About Bill Brickley

Bill is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, serving on the NH Letter Carrier Executive Board as CD1 Legislative Liaison. Also serves on the NH AFL-CIO Executive Board. Former NH Area Coordinator Amnesty International and NH Labor News Blogger Follow him on twitter @BillBrickley

I Cannot Believe What Shira Goodman (Pres. of Staples) Said About The Dedicated USPS Employees

Shira Goodman
Shira Goodman

Shira Goodman, CEO of Staple Inc

Shira Goodman, North American Commercial President for Staples couldn’t hide her contempt for Postal Workers when she spoke to hundreds of Staples employees in her first ever Town Hall style meeting. Ms Goodman chastised Postal Workers with several disparaging remarks including: “It must be nice to have a job for life” then adding “those days are over, this country can’t afford to do business as usual”. In her world Staples workers are nothing more than temporary workers always at risk to have their jobs abolished.

It comes as no surprise that Shira Goodman was on the “Jobs and Economy” Steering Committee during Mitt Romney’s transition to Massachusetts Governor in 1992. Judging by her attitude towards workers there is no doubt she buys into Romney’s hateful 47% comment made during his presidential run.

It’s also hardly shocking that Shira Goodman’s job before joining Staples in 1992 was being a manager for Bain and Company (1986-1992). Staples was one of her clients. Bain was the leader in outsourcing workers jobs for management profit. She must feel quite comfortable in outsourcing postal jobs to her transient workforce.

The negative ramifications are already being felt by postal workers. In the San Francisco area the USPS has announced it is reducing customer service hours in 21 of the 39 Post Offices. “They’re shutting the doors at 5 p.m. and posting signs sending people to private locations – including Staples – to conduct postal business,” said Geoffray Dumaguit, president of the San Francisco Local of the American Postal Workers Union. “This will inconvenience and irritate our customers, who often need to visit a Post Office after work.”

Shira Goodman must also feel quite comfortable in knowing her husband Senior Rabbi Wesley Gardenswartz seems to have pretty close to a “job for life” at Temple Emmanuel in Newton, Massachusetts. I certainly am not anything close to a theologian but “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is a popular twist on a biblical proverb that I am sure Shira Goodman knows of. Considering her situation It seems the height of hypocrisy to be attacking the hard-working employees of the worlds best Postal Service.

I am sure the bible has plenty of verses about the evil of greed  practiced by Bain Capital and Staples. Also many on the virtuousness of treating  people with respect and dignity as is practiced by labor unions throughout this country.

The AFL-CIO has announced it has endorsed the APWU national boycott of Staples . This boycott includes all Staples retail stores in the US, Staples.com, Staples Advantage as well as branded proprietary products.

Respecting workers and not exploiting them is not “business as usual” in Shira Goodman’s world. We as postal union members “can’t afford” to let this anti-worker sentiment go unchallenged. Staples outsourcing Postal Service jobs is the current battle in a national war on workers, Shira Goodman is leading the forces against postal workers. Mitt Romney must be so proud.

The Cecily McMillan Verdict: Innocent Victim Goes Back To Jail

Image Gerard Flynn
gerard_flynn

Justice For CecilyIn a tense courtroom and nearly hidden by a group of over 50 court officers, Judge Zwiebel did the work of the powerful and sent Cecily McMillan back to Rikers Island Prison on Monday. Clearly the absurd zeal in which the prosecution has gone after Cecily is meant to send a chilling signal to all who protest peacefully against the entrenched oligarchy that currently run this country.

Though her sentence of 90 days in jail with 5 years probation was on one level a relief as a harsher sentence was thought possible considering the one-sided actions of this court throughout this process. It is still deeply troubling to see an innocent 25 year old union organizer and community activist being sent back to prison, knowing she was a victim of a sexual assault not a criminal.

Its even more troubling when you consider the executives on Wall Street  who profited and caused the great recession still walk free. Not one of those corporate criminals served any jail time.They never even showed any remorse for the avalanche of economic misery they brought to millions of working people.

