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About Bill Brickley

Bill is a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, formerly served 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

The NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Is Coming Up On May 14th

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Letter Carriers To Hold Largest One Day Food Drive In America On May 14th.

The National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) will be holding their 24th annual food drive on Saturday, May 14th. On that day letter carriers will pick up non-perishable food as they deliver mail on their postal routes. The food donations collected will stay in the towns and cities where they are collected.

You wouldn’t think that the nation’s most successful one-day food drive could get better but indeed it has as the UFCW has brought their energy and commitment towards helping the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive smash collection records.

Anthony M. Perrone, President of the UFCW United stated that “helping feed America’s hungry is a mission we can and must share, and by participating in the Letter Carriers’ 24th annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive, we can create the better America we all believe in”

“When we decided to take our food drive nationwide more than two decades ago, food banks and community service organizations told us that the best time for us to do it would be when people aren’t really thinking about it to remind people that, sadly, the need for food is year-round,” stated NALC President Fred Rolando.

In November and December— around the holidays—many folks get caught up in a spirit of giving, so food pantries and other such organization see a major upswing in food donations. But by May, their shelves begin to empty out,” continued Rolando. The “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive has become the Largest One Day Food Drive in the country.

“Because letter carriers serve every neighborhood in this country at least six days a week, we are all too familiar with the staggering numbers of people in need,” Rolando added.

National Rural Letter Carriers President explained why the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is so important:

“When you consider that each bag of donations represents a meal for a family in need., it quickly becomes clear how such a small act of charity on the part of one person can resonate so profoundly in the community’s in which we work and live”

Residents are asked to leave non-perishable food donations in a bag by their mailbox on Saturday May 14th before their letter carrier arrives. It will be picked up and delivered to a local food bank.

Hillary Clinton’s Connections To Wall Street Show Her True Agenda On Free Trade

hillary clinton (WisPolitics.com FLIKR)Hillary Clinton is acting in a desperate and short sighted manner by constantly attacking Bernie Sanders.  She seems completely unaware of the current political atmosphere. She clings to endorsements by the elite while turning a deaf ear to ordinary Americans. The times for endorsements by the political establishment having any meaning are long gone.

The NH political elite lined up en masse behind Hillary and she lost NH by 22.4%.  I think that tells the story. The Clinton’s Wall Street connections and being proponents of disastrous trade deals are issues they don’t want to expound on. Instead they try to change the subject and criticize Bernie.

A vibrant Democratic Party must include the younger voters currently joining the party because of Senator Sanders. By her relentless attacks on Sanders she risks having these voters sitting out or opposing her if she wins the Democratic nomination.

The leader of the corporate democrats is President Bill Clinton and he also has no problem attacking Bernie Sanders.  “When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” Bill  Clinton said, deriding Bernie Sanders’s oft-mentioned call for a political revolution. Well the fact is Mr. Clinton’s most lasting legacy is pushing through NAFTA with Hillary’s support.

“I think NAFTA itself will be remembered for as long as this generation draws a warm breath,” Richard Trumka said in an interview. “When I talk to people about it, they don’t remember that it was a Republican majority that passed NAFTA. They remember that it was President Clinton.”

Lopsided trade deals that both entrenched the political elite and screwed over working people is the pivotal political issue that has defined these times. The Clinton’s have firmly lined up with the corporate America. While Bernie has steadfastly been opposed these disastrous deals.

In 2003 Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoir “Creating a free trade zone in North America — the largest free trade zone in the world — would expand U.S. exports, create jobs and ensure that our economy was reaping the benefits, not the burdens, of globalization. Although unpopular with labor unions, expanding trade opportunities was an important administration goal.”

So why would NAFTA be an administration goal?  Then in 2004 she added “I think on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America” Do we need any more proof that the Clinton’s are completely out of touch with ordinary Americans?

Fast forward 10 years and now Hillary is selling us all the virtues of the TPP (before she recently changed her position) a trade deal that will most certainly continue the race to the bottom for American workers.

This quote is from a November 15, 2012 speech promoting and selling the TPP. “So it’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.  Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. When negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment”…..

A few weeks ago Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue noted that if elected Hillary Clinton will again support the TPP. Reporting on that interview Inside US Trade concluded: “The Chamber president said he expected Hillary Clinton would ultimately support the TPP if she becomes the Democratic nominee for president and is elected.” He argued that she has publicly opposed the deal chiefly because her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has also done so. “If she were to get nominated, if she were to be elected, I have a hunch that what runs in the family is you get a little practical if you ever get the job,” he said.

We all know who benefits from these trade deals and Hillary will not release the transcripts of her highly paid Wall Street speeches. This is more money than almost all of us will make in a lifetime but she has no problem dismissing these talks as not an important issue.

“It was pretty glowing about us,” one attendee told Politico. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.”

Nobody will dispute that Bernie Sanders was an outspoken opponent of NAFTA and has been quite vocal in speaking out against the TPP. Basically the fact is Bernie represents the interests of ordinary Americans while Hillary constantly reminds us she is a proud member of the Democratic Party elite.

Hillary has not yet realized the walls are starting to crumble and she will surely need an energized Democratic party if she is to defeat any Republican opponent in November. That is IF she can withstand the rebellion in her own party. The authentic energy that is thriving in the Democratic Party belongs to Bernie Sanders and she would be wise not to alienate them.

The Battle Over The Democratic Party: The Establishment vs The Populist

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Hillary Clinton is lining up endorsements at an unprecedented level before a single vote has been cast. This is being done to make it appear that the nomination is a foregone conclusion. This is the establishment’s way of marginalizing the populist message of Bernie Sanders.  They benefit from the status quo.

So we have a few more endorsements for Hillary Clinton this week.  Nate Silver ‘s 538 blog gives Hillary 447 Endorsement points while Bernie Sanders has only 2.  Both of Bernie’s endorsements were from congressman (Raul Grijalva-AZ, Keith Ellison-MN) while Hillary’s numerous  endorsements come from the vast Democrat party elite and those Democrats hoping to be part of the future elite. This is further indication of the choke-hold corporations and wealthy interests have over the very corporate-friendly Democratic Party. These politicians who have endorsed Hillary are in most cases just backing the most likely nominee for their own selfish political interests. This comes as no surprise to watchers of the political landscape.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Somewhat more surprising is the number of labor unions supporting Hillary Clinton over long time labor union friend Bernie Sanders. I am well aware unions have different issues that are important to their membership, so there can be no criticism if a union backs a certain candidate because of his/her stance on issues. However, when unions support someone primarily because the candidate is seen as “most electable,” then their endorsements can be questioned.

By all accounts, Lee Saunders is a champion of working people and he helped revitalize AFSCME Local 37 in NYC, which is one of the best locals regarding political activism in this country.  Knowing this, his statement regarding their endorsement of Hillary Clinton made me look twice.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said members want a candidate committed to fixing the economy and raising incomes for hardworking individuals struggling to get by, as well as someone who supports strong unions.  “What we also heard was AFSCME members want the candidate who will be the most effective champion for working families and who will be able to deliver a victory in this critically important election,” he said in a statement. “AFSCME members believe that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Are union leaders missing the point that this is a Primary, and they should be supporting candidates who most support the rights of working people, and not settle for the candidates most likely to win? They are not picking a horse at Churchill Downs.  There will be a general election in November 2016 and each union can again endorse the candidate they think is best for their members.

Hillary Clinton was a Board Member of  Walmart for six years and never once, according to tapes and recollection, spoke out against Walmart’s fervent anti-unions policies.  She sat silently as Clinton’s fellow board member John Tate frequently blasted unions. Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers’ meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase: “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.” Most activists I know would have had to be removed from the room screaming if they were present to hear these words.

Clinton was outspoken on the board regarding Walmart’s token support for environmental and women’s rights but was silent the issue of  union rights.  The corporate-owned Democratic Party elite have no problem supporting token gestures towards women’s rights or gay rights, but they stare blankly when the issue of labor rights is mentioned. The elite are nervous about changing the economic equation for working people. The current version of the Democratic party has not been an enemy of labor unions like the Republican party is, but they also have not been our  friend.

