Senate GOP Sentences Future Retirees onto Social Services

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)
Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

Image by Marc Nozell (CC Flickr)

CONCORD – THURSDAY, on a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Senate killed SB 364, a bill sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Larsen, (D-Concord), to create real pension reform for employees hired on or after July 1, 2011. Hard-working new public employees harmed by the disastrous retirement changes in 2011’s HB2 told their personal stories during the bill’s committee hearing. Today they came back to Concord in hopes to convince their Senators to vote for their families, for the economy, and against resource-shifting to the social services net.

“It’s a sad day in New Hampshire when our legislators refuse to listen to their constituents, kicking the can of real pension reform down the road again to burden a  future generation. Our public employees deserve better than partisan politics being  placed ahead of common sense and dignity.” said Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH.

Chris Cummings, representing NH Troopers’ Association, noted the impacts this low new member benefit program is having on recruiting and retaining high-quality employees in the Granite State. “This bill would have given us an opportunity to compete for the best and brightest recruits to address today’s law  enforcement challenges. With this vote, Senate Republicans have turned their backs on the public safety of New Hampshire.”

For more information on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, please visit nhretirementfacts.com and follow us @NH_RSC

UPDATED 1715

Senator Larsen Comments on Senate Bill 364

CONCORD – Senator Sylvia Larsen released the following comments after the defeat of Senate Bill 364 which would create real pension reform for newly hired public employees.

“I am disappointed we could not get a Senate majority to help pass SB 364. This bill would not change the fact that new hires are now required to work longer, retire at an older age, and pay more for their retirement benefit. It does however, include a compromise in the form of a defined contribution plan for Group I, which until recently has long been opposed by workers. I believe this bill represents real pension reform.”

“I believe there were unintended consequences during the 2011 legislative changes to the New Hampshire Retirement System, that’s why I introduced Senate Bill 364. After reviewing data last year from the New Hampshire Retirement System, I came to the conclusion that the Legislature must act now or else there will be a substantial social cost down the road.”

The current retirement plan creates a future generation of impoverished public employee retirees. It will provide only 45-49% salary replacement in retirement. Experts say that all retiring workers whether in the private or public sector need to receive between 80-85% of your last working year’s salary. Current law leaves the average firefighter retiring in 25 years with only $34,000 and teachers averaging $24,000 in retirement pay. That’s hardly a liveable wage now, let alone 25 years from now”

“Under the changes made in 2011, retired police, firefighters, and teachers thirty years from now could qualify for social services. It’s unacceptable to think that firefighters – who don’t receive social security and who spent decades running into burning buildings – would now be forced to survive on food stamps. We know we have problem now and have the advantage of years to offset the shortfall,” said Senator Larsen. “If we don’t act now, the Legislature will be kicking the can down the road and hoping a future Legislature will find a way to foot the bill and avoid thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers living on social services.”

“By failing to address the problem now and pass real pension reform, we are pushing costs for the state and taxpayers further into the future.”

Immigration Reform and the State of the Union

SEIU immigration rally _1

A statement from the Immigration Policy Center: 

Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said:
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The President’s inclusion of immigration as a matter of economic necessity reinforces efforts over the last few years to redefine how we think about immigration reform. Immigrants create jobs as consumers and entrepreneurs and spend their wages in U.S. businesses—buying food, clothes, appliances, cars, etc. This builds our economy as businesses respond to the presence of these new workers and consumers by investing in new restaurants, stores, and production facilities. Also immigrants are 30 percent more likely than the native-born to start their own business. The end result is more jobs for more workers.
The President’s message on immigration extended beyond his speech. Immigrants and immigration activists attended as guests of Congress and the First Lady. Mrs. Obama invited two immigrants to attend as her guests: Cristian Avila, a DREAMer and DACA recipient who recently completed a 22-day fast on the National Mall in support of immigration reform and Carlos Arredondo, a Costa-Rican-American peace activist made famous by his heroic acts after the Boston Marathon bombing.

These guests remind us of the humanitarian nature of immigration reform that cannot, and should not be overlooked.  As we grapple with efforts to create a more just and equal system in which everyone has a fair shot at economic prosperity, we cannot forget the need for a fair and just immigration system.  Deportations that separate families, disrupt businesses, and destroy hopes and dreams help no one and ultimately do not reflect our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Tonight, the President reiterated that he is prepared to use the authority of his office to push a range of initiatives forward. Thus, if 2014 is to truly be a year of action and opportunity, we encourage the president not only to support efforts to complete immigration reform, but to do all in his power to end needless costs—to families, to workers, and to the economy—of an immigration system that does not fulfill the promise of America.

How Immigration Reform Will Help All Workers

Photo Credit: Randol's Restaurant http://bit.ly/1n2bT40

Our ultimate goal should be to help Americans find good paying jobs. Abusing the guest worker program is hurting the millions of Americans who are currently looking for employment.

Every year thousands of people legally enter the United States on temporary work visas.  They use the guest worker program as a way to get their foot in the door, and begin chasing their own version of the American Dream.

Many people, like Senator Orin Hatch, want to see the guest worker program expanded to fill a hole in the US labor market and “meet the demands for workers in the STEM fields.”

Senator Hatch is not alone in his belief. Many business leaders say there is a shortage of workers in these specialized STEM fields.  Why is that?  With the US unemployment rate still above 7%, millions of Americans are out there every day looking for work.  Are we really saying that none of these people have the qualifications to work in these jobs?

No, the problem is that corporations do not care about the workers or their local communities; they only care about one thing, their bottom line.  They are only interested in lowering their labor costs, and they do this by bringing in thousands of immigrant workers.

In a free market two things, supply and demand, determine the value of a product.  The same is true in the labor market. Why else would millions of people take low-wage jobs? Unemployment is high, which means there are plenty of people looking for work. This drives wages down.  If you are not willing to work for the wages offered, chances are there is someone else who will.

This is where the guest worker program comes in to ‘save the day’.  For many years companies have been saying that they do not have enough qualified applicants seeking employment in STEM fields.  Instead of raising the wages they offer, companies began to look outside the US for new workers.  Guest workers flood the market and are willing to work for much less.

Just for the privilege to work in in the United States guest workers are charged outrageous fees by ‘head hunters’.  This has led to numerous instances of worker abuse.   Guest workers become indentured servants, and are treated as such.

Image from REUTERS

Image from REUTERS

In Louisiana, workers in a shrimp processing facility were forced to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, at minimum wage.  They were not paid overtime, or provided any of the provisions guaranteed to American workers by US labor laws.

Ronil Hira an associate professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the author of Outsourcing America, says the guest worker program (H-1B) is “deeply flawed.”  Hira goes on to say that many companies are hiring guest workers before offering the job to American workers.

This is why we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Unfortunately the current immigration bill that passed the US Senate includes and expansion of the guest worker program.  The good thing is that it also includes stronger regulations on employers who use the guest worker program.

As part of the comprehensive reform package new laws will increase the wages for H-1B workers, and protect American workers with new regulations against the ‘displacement of US workers’.

We need to pass immigration reform to help the 11 million aspiring Americans as well as the millions of unemployed Americans.  We need stronger labor laws to protect against the abuse of the guest worker program, for the betterment of American workers.  Reducing the number of guest workers will decrease the supply of qualified workers, in turn increasing the wages for new and existing workers.

AFL-CIO President Trumka Says Baucus Tax Reform Falls Short Of The Mark

Richard_Trumka

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Baucus Corporate Tax Proposal

We believe corporate tax reform must do three things: (1) eliminate the tax incentive to shift profits and send jobs to other countries; (2) increase employment and investment in domestic manufacturing; and (3) raise significant amounts of tax revenue over the long term.

Eliminating the tax incentive to send jobs overseas would accomplish all three of these objectives, generating $583 billion over 10 years and much more in the long term.  This is the standard against which any proposal for corporate tax reform should be held.

The discussion draft released today by Sen. Baucus falls short of this standard.  While it does close some of the most egregious tax loopholes that lead companies to shift profits and send jobs overseas, it still leaves too many of those incentives intact.

Moreover, while the Baucus proposal generates tax revenue temporarily with a one-time-only tax (at a reduced rate) on the earnings that U.S. companies are holding outside the country, it does not generate any tax revenue over the long term.  Instead, it uses the tax revenue generated from closing loopholes to lower the corporate tax rate, an approach that was supported by only 9% of respondents in a recent poll.

Unless corporate tax reform generates significant amounts of tax revenue over the long term, working people will have to pay the price, one way or another.

A Simple Change To Concealed Carry Law Would Make Our Communities Safer

Gun

NHLN Editor’s note:  This is a special editorial by union member and activist Judy Stadtman.  Along with all of her labor activities Judy is the co-founder of Project for Safer Communities New Hampshire, a locally-grown grassroots action initiative supporting gun violence prevention.  This editorial was also published in the NH Union Leader last week. 

BY Judy Stadtman.

What’s the difference between a loaded handgun and an unloaded semi-automatic pistol that can be armed with multiple rounds of ammunition and ready to fire in seconds?

From a public safety perspective, there’s no difference. Yet the state Supreme Court recently ruled that it’s legal for New Hampshire residents to carry a concealed, unloaded handgun, along with a ready-to-load ammunition magazine, without a valid concealed carry weapon license. To understand the full ramification of the court’s decision, it’s important to know that any New Hampshire adult can buy a handgun from a friend, family member or private seller on the Internet, without ever having to pass a standard criminal and mental health background check.

State law currently permits unlicensed firearm owners to transport handguns stored in a bag, backpack, coat pocket or motor vehicle, as long as there are no bullets in the gun’s chamber or magazine well (RSA 159.4).

This is a commonsense law that’s been on the books for many decades and strikes a good balance between respecting the rights of responsible gun owners and promoting public safety. Law-abiding New Hampshire citizens who aspire to carry loaded firearms in public have the right to carry guns openly, or may easily obtain a concealed carry weapon license — fees are minimal, there is no proficiency test, and local authorities are required to approve every applicant who passes a routine background check. But as the new court ruling reveals, a serious loophole in the state’s concealed carry law gives unlicensed individuals the legal right to carry a concealed handgun that may be technically unloaded, but functionally ready to fire.

In other words, the state of New Hampshire allows a person who may never have passed a criminal or mental health background check to bring a concealed, ready-to-fire semi-automatic handgun — with multiple rounds of ammunition close at hand — into your community.

Before you decide to stay home and barricade the doors, let’s take a deep breath and remember that even though it’s impossible to know exactly how many people in the Granite State own firearms — or what kind of guns and how many each individual owns — independent surveys consistently show that non-gun owners outnumber gun owners in New Hampshire around 2-to-1. The Guns & Ammo web- site, which in 2013 ranked New Hampshire among the top 10 states for gun owners, puts the state’s personal gun ownership rate at 30 percent.

Furthermore, any qualified demographer looking at the characteristics of the state’s population — such as income, median age, unemployment rate, educational attainment, civic engagement, and population density — would correctly predict that New Hampshire is a low-crime, low-gun-violence state. In fact, New Hampshire rates as one of the most crime-free states in the nation, year after year.

But living in an exceptionally safe state is not a valid reason to tolerate weak gun laws that allow the unchecked migration of unregulated private guns into public life. Regardless of the character and intention of the person who pulls the trigger, pistols and revolvers are specifically designed to kill people — and newer semi-automatic models have military-style features that make these popular weapons more deadly.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for New Hampshire’s concealed carry loophole. Good examples are already in effect in other states — such laws requiring unlicensed gun owners to carry unloaded firearms and ammunition in separate, completely sealed cases or compartments or locked in the trunk of a car. Our legislators should put public safety first in 2014 by making it a priority to pass legislation to close the criminal-friendly gap in New Hampshire’s concealed carry weapon law.

ANHPE Asks Why Do Even Need A Voucher Law, It Is A Proven Failure

ANHPE Small Icon

Why do you keep after the New Hampshire voucher program? Won’t it just die on the vine? (Answer: It’s a bad seed.)

