Federal Employees Call-In Day Opposing White House’s 2018 Budget

Letter carriers and other federal employees — past and present–and their adult family members are being urged to call their senators and House representatives today to voice Call Congress 2opposition to the White House’s 2018 budget. A flyer from the NALC gives information on why this bill is a financial threat to letter carriers, the USPS, and other federal employees can be found here: NALC flyer.

The flyer reads in part:

Since 2011, postal and federal employees have been ripped off time and again–to the tune of more than $180 billion–in the name of deficit reduction. Without any additional benefit, we’ve seen a three-year pay freeze, reduced pay increases, unpaid furlough days and two increases in retirement contributions for new hires.

You are asked to call 844-904-7029 (Washington, DC) and 855-982-3154 and urge your senators and House representative to oppose this budget.

To see what’s at stake for you and your family, go to NALC flyer.

NALC: Medicare Premiums Set to Spike in January; Call Your Representatives

Medicare_grandparents

NALC Legislative Dept.

As NALC members may have heard, the Social Security Administration recently announced that there would be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2016. As a result, Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles are set to spike beginning this January. Fortunately, legislation to fix the issue has been introduced in both the House and Senate. Click here to read about the bills. All NALC members should ask their House and Senate members to co-sponsor these bills to correct this injustice to federal and postal retirees. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)-224-3121 to get started.

Also of interest:

Budget deficit reduction bill

This past week, House lawmakers passed a package that would repeal parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act law dealing with the individual and employee mandates, the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, the upcoming tax on high-cost employer plans and the soon-to-be implemented mandate of automatically enrolling new full-time employees in health care coverage. The bill also would block funding for Planned Parenthood for one year while providing funds to community health centers for women’s health care. The bill seeks to reduce the deficit by $85.9 billion over 10 years. The White House issued a statement of administration policy pledging to veto the package. Click here to read more.

NALC President Fred Rolando: Defending the Mailbox From Privatization.

Bernie Sanders Addresses Postal Union to Decry USPS Privatization.

NALC: ‘Fast Track’ déjà vu

Stop Fast Track 9NALC Legislative Dept.

This past Thursday, the House of Representatives cleared a stand-alone Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill—better known as “Fast Track.” The move came as a result of the crushing defeat of a package of trade bills in the House where Fast Track failed to advance beyond the House because it was packaged with a trade adjustment assistance measure that went down in flames.

Last week, House leaders—who have been relentless advocates, alongside President Obama, for pushing trade agreements—resorted to a new approach that tied the Fast Track bill to a measure intended to allow fire fighters access to their own retirement savings once they reach retirement age. The bill measure was approved by a vote of 218 to 208, with no notable shifts in opposition or support by House members.

Fast Track now heads to the Senate, where its fate remains unclear. Last month, the Senate voted in favor of advancing a full trade package that included Fast Track and three other bills: a trade adjustment assistance bill (TAA), a bill with provisions covering enforcement for Customs and Border Patrol, and the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

AGOA is a trade preference program designed to facilitate investment and trade between the U.S. and parts of Africa. It’s a seemingly non-controversial measure that has received broad bipartisan support in both chambers, although some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have requested that AGOA not be used as a ploy to get Fast Track passed. (Click here to read the CBC’s letter.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who gained the support of 14 Democrats the last time the Senate considered a Fast Track package, now will need 11 to advance a Fast Track–only measure this week, followed by consideration of a separate package that includes AGOA and an extension of TAA.

However, a handful of Democratic senators have signaled their uncertainty on this particular Fast Track measure for several reasons. Some want to consider the full package of trade proposals, some are insisting that TAA be repackaged first, and some are insisting on a separate vote to reauthorize yet another measure: the Export-Import Bank, another highly contentious issue in trade package consideration that many House Republicans oppose.

For now, the Senate is expected to vote on a stand-alone Fast Track bill Tuesday or Wednesday. If that passes, it will be delivered directly to President Obama.

If your head isn’t spinning yet, keep reading.

Senators then will take up the package of trade preferences and TAA, setting up a final vote on those on either Wednesday or Thursday. If these measures pass, they will need further consideration by the House before advancing further. House lawmakers have given themselves until July 30 to find a way forward—but there seems to be a great deal of uncertainty at the moment.

“I don’t see a path right now for TAA,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who voted against Thursday’s stand-alone bill and also against the package deal. “The overwhelming vote last week to slow down ‘fast track’ trade authority is a clear indication that it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to negotiate a better deal for the American people.”

“Unfortunately, our battle against Fast Track is far from over,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando, who encouraged letter carriers to keep checking the website for updates and to make sure they’re signed up as e-Activists to get news delivered right to their inboxes.

ACTION ITEM: NALC encourages all letter carriers to keeping thanking the House members who voted against Fast Track and against TAA. Letter carriers also are encouraged to let their senators know about NALC’s opposition to consideration of these bills.

“Members of Congress need to know that letter carriers appreciate their support,” said Rolando. “They also need to know that enough is enough. It’s time to move on to more pressing issues before they depart for the August recess.”

Click here to read NALC’s statement prior to last week’s House vote.

Click here to read more about last week’s vote and to find out why Fast Track would be dangerous for letter carriers and the Postal Service.

Click here to read a letter from the presidents of NALC, APWU and NPMHU urging a “no” vote on Fast Track.

NALC: House Rejects Trade Package–But Will Try Again Next Week

Stop Fast Track 2NALC Legislative Dept

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to reject a trade adjustment assistance (TAA) bill, a move that essentially shuts down legislation that would have granted the president the authority to approve trade agreements without first giving Congress a chance to review or amend such agreements.

A procedural move in the House earlier this week required representatives to first consider TAA. Only if it had been approved would the House have been able to consider the more contentious Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill—better known as “Fast Track.”

TAA was voted down by vote of 302 to 126, even after President Obama personally visited Capitol Hill to lobby for its support. Afterward, House leaders approved a stand-alone trade promotion bill, but under House procedures, the combined TAA-TPA trade package had already received Senate approval, so it could not advance to Obama’s desk unless the House approved the entire package.

Republican leaders in the GOP-majority House had also worked with Obama to pass the trade bills. But enough Republican defections, coupled with a general lack of support from Democrats, helped scuttle the measures.

“We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) added that the trade package had included “no meaningful protections whatever against currency manipulation” by some of the nations with whom America trades—manipulation that, in the past, “ruined millions of middle class jobs.”

What does Friday’s vote mean?

“(Friday’s) vote represents a clear victory for all of this country’s workers,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Trade agreements should be negotiated out in the open, where Congress can be scrutinize and amend them if necessary.

“If this entire package of reforms had passed,” Rolando said, “not only would it have allowed this and future presidents to review and approve trade deals in secret, it could have opened the door for a whole host of new threats against the U.S. Postal Service.”

The importance of Friday’s vote

Friday’s vote also was important because, if the package had been approved and eventually signed into law, it could have paved the way for approval of a number of potentially dangerous trade agreements:

  • Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that’s now being negotiated, corporate banks could use the deal to get the governments that sign on to it to ban the ability to offer financial services. This would prevent USPS from generating new revenue by using its vast postal retail network to offer low-cost banking services for the tens of millions of Americans who are unbanked or under-banked.
  • During negotiations for an agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deal, for example, European Union nations have been calling on the U.S. to follow their lead and phase out the Postal Service’s monopoly on the delivery of letter mail—a direct threat to all postal workers’ jobs and to our system of affordable universal service.
  • The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) that is now being negotiated with the World Trade Organization contains language that, if approved, could threaten our ability to keep package delivery service as part of USPS’ universal service obligation. Package delivery has been crucial to the Postal Service’s financial recovery in recent years.
  • Language in TiSA also could ultimately result in calls to privatize our Postal Service, potentially affecting the viability of a service that’s older than the United States itself and that has its roots in the Constitution.

“Thanks in part to the many calls from members of the NALC and our fellow AFL-CIO unions over the last few days,” Rolando said, “these particular threats have been set aside for now.”

But there’s plenty more to do

“While we know that our work on Capitol Hill is far from finished,” Rolando said, “we can take pride in knowing that organized labor still has a voice, and a say, in how things work in Washington. We will need to stay just as vigilant, and just as vocal, as new postal reform measures get introduced in the coming weeks.”

What’s next?

As previously mentioned, House leaders have until Tuesday to bring up TAA to again try to advance the package of bills.

If your House member voted against these bills, thank them for supporting letter carriers.

Most importantly, please thank those who opposed TAA and ask them to maintain their position, if a vote comes up again by Tuesday.

Also of interest:

The Secrets and Lies of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Thank You to Those Who Voted Against the TPP, However the Fight is Not Over

After Trade Vote Fails, Obama Pleads With Lawmakers To Reconsider

NALC: Action Needed NOW to De-rail Fast Track

Fast Track4NALC Legislative Dept

By the end of this week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) legislation that was passed by the Senate last month.

And right now, the House is deciding on the procedure for considering trade bills, and House leaders are working hard to secure every last vote they will need for Fast Track to pass.

That’s why it is urgent for all of us—and for our co-workers, family members and friends—to tell our representatives in the House that we oppose Fast Track.

Call your congressional representative NOW and tell them to vote NO on Fast Track.

This vote is expected to be close and our voices need to be heard. Your representative needs to know that allowing trade agreements to be fast-tracked would have serious implications for the Postal Service. For example:

  • During negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deal, European Union nations have been calling on the U.S. to follow their lead and phase out the Postal Service’s monopoly on the delivery of letter mail. This is a direct threat to all postal workers’ jobs and to our system of affordable universal service.
  • Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that’s now being negotiated, Wall Street banks could use the deal to get the governments that sign on to it to ban the ability to offer financial services. This would prevent the Postal Service from generating new revenue by using its vast postal retail network to offer low-cost banking services for the tens of millions of Americans who are unbanked or under-banked.
  • The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) that is now being negotiated with the World Trade Organization contains language that, if approved, could threaten our ability to keep package delivery service as part of USPS’ universal service obligation. Package delivery has been crucial to the Postal Service’s financial recovery in recent years.
  • Language in TiSA also could ultimately result in calls to privatize our Postal Service, potentially affecting the viability of a service that’s older than the United States itself and that has its roots in the U.S. Constitution.

Click here to read a letter from NALC President Fredric Rolando expressing our opposition to Fast Track. Click here to read our letter raising concerns over the pending renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance. And click here to read a letter from the presidents of NALC, APWU and NPMHU urging a “no” vote on Fast Track.

But most importantly, call your congressional representative NOW and tell them to vote NO on Fast Track.

NALC: New Postal Reform Bills Being Considered This Week In Congress

NALC Legislative Dept.Call_Congress

When your congressional representatives return to Washington this week after their Memorial Day recess, key lawmakers will have their sights set on postal reform legislation. In fact, postal bills are being drafted in both chambers right now, so we could be mere weeks away from seeing officially introduced legislation starting to move.

With Congress beginning to turn its attention to the Postal Service, we need every single NALC member to make sure any postal bills under consideration preserve and strengthen our delivery networks, our services and our jobs.

You can start right now: Tell your members of Congress—in the House and in the Senate—that any postal legislation that calls for service cuts (such as proposing postal holidays, eliminating mail delivery on Saturdays or eliminating door-to-door delivery) is unacceptable. And ask your congressional representatives to pass that message along to their colleagues—Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Tom Carper (D-DE)—who are drafting postal legislation and who need to hear our message.

House Fails to Pass Vindictive Bill Targeting Federal Employees

House of Representatives Logo

NALC Legislative and Political Affairs Dept.

On Wednesday, as expected, the House of Representatives took up H.R. 1563 for consideration under a procedure called “suspension of the rules,” which required a two-thirds majority of the House for passage.

The bill did manage to get a simple majority of 266-160. But since it needed 18 more votes to get to that two-thirds goal, it failed to pass.

Thank you for taking the time to contact your representative about this needless and vindictive measure.

Click here to read more about it in The Hill.