• Advertisement

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.

 

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.

Labor Unions And Financial Reform Groups Push For “Postal Banking” With New Coalition

postal image USPS

Expanding Low-Cost Financial Services through the United States Postal Service is a Way to Put More Money into the Pockets of Low-Wage Workers and to Provide Banking to Americans in Rural and Urban Areas with Few Banking Options

United for a Fair Economy, One of the Coalition’s Founding Members, Releases New Report On Martin Luther King’s Birthday, that Shows that Nearly 100 Million Poor and Working Class Americans Pay $89 Billion Each Year to Payday Lenders, Pawn Shops and Check Cashers 

WASHINGTON – Financial reform groups, joined by postal unions and others from organized labor, announced today the creation of a national campaign to expand banking services. “The Campaign for Postal Banking” proposes to expand access to affordable financial services through the United States Postal Service’s 31,000 retail branches.

Today, 28 percent of U.S. households, representing 93 million people, do not have access to affordable financial products such as the ability to cash a check, transfer money or pay a bill at a reasonable fee. Americans who lack these services, what some call the “unbanked” or the “underbanked,” find that traditional banks are out of reach due to geography or because of high fees and other obstacles. Limited access drives millions to rely on costly, predatory services such as check cashing stores and payday lenders, trapping many in a cycle of debt. Some payday lenders charge as much as 400 percent in annual interest. The average low-wage worker using these “legal loan sharks” pays an incredible $2,400 per year in fees for these services.

“Much of the national debate has focused on how wages have lagged for working Americans in recent years,” said American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein. APWU is one of the coalition’s members. “As a society we need to find ways to boost wages and create and keep living wage jobs,” said Dimondstein.  “We also need to find ways to cut costs for low-wage Americans. Postal banking is a way to cut costs and put money back into the pockets of people barely getting by.”

The APWU and other partner organizations that have formed the Campaign for Postal Banking find that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in a unique position to provide basic, affordable, consumer-driven financial services to these underserved communities and individuals who live in what are often called “bank deserts.”  The USPS has more storefronts than any other retailer. A third of the nation’s zip codes have access to a post office but lack a traditional bank.

A report released today by another one of the coalition partners, United for a Fair Economy, entitled Underbanked and Overcharged, makes the case for how postal banking will benefit the poor and low-wage workers.

A report released last year by USPS’ Inspector General called Providing Non-Banked Financial Services for the Underserved explains how an expansion of financial services would fill a great social need and strengthen the finances of the Postal Service.

USPS is not a latecomer to banking services. From 1911 to 1967, the U.S. Post Office offered savings deposit accounts and currently sells more money orders than any other institution. Anyone who goes to a postal window and pays with a debit card anywhere in the United States also is offered the option of getting cash back.

Postal systems around the world – including France, Italy, Japan, China, Brazil, India, and New Zealand offer financial services and play important roles in advancing financial inclusion and literacy.

Campaign for Postal Banking is a coalition of consumer, worker, financial reform, economic justice, community, civic, and faith-based organizations building a movement to inform and mobilize the public to call on the United States Postal Service to take the necessary steps to restore and expand postal banking at its branches across the country.  Founding members include:

Alliance for Retired Americans

Americans for Financial Reform

American Postal Workers Union

Center for Study of Responsive Law

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Commonnomics

Essential Information

Interfaith Worker Justice

National Association of Letter Carriers

National People’s Action

National Postal Mail Handlers Union

National Rural Letter Carriers Association

Public Citizen

United for a Fair Economy

USAction

Workers Rally To Ask Congress To Stop Delaying America’s Mail

A boisterous crowd gathered in downtown Manchester on a blustery Friday evening to urge lawmakers not to decimate the U.S. Postal Service. This rally was part of a National Day of Action to stop the closing of 82 mail processing plants starting in January. The deconstructing of the Postal Service network continues despite the fact that on this same day the U.S. Postal Service reported a $1.4 Billion operational profit for the year.

