Thank You From NH APWU And Full Text Of Issa Protest Event Letter

Issa Rally 1

Editor’s note: This is a two part message.  The first part is a Thank You from Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH APWU.  The second part is the full text of the flyer delivered by AWPU members at the Issa protest. 

Issa protest 2THANK YOU to all who showed up!

Thank you for the wonderful show of solidarity, it was especially heartwarming to see in February on a holiday weekend in between storms (windchill 5 degrees!!).

We saw many APWU folks, some from our neighboring states of MA, VT, RI, and ME – active & retired,  NALC brothers and sisters, Mailhandlers, Carpenters, SEIU, Firefighters, UAW, AFT, NATCA, the AFL-CIO, the Alliance for Retired Americans, as well as  community friends and neighbors.

They came to help  us to deliver a message to Darrell Issa… Keep the Postal Service Public We do not want to see privatized mail services and we do not want to see you interfere with our collective bargaining. Take away the Congressional noose that was tied around the neck of the Postal Service in 2006, with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and allow us to grow. STOP taking SERVICE out of the Postal Service!!!

Monday’s gathering  was a great show of solidarity with an important message. Thank you one & all!!!

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Below is the full message as delivered by the APWU members at the event

Darrell Issa, America’s richest Congressman never met a public service he didn’t want to privatize. We have a message he needs to hear!

While 3 U.S. House bills (that strive to strengthen the United States Postal Service) languish in committee, none of these have been considered by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The three bills (with hundreds of co-sponsors) will likely never see the light of day.  The only bill considered, sponsored by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, has only 2 co-sponsors, and it focuses on attacking collective bargaining and privatizing the Postal Service! 

It’s plain & simple; Representative Issa does not want to have the USPS remain a Public Service.

Universal Service to ALL Americans has long been a job well done by Postal Workers serving rural areas and cities across our great country.  It wasn’t until 2006, when the USPS was quite profitable, that Congress decided to take advantage of a thriving Service and require pre-payment of future retiree health benefits (a requirement applied to no other agency!!!). Congress created the biggest problem and Congress can fix it… without privatizing!!

It does not appear that fixing the Service is the Goal, at least not while profits are to be had!

Issa’s bill attacks Collective Bargaining, Deprives Customers of Vital Services, Privatizes Postal Services and Threatens Rural Service. It does NOT relieve the USPS from the pre-funding of health costs for future retirees, allow utilization of retirement system overpayments or allow the USPS to offer new innovative services needed in many communities.

We oppose legislation that would degrade or eliminate postal services. We must stop cuts to USPS’s mail processing network and to delivery service.

We oppose provisions that would result in severe service cuts to rural and hard-to-serve areas that most need postal services. Even small or unprofitable post offices are a vital part of the network required to provide universal services to all Americans.

We strongly oppose interference with collective bargaining agreements and bargaining rights. The collective bargaining process and peaceful dispute resolution through interest arbitration has worked well for the agency since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.

The fact is that were it not for the 2006 Congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits, the Postal Service would already be back on track realizing a profit in the past year.

Keep the Service in Postal Service

 KEEP THE POSTAL SERVICE a PUBLIC SERVICE

Solidarity; Multiple Unions Join USPS Unions To Picket Congressman Issa At NH GOP Event

Issa Poster 1

Over 150 union workers stood out in below zero degree wind chill Monday night to deliver a message to Congressman Issa. He was the key-note speaker at a NH Republican fundraising dinner. The message delivered to Issa was the US Postal Service is not for sale.

Issa wants to dismantle a highly effective postal service. NALC President Fred Rolando reacted to last weeks announcement that the Postal Service made a $765 million operating profit in the first quarter of 2014 by urging Congress not to dismantle the service. “In light of these results, lawmakers should strengthen the postal network while addressing the remaining problem: the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits, required of no other public or private entity in the country. Degrading the network and reducing services to the public and businesses would jeopardize the postal turnaround.”

