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 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

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

 

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.

 

Without Pre-Funding Obligations The USPS Would Profit How Much?

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

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

The new USPS Financial Report issued Friday further validates the claim that the Postal Service is neither broken nor in crisis. Excluding the pre-funding expense the USPS has turned a $660 million profit delivering mail in fiscal year 2013. Showing again that Senator Carper, Senator Coburn and Congressman Issa are manufacturing a postal financial crisis as an excuse to dismantle it. Standing in their shadows are vultures named FedEx and UPS.

Senator Carper on Friday in an interview with NPR spoke of the need to “right size” the Postal Service. Apparently Mr Carper has not noticed that the Postal Service has eliminated 31% of its jobs in the last 10 years. Going from a career workforce of 729,000 in 2003 to slightly over 500,000 at the present time. While letter mail volume has dropped, it has been made up by a spike in highly profitable parcel delivery that as of this moment is at all time highs. Adding to that the Postal Service now delivers to 10.8 million more delivery points than in 2003. Yet Carper makes the outrageous claim that the Postal Service needs to be “right sized” and has too many workers. Mr Carper just insulted 500,000 postal workers and the intelligence of any informed observers.

NALC President Fred Rolando attempted to enlighten congressional leaders on Friday:

“The congressional priority should be to address the actual source of red ink: the $5.5 billion annual pre-funding albatross that is hampering the Postal Service. This mandate is not only onerous, it is unnecessary, because the Postal Service already has put aside sufficient money to meet the needs of future retirees for decades to come. Few, if any, companies can say the same.”

“The path to profitability is clear: Address the pre-funding fiasco and give the Postal Service the freedom to innovate and grow in the digital era. Do not eliminate Saturday delivery, which would raise costs for small businesses open weekends, and do not force people to traipse around their neighborhood looking for cluster boxes. Such steps would inconvenience the public and would destroy the Postal Service by driving mail—and revenue—out of the system.”

It appears that Senator  Carper and Senator Coburn  are being influenced by FedEx and UPS who would capitalize on a dismantled Postal Service. The facts paint the picture: Since Carper’s reelection nine months ago he has received $30,000 from FedEx and 26,500 from UPS .  His next election is over 5 years away! Why the sudden interest? In January, Carper assumed the powerful chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. He became a powerful man in the Senate regarding Postal Affairs.

The ranking member of that committee is Senator Coburn (R-OK). Coburn infamously introduced an amendment in Postal Bill S1789 last year that created quite a buzz. Amazingly it would “require the Postal Service to dismiss its workers who are retirement eligible in order to cut costs”  It is unknown if Coburn will reintroduce this amendment in S1746.

Colburn introduced with Carper the Postal Reform Act of 2013 (S1746) he has also been the recipient of $25,000 from FedEx this calendar year. Placing FedEx in the top five of his donors. Coburn , it can be argued, owes his political career to ALEC founder the Koch Brothers

FedEx and UPS are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)  and both companies have held the vice-chair position on this insidious anti worker and union busting group. FedEx and UPS have donated enormous money over the past few years to Carper and quite possibly they helped craft the new Postal Reform Act S1746.

In the House of Representatives FedEx has been an enthusiastic supporter of Issa’s draconian HR 2748. In the past a Democratic controlled Senate would be the voice of reason and push back against the extreme right-wing ideologues of the House. That does not seem to be the case at this time as Carper is adding fuel to their witch hunt.

The Postal Service is  governments most popular and efficient agency and its being dismantled for pure ideology and greed. Fed Ex,UPS and other ALEC members will profit immensely by the privatizing of the Postal Service and the destruction of their unions.

 

Senator Carper introduces legislation to virtually end the USPS

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Democratic Senator Tom Carper has moved the Postal Service one big step closer to extinction this weekend by introducing his new Postal Reform Act S 1486. Mr Carper a long time ally of wealthy corporate interests intends to drive the stake into the heart of the worlds best Postal Service. His bill on many levels closely resembles Congressman Issa’s HR 2748 which passed out of a House committee 10 days ago on a party line vote, with only GOP support.

Carper’s S 1486 will allow the elimination of Saturday delivery in just one year. That itself will put the USPS in a death spiral. Cutting service is clearly not the way to compete in a 21st economy. Cutting 16% of the USPS services to save at most 3% of the budget doesn’t seem to be a rational strategy. Saving any money itself is in question as studies have shown that losing Saturday delivery would reduce mail volume by 7.7% that itself would result in a revenue loss of $5.3 Billion far exceeding the money projected to be saved by cutting a day of delivery.

Other aspects of this bill that would harm the American public is that this bill requires the Postal Service to change your mode of delivery to the deivery mode “that is most cost – effective and in the best long-term interest of the Postal Service” This may save the Postal Service some delivery time but to force elderly people into a situation where it will be difficult for them to retrieve their mail in the harsh winter or sweltering summer is not a matter that a civilized society should put a price on.

This Senate bill also removes safeguards for rural customers that have been in place to guarantee them reasonable access to a post office. There will be no limit on how far you must travel to get to your “local” post office. I guess for Mr Carper being a Senator from Delaware that issue does not resonate with him.

S 1486  makes it easy for the Postal Service to sell historic buildings. This was previously forbidden in past postal reform bills. As we all know the conservatives love the idea of selling off Postal Service assets, it is a long-held dream of the right wing. Key Romney advisor Kevin Hassett outlines the plan: “The Postal Service owns or operates 33,000 facilities nationwide, and owns 219,000 vehicles. If we were to auction it off to private investors, the bids would likely be enormous. FedEx and UPS, for example, have a combined market capitalization of almost $100 billion. Given that, how much might a private bidder offer for the right to start a business with the Postal Service’s footprint? The $100 billion mark might be a good first guess” At least they are not hiding their motives.

