You know that the issue of post office closings—and by extension potential postal service privatization—is an issue of right versus left and rich versus poor when Ralph Nader gets involved.
Well that’s just what happened recently when the longtime consumer rights activist and former Presidential candidate went to Berkeley CA to encourage local activists in their fight to prevent the sale of the city’s historic main post office building to private developers, according to the San Jose Mercury News http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_26245603/berkeley-nader-talk-supports-post-office-activists.
These activists belong to the National Post Office Collaborative, http://www.nationalpostofficecollaborate.com, an organization that’s battling post office closures all across the country. They’ve actually won a few battles. Last year, for example, a U.S. District Judge in Connecticut ruled that the USPS must comply with the mandates of the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act regarding the proposed sale of a post office in Stamford, CT http://www.nationalpostofficecollaborate.com/the_stamford_win_and_why_it_is_significant.
The group, which brought the complaint to court, believes this ruling could have wide implications, pointing to the fact that since that time the postal service has not sold one building.
But the Collaborative has strong forces working against it in resisting the USPS’s selloff plans. At the Berkeley rally, Nader mentioned that one of them is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). She’s married to Richard Blum, chairman of CBRE, the real estate giant that has a contract with the postal service to sell off its properties without competitive bidding.
Nader did warn the activists to keep plugging away because this fight if far from over. He should know. Because nearly a half century since he came out with his book “Unsafe at any Speed” about General Motors’ Corvair car http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsafe_at_Any_Speed#.22The_Sporty_Corvair.22 the automotive giant apparently hasn’t learned its lesson.
Over the past few years, GM installed faulty ignition switches in many cars which allegedly led to deaths, product recalls and lawsuits. The automotive giant is still reeling from the effects of these defective switches, according to the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/business/a-new-gm-recall-covers-800000-more-cars.html.
The post office anti-closure protesters may take heart from the grassroots campaign that helped lead drugstore chain Walgreens to back off from its plan to move its headquarters overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes. So it is sometimes possible for ordinary people to affect positive change.
But stopping the USPS from closing more post offices and moving toward greater privatization is still likely gonna be a long battle.