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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

WMUR TV Fabricates A Story Promoting Scott Brown, Attacking Billy Shaheen

Say goodbye to news coverage with integrity on WMUR TV.

Many NHLN readers already think WMUR TV has been biased toward Republican candidates and causes for years – but they have reached a new low.

This past weekend, WMUR TV decided to try to gain some ratings points by completely misrepresenting a quote from Senate candidate Scott Brown. Instead of just bending the facts to make a mediocre story more appealing, WMUR completely twisted them to build a news angle that didn’t actually exist.

Here’s what really happened: Last Wednesday, Scott Brown visited the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. He met many voters, both supporters and opponents, as you would expect in any public campaign stop. Among the people he met was Manchester resident Wayne Alterisio. Wayne is a popular figure in the city and is the NH State Association of Letter Carrier State President.  Wayne and I have been friends for decades.

I don’t remember when I first told Wayne that Scott Brown and I went to high school together in Wakefield, MA. Actually, Scott and I were pretty good friends until Scott went off to college. We sort of lost touch after that. However, Wayne never forgot that Scott and I had once been good friends.

Last Wednesday, while Wayne was eating his breakfast in the Red Arrow Diner, Scott Brown walked in and they engaged in a conversation.

As Wayne told me later, Wayne greeted the candidate cordially, “Hi Senator Brown … I know a very good friend of yours, Bill Brickley.Wayne and Senator Brown then had a discussion on the Minimum Wage as that is a significant issue for many working class families.  As Senator Brown was ending their conversation, Brown said, “Say hi to Billy for me.

WMUR did not have their own camera crew following Senator Brown, so who knows where they got their information about what was said that day. But incredibly, in their coverage of the Red Arrow Diner visit, WMUR cited Senator Brown’s “Say hi to Billy” comment as a reference to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s husband, William “Billy” Shaheen.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people in New Hampshire named “Billy.” So what reason would WMUR TV have, to think that Senator Brown’s “Say Hi to Billy” comment referred to Senator Shaheen’s husband?

WMUR then built an entire segment around the comment. WMUR Political Director Josh McElveen was the reporter (or should I say creator?) of the story, making it even more egregious. The almost 3 minute piece has been widely circulated, both when it was originally shown and then when it was highlighted on weekend news recaps.

The only thing worse than a fake news story is a widespread fake news story.

WMUR did not see that the real new story in the conversation between Wayne and Senator Brown was growing income inequality and the stagnant Minimum Wage.

Evidently there isn’t much appetite for that. Instead, WMUR took a one-sentence remembrance, completely out of context, and pushed it to attack Senator Shaheen and her husband Billy.

It’s easy to connect this pro-Scott Brown coverage to the $74,545 that the Scott Brown campaign has paid WMUR this week for just one particular ad that is to be shown 148 times. I would imagine this saturation is already conveying Senator Brown’s message sufficiently. Feeling the need to manufacture fake anti-Shaheen “news” angles seems to me to hint at overkill.

Incidentally, WMUR is in a bitter dispute with its own 13 IBEW photographers, as the company continues to deny them pension benefits that are afforded to other WMUR employees. Since 2005, these 13 union employees have been singled out and denied pension benefits. This is unconscionable when you consider the fact that WMUR parent corporation Hearst has made $10 billion in revenue. They are the only 13 employees at the station denied these benefits.   This may be the reason that WMUR had to rely on a NECN video crew to get a news feed of Senator Brown’s Red Arrow visit that took place one mile from WMUR studios.

WMUR TV owes an apology for this fabrication.

The first victim of this malicious lie is NH Letter Carrier State President Wayne Alterisio. Wayne was falsely accused of being there on the instruction of Billy Shaheen. Wayne should be commended for being cordial to Senator Brown and for bringing up the minimum wage issue. Minimum Wage is directly related to the income inequality that has become one of our nation’s biggest problems. Though they disagreed on that subject, it was a respectful conversation.

Also due an apology is the campaign of Senator Jeanne Shaheen. She had absolutely nothing to do with Wayne choosing to have breakfast at the Red Arrow.

The biggest apology should go to the viewers and advertisers of WMUR.  Though the station portrays itself as a credible news organization, the actions related to this story show otherwise. Viewers and advertisers expect WMUR to report the news factually – and not act like tabloid journalism by completely fabricating news.  This wasn’t an accident or a typo. This was clear fabrication and WMUR TV must be held responsible.

At The NALC Convention, Letter Carriers Show Their Support For All Workers

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Having  just returned from Philadelphia and an NALC Convention that was inspiring.  I am struck by the fact that Letter Carrier solidarity towards our political fight  for survival has continued to strengthen since our last convention in 2012. What has also increased in intensity is the national war on workers. Battlegrounds were all around us, many speakers at the convention relayed stories about attacks on worker rights and when we stepped outside we saw visible proof with the Carpenters Union picketing the convention center and UNITE HERE picketing the Radisson Warwick Blu which was one of our host hotels. Clearly all our grievances are connected.

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Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at the NALC convention

Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery speech which was interrupted multiple times with standing ovations by the nearly 7000 delegates.”Well, I’ve got a message for Mr. Donahoe,” Sanders said. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, do not destroy middle-class jobs at the Postal Service. At a time when senior citizens and small businesses depend on the Postal Service operating six-days a week, do not end Saturday mail. At a time when the Postal Service is competing with the instantaneous communications of e-mail and high-speed Internet services, do not slow down the delivery of mail, speed it up. And do not dismantle the Postal Service by shutting down a quarter of the mail processing plants left in this country.”