S 1486 in tandem with HR 2748 if enacted will seem to put an end to a great American institution for purely ideological reasons. The wealthy could never allow a highly unionized and efficient government institution ( USPS does not use a dime of tax money) like the Postal Service be allowed to thrive. In 2006 Bush inserted a poison pill requiring the USPS to prefund retiree health care costs 75 years into the future over a 10 year period. This resulted in this manufactured crisis that corporate owned politicians seem more than happy to capitalize on to increase profits for their wealthy campaign contributors.

The only losers are ordinary American people whose very popular postal service, with an 83% approval rating, has to be dismantled to be “saved”.

 

NHLN  Note:
Read the Union Response to this proposed legislation.
Read the LTE in response to this post.

HR 2748 Postal Reform Act of 2013 Aka Ultra-Wealthy Congressmen Destroying The USPS

Image By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photos/Newsroom
Image By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photos/Newsroom

Image By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photos/Newsroom

So this is how the worlds best Postal Service may meet its demise. Early Friday evening an obscure 2nd term  Republican Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, who was born into great wealth. Introduced HR2748 that will destroy our nations Postal Service it’s  no surprise that the wealthiest and arguably most corrupt member of Congress Daryl Issa is the one setting this tragic play in motion. There is money to be made selling off Postal Service assets and these people want to capitalize.

Mr Farenthold has a net worth of $35.8 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics and Mr Issa is the 2nd wealthiest member of congress at $220,000 million, according to Roll Call. These two people are making reckless decisions that will affect every ordinary working American in this country who depend on mail delivery. These two are as out of touch with mainstream America as two people can be but they are self appointed experts when it comes to our nations mail delivery.

HR 2748 Postal Reform Act of 2013 will end Saturday Delivery and leaves open the possibility of reducing it further in 2018. HR 2748 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.

This new bill will eliminate most of door to door delivery. People will have to go to the end of the street to retrieve their mail. That’s not going to be immensely popular, especially for the elderly and those of us who deal with harsh winters.  Amazingly there will be a limited number of deliveries to the door as long as the customer pays a few hundred dollars a year fee. I can’t make this stuff up.   They are going to make people pay hundreds of dollars a year to get mail delivered to the door!

They are creating a Five member Postal Service Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority that will take operating power from the USPS Board of Governors. They will  have the power to restructure the Postal Service and cut costs wherever they see fit. That sounds ominously similar to the panel that the State of Michigan uses to shred existing collective bargaining contracts.

I am sure many more details of this bill we be made public before Wednesdays markup and possible vote in the House of Representatives so we should all be vigilant. Please be prepared to contact your congressman and have them vote against HR 2748. Senator Carper has pledged fast action in the Senate so this could domino quick and along with the dominos the worlds best  Postal Service will be knocked to the ground.

Mourn For The Dead, Fight For The Living. A Contrasting View Of Safety In The Workplace

Workers'-Memorial-Day-Banner

Workers'-Memorial-Day-Banner

With Workers Memorial Day approaching Sunday April 28 two high-profile safety situations this week have helped further illustrate the gulf  between a union and non-union workplace. Union leaders have called out the Postal Service for being slow in handling one situation while in Texas a completely different regulatory atmosphere turned into a catastrophe.

Postal employees were reminded of the risks in moving the mail.  Ricin tainted letters passed through mail plants in Tennessee, Maryland and Washington DC.  The media reported the story before the USPS told its employees according to the  American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The hope is the Postal Service will communicate faster with employees if a similar problem occurs in the future.

The APWU was displeased with the Postal Service not telling his members sooner about the Ricin tainted letters sent to President Obama and Senator Wicker. Especially considering the deaths of Postal Workers during the Anthrax mailings in 2001 the APWU expected a quicker response.

“It is unacceptable that postal officials did not contact the union immediately to notify us of this potentially deadly hazard,” Union President Cliff Guffey said. “Postal workers have learned through bitter experience of the dangers we face when poisons are sent through the mail.”

“We intend to demand that this lapse be corrected,” Guffey said. “The safety of postal workers must be management’s first concern in an incident like this. Postal workers have a right to be informed immediately and to have the assistance of their union immediately to make sure that everything is being done that can be done to protect their safety!”

Seemingly the Postal Service was slow in handling this. In the big picture the Postal Service preaches safety constantly and OSHA inspectors frequently visit. It can be legitimately questioned if the Postal Service focus on safety is being done for the right reasons, but there is no doubt safety is emphasized. Lets contrast that to the travesty in Texas.

We are learning grim new details of the West Fertilizer Plant fire last week that killed at least 14 people and injured over 200. Astoundingly this plant was last inspected by OSHA in February 1985.

That is right a non-union fertilizer plant next to both a school and a nursing home went over 27 years without a OSHA inspection. The EPA found numerous safety violations 5 years ago but that was never followed up on. What could possibly go wrong in this situation?

OSHA inspectors have been reduced consistently over the past 30 years  and currently there are only 2,200 inspectors for the country’s 8 million workplaces and 130 million workers. So OSHA could be expected to visit each plant every 129 years.  With no union voice workers are not really empowered to make a call on their own. The whole community in West, Texas is now paying the price.

Routinely government leaders side with industry profits  over public safety.  If you are a union worker and contact OSHA they will undoubtedly respond.  Union officials called out the Postal Service for being 2 days late in notification. Contrast that to the 27 year delay in Texas. If you are a non-union worker and you report a violation most likely your next call will be to the State Unemployment Office.

With Workers Memorial Day being later this week its time for our Congress and Administration to address worker safety. People somehow have to be placed above profits.