Bernie Sanders With Verizon WorkersDemocrats have possibly the best champion of working people in our generation with Bernie Sanders as a serious candidate. Bernie speaks truth to power and calls out corporations and the wealthy for fleecing this country’s working people.  The privileged wealthy are benefiting from a tilted playing field as their wealth soars while working people struggle daily to just survive. This  income inequality not been seen since the Gilded Age. Bernie is drawing record crowds to his rallies and his popular support from ordinary Americans would be the dominant political news of the day if it wasn’t for the Trump circus.

SEIU Local 560 President Earl Sweet called the Vermont senator “the most honest man in Washington.”  “There’s no question about what Bernie believes because he has always meant what he said – and to many of us in the labor movement, that’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “Sen. Sanders has always stood up for workers and the middle class, here in New Hampshire and across the country, which is why we’re proud to give him our enthusiastic endorsement.”

Democratic and union activist’s must ask themselves.  Which side are they on?

 

Speaker Ryan Has Three Goals: Destroy Social Security, Medicare And The USPS

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Paul Ryan (FLIKR CC Starley Shelton)

Koch Brothers darling Multi Millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan is leaping back on to the national stage as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Ryan was initially hesitant citing family concerns (despite the fact he is an opponent of paid leave for ordinary Americans)  but eventually was swayed by other GOP leaders to take the job. Ryan, who seems fixated on reducing retirement benefits for both the American public and especially federal workers, will have a larger platform to try to make these cuts a reality. Clearly these ideas are unpopular to many but as Paul Krugman brilliantly stated, Ryan is “the best con man they got.”  Republicans are using him to sell their treasure trove of unpopular policies to the apathetic American Public

Ryan was an architect of George Bush’s  failed plan to partially privatize  Social Security in 2005. More recently Ryan has teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa to push the idea of reducing Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits for Federal Workers. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office they emphasized that the CBO should consider “different options for reforming FERS, based on changes made in recent years to other large pension plans, both public and private. The report should include, but not limit itself to, adjusting the retirement contributions of federal employees, altering the formula for computing pension benefit payments, and expanding the defined contribution component while reducing the defined benefit component.” This sounds quite ominous for Federal Workers. The intent is crystal clear.

As outlined in The New Yorker Ryan believes the only reason privatization failed in 2005 was because of the way it was marketed.

“The Administration did a bad job of selling it,” he told me. Bush had campaigned on national-security issues, only to pitch Social Security reform after reelection. “And . . . thud,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to prepare the country for these things. You can’t just spring it on them after you win.” The lesson: “Don’t let the engineers run the marketing department.”

 

Here is where the job of being an elite con man comes into play.

10404189_10153548324976418_913827613849190064_nAfter repeatedly emphasizing he did not want the Speaker’s job he abruptly changed his mind and accepted it. Publicly he worried that “its a job for a empty nester” not a person with young children.  “I cannot and will not give up my family time,” he told reporters before abruptly changing his mind.  Curiously Ryan has been a staunch opponent of paid family leave despite the fact the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not offer paid family leave.  Astonishingly this country ranks last in government supported time off for new parents.

“Paul Ryan is rightly concerned about his job’s impact on his spouse and children,” said Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project. “Yet [he] isn’t willing to guarantee that all workers… have the necessary tools to balance their work and family obligations.”FT_13.12.11_parentalLeave

“For workers without paid family leave, taking time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill loved one can have devastating long-term financial consequences, ranging from racking up credit card debt to raiding savings to bankruptcy,” Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, told ABC News. “Paid family leave would provide a critical safety net for these working families in their times of need.”

Make no mistake Speaker Ryan will be pushing an agenda that is quite friendly to Multi Millionaires children at the expense of working families.  “My greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up, of some day having my own kids ask me, ‘When the stakes were so high, why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?'” Ryan said to reporters. His children do not have to worry he will make life easier for children of the wealthy at every turn.

Speaker Ryan will try to dismantle the three of most popular parts of the federal government to continue the GOP fixation of shrinking government.

Speaker Ryan accepts millions of dollars from individuals and groups that will profit by turning medicare/medicaid into a voucher scheme and by the privatization of Social Security.  He targets for “reform” include vital government services like the US Postal Service, Social Security Administration, and Medicare/Medicaid all services that benefit ordinary Americans.  The wealthy have no need for a safety net. They want to profit by its demise.

Speaker Ryan will now play the role of con man daily on a national scale. He surely will be selling day for night.  We all must call him out on his continued  hypocrisy before our countries safety net vanishes.  Ryan and his fellow multi millionaire politicians are in politics for the wrong reason. They want to accelerate the wealth of the few at the expense of the many.

 

 

Congressional Inaction Threatens The Postal Service Yet Again (Shocking I Know)

USPS Headquarters

In a month when the Postal Service received both great economic news and a government “best” approval ratings, Congressional inaction continues to put the Postal Service’s future in peril.

The Postal Service Board of Governors job is to be responsible for long range planning  and setting policies that are crucial to the Services future survival. Yet Congress refuses to confirm any appointments to the board. Leaving the board with only 3 of the 9 Presidential Appointees actually serving. To no surprise those three were appointed  by George W  Bush.  Neglect by Congressional leaders has left this board without a quorum and operating under a “temporary emergency committee.”  This is certainly no unforeseen emergency.  This is part of the conservative plan to “shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.”

In seven short months the Board of Governors will be down to one appointed member as the terms of two governors will expire. That will leave just one appointee James Bilbray on the board. He will be joined by Postmaster General Meghan Brennan and Deputy PMG Ron Stroman. This will amazingly leave 8 out of 9 appointed seats vacant at a time in which the postal service has many crucial decisions to make in a constantly changing business environment.

The role of the Board of Governors is spelled out quite clearly by the USPS:

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service is comparable to a board of directors of a private corporation. The Board includes nine governors who are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

The nine governors select the postmaster general, who becomes a member of the Board, and those 10 select the deputy postmaster general, who also serves on the Board. The postmaster general serves at the pleasure of the governors for an indefinite term. The deputy postmaster general serves at the pleasure of the governors and the postmaster general.

In 1970, when the Board was established by the Postal Reorganization Act, the governors of the Postal Service were appointed for terms of nine years. The first nine appointments were for staggered terms of one to nine years. Subsequent appointments were made for the full nine years. On December 20, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, P.L. 109-435, which changed the terms of subsequently appointed governors from nine to seven years. The Act also added some professional qualifications for the governors. The governors are chosen to represent the public interest generally and cannot be representatives of special interests. Not more than five of the nine may belong to the same political party. They shall be chosen solely on the basis of their experience in the field of public service, law or accounting or on their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) of substantial size, except that at least four of the governors shall be chosen solely on the basis of their demonstrated ability in managing organizations or corporations (in either the public or private sector) that employ at least 50,000 employees.

“The Board directs the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures, reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning and sets policies on all postal matters. The Board takes up matters such as service standards and capital investments.”

We need to get politics out of the process of choosing members of the Board of Governors,” NALC President Fred Rolando said. “Managing an agency whose mission is to serve the public by delivering the mail shouldn’t be a political issue. Too often the board stresses how bad things are and warns of cuts in service, instead of advocating solutions. The Postal Service needs entrepreneurial leadership and support for expanding and modernizing, and for fixing the real problems the agency faces. It needs a coherent plan for the future”

Craft employees productivity and job performance are constantly monitored. Some may call it obsessive micro managing. Either way craft employees do an outstanding job  7 days a week 365 days a year in every weather condition. The workers of the Postal Service have produced an operational profit of over $1.4 Billion this fiscal year already.

Contrast that with Congressional inaction on confirming any members to the Postal Service Board of Governors. Also this Congress has taken no steps to repeal or mitigate the unnecessary and unprecedented 2006 Congress mandate that  placed a$ 5.6 Billion annual payment for retiree health care obligations 75 years into the future on the Postal Service.

The American public can recognize a job well done. The Postal Service has an excellent/good performance  rating of 72% in a poll just released. That is easily the best among government agencies. Postal workers are quite clearly not only making the grade but achieving the top score.

Congress on the other hand has abysmal performance ratings in a Pew Research poll released last week. Democrat members of Congress are at 33% approval while the GOP  members are at a stunningly low 22% . Its not too hard to figure out that if congress acts to enhance the postal service it would be popular among constituents and in turn benefit their approval ratings.The catch is it seems many congressman are more beholden to their financial backers than their constituents. The Postal Service in their eyes is a Pinata for the wealthy (their donors) to further enrich themselves.

If a non government, non-union enterprise was turning over a Billion Dollar profit this year and with that carrying high approval ratings from the American public and was deemed as the best company of its kind in the world than politicians of every kind would be scheduling a visit and a photo-op with its employees. Instead being a highly unionized,government agency postal workers are demonized by most politicians.  Rigid ideology and campaign donations dwarf  governing the country in a responsible manner every time.

 

The USPS Is Profitable Yet Again! But Why Are You Only Hearing Something Different?

USPS Letter Carrier Truck In Winter (Joel Kramer FLIKR CC)The revival of the US Postal Service continues to pick up steam according to Quarter 3 financial results released today. For the sixth consecutive quarter the Postal Service turned an operational profit when accounting for costs it can control. Fueled by an avalanche of packages the Postal Service continues to out perform expectations.

NALC President Fred Rolando commented: “Today’s results show the impressive Postal Service financial turnaround continuing in full force. The quarter’s $313 million operating profit puts black ink for the first half of the year above $1.4 billion – surpassing all of last year’s operating profit. Equally encouraging is what produced the operating profit – continuing revenue growth as an improving economy and rising online shopping drive better performances in letter mail and package deliveries. Package revenue is up a striking 11.2 percent this year; first-class letters and standard mail GCA on USPS pension and retiree benefitsalso are up.”

“This three-year trend in operating profitability makes clear the need to strengthen – not degrade – the now-profitable networks. We hope to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the administration and the new postmaster general to build on the progress achieved in the last Congress, within the mailing industry and among major stakeholders on consensus postal reform that promotes a strong and vibrant Postal Service.”

“We’re pleased with the increase in our controllable net income compared to the same period last year, which demonstrates that our cost containment and revenue strategies are delivering results,” said Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan Brennan.

The only blemish in this financial report was the continuing unprecedented burden of being the only enterprise in the America that is required by law to pre-fund future retiree health care benefits. The graphics below outlines the absurdity of this requirement.

The Postal Service has updated its business model and through the dedication of its highly unionized work force it has turned an operational profit six consecutive quarters . It’s now time for Congress to update its thinking about postal reform and instead of decimating the worlds best postal service they should be acting to further enhance it. Ideas of plant closings and service cuts now seem quite antiquated in lieu of this economic turnaround.

NALC_infographic_V4_011515_d131-copy-1024x662

Letter Carriers Continue A 23-Year Tradition Of Working To “STAMP OUT HUNGER”

1-in-7 Americans need food assistance including, 7 million seniors, over 1 million veterans, and  12 million children.

The National Association of Letter Carriers continue help feed those in our local communities who need assistance holding the nations largest annual one day food drive, on May 9th.

 

NALC 1 Minute PSA video link

http://i1.wp.com/216.164.46.16/commun/foodrive/2014/logos/SOH.jpg?w=800On Saturday May 9th Letter Carriers  will be conducting their  annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. The drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Last year, more than 70 million pounds of food were collected, making this the eleventh consecutive year that collections reached over the 70-million-pound mark. Since the drive began in 1993, nearly 1.4 billion pounds have been collected. Residents are asked to just place non perishable food by their mailbox for their letter carrier to pick up and deliver to a local food pantry.

Led by letter carriers represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), with help from Rural Letter Carriers (NRLCA), other postal employees and other volunteers, the drive has delivered food to local food banks at a critical time as food pantries often run low on donations in the Spring.   This years drive is enthusiastically cosponsored by the AFL CIO , The National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the United Way.

NALC 30 Second PSA video link 

2015_Food-Drive-Flyer-EnglishWhat makes this drive truly successful, year after year, is the amount of effort our food drive volunteers put in to help bring in as much food as possible,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Rather than taking a well-deserved rest after a full day of delivering the mail, countless men and women in branches large and small spend untold hours working out the local logistics necessary to conduct a successful food drive so generous customers can help those in need.”
Letter carriers visit every address in America at least six days a week, so we are acutely aware of how hunger affects the communities we serve. Driven by a desire to do something about this problem, and inspired by the success that a number of branches had experienced with local food drives, in the early 1990s the NALC worked with the Postal Service to come up with a national food-collection campaign.

The nation’s labor unions are in full support of the food drive, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “With the support of unions all across America, the NALC can set a record in collections, helping those who have lost their jobs and the millions more facing economic uncertainty.

The United Way’s Stacey Stewart expressed her organizations support “The United Way will continue to partner with the NALC Food Drive in 2015. Its our privilege to once again, join with organized labor, an indispensable partner in our broader mission to create real and lasting change in communities throughout the United States.”

NRLCA President Jeanette Dwyer commented on the success and simplicity of the food drive: “It has become clear how such a small act of charity on the part of one person can resonate so profoundly in the communities in which we live.”

Please join us on America’s greatest day of giving.

To donate, just place a box or bag with your cans and non-perishable items next to your mailbox, before your letter carrier delivers mail on May 9th.

The carrier will do the rest.

The food is sorted, and delivered to a local food bank or pantry, where it is available for needy families.

For more information watch this short 7-minute video from the National Association of Letter Carriers that explains it all, and why letter carriers are donating their time to help feed the people in their own communities. 

(All of this information can also be found in Spanish in this video translated by NALC members in Puerto Rico Branch 869)

 

 

Senator Rand Paul Has No Idea Why The USPS Appears To Be Failing, But He Blames Unions

RAND PAUL (Stump Source FLIKR CC)

RAND PAUL (Stump Source FLIKR CC)

With much fanfare Rand Paul has officially kicked off his Stand with Rand presidential campaign.  He is arguably the most anti-worker candidate on the American political landscape.

Paul never strays from being a front man for the wealthy with his extreme anti-union beliefs. For Postal workers his message is clear as he advocates an  end to collective bargaining rights for postal workers when their current contracts expire.  He says he is not “opposed to all unions” he just believes unions are inappropriate for public service workers.

For other union workers, his thoughts are just as clear as he proudly introduced a National Right to Work Bill in the Senate. The National Right to Work Committee has given Paul $20,000 already this election cycle, which is 57% of all the money it has handed out to all other politicians combined.  So you can easily say that Rand Paul has essentially become the national spokesman for Right to Work. This kind of belies his “man of the people” messaging.

When speaking on Postal Reform a month ago in Florida he blasted the Postal Service:
“There are two sectors in the economy. The productive sector: you. And the non-productive sector: the people who live in Washington. They don’t make anything. They can’t even run the post office. They say we are going to project our power and we create new nations around the world.  We can’t run our own post office. They came to me last year on my committee and you know what they said, ‘we need bonuses for people at the post office.’ They said ‘you’ve got to pay people to retain talent. To get talented people you’ve got to pay them.’ I said ‘how much talent does it take to lose a billion dollars a quarter.’” I am not quite sure that Postal Bonuses were a major topic in the postal reform mark up. I am quite sure that postal  union workers do not receive any bonuses. Plus the USPS has turned an operational profit over the last few years.

(Michael Vadon - Carroll County Republican Committee Annual Lincoln Day Dinner with U.S. Senator Rand Paul - FLIKR CC)

(Michael Vadon
– Carroll County Republican Committee Annual Lincoln Day Dinner with U.S. Senator Rand Paul – FLIKR CC)

“So something has to change, but everybody opposes any changes that would allow the Post Office to make decisions like a business. Maybe if they were to have bankruptcy and renegotiate all of their labor contracts, they would have a chance. But there’s too many strong political, partisan voices up here to let that happen.  So I don’t know what the answer is. Privatization would be great but how we go about doing that is another story.”

Senator Paul’s main contribution to the Postal Reform hearings before his committee were not exactly constructive. He immediately proposed an amendment calling on the Postal Service to declare bankruptcy and reorganize. In the senator’s vision of reorganization, collective-bargaining agreements between USPS and its employee unions would be renegotiated, while existing no-layoff protections and the ability to bargain over wages would be banned.

Paul then tied up the committee with a lengthy barrage of questions about his failed amendment to “remove a federal ban on guns in the post offices.”  This prevented substantial debate on the problems with retiree pre-funding obligations that his Congress placed on the USPS. Senator Paul’s Postal Reform boils down to eliminating workers rights and enhancing gun owners’ rights in the post office. That is not Postal Reform, that’s Postal Destruction.

The real issue behind the Postal Service’s red ink is the  2006 Congressional mandate that the Postal Service fully fund 75 years of retiree health care costs in a 10 year period. This onerous mandate costs the USPS $5.5 Billion a year and is the only reason that the Postal Service doesn’t show a profit on its balance sheet. Even more outrageous is the fact that this payment is unnecessary as the USPS retiree fund has more than enough money for decades into the future. The hard-working union workers of the Postal Service are on their 3rd straight year of an operational profit.  It’s been an extraordinary turnaround that Paul fails to mention.

Rand Paul has some serious misconceptions not only about the productivity of  union workers but also their retirement and health care plans. ” Federal employees have almost double the compensation that private employees have. […] Maybe these government unions are going to have to contribute to their pension, maybe they’re going to have to pay something for their health care, like I’m having to pay, so when I hear regular taxpayers in Kentucky they don’t have a lot of sympathy because they’re paying high insurance premiums and they have to pay for their own retirements. “

(Video link)

He couldn’t be more misinformed. Public workers at all level of government have to contribute to their pension and health care plans. Federal employees contribute to the Federal Employment Retirement System (FERS), which requires them to contribute to the fund at a rate equivalent to one percent of their yearly salary. Also Federal workers participate in the Federal Group Health Care system where they buy their healthcare.  For some Postal Workers (CCAs and  PSEs) the price for health care almost make it unattainable while joining a retirement plan is not fiscally possible. The Postal Service does not contribute anything to their retirement plans. Paul had to know he was completely misrepresenting the facts, but that didn’t stop him. His overall dislike of public sector unions make any exaggeration of the facts acceptable, it seems.

Demonizing federal union workers is a Republican staple since Ronald Reagan fired Air Traffic Controllers. There is a profit to be made by decimating the Postal Service both politically and financially.  It’s no surprise that UPS and FedEx are among the top 10 contributors to his leadership PAC. With Paul it’s simple: you just follow the money. Whether it’s degrading public union workers or being the lead advocate for bills against private sector workers, it’s clear whose side Rand Paul stands with. His close ties with anti-union groups show his true allegiance.  He will offer an occasional  populist message on foreign policy or the war on drugs in an effort to disguise the fact that when it comes to economic issues he is firmly against working people.

Paul is the latest in the line of snake oil salesman running for President who under the guise of free markets/privatization, who want to further enrich the ultra-wealthy on the backs of  middle class workers.  The ultra-wealthy supporters of Paul never vote against their economic self-interest. Notice the record-breaking income inequality as proof. In spite of that Rand Paul is running for president hoping to fool working people in to voting against their economic well-being.  His Stand with Rand movement is clearly standing on the backs of union people.

Paul believes ordinary people should just be slaves for the rich and be thankful for it. He expounds on this in the video below.  For working people a more  accurate slogan describing their economic outlook under a President Rand Paul would be Fall With Paul.

A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service

GrandAlliance_LogoAn exciting new voice has joined the conversation to save the Postal Service. More than 60 national organizations have formed “A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service.”  This alliance is made up of national  religious coalitions, retiree groups, progressive groups, and a wide array of unions. These organizations are united in the demand that the public good must not be sacrificed for the sake of private investment and profit.  All Americans have much at stake as the future of America’s Postal Service is at a crossroads.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein stressed the importance of building a Grand Alliance from the moment he was elected in 2013. “Writing Congress is important,” he said, “but it’s not enough. Lobbying for legislation is important, but it’s not enough.” To succeed, he said, postal workers must build a movement. “Building the grand alliance is the only way we will ensure that a vibrant, public Postal Service exists for many years to come.”

“This new alliance is a good complement to the one the NALC and the other postal unions have been working closely with over the past 18 months,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “a group made up of postal union and mailing industry stakeholders with a mission to advance in Congress a multi-point postal strategy that includes a comprehensive solution to pre-funding, freedom to offer new products, fair treatment on pension valuations, strengthened service standards and a moratorium on plant closings.”

Though the Postal Service is in the midst of an economic turnaround many in Congress envision the Postal Service as a sort of pinata to be broken apart  so the corporate sector can further enrich themselves. They disregard three straight years of an operational profit and ignore the stunning economic report issued last week. Greed has no boundaries.

The Postal Service can build upon this turnaround and expand service. One example of this is the the successful recent introduction of package delivery on Sundays and Holidays. It has made the lives of working people more convenient as customers can elect to get their parcels delivered at a time that fits their busy schedules.

Another area of possible growth is expanding into Postal Banking. Senator Elizabeth Warren is a strong proponent of this popular idea.  The Postal Service can help rebuild the wounded infrastructure that many economically disadvantaged people in our country navigate on a daily basis. Postal Banking would be an instrument that can take some of the financial pressure off the more than 25% of households that do not have bank accounts.   Rather than have a predatory banking service profit off of outrageous fees for basic banking services . The Postal Service can offer these services as a public service.

This Grand Alliance offers much hope that they can further advance a bright future for the Postal Service. Please watch the attached video by acclaimed actor-activist  Danny Glover and sign the pledge to support the fight to protect and enhance vibrant public postal services now—and for many generations to come. With a new Congress about to take action on the Postal Reform, the time is now to take action.

Danny Glover: Our Postal Service from A Grand Alliance on Vimeo.

Through Rain, Sleet, and Snow The Mail Must Go Through, So Why Is Congress Trying To Destroy The USPS?

Letter Carrier in the Snow (image by Mark Turnauckas FLIKR)

(image by Mark Turnauckas FLIKR)

As Letter Carriers put their health and safety at risk each day in this especially brutal winter we can take solace in the fact we have enabled the Postal Service to  continue its financial turnaround. 2015 Fiscal Year Quarter 1 reports released Friday confirmed what all Letter Carriers know our business is booming . All types of letter mail continue to grow and parcel delivery is skyrocketing allowing the USPS to make a $1.1 Billion operating profit just this quarter. This will be the third consecutive year with a sizeable operational profit.

As Letter Carriers walk house to house in blustery winds on treacherous snow and ice to deliver America its mail many in Congress sit in their warm offices saying they have to reform or dismantle the worlds best Postal Service. They don’t consider Clerks and Mail Handlers driving in snowstorms through the middle of the night to move the mail.  Their anti government ideology blinds them as they ignore the facts. Those people could not do a Letter Carriers job for a day especially in this hell of a winter. As a news commentator stated this week ” the only vehicles on the road were Plows, Police and Postal Trucks”

They want to sell off the USPS as there is profit to be made by the wealthy in their climate controlled boardrooms.  Anti government zealots use Fed Ex and UPS as examples of what the USPS should become. They fail to mention both Fed Ex and UPS have increased prices 5-10% this year and still charge fuel surcharges even though gasoline prices have plummeted.

While politicians are cashing their campaign contributions from Fed Ex and UPS they also seem to disregard the fact that the Postal Service delivers to every address in America every day. Those private companies often  drop off their unprofitable and difficult deliveries at the nearby post office to have a USPS Letter Carrier deliver the last mile.

Instead of looking at “fixing” the Postal Service these financial statements should send Congress searching into ways that other segments of the U.S. economy can emulate what the Postal Service exceptionally well. The USPS is a  highly unionized and diverse work force  providing an essential service to hundreds of millions of people regardless of their economic status. The Postal Service provides a public service through harsh weather conditions and turns a billion dollar profit.

 

(Image by Rebecca Flickr CC)

(Image by Rebecca Flickr CC)

If Congress wants to truly wants to represent its constituents it would vote to rescind the unprecedented $5.5 Billion annual retiree prepayment obligation that  the USPS is expected to pay for future retirees . That alone would allow the Postal Service to accelerate this already impressive turnaround. Debating outdated ideas like cutting back mail delivery do not advance the best interest of the American Public.

This brutal winter has shown again the employees of the USPS are remarkable. Without  $1 of taxpayer money the USPS delivers an essential service to every address in America every day and turns a substantial profit.

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