Congressman Issa has other ideas. His 2013 Postal Reform Act HR 2748  will end Saturday Delivery and leaves open the possibility of reducing it further in 2018. Issa’s bill also opens the floodgates to contracting out postal jobs and services at an amazing pace. These actions will clearly accelerate the death spiral. The worlds best Postal Service will be dismantled so its remains can be carved up to be sold off to the highest bidder.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein called Mr Issa “a pure enemy of the Postal Service”.  Clearly Issa has a different agenda than ensuring the long time survival of the world’s best Postal Service. Issa, a long time champion of union busting and privatization, likely envisions the vast amount of money that can made by privatizing its services.

Dimondstein also referred to Issa and his postal proposals as “cynical and diabolical”. Those are also adept adjectives regarding the way Congressman Issa has become the richest member of congress. As documented by The New Yorker Congressman Issa has a dubious past regarding money-making ventures, often staying one step ahead of the law. Issa is going to have a much more difficult time at profiting off the sale of the Postal Service as the whole country will be victims to that crime.

Dismantling the Postal Service and crushing their unions would be a dream come true for Issa. This would allow him and his pro business cohorts to have even more leverage in their never-ending war on workers. It is quite apparent that the wealthy in this country will never say they are rich enough. Our income inequality has reached almost uncharted levels.

The rally against Issa on this cold windy night in New Hampshire was not about just Issa.   It was not about just the Postal Service. It really was about the continuing attack on workers in both the public sector and private sector.

The solidarity shown by seeing  Carpenters , Teachers, Metal Workers , Firefighters, Air Traffic Controllers and many others as they joined Postal Unions demonstrating in the cold was  quite impressive. The union solidarity as well as the chanting and singing gave all attendees a feeling of warmth in this particularly brutal winter.

The message to Issa and his anti union friends was clear. You are going to have a hell of a fight if you expect to defeat us!!

 

Nelson Mandela A Hero To All

Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)
Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)

Nelson Mandela (RICHARD LEWIS/AP)

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Nelson Mandela

With the extraordinarily sad news of the passing of Nelson Mandela, a man of unrivaled humility, virtues and compassion. I am reminded of his unbridled determination to improve the lives of working people both in his country but around the world. Mandela’s greatest attribute that can be connected to our current state of politics in America is don’t sell out your idealism .

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela

The Labor movement is being harmed as expected by the Obstructionist GOP but also by some corporate owned Democrats. These corporate Democrats balance their position on legislation between what they know is in the best interests of working people and what is the best way to raise money to get re-elected. These hollow members of congress are quick to embrace the fight’s we conduct in the labor movement for economic justice when they are fund-raising but just as quick will cast us aside if its politically expedient.
I am not quite sure what would prompt them to get involved in public service when they truly don’t care about anything but their own personal political career. If Mandela was that way he would be just another ordinary political hack. Instead Mandela is the shining light that should be followed by any person involved in the political process. Never compromise your ideals , never sell out your constituents for personal political gain.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Mandela

How long are we in the labor movement going to accept getting frequently sold out by these Corporate Democrats without any type of accountability?

When Congressman Charlie Bass told me and a few other NALC reps that Congressman Issa was pressuring him to remove his support of a bill that would benefit letter carriers and the Postal Service. We were not surprised because it’s widely accepted the GOP National Leadership clearly supports almost every anti union and anti worker piece of legislation. More disturbing is when we get word of Blue Dog Democrats like Tom Carper pressuring progressive Democrats against legislation that benefits working people. Honestly that is simply betrayal to all of us.

We are constantly put in a position to be confronted by our own members who are agitated that candidates we supported are selling us out. Leaving us with the tired argument explaining “well, it would have been worse if the Republican was elected”. Though this is clearly true we shouldn’t constantly be put in that position . Mandela didn’t sacrifice his ideals for constantly choosing the lesser of two evils . The time is nearing where the labor movement has to say enough is enough and move on to a new political dynamic

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

 

Study in Contrasts: Who’s feeding the hungry?

Community Center of St Bernard Photo by Billy Brown via Flikr

Community Center of St Bernard Photo by Billy Brown via FlikrIn May, postal workers collected 74.4 million pounds of food through the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.  Since it started 21 years ago, this project of the National Association of Letter Carriers has collected more than a billion pounds of non-perishables to restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country.

Right now, federal employees around the country are collecting food as part of their annual “Feds Feed Familes” campaign.  The program “started when Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and former Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry realized that food donations were dropping during the summer months.” It has run each summer since 2009, restocking food pantries across the US.  Last year was a record year for donations — but so far, they are on track to double last year’s total.

Meanwhile, in Congress…

Before leaving for their August recess, House GOP leaders floated a plan to cut at least four million Americans from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).  Here in New Hampshire, nearly 116,000 people depend on SNAP benefits to eat.

But they’re still feeding the hungriest beast of allCorporations are receiving just as much in special tax breaks as they are paying in taxes.

At last report, corporate tax breaks were running at about $181 billion a year45 times what the GOP plans to cut from food stamps.

But unlike millions of children, corporations aren’t exactly starving here in the United States.  And corporations aren’t getting any of their special benefits cut, to help with the federal deficit.

(Guess Mitt was wrong with his “corporations are people, too” declaration. Can’t help thinking: if corporations were “people”, surely the House GOP would have gone after them by now.)

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Special thanks to all our postal workers and federal employees… who are not only feeding hungry Americans, but are also keeping Congress from hitting the debt limit (again, just like back in January).  Yes, “fed-bashing has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years.”  But here at NH Labor News, we truly appreciate you!

Terrific Results for Letter Carriers’ Annual Food Drive

NALC Stamp Out Hunger Bag

Sharp Increase in Food Collected Helps in Time of Struggling Economy, Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON—The annual food drive of the National Association of Letter Carriers collected more than 74 million pounds of food to help restock food banks, pantries and shelters around the country—an impressive result rendered all the more necessary by the struggling economy and the multiple recent natural disasters.

The May 11 effort garnered 74.3 million pounds of food, an increase of 5 percent over last year. The total food collected was the second most in the drive’s 21 years, and the increase was the highest in a decade.

“This demonstrates in clear fashion the value of the unique postal network, which goes to 151 million addresses six days a week,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “It also shows the remarkable connection between letter carriers and the communities they serve—a bond that serves the nation well.”

The nation’s largest single-day food drive, the NALC effort is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islandsand Guam. From major metropolitan areas to small rural towns, residents put out non-perishable food donations on that day, which letter carriers collect as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

“Letter carriers see first-hand the needs in the communities where we work, and we’re honored to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” Rolando said.

The effort by 1,400 NALC branches around the country would not have been possible without the contributions of the national partners: Feeding America, Campbell Soup Co., AARP, Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, Valassis/Red Plum, U.S. Postal Service, United Way Worldwide, AFL- CIO, Uncle Bob’s Self Storage, GLS Companies, Source Direct Plastics and the Publix grocery store chain. Rural letter carriers and other postal employees, plus members of other unions and civic volunteers, also helped, as did Family Circus cartoonist Jeff Keane.

“We could not have accomplished this without the hardworking team of partners we have, all committed to ending hunger in our country,” Pam Donato, NALC community services coordinator, said.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive never has been more important than in these times, with hunger a growing problem—affecting about 50 million people around the country, including 17 million children and nine million senior citizens. Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs suspended during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.

The natural disasters the country has recently endured—including the tornadoes in Oklahoma and Super Storm Sandy along the East Coast—magnified the needs.

Oklahoma residents who contributed to record collections soon became recipients of the public generosity. “Thanks to Oklahoma City area letter carriers, nearly 320,000 pounds of food was collected during the Letter Carriers’ Food Drive,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of  the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, a member of the Feeding America network. “These much-  needed donations were immediately available to families and individuals impacted by the May tornadoes.”

And some Northeastern areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, including in Vermont and New Jersey, set food-collection records despite the hardships residents had been through.

“These events show the good will of people, good will that in such times is both more necessary and more impressive,” NALC President Rolando said.

Who thinks we should feed hungry Americans?

2013_Stamp_Out_Hunger

REMINDER: The 21st Annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive is today, Saturday, May 11th. Please leave non-perishable food items by your mailbox and your postal carrier will deliver them to the local food pantry or food bank.

So this is where we are, these days, in this great country of ours:

DSC_9969Almost 15% of Americans were “food insecure” last year. That means one in seven families went hungry sometimes, because they didn’t have enough money to buy food.

Last month, Congress carved out exemptions to the “across-the-board” federal budget cuts known as The Sequester. What did they exempt? Defense spending, of course – and also the FAA, because furloughing air traffic controllers caused (gasp!) travel delays. But Congress kept the cuts to food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and other supplemental nutrition programs.

This month, Congress is debating the Farm Bill. Guess what they’ve already agreed on? The Food Stamp program is going to get cut. It’s only a question of how much. Senate Democrats plan to cut the program by (only?) $400 million. House Republicans want to cut it by about $2 Billion.

Sooo… Congress thinks feeding hungry Americans is a budget problem?! Gosh. Wonder where else in the budget that money could come from. Golly, the Joint Committee on Taxation has some ideas.

  • Maybe corporate tax policies? Who knew that corporations pay reduced rates on their first $10 million of income? The Joint Committee estimates that one policy will cost the federal government $3.7 Billion in revenue next year. Maybe that could pay for Food Stamps?
  • Or how about the way Congress taxes investment income? Current tax law treats investment income as if it’s waaaaaaaaay better than the wage income earned by working people. That policy is going to cost the federal government $91.3 Billion next year. And that could probably pay for a lot of Food Stamps.
  • How about all those corporate stock options that CEOs receive as “performance incentives”? Special tax treatment of those options will cost the federal government $300 million next year – not quite as much as the Senate wants to cut from Food Stamps, but hey, that money would still feed a few families, if it wasn’t subsidizing CEOs.

Budgets are all about priorities. Want to know what Congress’ priorities are? Just look at the Farm Bill and Sequestration and the Federal Budget.

2013_Stamp_Out_HungerAnd then there are the rest of us. Today is the annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. Please put a bag of food out by your mailbox – your postal carrier will collect it and make sure it gets to a local food pantry or food bank.

Maybe if we collect enough food tomorrow – maybe if we could slow down the Postal Service the way FAA furloughs slowed down air travel – maybe Congress might actually notice that we care about hunger in America.

BTW, congratulations to the students at the Abbett Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This past week, they collected more than a ton of food for the “Stamp Out Hunger” drive.

They have their priorities straight.

I hope they all run for Congress when they grow up.

.

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

TonyMeme

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.

 

Who cares about hungry families? Maybe not the Senate – but your letter carrier does

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Congress is getting really good at pulling together just-after-the-last-minute political deals.

The latest deal passed the Senate unanimously last night.  (What? No filibuster?)  Apparently everybody agreed it would be a good idea to give the Federal Aviation Administration a special exemption to Sequestration.

“Just days after forced unpaid leaves for controllers began, delaying thousands of flights — 876 flights were delayed on Wednesday alone” the Senate decided that maybe Sequestration wasn’t such a good idea after all – at least not when it starts to affect the traveling public.  Read more here.

The bill is expected to pass the House today.  FAA furloughs should be a thing of the past before the Senate goes on vacation next week.

Wow. That was fast. But it’s a real shame that the Senate doesn’t care as much about hungry families as it cares about flight delays.

Take the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC), for example.  Even while Congress was debating Sequestration, “a number of state and local WIC agencies took steps to reduce their costs.  For example, some clinics laid off staff…  Some states closed or consolidated clinics… Some clinics reduced service hours…  making it harder for low-income women to apply for benefits, especially working women.”  (Read more here.)  And when the dust finally settled on this year’s budget, Congress had appropriated 7% less funding for the WIC program than it received last year.

Sequestration cut federal funding to food pantries, even though the number of people relying on food pantries is still rising.  Some pantries are hoping local benefactors will fill in the gap.  Other pantries are just closing.

Around the nation, Meals on Wheels programs are feeling the cuts.  One program in North Carolina – which has 200 people on its waiting list – is losing funding equivalent to 12,000 meals.  In Maryland, another Meals on Wheels program may be forced to cut its service from five days a week to only four.

The Sequester has hit Federal unemployment benefits, too.  About 15% of unemployed workers now receive extended unemployment benefits that are funded by the federal government.  The Sequester means those benefits will be cut by about 11% for the rest of the fiscal year.  Families’ choices about food versus housing, and which overdue bill to pay this week, are about to get a lot harder.

None of these programs are even on the radar screen, as the Senate prepares to leave town for vacation.  But flight delays?  That got solved by the Senate in record time – unanimously, to boot.

Wow.  What does that say about the priorities of our Congress?  (Read “The Republicans Make an Offer on Sequestration” here.)

Now, look at the priorities of the National Association of Letter Carriers.  Going door-to-door every day, postal carriers know the hunger problem in America all too well.

For more than two decades, the NALC has held a one-day food drive to help restock food pantries across the country.  This effort “is the country’s largest one-day food-collection effort. Last year, we picked up more than 70 million pounds of non-perishable food donations, which brought our grand total from more than two decades of collections to 1.2 billion pounds.”

2013_Stamp_Out_HungerThis year’s NALC “Stamp out Hunger” food drive will be held Saturday, May 11th (the day before Mothers Day).  Don’t forget to leave your sack of non-perishables out by your mailbox.  Want more details?  Click here.

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

NALC Stamp Out Hunger --STAMP Date

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)

Even the Government Accountability Office says that the USPS must keep 6 day delivery.

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Thursday afternoon the Government
Accountability Office issued a legal opinion that supported the NALC’s position that the Postmaster General does not have the law on his side in reducing mail delivery to five days a week. “The GAO agrees with an ever-growing chorus of voices that the postmaster general doesn’t have the law on his side in this matter,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando.

This legal opinion was requested by Congressman Gerry Connolly,D-VA who lauded the verdict: ” Unfortunately, the Postmaster General continues to stonewall Members of Congress, withholding his legal justifications for eliminating Saturday delivery from Postal customers and the American public,” said Connolly, a ranking member on the Subcommittee on Government Operations, in a statement. “The GAO legal opinion clearly rejects the Postal Service’s attempt to circumvent the law.”

In New Hampshire Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster demonstrated their strong support for Six Day Delivery by being early co-sponsors of HR 630. This legislation protects Six Day Delivery and addresses a number of other important postal issues. Including the 2006 Congressional mandate that requires an annual $5.5 Billion in prefunding of retiree health care costs of employees not yet born. This mandate has largely put the Postal Service in their current dire financial situation. This mandate was created to prevent future insolvency but instead it is causing immediate financial problems.

Wayne Alterisio 2 Also in New Hampshire , on March 17, local citizens in Manchester gathered to rally against the proposed reduction of a day of delivery. NH State Association President Wayne Alteresio rallied the crowd with a moving speech regarding the fight to Save The Post Office. The crowd held approximately 50 signs with the names of local businesses that want to keep six day mail delivery. Also in the crowd were many signs about the negative effects on the local community if a day of delivery was eliminated. Despite the cold wind attendees left optimistic that together we can save the Postal Service.