Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt on the Departure of Talgo Jobs from Milwaukee

While it is extremely disappointing to learn that high speed train manufacturer Talgo plans to leave Milwaukee at the end of their lease in 2012, it’s not really surprising, nor can you blame the company. Governor-elect Scott Walker sent a clear message that high speed rail and the family supporting jobs that come with it aren’t welcome in our state.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DEADLINE TO SEND PACKAGES TO TROOPS NEARS

This Saturday, Dec. 4, is the deadline to ship First-Class Mail or Priority Mail packages to Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding areas — or to Army Post Office (APO), and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses with the ZIP Code 093. The deadline for packages to all other APO/FPO ZIP codes is Friday, Dec.10.

To help the friends and families of service members, the Postal Service offers a $2 discount on its Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box shipped to APO/FPO addresses.

Mail addressed to military post offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparation and handling. Items mailed to APO/FPO addresses generally require customs forms.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Statement by Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt on the Need to Pass the Unemployment Extension

“Don’t Leave the Jobless Out in the Cold”

At midnight last night, 800,000 unemployed workers lost their unemployment insurance benefits.  By the end of December, 2 million are projected to lose their unemployment insurance.  Shame on those in Congress who aren't supporting this emergency lifeline.

The domino effect of the unemployment insurance expiration will affect more than just the families of the unemployed.  When jobless families are unable to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or generate tax revenue, local communities, businesses and governments all suffer.  The expiration of unemployment insurance benefits slows our economy down when we need to speed it up.

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and working families are calling on Congress to approve a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance.  Never before has Congress allowed unemployment insurance to expire when so many people are looking for work but unable to find jobs.  But instead of focusing on working families, the newly-elected GOP Congress is pushing to pass tax cuts for millionaires by extending the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000.

Thank you to Wisconsin Representatives Baldwin, Obey, Kagen, Kind and Moore for supporting the extension of benefits.  Representatives Petri, Ryan and Sensenbrenner voted against even a short-term extension.

Don’t leave Wisconsin’s economy in the cold this December.  Keep our communities and jobless families afloat; support a one year emergency extension of unemployment insurance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guffey: USPS Will Have to Do Better

APWU Web News Article 132-2010, Nov. 18, 2010

Postal Service negotiators continue to express interest in APWU contract proposals, “but so far have failed to put anything in writing,” APWU President Cliff Guffey reported to the Rank and File BargainingAPWU President Cliff Guffey briefs the union’s Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee on Thusday. Advisory Committee on Nov. 18.

At a morning bargaining session, management representatives re-

APWU President Cliff Guffey briefs the union’s Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee on Thusday.

Postal Service negotiators continue to express

hashed their previous oral statements, he said. “If they expect to get an agreement, they will have to do better.”

“We want to see everything in writing,” the union president said.

“Work and stability remain our paramount concerns.”

[more 2010 contract negotiations news]

Above Photo: APWU President Cliff Guffey briefs the union’s Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee on Thursday.

Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement — Changing Your Current Mailing Address

To facilitate processing of 2010 tax information and to ensure correct and timely receipt of a 2010 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, all employees must have a current mailing address on file by December 29, 2010, in order to update the W-2 mailing file.

The following options are available for current employees to change their mailing address on record:

1. By Computer

Change your information using LiteBlue:

  • Go to the LiteBlue home page (www.liteblue.usps.gov).
  • Enter your Employee Identification Number and USPS PIN.
  • Click the My HR tab at the top of the page.
  • Click Change My Address.
  • Click Edit.
  • Change any necessary mailing address information.
  • Click Review.
  • Click Save.

2. By Kiosk

All postal employees can change their mailing and residential addresses using the personnel computer kiosks located in large Processing and Distribution Centers and some Post Office™ facilities. Click the tab titled Present Job Info/Change of Address on the main Kiosk webpage.

3. By Mail

Send PS Form 1216, Employee’s Current Mailing Address, to: HRSSC COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS PO BOX 970400 GREENSBORO NC 27497-0400

4. By Telephone

Call HRSSC at 877-477-3273, option 5; and follow the prompts to speak to a service representative who will assist you. — Payroll, Controller, 11-18-10 Source: Postal Bulletin 22298 (11-18-10)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Follow Contract Negotiations on Facebook, Twitter

APWU Web News Article 126-2010, Nov. 12, 2010

With the Collective Bargaining Agreement scheduled to expire Nov. 20, the APWU will post frequent updates about the status of negotiations. To stay informed about late-breaking developments, union members can visit www.apwu.org, or they can follow the union on Twitter and Facebook.

To receive text-message notifications when updates are posted, union members can establish a free Twitter account at www.twitter.com. Once the registration process is complete, account holders should search for “apwunational,” and click the “follow” button. Members can then choose to receive text message alerts when the union has posted an update. In addition, members can visit www.twitter.com/apwunational for the latest news.

The APWU will also be posting updates on its Facebook page frequently. To join the many APWU members, officers, and supporters who are already “fans” of the union, members with Facebook accounts can search for “APWU,” or may access the union’s page directly by typing in www.facebook.com/APWUnational. Members may then click “Like” to join the group and view the union’s recent posts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post-Election Statement from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Congratulations to Governor-elect Scott Walker and to the new and returning members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. The challenge ahead in governing the state is a substantial one. Labor in Wisconsin is committed to economic policies that preserve the gains of working class families, and our voices must be heard, especially during deliberations on the next biennial budget. American workers have borne the worst of the economic crisis, and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO is committed to ensuring that middle-class families share in the recovery.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

USPS Wage, Benefit Proposal: An Insult to Postal Workers

Burrus Update #19-2010, Nov. 1, 2010

Contract negotiations took a dramatic turn today as postal management presented its economic proposal, which would establish employees’ wages and benefits for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Notwithstanding my expectation that management would seek to restrain costs, I was surprised to receive a USPS proposal that would destroy 20 years of progress.

Postmaster General Potter has said he intends to protect current employees by “grandfathering” their wages, and imposing lower pay and benefits on future employees. Management’s wage proposal reflects that objective: It would severely reduce the pay and benefits of employees hired after the signing of a new agreement, and would make postal jobs substantially less desirable.

Management’s proposal is just one step in the bargaining process, which requires additional intense negotiations — but it is not a good starting point.

Upon receipt of the proposal, I informed USPS negotiators that it is an insult to all postal employees who have dedicated their working lives to maintaining the best postal system in the world. There is zero possibility that the union will agree to wage cuts.

We hope that as bargaining proceeds, management will join us and engage in serious dialogue about the terms and conditions of a new contract. We have come too far to consider revisiting the past.

William Burrus
President

Friday, October 29, 2010

FALL SEMINAR/COUNCIL OF LOCALS PHOTOS

Day one of the APWU of Wisconsin Fall Seminar and Council of Locals has come to a close. Click Here to see a few of the photos that have been posted on Facebook.

The Lyle Krueth Dinner/Roast is scheduled for later tonight.

RETIREMENT PLANNING - TRICK OR TREAT?

By Tammy Flanagan, National Institute of Transition Planning - October 29, 2010

The secret is finally out: the Office of Personnel Management still processes retirement claims in 2010 much the same way it did in 1920. The process remains paper-based, requiring a human being to sift through the paperwork documenting an employee's career to be sure that he or she is receiving the proper retirement benefit. [Full Story]

Source:GovernmentExecutive.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Huck and Konopacki

Second Early Out Payment Scheduled for Oct. 29

APWU Web News Article 116-2010, Oct. 19, 2010

Former postal employees who retired or separated from the Postal Service in 2009 as part of the negotiated Early Out Incentive agreement are entitled to receive an additional $5,000, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 29, 2010.

Those who participated in the retirement incentive program received $10,000 as part of the agreement in 2009. The final $5,000 payment is scheduled to coincide with the Pay Period 22 payroll.

Checks will be mailed with other paychecks from the Postal Data Center to the local office where eligible retirees were employed. Those who choose to retrieve their checks in person should contact the office in advance to determine where they should report. Those who prefer to have checks mailed to their current address should provide a written, signed request to the highest-ranking postal official at the installation where they were employed.

Retirees are encouraged to join the APWU Retirees Department to stay in touch with postal friends and retirees; learn more about retiree benefits and issues, and assure and protect benefits. To join, visit the Retirees Department Web page for an enrollment form, or download one at www.apwu.org/dept/retiree/retjoinform.pdf.

Postal Service Denies Plans for Oshkosh Town Hall Meeting

By Chris Hrapsky

Postal workers in Oshkosh say a town hall meeting will take place in November to discuss the potential closing of the mail processing facility in the city. It's a claim the U.S. Postal Service denies.

Postal Service workers in Oshkosh fear their plant is one step closer to shutting down for good. [Full Story]

Source: WBAY TV Green Bay, WI

USPS facing millions in fines for ‘willful’ safety violations

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

The United States Postal Service is set to lose tens of millions of dollars for a series of “willful” health and safety violations at its processing facilities across America.

While desperately searching for possible cutbacks to stem its multi-billion dollar losses, the organisation is being sued by the federal government for what are described as an “indifference to employee safety and health”. [Full Story]

Source: Post & Parcel

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

History of the Combined Federal Campaign

A brief history of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) will demonstrate why it is one of the largest, most successful, and convenient workplace giving programs in the United States. Programs offer a myriad of choices for giving and it is convenient for federal employees to participate. The CFC allows participants to chose to give to organizations at the local, national, and international level. No other workplace giving program offers this type of variety of choice and convenience for charitable agencies.

Prior to the 1950's workplace giving campaigns in the federal government were an uncontrollable free for all which not surprisingly produced poor results. At times supervisors applied pressure to employees to give and quota's were wrongly established. Employees were asked to give throughout the year and there was no established order in how things were conducted.

In the 1950's President Eisenhower took steps to correct the prevailing situation. Various campaigns were assigned to particular times of the year. Local United Way Campaigns were conducted in the Fall and National Health Agencies and International Service Groups were assigned to the Spring. The American Red Cross drive was done in Spring if it was not part of the local campaign in Fall. Although this was an improvement there was still more work to accomplish.

President Kennedy came up with the concept of a combined giving campaign and in 1964 this idea was introduced with experiments around the United States. This program proved to be very successful along with the innovation of payroll deductions. Under President Nixon in 1971 the modern day CFC was born.

The CFC has over 1600 national and international agencies where employees can designate their contributions. In addition hundreds of local organizations exist allowing employee to contribute to the charities in their own home town. The payroll deduction systems make it easy for agencies after applying to receive quarterly checks. The CFC has proven to be very successful growing tremendously each year. The concept of a combined campaign with payroll deductions laid the foundation for one of the most successful workplace giving programs in history.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

PRC Denies USPS Rate Increase Request

The Postal Regulatory Commission in a unanimous decision has denied the US Postal Service the emergency rate increase it requested earlier this year.

PRC Chair Ruth Goldway said that while the USPS made its case that the recession was an “extraordinary” circumstance, she found that the rate changes requested were actually related to long term market changes.

PRC member Dan Blair concurs in the decision, but does not believe the USPS proved the recession was an exceptional circumstance.

In answer to questions asked at the news conference, Goldway said “Our decision is final.” She also said, however, that she doesn’t know if any of the parties will appeal to the courts.

Goldway also said that the USPS could implement a 1.6-2% increase under the normal price cap process.

Statement of PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway

Full text of the decision

Text of the PRC’s press release:

Washington, DC – The Postal Regulatory Commission today issued Order No. 547 in Docket R2010-4 denying a Postal Service request for an average 5.6 percent rate increase. The Commission found that the Postal Service failed to justiff rate increases in excess of its statutory CPI price cap.

“The Commission finds that the Postal Service has shown the recent recession to be an exigent circumstance but it has failed both to quantify the impact of the recession on its finances and to show how its rate request relates to the resulting loss of mail volume; therefore, we unanimously deny its exigent rate request,” said Chairman Ruth Y. Goldway.

The law requires the Postal Service to demonstrate that any exigent rate adjustments are due to the identified exceptional circumstances. This prevents a bona fide extraordinary or exceptional circumstance from being used as a general rate increase mechanism that would circumvent the price cap system.

The Postal Service’s recent volume losses and multi-billion dollar shortfalls are recognized. However, Commission analysis confirms that the Postal Service’s cash flow problem is not a result of the recession and would have occurred whether or not the recession took place. lt is the result of other, unrelated structural problems and the proposed exigent rate adjustments would neither solve nor delay those problems.

The Postal Service may be unable to continue to meet a statutory 1O-year payment schedule – averaging roughly $5.5 billion per year – to create a fund to pay future retiree health benefit premiums. lt has been unable to fund this obligation from operations, and has instead used up all of its retained earnings and drawn down from its $15 billion borrowing authority. Even with the requested increase, the Postal Service would be unable to meet this annual obligation either in 2011, or in succeeding years.

The Postal Service achieved over $6 billion in cost reductions in 2009. While volume declines outstripped cost reductions during the actual recession, Postal Service cost containment programs are producing results and work hours have declined faster than volumes in 2010.

Related Stories:


  • Statement of Postmaster General on PRC Ruling, Fully Paying Retiree Health Benefit Mandate


  • Press release


  • Five postal workers, three others indicted for mail theft in Alabama
    postalnews blog



  • DMA praises PRC decision as a ‘job saving’ action
    Press release



  • Senator Carper statement on PRC decision to deny rate increase
  • Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Elects New President, Secretary-Treasurer

    Convention delegates adopt the “Solidarity Wisconsin” vision with jobs at the top of their agenda

    (Green Bay, WI)  It should come as no surprise that the theme of the 26th Biennial Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Convention, which concluded today, was “Good Jobs Now!”  These are trying times for workers. High unemployment is crushing the dreams of millions of families.  Millions more are bringing home smaller paychecks and have fewer benefits.  Meanwhile, companies are sitting on record profits and cash reserves.  Yet the mood of the convention was optimistic as delegates representing 250,000 Wisconsin workers in over 1,000 affiliated unions chose new leadership and committed to a plan of action.