New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez spoke to the energetic and passionate crowd of Cecily supporters outside the courthouse and released the following statement.”The US Constitution encourages protest, free speech and a redress of grievances in cases where the government is not properly serving the public interest. This is what Cecily and so many others sought to do; so for any to end up in jail is a travesty from which our country suffers even more. We in government can serve best only when our constituency is engaged and concerned; and we should never seek to stifle dissent, especially when it is as peaceful and impassioned as Occupy was and continues to be.”

As journalist Chris Hedges said in a recent article, “The corporate state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has committed.”

Image Gerard Flynn gerard_flynn

Cecily’s lawyer and friend read statements
Image Gerard Flynn (Flikr: gerard_flynn)

The Cecily team released a statement that in part read:”On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant, heavy-handed attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large. The message this verdict sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy-handed enforcers, the NYPD. We certainly think outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.”

Standing before the Judge before sentencing yesterday Cecily was not backing down. “Whether personal or political, violence is not permitted. This being a law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of,” McMillan said. “I cannot confess to a crime that I did not commit. I cannot throw away my dignity in return for my freedom.”

As a labor movement we must adopt a similar posture. We have to fight for economic justice for all – no compromises!

Please follow justiceforcecily.com for updates and ways to support Cecily.

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Cecily Meme

Cecily McMillan: How A Non-Violent Labor Organizer Ended Up In Prison After Being Attacked By Police

OWS Cicly

PLEASE NOTE Some of the descriptions, images, and videos may be graphic at times.

The brutal beating and phony charges that has placed Cecily McMillan in a NY  jail could have happened to any one of us. If you dare peacefully protest about income inequality or union busting or Wall Street corruption you could just as easily been locked up in a prison cell as Cecily is. The criminal justice system is not delivering justice in this case and its seems to be viewing this case backwards. When the victim of an assault is instead convicted of a felony it shows to the extreme that the price of speaking truth to power is expensive in our country.

On March 17, 2012 a crowd of hundreds had gathered in Zuccotti Park to celebrate the Six Month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. This was a peaceful crowd which was dancing and singing and enjoying being with each other. Nearing midnight NYPD couldn’t allow this peaceful celebration to continue and suddenly Zuccotti Park had a scheduled “cleaning” that had to be performed that instant.

So NYPD entered the park with riot gear and batons to clear the park of peaceful people. What followed was the typical brutal crackdown of OWS. Over 70 arrests followed including that of  23-year-old grad school student and union organizer Cecily McMillan. Known in OWS circles as the “Queen of non violence” because of her uncompromising opposition to any violent tactics.

Cecily attacked

NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell accused  Cecely of elbowing him as he tried to escort her out of the park. Cecely maintains that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind and startled she responded by throwing up her elbow striking the undercover officer.Basically her “crime” was reacting to being groped from someone behind her. The photographic evidence of marks on her breast seem to confirm her accusations.

What followed was her being tackled and beaten by multiple NYPD officers that left her dazed, injured bruised and going in to a frightening seizure as shown here.

Unconscionably 18 minutes past before medical help finally arrived and stabilized Cecily.

This video shows the helplessness of the crowd and the attitude of the police.  Both the NYPD and Cecily were fortunate she survived that beating.

“It was total over-policing, the use of brute force,” National Lawyers Guild Attorney Stolar said. “And that is really a hallmark of how police reacted with most Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, gatherings and protests.”(N.L.G. New York City chapter’s Web site shows a different policeman grabbing another female protester’s breasts.)

In a country that sells itself to the world as the model for political freedom how can behavior like this occur? NYPD receives substantial money from corporate giants like JP Morgan Chase (4.6 million in 2010) ,Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and they have in turn acted like the corporate police force cracking down fiercely on non violent OWS. NYPD leadership has seemed to modify their motto and “protect and serve” primarily their financial interests.  If peaceful protest against the powerful is not allowed then what kind of democracy do we actually have?

What followed next instead of police brutality charges were, astonishingly, felony charges against Cecily for assaulting a police officer. Her being groped and beaten suddenly became her fault.

Cecily was convicted on May 5th of the charges by a jury that was allowed by Judge Zweibel to only hear one side of the story. Nine of these jurors sent a letter to the judge on Thursday asking for leniency. Her sentencing hearing will be on May 19th and the whole world will be watching.