The address by National Postal Mail Handlers Union President John Hegarty stressed the importance of the newly signed postal alliance which has all four postal unions working together to save the Postal Service. “The Postal Union Alliance puts it out there for all to see; we are united and we can’t be defeated.”

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NH State Association of Letter Carriers members Wayne Alterisio and Lew Henry stand with locked out Carpenters

Outside the convention center was a group of locked out carpenters. The Carpenters union which was locked out  seems to have a valid grievance and is currently in court trying to end their lock out. By some reports the Carpenters have been vigilant in contract enforcement and this may have played a role in the hard-line stand  from the convention center. In the spirit of solidarity the carpenters were enthusiastic participants with Letter Carriers and community groups in the Stop Staples rally held on Wednesday. The most contentious issue in their negotiations was a clause to allow increased low wage temporary workers.

NALC3A mile away UNITE HERE organized a  boisterous rally at the Radisson  Warwick Blu Hotel on Friday. The contagious spirit was reminiscent of early OWS in NYC . The workers are in difficult contract negotiations looking for a fair contract with job security. Workers are looking for protection from contracting out their jobs to low wage workers. For a company that is making millions of dollars a year giving its workers a fair contract should not be an issue. This is the latest example that corporate greed is always an obstacle to fairness.

All these workers realize that prosperity spreads  from the middle class out not from the top down. If trickle down economics works we would be flooded in jobs at the present time. The wealthy have not owned such a high percentage of our nations wealth since before the Great Depression of the 20’s. With the extreme wealthy making money at unparalleled rate why wouldn’t they pay their workers a fair wage.

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At a workshop local fast food workers outlined their plight against the reckless greed that has run rampant through their industry. A moving presentation from a fast food worker who was fired last week from his job for participating in activism to raise the minimum wage. It was eye-opening. He has two small children and was trying to survive on $7.25 an hour. In reality he had no choice but to fight to raise the wage. He had nothing to lose.

Corporate owned politicians are hell-bent on eliminating public services and replacing those union middle class jobs with low pay, no benefit, non-union jobs. It is accelerating the race to the bottom. In the private sector turning middle class jobs into temp jobs is happening at an alarming rate.  How can the ultra wealthy not comprehend  they are creating an unsustainable economic structure?

Our economic system can either make many people prosper for a long period of time or a few prosper for a short time. Judging by the building wave of economic discontent the clock is starting to run out on our plutocracy.

Don Cummings A NALC Member, Local Leader and True Friend; He Will Be Greatly Missed

IMG_1247With a broken heart I must report the news that NALC Letter Carrier Don Cummings has passed away on Saturday after a sudden illness. Don served Manchester NH Merged Branch 44 as a Branch Trustee and Union Steward proudly representing the Somersworth Letter Carriers. Don was unmatched in his caring towards family and friends and his strong solidarity with his brothers and sisters in the labor movement. I can not overstate his kindness.

Don received the call on the severity of his health ordeal as he was packing his golf clubs and getting ready to head to the NH Letter Carrier State Convention a few weeks ago.

Don Golf2Don was an accomplished golfer but while taking part in the NH Letter Carrier MDA Annual Golf Tournament he would often welcome newcomers to the game of golf to his team to show them how enjoyable his favorite sport could be. This would preclude any chance Don had from winning most prizes but he made friends for life by being so welcoming.

His amazingly quick wit and infectious laughter won him many admirers . I find it hard to think of a place I went with him where we did not run into somebody that didn’t both know him and respect him. All his friends share that same sentiment. His nickname of “The Mayor” was quite appropriate.

His unparalleled ability to keep everything in life in perspective is a trait many constantly marveled at. All of us in the union movement strive for that skill – he mastered it.

On his last days on this planet he was explaining to those close to him about the importance of union members protecting their rights and standing together. We all have to remember we are brothers and sisters .

He leaves behind his beloved wife of 26 years Cindy and daughter Jess their strength through this ordeal has been an inspiration to everyone. As well as his parents John and Carol Cummings and his brother Dave (a NALC Branch 44 Carrier and former NALC Branch 1001 President) Don often spoke glowingly of Jess and their father/daughter relationship was heartwarming.

The fact that they had a truly special husband and father was reinforced a few years ago when on one cold December night after delivering his mail route he declared they would not be celebrating Christmas in their family that year. Instead he wanted to direct that money anonymously to a customer on his mail route who was suffering through some very difficult times. It was a typical selfless act from a person so many people admired.

He will be greatly missed by many people in words I can not attempt to write.

Friends are invited to call Wednesday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Tasker Funeral Home, 621 Central Ave.A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:00 a.m. Thursday July 3 at the Parish of the Assumption, St. Mary Church, corner of Chestnut & Third Street with the Very Rev. Aggie Jean, V.F., pastor as celebrant, Rev. Mark Rideout will also take part in the funeral service. Burial will follow in Pine Hill Cemetery.Family flowers only and memorials in his name may be made to: Hyder Family Hospice House, 285 County Farm Road, Dover, N.H. 03820 or the charity of one’s choice

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

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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

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.”

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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.

Click here to share the meme below

Cecily Meme

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

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”

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

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?

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

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

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!!

 

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