We have a lower court decision saying that New Hampshire’s voucher tax credit program can’t fund religious schools, where most of the money would have gone, and the Supreme Court may well agree.

Business and public school parents have shown little interest in the program, though it’s hard to know how much of that is a result of the controversy.

There’s only one active scholarship organization to collect donations and hand out the money and, without the capacity to run a publicly funded program, it probably won’t be able to do much with the program.

So why keep after it? Why not let it just die on the vine or trundle along getting a little money to some families who could use it?

It’s true, the voucher program is not worth all the air time it takes up.  Education funding, the role of charter schools in the State, support for early childhood development, the State’s role in the current education reform debates – these are all much more important topics.

And doing a better job educating our low income students, as the voucher program purports to do, is an important topic.  But the voucher program has proved a random and unsystematic way to do that.  Giving money to a group that helped write the law (“We want as many students as possible out of the ‘system’”) to select a small number of children to go to unaccredited religious schools is not a solution to that problem.  There are many more purposeful and direct ways to help low income families get better educations for their children.

However, the voucher law will not go away by itself.  It may continue to function even if the Supreme Court agrees that it cannot fund religious schools.  Supporters assert that the kind of slow start we are seeing here has been the normal experience in other states and that the program will grow large over time.  Any future legislature could expand the program overnight but even with no attention at all it will grow automatically if it gets enough use.

There is no legitimate public purpose for this law, no public support, no state oversight for the money and now we’ve had an opportunity to see the result of this kind of ill-conceived legislation.  There is no reason to leave this kind of failed program in place.

Cross-posted from ANHPE

25,000+ Workers Just Received a Substantial Raise

Image from Creative Commons on Flicker by  Spyros Papaspyropoulos
Image from Creative Commons on Flicker by  Spyros Papaspyropoulos

Image from Creative Commons on Flicker by Spyros Papaspyropoulos

More than 25,000 “guest” workers just received substantial raises, thanks to a new method of calculating prevailing wages.

Under federal law, employers who import temporary workers from other countries are required to pay the local prevailing wage.  But until last month, those wages were calculated according to a formula adopted during the Bush administration.  The recent change in regulations means that guest workers will now be paid at substantially higher rates – discouraging employers from “importing” foreign workers in order to pay them less than local workers.

In our increasingly globalized economy, it’s not just merchandise that gets imported and exported – workers move across national boundaries, too.  Right now, more than 25,000 foreign nationals work here in the US under the H2-B “temporary worker” program.  Employers throughout the United States – including hundreds here in New England – rely heavily on the H2-B visa program.

As the country moves forward with ‘immigration reform’, many red flags have been raised over this temporary worker program.  Some say that these workers do jobs that American workers will not do – but this is simply not true.  In many cases these are seasonal jobs, where staffing needs go from non-existent to a need for hundreds of workers overnight.

Cape Cod is a perfect example.  Have you ever been on the cape in February? It is hard to find businesses that are even open.

The dilemma for Cape Cod employers is that for eight months a year they have two or three people on staff. Once Memorial Day hits, they need to have many more workers.  According to the Boston Globe, ‘in late 2007, as many as 5,000 workers came to Cape Cod on H2-B visas‘.  Many of these workers are European college students who are looking to make money and explore the United States during their school vacation.

The Globe also reported:

“New rules for the H-2B seasonal worker visa program have sparked unexpected increases in required wages – some in excess of 40 percent… The minimum required wage for a house cleaner has jumped more than 30 percent to $13 per hour from $9.91, according to figures from the H-2B Workforce Coalition, an association of employers who use the program. Drivers must now be paid $18.02 per hour, up more than 40 percent from $12.76.”

This news came as quite a shock to the businesses on the Cape that use temporary seasonal workers.  This prevailing wage rule is forcing employers to pay the same wages for temporary workers as they would for local workers.  This truly helps all workers and would encourage businesses to hire locally first.

The AFL-CIO is one of the many groups pushing from immigration reform.  The H-2B temporary worker program is an area of concern for them as well.  They also see this as good news.

“In a competitive labor market, wages will fluctuate with the supply and demand for workers in a given job. If employers can bring in a worker on an H2B and pay them at lower than that market rate, it will depress wages for all workers in that labor market. Many employers argue they can’t find US workers for seasonal work, but, generally, this just means they can’t find workers in the US at the rock-bottom wages they want to pay. By raising wages on H2B visas, it deincentivizes a race to the bottom on wages in these seasonal jobs and either encourages the employers who don’t have a shortage to hire US workers or puts the immigrant workers in a shortage occupation in a better economic position while in the US.”

Requiring employers to pay their “guest workers” the prevailing wage is not a new idea.  Workers in the construction industry have been pushing for policy changes to ensure that all workers are paid the prevailing wage for their local area as well.  The building trades have fallen victim to companies that “import” cheap labor to do local construction projects.  A prevailing wage law would ensure that “imported” workers are paid the same as local workers.

It is good to see that the Department of Labor is making progress with the temporary worker program, however there is still much more that can be done.  Temporary workers who come to the US on a work visas are tied to one employer.  This creates a very bad situation where workers have been abused, underpaid, and forced to work ungodly hours under threat of deportation.   Employees are too afraid to speak out because the employer holds their visa.

For example, 17 Filipino workers have filed a lawsuit claiming that Florida employment agencies forced them into slave labor after promising them good jobs and green cards.

“Defendants threatened plaintiffs with arrest, imprisonment, deportation, cancellation of their visas, loss of work, lawsuits and blacklisting, “according to the 117-page federal complaint.”

“Plaintiffs were brought into this country as H-2B guest workers from the Philippines under false promises of fair pay and humane treatment,” the complaint states. “Defendants knowingly and willfully conspired to recruit plaintiffs from the Philippines using fraudulent visa applications, false promises and misrepresentations regarding the terms and conditions of employment to induce the plaintiff to work for defendants in the Unites States.”

As we all move forward for real immigration policy changes, we must stay vigilant to ensure that the same labor laws that govern all American-born workers also protect our temporary workers.

“Not One More” Week of Action Protests Immigrant Detentions and Deportations, June 24 to 28

Immigration rally Nashua 4-6-13 (credit Arnie Alpert)

Activities planned in Nashua, Dover, Durham, Manchester, and Concord

Five New Hampshire faith-based and social justice advocacy organizations will hold a “Week of Action” June 24 to 28 to call on the Obama Administration to halt the detention and deportation of immigrants who have not committed serious crimes and would be eligible for the “path to citizenship” which could become possible through the passage of immigration reform legislation.

The Week of Action will include prayer, fasting, vigils and educational events in Nashua, Dover, Durham, Manchester, and Concord.  The New Hampshire groups will also join other New Englanders at a vigil outside the regional office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Burlington MA.

“The Administration and ICE have stated repeatedly that their priority is detention and deportation of serious criminals, but according to the 2012 statistics, 45% of those who were deported had no criminal convictions at all,” said Eva Castillo, Director of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “Many more had been convicted only of minor crimes, like driving without a license.”

“Deportations are tearing New Hampshire families apart,” said Nancy Pape of the United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group.  “According to ICE’s own data, 23% of the immigrants they deported between July 2010 and September 2012 – 205,000 deportees – had U.S. citizen children.  Many more had non-citizen children.”

The “Not One More” Week of Action is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Granite State Organizing Project, United Church of Christ New Hampshire Immigration Working Group, and NH Citizens Alliance.

The schedule of events includes:

Monday, June 24 – NASHUA - An evening of prayer and reflection beginning at 5 pm at the Nashua Unitarian Universalist Church.  (Contact: Janeth Orozco, jorozco@miracoalition.org  603-943-3283)

Tuesday, June 25 – DOVER  - Vigil at Strafford County House of Corrections, an ICE Detention Center, 266 County Farm Road, Dover, from 5 to 6 pm.  (Contact: Nancy Pape, nancy_pape@comcast.net, or Maggie Fogarty, mfogarty@afsc.org, 603-988-7115)

Tuesday, June 25 – DURHAM – Film showing and discussion (“Lost in Detention,” a PBS Frontline documentary) at the Durham Community Church, 17 Main Street, Durham.  (Contact: Nancy Pape, nancy_pape@comcast.net or Rev. Mary  Westfall, 603-868-1230)

Wednesday, June 26 – MANCHESTER – Vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building (Local ICE  office), 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester, from 4 pm to 4:45 pm.  (Contact:  Judy Elliott, judyarni@gmail.com or (603) 783-9830 or Eva Castillo, ecastillo@miracoalition.org, (603) 661-2873.)

Wednesday, June 26 – MANCHESTER – Stories and discussion at St. Augustin Church, 382 Beech Street, Manchester at 5 pm.  (Contact: Judy Elliott,  judyarni@gmail.com> or (603) 783-9830 or Eva Castillo, ecastillo@miracoalition.org or (603) 661-2873.)

Thursday, June 27 – BURLINGTON MA – Caravan to the regional ICE office and detention center, 2 pm departure from gathering points on the Seacoast and in Manchester and Nashua  (Contact Nancy Pape, nancy_pape@comcast.net, or Maggie Fogarty, mfogarty@afsc.org or (603) 988-7115.)

Friday, June 28 – CONCORD – Break-the-fast at South Congregational Church at noon, followed by vigil at Warren Rudman Federal Courthouse, 55 Pleasant Street.    (Contact:  Judy Elliott, judyarni@gmail.com or (603) 783-9830 or Arnie Alpert, aalpert@afsc.org or (603) 224-2407.)

“The ongoing detentions and deportations spread fear in our communities and cost billions of dollars that would be better spent elsewhere,” said Maggie Fogarty of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  “The detentions and deportations of immigrants who could take advantage of pending immigration reforms must stop now.”

For info on the national campaign, check out: www.notonemoredeportation.com.

The five sponsoring groups are also communicating with the New Hampshire Congressional delegation to urge adoption of humane immigration policies, including creation of a “reasonable pathway to secure residency status and eventual citizenship,” said the AFSC’s Arnie Alpert.

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

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)

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.

Educators to Urge Congress to Approve Immigration Reform

AFT Logo

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers members and leaders from seven states will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, urging their members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including the DREAM Act.

The educators will be attending a 10 a.m. briefing at the AFL-CIO with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, then meeting at 11:45 a.m. with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Xavier Becerra, (D-Calif.) in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562. Finally, they will head to meetings with U.S. Senate and House staff.

They will be asking the congressional members to support and vote for comprehensive immigration reform—the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act—that provides a reasonable roadmap to earned legalization for 11 million people, strengthens worker protections and keeps families together. They also will be advocating for a stronger DREAM Act to give hardworking students, who came to the United States by no fault of their own, an opportunity to pursue a college degree or enter the military and be eligible for financial aid or student loans.

Reporters, including those from California, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin, are welcome to join the educators or otherwise talk with them about their congressional meetings. Meetings that have been confirmed are listed.

  • Jose Cabrera, executive board member, San Jose (Calif.) Evergreen Faculty Association.
  • Julita Lizardo and Aileen Mercade, Baltimore, Md., teachers.
  • Meeting with staff of Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) at 11:30 a.m.
  • Jonathan Saiz, an Albuquerque, N.M., teacher.
  • Meeting with staff of Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) at 11 a.m.
  • Meeting with staff of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) at 2 p.m.
  • Melanie Pores, New York State United Teachers immigration specialist.
  • Meeting with staff of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at 11:30 a.m.
  • Montserrat Garibay, vice president, Education Austin; Louis Malfaro, secretary-treasurer, Texas AFT; and George Rangel, executive vice president, Alliance AFT (Dallas). Joining them will be Garibay’s sister, Julieta, who is a registered nurse but cannot practice because of her immigration status.
  • Meeting with staff of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) at 2:30 p.m.
  • Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director, Voces de la Frontera; and Mike Rose, president Milwaukee Area Technical College.
  • Meeting with staff of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) at 1:30 p.m.
  • Ryan Frankenberry, AFT West Virginia political director.