This case highlights the vast miscarriages of justice in our country where the powerful and the marginalized live their lives with a much different set of rules.

Over 20,000 people have signed this petition please add your name asking Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio to pardon her. Check out the website www.justice4Cecily.com for more ways to help.

Cecily by all reports remains in good spirits and her latest advice to her supporters comes in the form of a quote from Joe Hill that we in the labor movement are very familiar with “Don’t mourn organize”

OWS Cicly

On May 10th, Help National Association of Letter Carriers ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ With Annual Food Drive

NALC 2014 Food Drive Stamp Out Hunger CROPPED

Saturday, May 10th marks the 22nd anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving — the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food drive.

NALC 2014 Food Drive Stamp Out HungerLetter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many, hunger.

Too many people in this country are still going hungry every day,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “As letter carriers, we see this firsthand in just about every community we serve. But we aren’t the type of folks who simply move on to the next delivery and hope someone else will do something about it. Instead, for more than two decades now, our members have taken the lead in the effort to help solve this ongoing national problem.”

So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food to people in the local area who need our help.

The NALC works in partnership with the AFL-CIO Community Services Network, United Way Worldwide and the nations food bank network. This partnership has resulted in making the Letter Carrier Food Drive the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

Last year, we collected over 74 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of its 21-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to a Postal Service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation.

The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans—1 in 6—are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger’s impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. And nearly 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help.

Our food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in this year’s Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. Just leave a non- perishable food donation in a bag by your mailbox on Saturday, May 10th and your letter carrier will do the rest. I invite you to join in America’s great day of giving and help us in our fight to end hunger.

Any questions you can contact Bill Brickley – brickleyw@gmail.com

Enjoy this informational video from the NALC.

How Are BAIN Capital, The Staples CEO, and The USPS All Connected?

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/03/no_saturday_mail_delivery_no_p.html

Senator Bernie Sanders told me and other union members last weekend that if conservative ideologues get control of our government, then the Postal Service would be privatized in five minutes. This privatization will put all postal employees’ jobs/retirements in peril and eliminate our country’s most trusted government service that millions of people depend on. It seems like the USPS – Staples partnership may be the first step toward that outcome.

The agreement between the USPS and Staples established postal counters in 82 Staples stores that will be staffed with low-wage, non-union Staples employees. Eventually these knock-off postal centers could be located in all 1580 Staples locations.

“We support the expansion of customer access to USPS services, but we insist that postal work must be performed by uniformed postal workers who have passed a background check, taken an oath of office and are accountable to the people,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

This USPS-Staples partnership seems like a dream scenario for the Koch Brothers and their political puppets. Shifting good solid union middle class jobs to a company that pays its workers about $9 an hour is exactly how America’s corporate elite plan to profit from dismantling our Postal Service.

Why Staples CEO Ronald Sargent — who over the last 6 years has averaged $15 million a year in pay — does not pay his sales associates and cashiers more than their $8.64 hourly wage is outrageous to anyone who believes in economic fairness. Considering Staples management roots come from Mitt Romney and Bain Capital this type of behavior shouldn’t be surprising.  It’s also not surprising that Staples employees are required to watch an anti-union video message from Staples when hired.

Ronald Sargent is clearly no friend of working people, or taxpayers for that matter. Sargent has been a long time Board of Directors Member for Aramark, one of the most of the most anti-worker companies in the country.  Aramark’s newest frontier is privatizing state prison food services.  It’s had some disastrous results like prison riots in Kentucky over its terrible product or across the river in Ohio where Aramark  billed the state for 1.7 million meals it never served.  Aramark seems to be a company that symbolizes everything that is wrong with this era of Crony Capitalism. Its RAP sheet of defrauding states and abusing workers is stunning.

Mr. Sargent is the perfect liaison to start the dismantling of the Postal Service. He is close to Romney (contributed tens of thousands of dollars to him) and the privatizers on the political side — and has experience in overseeing the privatization of public services on the business side.

History has shown that Ben Franklin founded the world’s best Postal Service and it united our country both in commerce and in spirit.

Will history also show that Ronald Sargent, the ultimate Crony Capitalist, is the first to profit from its dismantling?