The incredible list of Speakers included NH AFL CIO President Mark McKenzie, SEA/SEIU #1984 President Rich Gulla, IBEW #2320 Business Manager Glen Brackett, AFT NH President Laura Hainey, Gene Porter – husband of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, Norm Welsh Manchester Newspaper Guild President, Liz Skidmore , Carpenters #118 Business Manager and NALC State President Wayne Alterisio. NPMU Rep Ed Barnes was the informative MC and this amazing event was made possible by the incredible work of APWU leaders Janice Kelble and Kim Hayes. (I apologize for those I failed to mention)

The lawmakers that are endorsing these plant closures and eliminating Saturday mail delivery are not trying to save or reform the postal service they want to destroy it. A highly efficient and popular government agency does not fit their mindless anti government ideology that they sell to the American Public to get elected.

Add to the fact that the postal service is highly unionized and the anti worker politicians come out in mass. The battles to shrink worker pay and take back benefits are all around us. Friday’s speakers detailed those battles locally with the bitter strike at Fairpoint being the most ominous. The newspaper guild is still searching for fairness for its employees. The continuous war on reducing public employees is what Teachers and State Employees fight everyday. The workers at the U.S. Postal Service are the next target in our nations ongoing war on workers.

The war against postal workers not only affects the hundreds of thousands of postal workers but the millions of people in our country who rely on timely mail delivery. The elderly waiting for their medicine or child waiting for delivery of their birthday present or a small business waiting for essential documents should not be considered insignificant collateral damage in the attack on postal workers.

Congress should focus on eliminating the onerous $5.4 billion annual retirement healthcare prefunding requirement that has caused financial hardship for the USPS. That unprecedented requirement has to be modified and instead of shrinking the network it should be looking to expand it.

Good USPS financial news abounds with the strong $1.4 billion operational profit just reported.  Add to that Sunday parcel delivery for Amazon Packages is becoming a reality for many parts of the country next month. Letter revenue is up as our economy grows. The USPS can further enhance its skyrocketing 9.1% package revenue growth in the past year. It’s time to build on these success moving forward. Killing the Postal Service for ideological reasons seems more absurd now than ever before

Saving the Postal Service is what united this impressive crowd today. As I listened to the speakers and crowd response another theme became clear to us all. This spirited event highlighted a unified work force in NH that will be a formidable obstacle to those politicians and businessmen who want to erode workers pay and benefits. Our solidarity is a force that must be reckoned with.

Below is a short video of Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH Postal Workers Union talking about the rally and the issues facing the USPS.

You can view all of the videos from the rally in this playlist. 

 

UPDATE:
Other local coverage from WBIN NH1 :http://www.nh1.com/news/postal-service-workers-protest-in-manchester-over-pending-cuts/

New England Cable News (NECN) http://www.necn.com/news/business/Postal-Workers-Say-Cuts-Will-Kill-Service-282766071.html
National USPS Rally Coverage:
Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/11/12/postal-workers-to-protest-plant-closings-and-service-reductions/

The Postmaster General Has A Plan To Save The USPS. Can You Still Save Something If It Is Dead?

(Image by Oran Viriyincy FLIKR CC)

(Image by Oran Viriyincy FLIKR CC)

We must work together to stop the destruction of our prized institution, the US Postal Service.  The Postmaster General has a plan to “save the post office” like Mitt Romney saves companies. Run them into the ground until there is nothing left.

The Postmaster General has set January 5th of 2015 as the day when US Postal Service Standards will be reduced and over 82 US Postal processing plants will be closed.  This means that Grandma’s pills will take even longer to get to her door, if she is one of the few lucky ones who still get their mail delivered to their door.  There will virtually be no overnight delivery, say goodbye to that one day turn around on your Netflix videos.  All deliveries, including those magazine’s you don’t think your roommate knows about, will all be delayed.

Saving the Post Office is vital to preserving our economy.  Millions of pieces of mail move through the system every week, generating billions in revenue  and employing over 500,000 people across the country.  The USPS made over $1 Billion dollars in profits last year, yet all over that went to a shady pre-funding mandate laid out by Congress nearly a decade ago.  The USPS is pre-funding retirements for people whose parents are not even out of elementary school yet. That is seriously screwed up!

You can hear what American Postal Workers Union (APWU) President Mark Dimondstein has to say about the Postmaster General’s plan to “save the post office,” and to hear about the “Stop Delaying America’s Mail” events happening all across the country on November 14th.

If you are in New Hampshire you can see the events happening throughout the state by clicking here. For everyone else, click here to find an event near you.

View this video on YouTube.

US Postal Unions And Community Activists To Hold “Stop Delaying America’s Mail” Rally In Manchester, NH (and Nationally)

Postal-Unions-Set-Day-of-Action-to-Protest-Service-Cuts-Mail-Delays_blog_post_fullWidthOn Nov. 14 postal workers across the country will come together for a National Day of Action to tell Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the USPS Board of Governors: Stop Delaying America’s Mail!  Please join us! Whether you are postal employee, a small business owner, an individual customer, or someone who simply wants the U.S. Postal Service to survive and thrive, please get involved!

“The Postal Service is set to make severe cuts in mail delivery service that, if implemented, would cause hardships for customers, drive away business, and cause incalculable harm to its reputation,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said.

Why Now?

The Postmaster General is poised to make devastating cuts in service to the American people – cuts so severe that they will forever damage the U.S. Postal Service.

  • On Jan. 5, the USPS is slated to lower “service standards” to virtually eliminate overnight delivery – including first-class mail from one address to another within the same city or town.
  • All mail (medicine, online purchases, local newspapers, church bulletins, letters, bill payments, invitations) throughout the country will be delayed.
  • Beginning Jan. 5, 82 Mail Processing & Distribution Centers are scheduled to close.

These cuts will cause hardships for customers, drive away business, cause irreparable harm to the U.S. Postal Service, and lead to massive schedule changes and reassignments for employees.

Flawed Strategy

They are part of a flawed management strategy that has unnecessarily sacrificed service and failed to address the cause of the Postal Service’s manufactured financial crisis.

  •  More than 140 plants have closed since 2012;
  •  As a result, mail is delivered much later in the day, well into the evening;
  •  Retail work is being sent to Staples, at more than 1,500 stores throughout the country;
  •  Door delivery is being eliminated in most new housing developments;
  •  Chronic understaffing frustrates customers and slows the mail, and
  •  Six-day delivery is under constant threat.

The four postal unions are joining forces to protect service, fight for our livelihoods, and defend our great national treasure, the U.S. Postal Service. We have many allies in the fight against the proposed changes, including more than half the Senate and 160 U.S. Representatives.

Read the letter from the leaders of the four postal unions to Postmaster General Board of Directors.

Are the Cuts Inevitable?

The Nov. 14 date was selected because it coincides with the USPS Board of Governors’ last public meeting of 2014. On that day, the board will release the USPS financial reports for the fiscal year, and undoubtedly will once again bemoan “billions of dollars in losses.”

In fact, the USPS has earned more than $1 billion in profit from operations this year. The “losses” are the result of a bogus pre-funding requirement and have nothing to do with the cost of collecting, sorting and delivering mail.

The four postal unions, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), National Postal Mail Handlers Union(NPMHU) and National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA), are urging their members and postal customers to send a message to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the USPS Board of Governors:

Stop Delaying America’s Mail!

For those in New Hampshire, we will be hosting a candlelight vigil (details below) for others click here for a listing of events in your area

New Hampshire Candlelight Vigil

grim-reaperWhen: Friday, November 14, 2014

Where: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, 904 Elm St., Manchester.

What: Those attending are encouraged to bring a candle/flashlight/ small light of some sort. Dress in Funeral attire. Even “Grim Reapers” would be appropriate.

Tee Shirts will be provided while supplies last. First come, first served.

Click here to download a sharable flyer for this event.

JUST ADDED! Informational flyers to be given out at Concord Post office and Nashua City Hall Plaza.  CLICK HERE for more details. 

NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) Opposes Privatization Takeover Of USPS, Joins Staples Boycott

Concord, NH, June 9, 2014 – At the quarterly meeting of the SEA/SEIU 1984 Council, members unanimously resolved to support U.S. Postal workers and enter into a boycott of Staples, the office supply retailer.  Staples has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to operate postal counters in more than 82 “test sites” throughout the country.  The Postal Service plans to expand this operation to more than 1,500 Staples store across the United States.

Staples plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail. This is nothing less than a direct assault on good middle class jobs and on public postal workers.

“It’s clear the battle lines have been drawn in Corporate America’s plan to take over not just our politicians, but core governmental services.  And that’s why it’s also clear that more union brothers and sisters must step forward on that battlefield!  I will gladly stand with our US Postal Workers in their effort to stop Staples, the office supply retailer, from taking over trusted public services to boost corporate profit margins at the expense of hard working taxpayers, and I ask you to as well,” said Diana Lacey, President SEA/SEIU Local 1984 in an announcement of the boycott to members earlier today.

“We cannot thank SEIU local #1984 enough for joining our boycott of Staples. On behalf of Manchester Area Local President, Dana Coletti, and all people who believe in keeping the U.S. Postal Service as a public service, we appreciate this show of solidarity. Together we can and will end this drive to privatize all public services,” said Janice Kelble, Legislative Director, NH Postal Workers Union.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is latest labor union to join the cause to preserve this essential service.  SEA/SEIU 1984 joins NH AFL-CIO and AFT-New Hampshire in support of the postal workers.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is the exclusive representative of most state of NH employees, as well as county and municipal workers across the state.  The labor organization also represents workers at Hampstead Hospital.

AFT-Michigan Stands With USPS Workers In Boycotting STAPLES

American Federation of Teachers Michigan Votes to Join Boycott Staples Campaign over No-Bid Deal to Privatize Work of Local Post Offices

AFT Michigan Will Advocate for a Boycott Vote at American Federation of Teachers Convention in July

Detroit – Citing “a common battle against privatization” of public services, delegates to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan convention voted unanimously to boycott the office supply chain Staples.

AFT Michigan’s leaders presented a boycott resolution to members during its May 17th convention in Detroit at the request of the American Postal Workers Union. APWU members have been actively fighting a no-bid sweetheart deal between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Staples to operate postal counters in Staples stores.

“Members of our union want safe, secure, high-quality service when we go to the post office – not a low-wage, high-turnover operation where employees have little or no training and no qualifications to handle sensitive letters and packages,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “And nobody understands better than teachers, staff and faculty how much we all have to lose when essential public services – like schools and post offices – are put in the hands of private companies with lower standards.”

AFT Michigan has long been opposed to the privatization of public services in schools, colleges and other public institutions.

Last fall, USPS reached a sweetheart deal, with no competitive bidding, for a “pilot” project to operate postal counters in 82 Staples stores in four states – California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. USPS also plans to expand to more than 1,500 Staples stores in Michigan and nationwide after the trial period is over at the end of the year. The APWU and outside analysts see moving of work into Staples stores as the first step in privatizing the USPS’ retail operations and eliminating local public post offices.

On April 24th, APWU members in 50 cities across 25 states, including Michigan, staged a “National Day of Action” to protest the outsourcing of postal jobs to Staples, drawing widespread media attention.

Saturday’s vote by AFT Michigan delegates follows a similar resolution passed in April by the Executive Council of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). Meeting this weekend in Los Angeles, more than 60 CFT local union presidents discussed plans to educate tens of thousands of California teachers and school employees about the boycott, including information about alternative sources of school supplies.

Both AFT Michigan and the CFT have pledged to support a “Boycott Staples” resolution at the upcoming national convention of the American Federation of Teachers, which will take place in Los Angeles in July.

Educators are a key market for Staples; the chain aggressively markets to teachers and school employees with “Teacher Rewards,” “Reward-a-Classroom” and other programs. It is estimated that roughly a third of Staples’ revenues comes from the sale of school supplies.

Information on APWU’s Stop Staples Campaign can be found at: www.stopstaples.org and at www.apwu.org

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

 

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,542 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement