• Advertisement

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

NALC6

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.

NALC1

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.”

NALC4

NALC7

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.

2014-02-05-FiveQuintilesIncome.jpg
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.

What The F&@#: Issa Proposes End To Six Day Delivery To Save Military Retirees COLA’s

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/03/no_saturday_mail_delivery_no_p.html

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle

The depth of Congressman Darrell Issa’s distain for the unionized workers at the US Postal Service knows no bounds.  Now he is pitting the USPS against the US Military.

Government Executive reported this morning:

A new bill would undo the recent cuts made to certain military retirees’ pensions, and in exchange allow the U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday proposed legislation that would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for young military retirees.”

To recap, the bi-partisan budget deal that everyone was giddy over last month made cuts to Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for veterans who retire after twenty years of service, but have not reached the full retirement age of 62.  To put this into context, this would be a person who could be as young as 38 years old, receiving a military pension, who would receive 1% less in a COLA increase than those retiree’s over the age of 62.

I am against cutting benefits to any worker who has done their time and completed their service after the fact.  That is not the case here.  This change means that these working age retirees will not get the full cost of living increase, which does not mean they are going to see their paychecks go down, as some are implying.  Also nowhere does it say that a retired veteran cannot get another job after they leave the military.  Just look at all the government contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, who routinely hire veterans as military specialists.

You know who else hires a ton of veterans, especially those who have been medically discharged?  The US Postal Service, that is who.  In 2007 the USPS employed over 680,000 people and of that 25% were veterans. (Note 8% of total workforce is listed as disabled veterans).

While that information is great to have, it is not the true point of this post.  The fact that Congressman Issa is, yet again, proposing to cut the Postal Service to five-day delivery is a sham.  He is trying to pull the wool over your eyes, by saying that eliminating Saturday delivery will save the government enough money to offset the retiree’s COLA cuts.

The fact is that the USPS does not take any money from the US Government.  The USPS is a completely self-funded operation, paid in full by the postage on the parcel.  The real issue the USPS is facing is the pre-funding mandate set forth by Congress in 2006.  That mandate requires the USPS to pre-fund all retiree benefits for the next 75 years before 2016.

Congressman Issa and the Postmaster General have used this mandate to make claims that the USPS is going bankrupt.  It is true the USPS cannot afford to pre-pay retiree benefits at 7-times (7X) the normal rate. What corporation could afford that?  They are using this as a way to push the USPS, and its unionized workforce out, and replace it with private companies like UPS and FedEx, who make more money for the 1% on Wall Street.   Let us not forget how UPS and FedEx botched holiday deliveries, while the slow and steady postal service delivered all their packages on time.

This legislation is the biggest shell game I have ever seen.  Instead of just reinstating the cuts to retiree’s, Congressman Issa is suggesting that we steal money from the USPS (which he claims is going bankrupt), and give it to these retiree’s.

If the USPS is failing, as Congressman Issa has said over and over, how exactly is stealing more money from them going to save it?

Rep. Peter DeFazio: "There's no substitute for a universal postal system. The private sector can't fill that gap."  WATCH: http://on.msnbc.com/1dWH1vi  Image from the ED Show

Rep. Peter DeFazio:
There’s no substitute for a universal postal system. The private sector can’t fill that gap.”
WATCH: http://on.msnbc.com/1dWH1vi
Image from the ED Show

Congressman Issa Pushes New USPS Legislation Full Of The Same Old Ideas

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)Stop me if you heard this one before.  A wealthy businessman and Congressman, wants to take away services from the USPS like saturday delivery and door-to-door service, all to ‘save’ the USPS.

No this is not old news.  It is however the same story being played out again by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.  Congressman Issa is once again making a proposal the help ‘save’ the USPS by slashing services and cutting jobs.

As reported by GovExec.com the the Postal Reform Act of 2013 would in short ease (not eliminate) the pre-funding requirements that are the sole reason the USPS is loosing money.  “New proposals in Issa’s current bill … include switching to actuarial calculations for future retirees’ health benefits. That plan is designed to reach full funding in 2056.” This change to retiree funding could save the post office between “$2 billion and $3 billion dollars” annually.

The new bill also pushes for more substantial cuts to services and employees.  The bill also “grants the Postal Service reduction in force authority”. Congressman Issa’s proposal would also allow the USPS to break current labor agreements that prohibit the mass layoff of thousands of workers.

The fun does not stop there.  Congressman Issa wants to remove door-to-door services. “The oversight chairman also called for increased use of secure “clusterbox” mail delivery, while phasing out to-the-door delivery.” This could mean no more stopping at the end of your driveway for your mail, you have to go to the designated ‘clusterbox’ for your area.

This begs the question, what about packages? Since package delivery is the fastest growing section of the USPS what would happen to the packages that do not fit in the ‘clusterbox’? Right now, my letter carrier brings them to my front door to deliver them. Would that still happen? Would I be forced to go to the Post Office to collect all my packages during their regular business hours?

What about those people who are homebound and get their mail handed to them at their front door? This is not a requirement for letter carriers but many letter carriers do it anyway.  Without door-to-door delivery this would be impossible.

Congressman Issa continues to beat the dead horse on eliminating six-day delivery.  “His bill also would end Saturday mail delivery, which the Postal Service announced it would do in 2013 before a rider in the most recent continuing resolution forced the agency to backtrack.”

The NALC President Fredric Rolando said:

“This discussion draft has a number of major problems that need to be addressed before it is used as the basis of actual legislation.”

“For example, Issa’s draft calls for the immediate elimination of Saturday letter mail service, for taking away from 35 million Americans door-delivery of the mail and replacing it with cluster-box delivery, and for compromising the security of the mailbox by allowing access to non-federal employees.”

“We are going to carefully go through this new draft in the coming days,” the president said, “and we hope that we will be able to work with the chairman on legislation to provide alternative approaches to postal reform that seek to modernize and strengthen the Postal Service—an agency with roots in the U.S Constitution—rather than to destroy it brick by brick.”

The final draft of this legislation is yet to be seen.  All that Congressman Issa has to do is remove the pre-funding mandate and then the USPS will not need to cut any services or jobs.  If history is our guide, Congressman Issa will push for cuts and closers over actual helpful changes to the USPS.

NH Letter Carrier Risks His Own Life To Save Another From A Burning Building

Letter carrier have always held a special place in our hearts. It is the letter carrier who delivers our mail six days a week, but a letter carrier is much more than that. To children they can be like Santa Clause bringing gifts in the mail. To others they provide lifesaving medicine. For some the letter carrier is the only person they see every day.

For many years letter carriers have been our friends. We thank them with gifts and treats in our mailboxes at Christmas. We thank them for doing their job every day now matter what the weather may throw at them. Every day the mail gets through.

Letter carriers are also a part of our neighborhood watch program. Notifying the police if an elderly resident does not come to the door, or see that nobody has been at the house in days. They notice little things like a dog barking frantically, which alerts them to a possible problem.

On Saturday, Bill Kelly will be ever grateful to his letter carrier Tom Sapienza.

“Several people, including a mailman, ran into a burning building on Merrimack Street on Saturday looking for residents feared trapped in a fire…” (Union Leader)

Tom, a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers risked his own life to run into a burning building to look for residents. Not many people would think of the mailman as the first person to run into a burning building but that is exactly what Tom did. Then when it was over he went right back to doing what he does every day, delivering the mail.

TonyMeme“Sapienza, after being treated, returned to his postal truck, saying he wasn’t allowed to talk to reporters but wasn’t planning on going right home.

“I have to get back on my route,” Sapienza said. (Union Leader)

After risking his own life, he delivered all of the mail in his truck, all be it with a little delay.

Thank you Tommy for being an everyday hero.

Share this image on your facebook or click here to tweet.

 

May 11th Support The 21st Annual “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive

NALC Stamp Out Hunger --STAMP DateThe National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) will be holding their 21st annual food drive on Saturday, May 11th. On that day letter carriers will pick up non-perishable food as they deliver mail on their postal routes. The food donations collected will stay in the towns and cities where they are collected.

When we decided to take our food drive nationwide more than two decades ago, food banks and community service organizations told us that the best time for us to do it would be when people aren’t really thinking about it”, NALC President Fred Rolando noted, “to remind people that, sadly, the need for food is year-round.”  In November and December— around the holidays—many folks get caught up in a spirit of giving, so food pantries and other such organization see a major upswing in food donations,” he said. “But by May, their shelves begin to empty out.”

As the men and women who touch every neighborhood in America six days a week, letter carriers far too often see first-hand how poverty and hunger affect the customers we serve.

“Each year, the second Saturday in May is a day when all citizens have an opportunity, with the help of their letter carrier, to easily donate food to needy families in their community,” Rolando said.

The drive, the largest one-day food-collection event in the nation, has been a success every year. This year’s drive is co sponsored by National Rural Letter Carriers, AARP, AFL CIO and the United Way.

“We are pleased to announce that the United Way will continue to partner with the NALC Food Drive in 2013” United Way President Stacy Stewart said “This effort is a tremendous example of the importance of working with organized labor to advance the common good in communities throughout the United States”

Residents are asked to leave non-perishable food donations in a bag by their mailbox on Saturday May 11th before their letter carrier arrives. It will be picked up and then delivered to a local food bank.

Thank You in advance for your support, Bill Brickley.
(NH Letter Carrier for more than 27 years.)

Below is a great video from the National Association of Letter Carriers about this great event.  Click Here to share to your facebook wall.  For twitter users you can click here to tweet a pre-written message.  Or you can share this YouTube link (http://youtu.be/Uwkr-LJmWwI)

NALC President Fredric Rolando statement on USPS Board of Governors announcement

NALC President Fredric RolandoApril 10, 2013 —NALC President Fredric Rolando issued the following statement today, in response to the USPS Board of Governors’ announcement that the Postal Service will obey the law and comply with the continuing resolution adopted in March that mandates continuation of six-day mail delivery this year. The Board restated its support for a change to 5-day delivery, but effectively conceded that the postmaster general’s claim that he could ignore the CR was wrong.

“NALC is gratified that the Board of Governors has seen the light on the law—but it is time for them to reconsider their entire “shrink to survive” strategy. Degrading the Postal Service’s last-mile network is a losing strategy. Eliminating Saturday service, which more than a third of all business mailers want to keep, will drive millions of customers away and do more harm than good. The Postal Service needs a growth strategy and the Congress must enact comprehensive reform that overhauls the USPS governance structure, provides greater pricing and product flexibility and reduces or eliminates the crushing pre-funding burden that has caused more than 90 percent of this year’s financial loss so far.

“Maintaining Saturday delivery is critical to the Postal Service’s future. Losing this competitive advantage would not only reduce mail volume and revenue—sending the USPS on a death spiral—but also would disproportionately affect small businesses, the elderly, rural communities, the one-half of the public that pays bills by mail and the many millions who lack access to reliable Internet service. And it would cost tens of thousands of jobs.

The Board’s call to reopen and renegotiate the postal labor contracts is yet another sign that the Postal Service needs new executive leadership. Asking the NALC to renegotiate a contract that was just settled in January is insulting and unnecessary. The new agreement, which reduced starting pay by 25 to 33 percent and allows for major health care savings, provides for several labor-management task forces to work on ways to increase revenues and cut costs.

“Finally, I must credit the hard work of letter carriers, whose efforts to get the message out about Saturday delivery were critical to today’s positive development. We will continue to rely on our members as the fight to protect and preserve the U.S. Postal Service continues.”

Do The American People Really Support 5 Day Delivery? Hint: Not As Much As They Say

Everyone is talking about the USPS and their illegal attempt to change to a five day delivery.  They say that this is the only way ‘save the postal service’.  The USPS has been on Capitol Hill with claims that the overwhelmingly the public is behind the move for five day delivery.   I do not agree.

It is a common trick when conducting polling to ask a question so you get the response you want.  For example how would you respond to this question?

“After learning that this change will allow the Postal Service to be financially stable, to what extent do you support the decision of the Postal Service to begin delivering mail five days per week and packages six days per week, including continuing package delivery on Saturdays?”

If you have to choose yes or no, would you support five day delivery to save the post office? Of course you would.  This is why over 86% of people polled agreed with the above statement.

Now they USPS is pushing the idea that 80% of people support a five day delivery plan.

To what extent do you support the decision of the Postal Service to begin delivering mail five days per week and packages six days per week, including continuing package delivery on Saturdays?”

The real fact is that only 39% strongly support the idea, and 41% somewhat support the idea.

I cannot back up my polling with any real data, however of the people that I have talked to, only 10-15% seem to know and understand what the real problems are with the USPS.   I would be more interested to know what the polling is on that.

How many people know that the real issue with the USPS is the pre-funding mandate set forth by Congress.

I wonder how many people know that certain members of Congress have ties to UPS and want to privatize the entire USPS system.

These are the questions that pollsters should be asking but are not.  Why, because when you pay the pollster, you pay for the results you want.

We should all get behind the new legislation that was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) to modernize the U.S. Postal Service, save Saturday mail and repeal a crippling law responsible for 80 percent of the mail system’s funding woes.

Latest Update on 6 day delivery from National Association of Letter Carriers

A message from NALC President  Fredric V. Rolando

First, let me express the NALC’s condolences and my personal sympathies for the families and friends of the victims of the mass shooting yesterday in Connecticut. Sadly, there have been far too many such rampages in recent years. These unspeakable crimes should motivate all Americans to come together to find ways to prevent future tragedies of this kind.

Even as we mourn this weekend, however, we cannot afford to lose track of the urgent battle over the future of the Postal Service.

The good news is that negotiations over the flawed “compromise” bill appear to be stalled, at least temporarily. The bad news is that Congress may stay is session beyond the holidays to finish the so-called “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations, so the fight over postal reform is far from over.

According to our best sources, no agreement was reached at congressional staff–level negotiations on the compromise bill this week, thanks in part to the continued activism of letter carriers. But we are hearing talk of eliminating Saturday delivery one year from now. That’s halfway between the House’s proposal in H.R. 2309 to eliminate it immediately and the Senate’s proposal in S. 1789 to retain six-day delivery but only for two years. Either way, 25,000 city carrier jobs—one-sixth of our workforce—would be sacrificed, instead of removing the real problem: the future retiree health pre-funding burden.

If an agreement is reached by the staff, the compromise will be presented to the small group of committee leaders from the House and Senate committees that oversee the Postal Service. There is no guarantee that those leaders will sign off on the resulting postal reform. If they do, they will have to convince the leadership to let the full Congress consider the legislation—and possibly attach it to other bills under consideration. Fortunately, it now looks doubtful that any postal reform bill could be attached to the Hurricane Sandy relief bill, which the Senate is scheduled to take up on Monday.

Nevertheless, we must convince the entire Congress to oppose any rush to enact postal reform in the lame-duck session. Congress must start over in the new year and do the job right.

Time is running out, since it will take some time to translate any agreement into legislative language, but we won’t be safe until Congress adjourns for the year.

So we have to keep the pressure up. I need you to call your House and Senate representatives this week at 202-224-3121. Even if you have already called, call again. And urge other carriers and postal employees, as well as your family members, your neighbors and your friends, to do the same.

I have been in direct contact with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to share our views, and our legislative staff is working around the clock to inform members of Congress about the dangers of a flawed compromise. We will be running this advertisement in Capitol Hill newspapers next week, and we are conducting a sophisticated digital-media campaign targeting Capitol Hill staffers and their principals.

If we all do our part, we can win this important fight.

In Solidarity,

Fredric V. Rolando, President
National Association of Letter Carrier

NALC President Speaks Out To Members and Congress About Pre-funding Obligations and Lame Duck Session

What follows is an email from NALC President Fred Rolando regarding the impending deal in Congress to eliminate a day of mail delivery each week. The sword is about to fall on many union jobs. At this point all we can do is call Senator Shaheen or Ayotte and ask them to preserve 6 day mail delivery.

“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve asked you to call your representatives in Washington and tell them to wait until after the first of the year to work on meaningful postal reform, rather than try to push something through quickly during this lame-duck period after the November elections. And thousands of NALC activists made those calls. If you did so, thank you.

Unfortunately, we’ve learned that key members of the House and Senate have met together this week to work on a compromise postal reform bill, and it sounds as if eliminating a day of mail delivery service remains on the table during those discussions.

This is unacceptable. Cutting a day of delivery would mean sacrificing one-sixth of our workforce—25,000 city letter carrier jobs—all in the name of holding on to the misguided mandate to massively pre-fund 75 years’ worth of future retiree benefits and to do so within just 10 years. This policy is what’s really hurting the USPS, costing it billions a year and diverting its attention away from working on a true business plan for the 21st century. (It’s worth noting that this last postal reform law was passed during Congress’ lame-duck session in 2006.)

Besides, dropping a day of mail delivery is a sure-fire recipe for driving away business from the USPS by undermining the value of the service that we letter carriers faithfully provide.

NALC continues to oppose any congressional deal that eliminates a day of mail delivery and that fails to lay the foundation for a viable Postal Service. Click here to read the letter I just sent to every U.S. senator.

If there is a sliver of good news here, it’s this: It’s still not too late for you to act. Even if you have already called your representatives, please do so again—they can not hear from us enough on this important issue.

So please, call your House and Senate representatives at 202-224-3121 and tell them to oppose any lame-duck postal reform bill. Tell them that Congress should instead start over in the new year to craft a brand-new reform measure that preserves this institution, that allows it to grow and meet today’s challenges, and that takes into account the needs of all postal stakeholders and customers.

Also, encourage your fellow letter carriers, your family members and your friends to call their representatives, too.

And stay alert for future developments. If these members of Congress reach some sort of postal reform deal this week, I will schedule a tele-town hall meeting to mobilize the entire membership to fight it.”

In Solidarity,

Fredric V. Rolando, President
National Association of Letter Carriers

Below are two images. The first is the letter that President Rolando sent to the members of Congress, encouraging them to make new legislation in the next session and to do it correctly.  The second image show how their current proposed changes to the postal pre-funding will only net a savings of 5 billion over 10 years.  That will not be enough if they want to keep the post office functioning.

 

NH Letter Carrier Explains Why We Must Mobilize and Occupy The Elections

Fact: The Labor movement will be vastly outspent by the conservative right in opposing any gains working stiffs like you and me deserve for all our hard labor.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, what can we do?

Activism today is a very daunting task. In the sixties mass movements, like the anti-war movement were pretty much reported on by the main stream media, by and large, as a noble cause. Today’s media is a different entity. Most of corporate media is either owned outright by conservatives or is bought outright through ads dominated by these people and groups. It runs along the lines of “total information dominance” as is asserted by some propaganda theorists. It’s based on a military theory that we’ve been hearing about called “full spectrum dominance”. This is when one force exercises not only superiority, which means they will win the battle, but dominance, which renders the battle obsolete.  We are not at total media dominance yet as witnessed by you being able to read this blog, but we are damned close.

In this environment, activists and democracy itself is ridiculed and small demonstrations of political activism, with the help of local law enforcement, are harassed, threatened and even beaten as I have personally witnessed at peaceful Occupy Wall Street events. I am not talking about rioters, but peaceful protesters. It takes a really huge commitment to subject you to this humiliation.

But take to the streets and get involved we must. Congress has totally failed us. They are bought and paid for and totally indebted to their sponsors. The Supreme Court in 2010 nailed the coffin shut with their Citizens United Ruling allowing corporations and billionaires to dump unlimited amounts of money to candidates and “dark money” groups, spreading disinformation and out and out lies.

Even though these people can write checks for tens of millions of dollars they can’t put a million or twenty million feet on the ground. Labor can potentially still do that. I witnessed a demonstration last spring in Manhattan that was the width of Broadway and sixteen blocks long. Unfortunately the media said there were a few thousand. There had to be thirty thousand. Not bad for the middle of the week.

I do not condemn anyone for their apathy or despair. I understand their disengagement. But overcoming this we must. I witnessed a local spark last fall when four or five hundred Letter Carriers and Postal workers and some labor affiliates “Occupied” City Hall Plaza in Manchester one Thursday afternoon. It was a beautiful thing! The seed has been planted.  My contribution to this blog will be how we can “Occupy” politics.

  • 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 198 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement