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.

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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.

We Knew It All Along

It’s hard to believe that the purpose behind the 2006 legislation requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund its health benefits for its retirees 75 years into the future was anything other than a veiled attempt at driving nails into the agency’s coffin and then resurrecting the decomposing corpse into a private, profit-making corporation. Why else would Congress require the USPS to pay $5.6 billion into such a fund over a 10 year period? It certainly wasn’t intended to benefit the agency’s retirees. Postal Service_Stop Delaying America's Mail_newson6Politicians, especially those of the past 20 years or so, have had little regard for federal workers and federal retirees.

Many of our politicians see federal workers—that is you—as unnecessary and a drag on the economy. After all, as a letter carrier and a union member, you make more than the minimum wage, you have decent benefits—like health insurance—and a pension when you retire. Shameful!

No, the intent of the 2006 Republican-led lame duck Congress was clear: suck the life-blood out of the Postal Service. Use the pre-funding money to shore up the U.S. Treasury while at the same time insisting that the Postal Service is irreparably broken and the only way to save it is to privatize it.

We understand that many politicians act at the behest of lobbyists who, in turn, act at the behest of large corporations with deep pockets. For decades the Postal Service has been a cash cow for the U.S. government. There are those in the private sector who would like for that cow to be theirs.

What’s so alarming is the fact that it’s not just politicians and other money-hungry individuals who are working hard to transform a service-oriented agency into a money-making corporation. Not only has there been a concentrated attack on the Postal Service from without, but also—incredibly—from within.

Just as it’s hard to believe that the 2006 lame duck Congress had the best interest of the Postal Service and the American public at heart when it passed the crippling pre-funding mandate, it’s equally hard to believe that upper level postal management, and past postmasters general, are concerned about preserving this valuable American institution. After all, they have been fighting tooth and nail to have it dismantled one post office and one mail processing plant at a time. It has become a prolonged ‘Going Out of Business” sale.

It’s been nearly a decade now since the pre-funding debacle and the USPS, no thanks to Congress or postal management, is still afloat. And you wouldn’t know it from much of the media or postal management, but the Postal Service is actually making a profit. Last year it made a $1.4 billion operating profit. And this year it has already eclipsed that figure.

Refusing to acknowledge that the agency is recovering from the earlier recession and is making an operating profit, the Postal Service continues to pursue plans to reduce its effectiveness. To that end, back in 2012, under the leadership of then postmaster general Patrick Donahoe, the Postal Service began Phase 1 of its “network rationalization” plan to “streamline” and make the USPS more efficient.

The streamlining plan involved cutting the hours of 13,000 small post offices, closing hundreds of other post offices and consolidating 150 mail processing plants.

Anyone who had made a passing grade in business school knew this wasn’t going to work. Even people who hadn’t gone to business school knew it wasn’t going to work! There’s no way you can improve service by cutting it, the people said. The network rationalization plan is not rational, they said. It flies in the face of common sense. Don’t do it!

Former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe was the perfect voice and face of the Postal Service. He was an extremely arrogant and hard-headed man. And the Postal Service was like that long before he became its leader. It is a culture of arrogance.

Ignoring the voices of reason on every side, the Postal Service began closing post offices and consolidating its mail processing plants.

The result? Chaos.

The most recent report from the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General reports what we knew would happen, the mail is being delayed all over the country. No state, no city, no town, no one is exempt. The OIG reports that mail arriving late to its intended destination has increased by 50 percent since 2014. And 2014 was a bad year as well.

Mail has been delayed at such an alarming rate that the OIG issued an urgent alert to the USPS last month recommending that it stop closing its plants until service stabilizes. Says the OIG: “The impact on customer service and employees have been considerable.”

There are some things that are so obvious that even postal management can’t ignore them. At some point in their ingenious streamlining plan they began to realize that, yes, closing mail processing plants was having a negative effect on mail delivery, it was being delayed.

In light of this startling reality, what does management do? Can you guess?

If you thought they went back to their drawing board and reevaluated their plan, you would be wrong. That’s not how they operate up there in D.C.

No, instead, they decided to lower their delivery standards! And so it was that in January of this year they eliminated overnight delivery for local first-class letters. It will now take an extra day to get there. And mail traveling longer distances will take an additional day, or two, or three, or…

But as the Washington Post reported in August, the USPS is now struggling to even meet its own lower standards! What will they do now, lower their delivery standards even further?

But there is hope. Even though management has turned a blind eye and deaf ear toward its employees and the American public, members of Congress—to their credit—have not. They are listening to you, their constituents.

Last year Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) started a campaign called “Fix My Mail” after hundreds of her constituents wrote or called her complaining of late deliveries, non-existent deliveries, mistakes with mail forwarding and shortened hours at their local post offices. Three other senators have joined her in introducing legislation called the Rural Postal Act. The main requirement of the legislation would be that the Postal Service restore its service standards so mail reaches its destination in a timely manner.

At least one presidential candidate has weighed in on the issue. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says that the Postal Service has caused “a disaster that is negatively impacting Americans all over the country.”

In a letter to PMG Megan Brennan he wrote: “I have heard from people all over the country who have reported serious delays in receiving life-saving prescription drugs, and the bills they need to pay to keep the lights and electricity on in their homes.

This delay means that some of the most vulnerable people in the country are going without the medications they need, or they are being forced to travel long distances because they cannot rely on the timely delivery of mail.”

Unlike in 2006, today’s representatives in Washington are listening to their constituents. Call and write and make your voice heard. And ask your customers to do the same.

(photo credit: newson6.com)

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: 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.

TPP: The Worst (and Most Secretive) Trade Deal In a Very Long Time

Stop TPPDear friends and family and union brothers and sisters,
The media’s been talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP, and how it will affect our jobs and wages. I signed a petition telling the U.S. Trade Representative to show us the text!  Will you sign, too?

Show Us the Text!

The TPP has to be the worst deal for at least 99% of us that has come down in a very long time. This is the logical conclusion of the fact that it is an unprecedentedly secret deal on such a global scale. Here is something you can do quickly and easily to oppose this new scheme from Wall Street to further impoverish working people and the 99% of us in twelve countries to begin with, including working folks and peoples of color in the USA. Please join me in this fight for justice for us.
And, if you haven’t already done so, call your congressional representative.
Fraternally,
Richard Koritz
NALC and APWU Activist

NALC: Stop Fast Track — TODAY is Fast Track Call-In Day!

Stop Fast TrackNALC Legislative Update

The time to stop Fast Track is now.

This terrible trade negotiation policy recently passed in the Senate. And now that Congress is back from its Memorial Day recess, the House is expected to bring Fast Track to a vote any day now.

If Fast Track becomes law, it would encourage the passage of bad trade deals. It also would tie Congress’ hands and prevent lawmakers from improving bad deals.

But there is still time to tell our representatives to oppose Fast Track.

TODAY (Wednesday, June 3) is a national Fast Track call-in day, your chance to join people all over the country and tell lawmakers that Americans cannot afford another bad trade deal.

As most letter carriers know by now, Fast Track would allow for a quick vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could include a ban on postal banking.

Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization is sponsoring negotiation of a trade in services agreement (TISA) among dozens of countries, and the U.S. government is in talks with the European Union on a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). In the TISA and T-TIP negotiations, the Europeans are calling for the United States to phase out the Postal Service’s monopoly on the delivery of letter mail—a policy adopted by the EU.

In other words, allowing T-TIP and TISA to be fast-tracked could pose a direct threat to our jobs and our system of affordable universal service.

Trade deals should not be crafted behind closed doors. Join the AFL-CIO in the effort to put the brakes on bad trade deals.

TODAY, call your representative and tell them to stand up for workers and democracy by opposing Fast Track.

Visit http://www.nofasttrack.com to learn more.