(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
At the All-Craft Conference, the American Postal Worker sat down and spoke with a few young APWU leaders about why they decided to get involved in their local. Many shared the same sentiment – they saw things on the workroom floor they did not like and decided to take action.
“As a PSE, I worked 12-hour days, all the time,” recalled Lisa Dunbar, 29, acting president of the North Platte Local and state representative for the Nebraska Postal Workers Union. “I also saw what the workplace was like…We have safety issues.”
Ashley Cargill, 34, who serves as Oklahoma Postal Workers Union President and clerk trustee and steward for the Oklahoma City Area Local, agreed. “Things were not getting resolved and I didn’t like it,” she said. “When you start, you don’t even know what the violations are.”
Chris Johnson, 32, Maintenance Craft Director of the Indianapolis Area Local, noted that in his office, “Everyone else serving as stewards and directors were on their way to retirement, so I stepped up to learn the ropes…I did it because I had to protect the workers.”
Importance of Union
Johnson’s great-grandfather was a letter carrier and his father a mail handler. He used to be a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before joining the APWU five years ago. He noted a lot of them other young members he speaks with “do not fully grasp or understand what the union does and how it works. Even though I explain it to them, they just think it’s always going to be there.”
Denisha Dean, 28, is president of the Long Beach Area Local (CA). She said she saw the importance of being in a union at a young age when her mother was injured working at the post office. “Management lied to her,
but the union helped her get back,” Dean recalled.
“Without the members, there is no union,” Cargill said. She noted that sometimes workers do not report an issue because they do not want to “cause a wave in their office.” However, if the worker does not report it, and the union does not enforce workplace standards and the contract, the protections will disappear. “It is important for us to be involved.”
Johnson stressed the importance of educating yourself, “If you don’t like what’s going on, you have to fix it,” he said. “You can’t sit on the sidelines and hope someone else does it for you.”
Dean noted that belonging to a union comes with opportunities for growth. “Health care, solidarity, education – I wouldn’t have any of that without the union,” she said, adding that she is an active member of Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER) and Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). “The union has all these sub-branches to help you not only become a good worker and know your rights, but to become a better person, too.”
“If not for the union, we don’t have a future,” Dunbar said. “It’s our job to continue the legacy that’s left before us.”
Congress Plans Huge Tax Breaks for Corporations at the Expense of Working People
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11/07/2017 - Last week, the House Republicans released their tax bill titled, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. “Don’t be fooled by the name,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “The foundation of the legislation is a massive corporate tax break and includes many provisions that will hurt working families. It is not designed to create jobs with a living wage and good benefits, but to enrich the corporate elite and the billionaire class.”
Wall Street and the corporate elite will be gifted with a tax rate reduction from 35% to 20% – this alone will give the six largest banks more than $6 billion dollars of increased profit annually. The tax bill would eliminate the estate tax – equaling $269 billion dollars in lost revenue over the next decade – solely for benefit of the wealthiest 0.2% of households.
If passed, this corporate tax break will drain needed resources for education, medical research and environmental protection. It will also lead to cuts in vital social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Remember, the finalized 2018 Fiscal Year budget has $5 trillion in budget cuts, including $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, which will be used to pay for a tax break to benefit large corporations and the richest 1% of Americans.
Other provisions in The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would directly hurt unions and working families include:
Capping the State and Local (property) Tax deduction, and eliminating the State and Local (income) Tax deduction;
Repealing the medical expense deduction, including nursing home care;
Eliminating U.S. taxes on offshore profits – encouraging the continued outsourcing of U.S. jobs;
Tightening the rules for claiming the child tax credit, requiring a “work-eligible Social Security number” which is aimed at punishing immigrant parents;
The corporate tax proposal will also increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion which will then be used as an excuse to attack the benefits of postal and other workers. Postal workers have seen time and again that anti-union lawmakers use the deficit as justification to slash postal pay and benefits, targeting our retirement and health benefits in particular. We just defeated such an attack in the 2018 budget last month. This tax bill will make the next proposed cuts even deeper and the next fight that much harder to win.
The House leadership hopes to move this bill quickly through the House of Representatives, it is already being considered in the Ways & Means Committee and could make it to the full House as soon as next week. Dial 844-813-4060 to be connected to your member of Congress’s office and tell them to vote no on the tax bill. “Working families should not be used as piggy banks to enrich big business, big banks and billionaires.” said President Mark Dimondstein.
10/27/2017 - On Oct. 8, wildfires ignited in northern California, setting in motion state-wide disaster relief. Over 11,000 firefighter and other emergency workers were mobilized across the state to contain the flames.
These wildfires are predicted to be one of the worst disasters in the state’s history. More than 75,000 people have been evacuated. At least 42 people are dead, with another 60 missing. More than 217,000 acres have been engulfed in the fires. Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have been tirelessly fighting the flames.
How you can help
As of this posting, 20 postal employees have lost their homes. To support our postal colleagues who have lost everything to these catastrophic fires, you can contribute to the Postal Employees Relief Fund (PERF) by clicking here.
No Pay or Benefit Cuts for Postal Employees in Federal Budget
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10/27/2017 - On Thursday, Oct. 26, the House of Representatives voted to approve the Senate’s budget resolution. With both chambers in agreement, there is now a budget which lays out limits for 2018 federal government spending.
Tens of thousands of postal and federal workers called on their lawmakers over the last few months to reject any resolution paid for by hurting the livelihoods of dedicated civil servants. You called to oppose: moving the Postal Service “on budget,” increasing employee pension contributions, ending the Social Security supplement and eliminating pensions for new hires.
None of these disastrous provisions were included in the final budget and we credit your activism and the collaboration with the Federal-Postal Coalition with their exclusion.
Still a Bad Deal for Working People
“While the APWU successfully defeated attacks on postal worker pay and retirement benefits make no mistake, this is not a good budget,” said President Dimondstein. “It calls for slashing trillions from domestic spending, and it would use those funds to finance a huge tax cut primarily for the richest in this country. In total, the budget calls for $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.”
Congressional leaders are expected to unveil their tax reform bill as early as Nov. 1. Potential tax reform proposals already circulating appear to heavily favor the rich. One example is eliminating the estate tax, which only benefits individuals with estates worth than $5 million. Working people, on the other hand, could potentially see greater tax burdens due to proposals to tax workers’ 401(k) retirement contributions and eliminating deductions for state and local taxes.
In an analysis last month of the tax reform package, the Urban Institute found 80 percent of the tax benefits would go to the richest 1 percent. As income inequality continues to worsen across America, any attempt to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy elite out of the pockets or health care of working people is immoral and the APWU stands opposed to this Robin Hood in reverse.
“Lawmakers have proven time and again their appetite for balancing budgets and financing tax breaks for the rich on the backs of working families,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “We must remain vigilant and ready to fight back.”
10/26/2017 - After several meetings with the Postal Service, we are happy to inform you that we were able to SETTLE the outstanding issue of using the newly created eWHEP in a BMC environment. The attached Step 4 Settlement, N19T20160356, dated October 19, 2017 states:
After reviewing this matter the parties mutually agree the draft MMO equitably represents the calculations provided in prior versions of the eWHEP and BMC Gold. Furthermore, the local APWU representative is entitled to a copy of the current eWHEP and any updates to the local staffing package.
In summary, this new eWHEP will replace the current BMC Gold. Please note that open staffing grievances relating to BMC Gold implementation or enforcement are NOT waived. Further, please request what you are entitled to!! When received you must review for accuracy, maintain in local records and, above all, challenge the staffing package, if necessary.
Veterans' Day Observed on Saturday November 11: Postal Retail and Delivery Closed
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10/19/2017 - Each year, Veterans' Day is celebrated on Nov. 11. For 2017, the holiday falls on a Saturday.
There has been some confusion about when the Postal Service will observe the holiday because it has a six “business” day week. For clarification, USPS Retail and Delivery will be closed on Saturday, November 11, 2017. It will be business as usual on Friday, November 10, 2017.
In a letter to the APWU the Postal Service writes:
“In an effort to ensure clarity regarding the upcoming holiday, please note that in observance of the holiday the Postal Service will not conduct normal mail delivery or retail operations on Veterans’ Day (Saturday, November 11). Package delivery will be performed on November 11-12.”
Regular Employees with Saturday as their normal workday will observe the holiday on Saturday. Employees with Saturday as their scheduled off day, will observe Friday as their holiday. Those employees with Friday and Saturday as their scheduled off days, will observe Thursday as their holiday. Lastly, in accordance with Article 11.8.B of the CBA, Postal Support Employees will receive holiday pay for Saturday, November 11, 2017.
10/13/2017 - Reminder, in accordance with Article 8, sections 4 and 5, of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, penalty overtime rules are not applicable for a consecutive four-week period each year during December.
This year, the December period begins December 2, 2017 (Pay Period 25-17- Week 2) and ends December 29, 2017 (Pay Period 01-18 - Week 1).
Union Family Flies to Puerto Rico to Assist Relief Efforts
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10/06/2017 - When disaster strikes, workers can be counted on to show up and help out in times of need. When the call came in the wake of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation, it was no different – our union family stepped up to support our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz thanks all the union volunteers who traveled to help with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
On Oct. 4, the AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the National Nurses United (NNU) and United Airlines worked together to fly more than 300 skilled volunteers to assist the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico for two weeks. (Click here for photos.)
Nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters, boilermakers, cement masons, ironworkers, machinists, plumbers/pipefitters and truck drivers, representing over 20 different unions and 17 states, flew to Puerto Rico to help rebuild the lives of our fellow citizens. IBEW members fixed generators and electrical issues. Registered nurses and other health care workers from the NNU and AFT gave medical assistance. Teamsters delivered supplies and handled sanitation needs. ALPA members loaded over 35,000 pounds of relief supplies to fly to the island commonwealth.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz praised the coordinated effort. “Thanks to our union brothers and sisters for hearing, listening to us,” she said. “The power of union…Let’s get it done.”
Assistance Still Needed
Puerto Ricans are still facing food and fuel shortages, and power and communications are still down in many parts of the island. It is a humanitarian crisis. Federal assistance has not come soon enough, requiring average workers to join this multi-union aid mission.
“The working families of Puerto Rico are our brothers and sisters. And this incredible partnership will bring skilled workers to the front lines to deliver supplies, care for victims and rebuild Puerto Rico,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need.
“This endeavor is entirely about working people helping working people in every way possible,” he continued. “In times of great tragedy, our country comes together, and we are committed to doing our part to assist the people of Puerto Rico.”
To help support relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
APWU members in need are encouraged to take advantage of the available resources. Contact the APWU Human Relations Department by calling (202) 842-4270 or emailing email@example.com for additional questions.
Secretary-Treasurer Powell Receives Labor & Social Justice Leadership Award
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On Oct. 4, APWU Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell was honored by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) with the Labor & Social Justice Leadership Award at their 20th Annual Spirit of Democracy Celebration. The award honors individuals who dedicate their lives and careers to the struggle for social and economic justice and human and civil rights.
As the first female executive officer in APWU history, Powell was recognized for her consistent support, education and guidance in increasing representation of workers in communities in state and local unions.
For over forty years, NCBCP, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization, has fought to “create an enlightened community by building institutional capacity at both the national and local levels to provide and develop African American leadership. By educating, organizing and mobilizing citizens in our communities, the Coalition seeks to encourage full participation in a barrier-free democracy.”
10/11/2017 - On Thursday, Oct. 5, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to advance its 2018 budget resolution. This resolution is a broad measure that designates government spending with far-reaching implications, including enormous cuts to postal and federal workers, as well as America’s social safety net, while providing tax cuts for the wealthy. While the resolution passed the House on a narrow 219 to 206 vote, a federal budget can only take effect if agreed to by both chambers.
Tens of thousands of postal and federal workers called on their lawmakers throughout the summer and fall to reject any budget balanced on the backs of workers. After APWU and our allies in the Federal-Postal Coalition planted a flag opposing the House’s draconian cuts, 18 Republicans lawmakers joined all Democrats voting in opposition. You can see how each representative voted, including a list of the 18 opposing Republicans, at GovTrack.
“To all of APWU activists who made the call, who visited in person, thank you,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. “You stepped up and made known to your member of Congress the devastating effects the budget resolution would have on workers. I know you will continue to be seen and heard as the budget moves forward. The budget fight is far from over.”
The Senate next has to consider its own resolution and recently released a budget starkly different from the House version. While the House resolution contains instructions to cut $32 billion from the committee of jurisdiction over the Postal Service and postal/federal pay and benefits, these are absent from the Senate budget resolution. The Senate budget also does not call for bringing the Postal Service “on-budget.”
“It is imperative that the House’s attacks on the postal and federal workforce are kept out of the Senate budget, and out of any possible compromise resolution between the two chambers,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “Our continued activism and engagement will be crucial.”
Stay up to date on the latest developments and action items on apwu.org and by signing up for legislative email alerts with the APWU e-Team.
Oppose the 2018 House Budget -
Fight Again for Working Families!
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
10/02/2017 - The House of Representatives is expected to vote this Wednesday on its Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution, which includes an outright assault on postal and federal workers!
CALL 1-844-402-1001 NOW! Tell your member of Congress to VOTE NO against any budget that includes attacks to postal and federal employees’ benefits, including retirement benefits, or undermines the public Postal Service itself!
As currently written, this budget will slash the pay and benefits of postal employees. It calls for:
Increasing employee pension contributions into FERS, amounting to a pay cut of thousands of dollars a year for each FERS postal employee.
Taking away the Social Security supplement for FERS employees who retire before they are eligible for Social Security benefits.
Outright eliminating pensions for new hires.
It also moves the Postal Service “on budget,” which could subject the USPS to federal government shutdowns as well as further restricting delivery and postal services.
If this disastrous budget is implemented, there is also concern that Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) on FERS retirement benefits could be eliminated and COLAs on current civil service retirees would be reduced, as previously proposed by the White House.
"We need all APWU members and supporters to call their member of Congress and tell them to vote ‘NO’ on this budget," said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. “It will devastate working families.”
APWU activists have made 5,000 calls against this disastrous budget. Now we have to keep up the pressure and let our lawmakers know we will not stop fighting for working families!
10/01/2017 - The APWU needs YOU to join the fight for workers’ rights, voter’s rights, an improved education system, postal banking, safety net for seniors, $15 an hour minimum wage, health care for all, and economic and social justice. Sign the pledge to be active in at least four or more activities between now and April 30, 2018. Click here to sign the pledge.