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US House Republican Continues Assault On Federal Workers

Demonstration at Fort. Gordon - March 2016  AFGE members at Fort Gordon protest hazardous working conditions. - Photo by Vyzzion Photography

Demonstration at Fort. Gordon – March 2016
AFGE members at Fort Gordon protest hazardous working conditions. – Photo by Vyzzion Photography

Congressman Price budget would slash pay, benefits, jobs of frontline federal employees

WASHINGTON – The federal budget blueprint proposed by House leaders would continue the assault on America’s workers by slashing spending on vital federal programs and the employees who administer them, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“Congressman Tom Price calls his plan ‘A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,’ but there’s nothing balanced about a budget that makes its cuts on the backs of the working people who keep this country strong,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

According to press reports, Price’s budget would slash funding for discretionary programs to a level not seen in at least eight years. This would require severe cuts to programs that help millions of Americans feed and shelter their families, educate our children and help young adults afford college, and research cures for cancer and other debilitating diseases.

The budget also proposes additional cuts to the pay, benefits and jobs of the nearly 2 million federal employees who care for our veterans, guard our borders, inspect our food, and process Social Security benefits.

“Federal employees have endured $182 billion in cuts to their wages and benefits since the start of this decade. Imposing additional cuts to their compensation and jobs won’t make America stronger,” Cox said. “We need to start investing in our public servants so they have the resources they need to continue serving the American people.”

Congress Votes To Block New Rules Mandated By The NLRB

Yesterday, Congressional Republicans continued their all out assault on working families by passing a law that would limit workers rights to organize and block new rules from the National Labor Relations Board that would allow for faster union elections, slated to take effect in April.

The NLRB said in a December statement that the new rules would allow unions to use electronic means to file for an election and would allow unions to hold elections just 14 days after filing.

“I am heartened that the Board has chosen to enact amendments that will modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act. Simplifying and streamlining the process will result in improvements for all parties. With these changes, the Board strives to ensure that its representation process remains a model of fairness and efficiency for all,” said NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Peirce.

Congressman Frank Guinta receiving an award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

Congressman Frank Guinta receiving an award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

The bill passed 232-186, almost straight down party lines. The bill was opposed by all of the House Democrats (thank you Congresswoman Annie Kuster [NH-02]) and three lone Republicans. Congressman Frank Guinta, the Republican representing the first district in New Hampshire, was among the Republican majority who voted to pass the bill.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans against the NLRB’s common-sense modernization of its election rules is a direct attack on workers and their right to be heard in the workplace,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Working men and women want an agenda from their Congressional leaders that raises wages and grows our middle class. Instead, they have gotten Republican policies that roll back progress and silence workers while protecting their biggest donors.”

Listening to the debate on the House floor shows exactly how much the Republicans really care about workers and their rights.   These Republicans are putting corporations above working men and women.

“Today, Congress voted to stop an unelected board of bureaucrats from trampling on the rights of America’s workers and job creators,” said Congressman John Kline (R-MN) in a written statement after the vote. “The board’s ambush election rule will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families.

Rep. Kline’s statement is nearly identical to the statement released by the US Chamber of Commerce who has worked tirelessly to oppose unionizing efforts and push anti-worker legislation in dozens of states.

“The Chamber applauds Congress for passing legislation to stop the ‘ambush election’ rule issued by the NLRB,” stated U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits Randel K. Johnson. “This rule infringes upon an employer’s free speech right by virtually eliminating an employer’s opportunity to communicate his or her views regarding unionization with employees.

What they should have said was that this vote stifles a workers right to organize and gives more time for employers to hire union busting firms and lie to their employees about how unions operate.

President Obama has already said he will veto this totally partisan bill. This would be Obama’s fourth veto, and second in the last two months.

“President Obama is right in his commitment to vetoing this harmful legislation, and Congressional Republicans should focus their efforts on lifting workers up instead of shutting them out,” said Trumka.

Whether you support unions or not should not matter, that is why we hold elections. If workers freely choose to support a union, the union will win the election. If workers freely choose to reject the union, the union will lose. That is freedom and the choice that workers are guaranteed under the National Labor Relation Act.

Organizing and holding a union election is hard enough, and Republicans in Washington want to block workers from organizing. Working families need to understand that these Republicans are not looking out for them and are only looking out for the wealthy businesses and groups like the US Chamber of Commerce that fund their campaigns.

 

 

Click here for more information about the NLRB’s rule changes

 

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.

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