Please join the Postal Workers on Thursday April 24, from 4-6 pm in Concord NH for a peaceful demonstration near the Concord Staples on Fort Eddy Road (across from LL Bean at exit 14 off of 93 N). Help us STOP the privatization & destruction of the U.S.P.S. before it’s too late.

More details here

 

The USPS Teams Up With Staples: Taking Good Union Jobs And Turing Them Into Part-Time, Low Wage Jobs

Image by Nicholas Eckhart Flikr
Image by Nicholas Eckhart Flikr

Image by Nicholas Eckhart Flikr

The US MAIL IS NOT FOR SALE. The manufactured crisis that is being used to destroy the postal service is taking a new turn this spring. As ongoing efforts to eliminate Saturday mail delivery have come to a standstill in our deadlocked Congress. The USPS is moving forward with a plan to place postal counters, without postal employees in 8o Staples stores. In time they want to expand this misguided plan to over 1500 stores nationwide.

These Staples stores will be manned strictly by non-union Staples employees. This is the right-wing dream scenario of turning thousands of solid middle class union jobs into part-time/low wage jobs. Would you rather have a trusted postal worker, who is sworn to protect the mail,  handling your transaction or would you rather roll the dice on the credibility of a  low wage staples worker?  Its one step closer to dismantling the worlds best Postal Service, and one more affront on the war on workers.

The Postal Service is kicking the door open to privatize retail operations,” APWU President Mark Dimondstein said. Staples is not a Mom-and-Pop operation, he pointed out, and, “If we don’t stop this program, we will soon get a letter from the Postal Service telling us management plans to contract out all of retail,”

A few weeks ago Staples announced its planning to close over 200 stores nationwide. This news did not deter USPS plans to pursue this contracting out program. This proves, more than ever,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein, “that it’s a bad idea to turn public services over to a private company that can close stores at will, with no public input and no public comment.

It’s easy to envision a scenario where a local post office is closed and its services placed in a nearby Staples store. Then without warning that Staples closes. Why would the Postal Service theoretically place its customers in that dire situation?

Instead of pursuing this misguided union busting partnership with Staples the USPS would be better off by working with Congress to provide banking services at the local Post Office. This would provide a valuable public service for millions of Americans, while at the same time providing a new revenue stream for the USPS.

There is a growing need for a postal banking system. With over 25% of the American public without bank accounts the demand is abundant. Currently they are being forced to pay exorbitant fees to non traditional banking services just to accomplish routine banking tasks.  These 68  million “unbanked” citizens paid over $89 billion in fees and interest in 2012, on average 10% of their income. The USPS is the only entity positioned in a way to provide these services.

The situation is especially acute in economically disadvantaged areas where banks have moved out leaving behind these shady businesses that profit off the misery of the poor. It is quite clear that establishing postal banking services is an idea whose time has come.

It’s not surprising to see in a country that is obsessed with money and power, that Congress would not take action on any legislation, like postal banking, that would help mitigate the exploitation of those in difficult economic situations.  Power rules in DC the marginalized are always further marginalized.

At a time when the USPS is making an operational profit you would expect them to look to build on that success. Instead, astonishingly,  they are looking at ways to dismantle the most efficient and popular agency of the US Government. The time is now to get involved and stop the next step of the sell off.

Please take part in the National Day of Action and join us at the  STOP STAPLES PROTEST – Thursday April 24th at the Staples on Ft Eddy Rd in  Concord from 4-6 PM

 

Solidarity; Multiple Unions Join USPS Unions To Picket Congressman Issa At NH GOP Event

Issa Poster 1

Over 150 union workers stood out in below zero degree wind chill Monday night to deliver a message to Congressman Issa. He was the key-note speaker at a NH Republican fundraising dinner. The message delivered to Issa was the US Postal Service is not for sale.

Issa wants to dismantle a highly effective postal service. NALC President Fred Rolando reacted to last weeks announcement that the Postal Service made a $765 million operating profit in the first quarter of 2014 by urging Congress not to dismantle the service. “In light of these results, lawmakers should strengthen the postal network while addressing the remaining problem: the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits, required of no other public or private entity in the country. Degrading the network and reducing services to the public and businesses would jeopardize the postal turnaround.”

Congressman Issa has other ideas. His 2013 Postal Reform Act HR 2748  will end Saturday Delivery and leaves open the possibility of reducing it further in 2018. Issa’s bill also opens the floodgates to contracting out postal jobs and services at an amazing pace. These actions will clearly accelerate the death spiral. The worlds best Postal Service will be dismantled so its remains can be carved up to be sold off to the highest bidder.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein called Mr Issa “a pure enemy of the Postal Service”.  Clearly Issa has a different agenda than ensuring the long time survival of the world’s best Postal Service. Issa, a long time champion of union busting and privatization, likely envisions the vast amount of money that can made by privatizing its services.

Dimondstein also referred to Issa and his postal proposals as “cynical and diabolical”. Those are also adept adjectives regarding the way Congressman Issa has become the richest member of congress. As documented by The New Yorker Congressman Issa has a dubious past regarding money-making ventures, often staying one step ahead of the law. Issa is going to have a much more difficult time at profiting off the sale of the Postal Service as the whole country will be victims to that crime.

Dismantling the Postal Service and crushing their unions would be a dream come true for Issa. This would allow him and his pro business cohorts to have even more leverage in their never-ending war on workers. It is quite apparent that the wealthy in this country will never say they are rich enough. Our income inequality has reached almost uncharted levels.

The rally against Issa on this cold windy night in New Hampshire was not about just Issa.   It was not about just the Postal Service. It really was about the continuing attack on workers in both the public sector and private sector.

The solidarity shown by seeing  Carpenters , Teachers, Metal Workers , Firefighters, Air Traffic Controllers and many others as they joined Postal Unions demonstrating in the cold was  quite impressive. The union solidarity as well as the chanting and singing gave all attendees a feeling of warmth in this particularly brutal winter.

The message to Issa and his anti union friends was clear. You are going to have a hell of a fight if you expect to defeat us!!

 

Congressman Darrell Issa Still Wants To Gut The USPS And ‘Applauds’ The Destruction of CANADA POST

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)Congressman Darrell Issa continues to astound informed observers of the Postal Service with his misguided comments. Mr Issa “applauded” Canada Post for planning to” phase out expensive to the door delivery “of mail over five years.  He seemed to have no problem equating the US Postal Service with Canada Post. Not taking into consideration that Canada Post lost over a hundred million dollars this year delivering mail while the US Postal Service had an operational profit of $600 million.

Mr Issa also seemed to neglect to mention the fact that Canada Post was raising rates from 63 cents to 85 cents for letter mail. Imagine his reaction if the USPS wanted to raise rates by over 30%.  Most likely his  Government Oversight Committee would hold special hearings around the clock.

Also this “modernization” enabled Canada to become the first G7 country to eliminate home delivery of mail. Being a public servant you would expect Mr Issa to value service to the public not be “applauding” dramatic regression of services.

Mr Issa gushed “The Canadian Government is supportive of its (Canada Post) decision to modernize.” Modernize?  The US Postal Service is the best Postal Service in the world. There is no disputing that. USPS boasts the lowest rates in the world without a penny of tax payer money while delivering over 40% of the world mail.  US Mail is delivered with reliability and a level of public trust that is the envy of other Postal Services and businesses worldwide.

If Mr Issa  wants to look at Canada and find ways for our country to “Modernize” maybe he should look at their very popular and efficient National Health Care System.

Mr Issa seems absurdly focused at working to decimate the Postal Service. I am hopeful that the over $40,000 he gets from Postal Service rival UPS is not a higher priority than the needs of the millions of people who rely on daily delivery of their mail.

Mr Issa, should be applauding his own countries Postal Service rather than working to decimate it.

 

 

 

Is The Congressional Budget Committee Really Out To Destroy The Post Office?

United States Postal Service fleet; U.S.A.

United States Postal Service fleet; U.S.A.Some on the Congressional Budget Committee seem to be misguided on what their task is by seriously considering a proposal to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. The Postal Service has reported an operating profit of $600 Million for Fiscal Year 2013. Its first profit since 2008. Parcel revenue soared to an all time record high of $12.5 Billion. Increasing 8% over last year. So you would think that this is a time to increase service not to decrease it. The USPS is growing to the point that some parts of the country have instituted a limited 7 day’s a week parcel service. Its time to grow the service not shrink it.

This week the Congressional Budget Committee is considering sneaking in a poison pill that would in all probability kill the Postal Service over time and eliminate thousands of jobs immediately. This Budget Committee was set up to mitigate the harmful effects of the Federal Shutdown and sequestration on jobs and public services.   Instead  incredibly they are  exacerbating the problem on both fronts by reducing arguably the most popular and effective part of the Federal Government.

Letter Carrier US Postal Service Though the Postal Service makes an operating profit it is under constant attack by some members of Congress because it provides a popular government service delivered by unionized workers. Government Services and unions are the top targets of the privation zeal of the right-wing. Ideology trumps common sense with these politicians. Somehow they never mention that the worlds best Postal Service does not use ONE CENT of tax payer money

This committee is also attacking the entire Federal workforce by taking $20 billion out of government workers paychecks by increasing workers share of retirement costs.

These same members of this budget committee seem to have no issues with spending billions of dollars every year on a F-35 fighter jet program that literally can’t get off the ground. Yet seem hell-bent on reducing a cost neutral public service that unites our entire country.

The Postal Service financial report is only made gloomy due to an unprecedented retiree health care mandate. The mandate requires the Postal Service to fully fund retiree health care benefits decades in advance, was responsible of 100% of FY 2013 losses and 80% of losses implemented in 2007. This mandate has manufactured a postal crisis that is being used by some politicians to dismantle it.

Apparently the elimination of Saturday delivery will be tied to a trigger that can easily be manipulated by congress and result in disaster for millions of Americans who rely on the Postal Service. These same phony triggers were included in Michigan’s notorious anti union legislation Public Act 4. That destructive law was fortunately repealed by voters last month. We must prevent this Budget Committee from making a similar mistake.

Congress expects to unveil its 2014 budget plan on Friday so the time is short to let members of congress know that eliminating Saturday mail delivery is not an option that makes economic sense. It’s a false choice that the Postal Service must shrink to survive.

 

Nelson Mandela A Hero To All

Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)
Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)

Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Nelson Mandela

With the extraordinarily sad news of the passing of Nelson Mandela, a man of unrivaled humility, virtues and compassion. I am reminded of his unbridled determination to improve the lives of working people both in his country but around the world. Mandela’s greatest attribute that can be connected to our current state of politics in America is don’t sell out your idealism .

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela

The Labor movement is being harmed as expected by the Obstructionist GOP but also by some corporate owned Democrats. These corporate Democrats balance their position on legislation between what they know is in the best interests of working people and what is the best way to raise money to get re-elected. These hollow members of congress are quick to embrace the fight’s we conduct in the labor movement for economic justice when they are fund-raising but just as quick will cast us aside if its politically expedient.
I am not quite sure what would prompt them to get involved in public service when they truly don’t care about anything but their own personal political career. If Mandela was that way he would be just another ordinary political hack. Instead Mandela is the shining light that should be followed by any person involved in the political process. Never compromise your ideals , never sell out your constituents for personal political gain.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Mandela

How long are we in the labor movement going to accept getting frequently sold out by these Corporate Democrats without any type of accountability?

When Congressman Charlie Bass told me and a few other NALC reps that Congressman Issa was pressuring him to remove his support of a bill that would benefit letter carriers and the Postal Service. We were not surprised because it’s widely accepted the GOP National Leadership clearly supports almost every anti union and anti worker piece of legislation. More disturbing is when we get word of Blue Dog Democrats like Tom Carper pressuring progressive Democrats against legislation that benefits working people. Honestly that is simply betrayal to all of us.

We are constantly put in a position to be confronted by our own members who are agitated that candidates we supported are selling us out. Leaving us with the tired argument explaining “well, it would have been worse if the Republican was elected”. Though this is clearly true we shouldn’t constantly be put in that position . Mandela didn’t sacrifice his ideals for constantly choosing the lesser of two evils . The time is nearing where the labor movement has to say enough is enough and move on to a new political dynamic

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela