Together, One Powerful Voice

By Craig Schadewald, Vice-President, North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers

As I write this article, it is the month of February. Since 1976 every President has officially designated February as Black History Month. One notable African American is Rosa Parks, civil rights activist widely known for her arrest in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks’ challenge of authority international-civil-rights-museum-1to assert her rights as an American and human being became an important moment in the American Civil Rights movement.

Another notable Civil Rights moment occurred in our own state in Greensboro, North Carolina. On February 1, 1960 four freshmen (Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond) attending NC A&T University sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter at F. W. Woolworth protesting racial segregation. This act of courage fueled the sit-in movements and led to positive results for human and civil rights.

The Woolworth building is now the home of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum where you can see the lunch counter and stools where the four students sat. Greensboro is the site of our Region 9 Rap Session this August. I would encourage attendees to visit the museum. We union members could learn something from those who stood (or sat) together in an attempt to achieve their goals during the Civil Rights movement.

The actions of Rosa Parks and the “Greensboro Four” were courageous to say the least. However, without the actions of the thousands of people who joined in support of the movement, there likely would not have been positive changes enacted.

We have similar thinking in our union movement with the motto, “in unity lies our strength.” Like those mentioned above, our NALC leaders can be the spark to our actions on our legislative issues, but we need our members to take action individually. When I hear, members say I’m just one call, my Congressmen won’t do anything, I follow with, how do you know if you don’t try? Your call may be the one that helps persuade your Representative to side with our position.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” James Baldwin-African American novelist, playwright, poet wrote.

We all need to at least make an attempt.  Most people know you can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat! Although we are acting individually, you are not the lone voice; together our voices are many forming one powerful voice as we pursue positive change for the USPS, our livelihoods and our customers.

There are pieces of legislation being introduced in the new Congress that if enacted could be good for us being postal employees, federal employees and union members, but unfortunately on the flip-side, there are many that would have extremely harmful effects on us, our employer and union.

If you’re not an e-Activist, sign up now. Contribute to the Letter Carrier Political Fund. Attend Branch meetings. We need everyone to stay alert and act when called upon. Our strength is in our collective efforts. Imagine what we can accomplish.

I’ll end with this quote, “At the time of my arrest I had no idea it would turn into this. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of people joined in.” – Rosa Parks.

(Photo credit: Visit North Carolina)

Rep. Virginia Foxx’s Plan For Organized Labor: Hell On Earth

With Donald Trump due to become president next month, what does that mean for America’s workers, blue collar workers, America’s middle class? During his campaign Trump said he would do for the middle class what previous administrations had neglected to do: to ensure that wages and benefits improved and to see to it that those who were unemployed would  find gainful employment. A lot of working people, tired of struggling to keep a roof over their heads, voted for him based on his promises to help them have a better quality of life. Now that he’s been elected and will take office in January, will those virginia-foxx_dailykos-compromises become a reality for the working class over the next four years?

Based on his past performance before his election, his selection of potential cabinet members, and the fact that both the House and Senate are controlled by the Republican Party, the answer is: not likely.

Not only will those promises made on the campaign trail regarding the working class of America not become reality, but the plight of the American worker–the middle class–will become increasingly more dire.

Take for example the position of the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, North Carolina’s own Virginia Foxx. Back in September Ms. Foxx was hopeful she would become that committee’s chairperson. In an interview with Politico she admitted she had big plans for the future of education and labor should she become the committee’s chairperson. Big plans indeed.

After stating that a Donald Trump administration would be “akin to heaven on Earth” compared with the Obama administration’s labor policies, she articulated plans that would help make this “heaven on Earth” scenario a reality. A reality for big business. A reality for big banks. A reality for America’s one percent. A reality, in general, for the 21st century’s robber barons.

However, for the working class, her plans and the Trump administration’s plans will be more akin to hell on Earth.

In an interview with Reuters a couple of days ago when it was announced that Ms. Foxx would become that committee’s chairman next month, Ms. Foxx opined that organized labor has “sort of lost its reason for being,” stating that it is no longer necessary because of the many laws that have been enacted to protect workers.

However, even if that statement were true–which it isn’t–Ms. Foxx’s plans regarding workers in the new administration would make organized labor extremely relevant because she plans over the next four years to dismantle every conceivable law that has ever been passed to benefit and protect workers.

Among the many items on her To Do List are the following:

  • To repeal a wide range of Obama’s regulations that benefit workers and “to do whatever we can to stop the rules coming out of the Labor Department–either block them or repeal them.”
  • Will work to repeal the National Labor Relations Board’s rule that is designed to speed up union elections.
  • Hold hearings to reexamine the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Eliminate a rule that would extend mandatory overtime pay to more than four million workers.
  • Repeal the National Labor Relations Board’s revised standard for “joint employment” making it easier for unions and regulators to hold companies accountable for the employment practices of staffing agencies, contractors and franchises with which they partner.

Of course, Ms. Foxx is aware that the Democratic Party will take issue with these and other plans to bolster companies bottom lines at the expense of the worker. Her response?

“I think that they (Democrats) will bring up their tired arguments about how we are destroying the world by doing the things that we’re doing, but frankly I think this last election shows that the American people aren’t buying those arguments anymore.”

However, we would argue that the “American people” weren’t aware that the destruction of labor and the middle class was what they were actually voting for. We’ll see what their response is when these plans become more apparent.

(photo credit: dailykos.com)

Read: New House labor committee chair questions need for unions.

Virginia Foxx makes play for House education and labor committee chairmanship.

Fast Track Heating Up This Week On Capitol Hill

NALC News and Updates

When Congress comes back to Washington this week after its spring recess, both the House and the Senate are expected to begin consideration of Fast Track legislation.

As the issue of Fast Track begins to heat up, it’s critical that you respond and make your voice heard! On Saturday, April 18, the AFL-CIO and its coalition of partners are holding a nationwide day of action. Click here to find events in your area and check back often as more events are announced.

Any trade deal is going to have a huge impact on America’s workers. Fast Track legislation allows power brokers to shape trade deals to their advantage and to shield the details from the public and policy experts alike. Fast Track legislation is undemocratic and almost always ends in trade deals that benefit corporations and the rich, that eliminate jobs, and that cut wages and benefits for millions of hardworking families across America. Trade deals should not be crafted behind closed doors.

Trade deals ought to lift up the standards of working people across this nation. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would mean more jobs will be sent overseas. TPP gives special rights and benefits to companies that offshore investment and jobs.

Fast Track would not just allow for a quick vote on the TPP—which could include a ban on postal banking—but also on a number of other trade agreements under negotiation as well. For example, the World Trade Organization is sponsoring the 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), which would cover our economic interaction with the EU’s 27 countries.

In both of these 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 between 1992 and 2011. So 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.

To learn more about the negative impact of Fast Track legislation on America’s working families, visit www.nofasttrack.com.

North Carolina’s Letter Carriers and Other State Unionists Working Hard for Worker-Friendly Candidates

Kay Hagan and Tim RorieNorth Carolina’s letter carriers and other union activists are providing opportunities over the next several days leading up to the November 4 election to get out and support our state’s worker-friendly candidates. Here are some of those opportunities. Also remember that here in North Carolina residents can vote early through November 1. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.

The Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council will be sponsoring a “Walk For Kay” in Charlotte this Sunday afternoon in support of North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan. Active and retired letter carriers and their families are invited to join special guest for the event, NALC’s NBA elect for Region 9, Kenny Gibbs.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. at the IBEW 379 union hall at 1900 Crossbeam Dr. in Charlotte.

Guest speakers will include Tim Rorie, President of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council and Kevin Baker, President of NALC Local 545 Charlotte.

Lunch will be provided.

If you live in the Charlotte area and would like to help out by phone banking, call Ashley at 704-773-9558.

(pictured: Senator Kay Hagan and Tim Rorie, President of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council.)

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NALC Region 9 NBA elect Kenny Gibbs will also be in North Carolina this weekend for phone banking. Brother Gibbs will be at NALC Branch 630’s union hall in Greensboro on Saturday, November 1, from 10 a.m. until for the phone banking. Active and retired letter carriers are encouraged to join him in calling fellow union voters. The Branch 630 union hall is located at 3207 E. Bessemer Ave. in Greensboro.

In addition to the Saturday phone banking, letter carriers and other unionists are phone banking through Election Day. If you live in the Triad area and would like to volunteer some time to phone bank, contact Debbie Matyga at 336-508-1149.

If you live in another part of the state and would like to help out, go here.

Encourage your family and friends to vote for worker-friendly candidates like Kay Hagan. For a list of worker-friendly candidates, check out this list before casting your vote.

Join your union brothers and sisters between now and Election Day on phone banks and neighborhood walks as we reach out to other union members and their families across North Carolina with a powerful message – dollars can’t vote, only people can!

10 Reasons to Vote For Kay Hagan.

 

Grab the Wheel and Steer Anti-Union Conversation in a Positive Direction

Food Drive_NewBern 2by Craig Schadewald, Vice President
North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers

As I write this we’ve just completed the 22nd NALC “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive and, as in the past, volunteers came out to aid us in our efforts. Many of those volunteers were children of letter carriers. It made me very proud when both my children, Matt, age 21, and Zach, age 18, took time off without pay from their jobs, putting in nearly 10 hours of work picking up food along routes, unloading food from vehicles at the pantry and preparing food for transport from the post office.

The icing on the cake though: I didn’t ask or tell them to help; they told me they were going to help. Sure, they’ve helped in the past, but this seemed different. They’re not little anymore and at their young adult ages understand it’s not just about them and the right thing to do is to help others in need. They also have learned many of those in need are working people and retired seniors struggling to make ends meet. I often wondered if they were hearing what I’ve been saying all these years. I guess they were paying attention after all.

More and more working people need assistance to feed their families and pay for basic living expenses. Low wages and a lack of employer paid benefits are to blame while CEO and shareholder income soars.

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains in his movie that I highly recommend, “Inequality For All,” why of all developed nations, the U.S. has the most unequal distribution of income.

Reich states that from 1947-1977 the economy boomed and income inequality was very low. Labor unions securing decent wages and benefits for their members, that also boosted the non-union work force, helped narrow the gap creating a thriving middle class and a strong economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013 that union members had median usual weekly earnings of $200 more than non-union members. The report also noted that in 2013 only 11.3 percent of workers in the U.S. were union members, with fewer than 7 percent being in the private sector, levels not seen since 1932. Oh, did I mention North Carolina had the lowest union membership rate at 3.0 percent? This leaves no one to look out for the American worker and a middle class evolving into the working poor.

If this mentality and type of economics, more for the top and less for all others is going to change, then we need to look to ourselves and lead that change. George Bernard Shaw said, “To be in hell is to drift; to be in heaven is to steer.”

We need to grab the wheel and steer the anti-union conversation in a positive direction and stop drifting along as if we can’t do anything about it. Just as we educate our children on doing the right thing, we need to do a better job of educating our children, family and friends on what unions have done and continue to do for workers and the middle class. We must explain to them a well-paid working class with benefits has far more purchasing power than a handful of billionaires and that the middle class purchasing power is what makes an economy thrive. A well-paid workforce will also rely less on public assistance, thereby aiding in the reduction of our national debt.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking the scale of the issue is too large for you to make a difference. Little by little, one family member at a time, you can help change this lopsided distribution of income.

For every action there’s a reaction. Let’s stop blaming the 1 percent and anti-union politicians and start enacting change ourselves. Educate your children so they understand what you have is because of your union. Then, maybe one day you’ll witness them doing or saying something in support of workers and the middle class, and you’ll say to yourself: I guess they were paying attention after all.

*Editor’s note: On Tuesday, May 13, brother Schadewald reported that the #2014FoodDrive in New Bern, NC collected 31,564 pounds of non-perishable food, a record for the city’s annual food drive.
(Pictured upper left: Matt and Zack Schadewald at Religious Community Services food pantry/kitchen in New Bern; Food Drive_NewBern_2014bottom left: food collected at Religious Community Services.)

Mountain Moral Monday Set for August 5th in Asheville, NC!

Dr. William BarberCross-post from NC State AFL-CIO

 

A Moral Monday video you simply must see.

If you only ever watch one video about Moral Monday, we hope it’d be this one by staff photojournalist Travis Long for the News & Observer. We cannot embed the video here, so follow this link to watch it.

From Rev. Barber’s remarks in the News & Observer video:

“There was a time we wouldn’t be together like this. There was a time the right wing’s wedge issues would have kept us from holding together.

“But look at us now. Holding hands together.

“Educators fighting with the unions.

“Unions fighting with civil rights.

“People of faith fighting with the children.

“Environmentalists coming together with the health workers.

“Doctors standing on the side of the sick.

“Millionaires standing with the unemployed.

“And straight folks standing with gay folk.

“People of faith standing with those wrestling with their faith.

“Look out what the law has done!”

On July 29th, thousands of people from all walks of faith and life flooded the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina to march for social justice and stand in solidarity against regressive legislation bore out of the NC General Assembly. ”It was also the biggest protest yet against the ultra conservative agenda of the Republican-controlled legislature,” says Sue Sturgis writing for Facing South, “drawing as many as 10,000 people to the state capital’s downtown streets.
Watch the official Moral Monday 13 recap video.

Moral Monday will now go statewide, and the first stop is in Asheville on Monday, August 5th. Asheville in particular was the target of conservative lawmakers this year. Sue Sturgis explains:

“North Carolina lawmakers were successful in passing a bill that takes control of the municipal water system away from Asheville and hands it over to a state-chartered regional authority without compensating the city for the loss. The measure, which opponents say is theft by the state and would harm regional economic development efforts, is the subject of a lawsuit set to begin next month. Save Our Water WNC, a group opposed to the takeover, is among the organizers of Mountain Moral Monday.”

Mountain Moral Monday is August 5th

On Monday, August 5, from 5-6:30 p.m., a coalition of Western North Carolina groups will host Mountain Moral Monday, a non-partisan event to highlight the abuse of power and cruel policies coming out of the N.C. statehouse.

The event will take place at Pack Square Park and will feature Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the NC NAACP, the grassroots leader responsible for shining a national spotlight on what the New York Times has called “The Decline of North Carolina.”

What: Mountain Moral Monday

When: August 5 at 5:00 pm

Where: Pack Square Park, downtown Asheville (in front of Buncombe County Courthouse and City Hall)

Follow this event online at http://www.mountainmoralmonday.com/.

Grab the flyer for Mountain Moral Monday.

James Andrews

Also of interest:

Moral Monday Organizers Announce Next Steps, Including Local Rallies

How the Local AFL-CIO Works For You

Communities and Postal Workers United Newsletter: Our Post Offices Not For Sale (PDF)

Going, Going, Gone: Historic Post Offices on the GSA’s Auction Block

Save the People’s Post Office

Fed Up and Fired Up! Moral Monday 12: Voting Rights, July 22

moral-monday-12-July-22-flyerThis is a cross-post from NC State AFL-CIO

Take it from a 92 year-old Moral Monday arrestee:

“Here I am at 92 years old, doing the same battling,” says Rosa Nell Eaton in this video. “We need more – not less – public access to the ballot!”

Watch Rosa Nell Eaton testify at Moral Monday last week.

“At the age of 92, I am fed up and fired up!”

North Carolina’s unions are planning now for another major turnout for the next Moral Monday – the 12th Wave on July 22. WEAR UNION SHIRTS!

What: Moral Monday 12th wave for Voting Rights
When: July 22, 2013 at 5 PM
Where: Halifax Mall (the great lawn behind the legislative building, 16 W. Jones St., Raleigh, NC 27601)

See pictures of union members at past Moral Mondays.

For those who choose to petition the legislature through nonviolent civil disobedience, based on their own moral conscience, it is CRITICAL that you attend a briefing and information session beforehand at 3:00 pm.

What: July 22 civil disobedience prep session
When: 3 PM
Where: Christian Faith Baptist Church, 509 Hilltop Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610

Grab the flyer for Moral Monday 12 (PDF):