language about how privatization is playing out with the intentional destabilization of the United States Postal Service, emphasizing that we are in a moment where we need more services not less, and APWU National President Mark Dimondstein said that he hopes to see other states falling in Oregon’s footsteps! Wow! You can watch the whole segment here:
As you can imagine, we are over the moon, and so, so proud to work alongside such incredible, dedicated, awe-inspiring folks! Are you feeling inspired? What would you like your post office to provide in your community? Do you have messages to our incredible Postal Warriors that we can pass along for you?