    “We don’t think Labor’s best days are behind us. In fact, we believe the time is right to inspire a new generation to fight for justice and prosperity for all workers.  Together we can turn a new page in the history of Wisconsin’s labor movement,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, the newly elected President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

    Prior to Monday’s election, Neuenfeldt had served four terms (16 years) as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  Stephanie Bloomingdale, who was until recently the Public Policy Director for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Care Professionals, AFT, was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer.  Neuenfeldt and Bloomingdale ran on a detailed “Solidarity Wisconsin” platform.

    “Solidarity Wisconsin is the vehicle through which Wisconsin’s workers will build a bridge to a new era for organized labor in our state,” explained Bloomingdale.  “We are guided by the principle that each union is only as strong as our overall movement. We commit ourselves to this important work in the firm belief that working people must organize and stand together in order to be fairly paid for the work that we do.”

    “Moving forward, we will honor the struggles of the union brothers and sisters who went before us, and recognize that their hard-won gains on behalf of the labor movement are under assault,” pledged Neuenfeldt.  “We will stand together to mount an aggressive response to the challenges of the 21st century and bring justice and prosperity to Wisconsin’s working families.”

    Other highlights of the convention included a speech by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and remarks by AFL-CIO endorsed political candidates including Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Steve Kagen and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett.

    Over the course of three days, prominent speakers from academia and within the labor movement discussed a plethora of topics related to job creation and the economic power of Wisconsin working families including: international manufacturing and the need to renegotiate failed trade policies; the effective use of economic stimulus to retain existing jobs and spur job creation; the implementation of the health care reform bill and the long-term strategy to achieve quality, affordable health care for all; eroding retirement security and what can be done to reverse the trends; the need for sensible immigration reform; and corporate media consolidation and the implications for labor news coverage.  The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance also introduced its first “Boots on the Ground” conservation project, in which union members will weld deer traps for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources white-tailed deer study.

    “Don’t be fooled; there is an economic recovery happening in America today — but it’s banks and businesses that are benefiting, not America’s working families,” warned President-elect Neuenfeldt.  “By developing a common agenda, coordinate strategy and hold each other accountable, I believe that working people can reign in Wall Street, and in the process, bring good jobs and a higher standard of living to Main Street.”
     WISCONSIN STATE AFL-CIO OFFICER BIOGRAPHIES

    PRESIDENT PHIL NEUENFELDT
    began his career with fourteen years in the manufacturing sector where he was elected shop steward, and he still believes that making things in Wisconsin is key to long-term prosperity and a viable middle-class.  As an active member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Phil fought for fair contracts, improved health and safety conditions, and economic development that benefited union workers as well as the community at large.  He held various positions of leadership in his local union, including Chair of the bargaining committee.

    Prior to his election as President, Phil served the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO in many capacities, most notably as Secretary Treasurer and Legislative Director.   As Legislative Director, Phil put the Wisconsin labor movement on the offensive and advanced a working family agenda which included extending the ability to organize, workers’ rights, installing prevailing wage protections, defending the Family and Medical Leave Act, teaching labor education in the schools, creating fairer tax codes which close corporate loopholes, preventing the outsourcing of public services, creating and retaining manufacturing jobs, and adopting green energy initiatives which will include family-wage jobs.

    Because individual workers and the labor movement as a whole must continuously evolve to keep up with changing conditions, Phil continues to develop strategies to upgrade workplace skills and address changes in technology and the economy.  Some of his programs have been used as national models.

    As a veteran and a father, Phil has deep roots in his community.  His vision for the labor movement extends beyond current union members, and Phil continues to take on projects that expand the sphere of solidarity and improve the lives of all working families.  Even beyond his union activity, he plays an active development and implementation role within the nonprofit community.

    SECRETRARY-TREASURER STEPHANIE BLOOMINGDALE has more than 20 years of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer, and activist. As Director of Public Policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, she held a key role in the struggle to strengthen the power of nurses and healthcare workers throughout Wisconsin. In arbitrations and grievance hearings, she is known as a tough negotiator. In her electoral work, she has a statewide reputation for managing effective voter mobilization campaigns and holding elected officials accountable.

    During a career that began as an activist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Stephanie has been committed to the ideals of organized labor and the power of collective action to create a strong middle-class. She is dedicated to building grass-roots, member-driven campaigns that advocate for social and economic justice for everyone.
    Stephanie was raised by working-class parents who often struggled but always believed in hard work and education.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Non-Dependent Children Can Join FEHBP Next Year

    Non-dependent children can join FEHBP as of January 1st, 2011.  The child doesn't have to be your own.  It can be your gay partner's or someone else's.  If it is your own child, the child can be married and have their own employer-sponsored insurance.  Almost any child living with a federal employee can be added.  See the attachments from OPM.  Some employees and retirees may overlook this important benefit change this Open Season.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    APWU of Wisconsin/LaCrosse Area Local to Host Fall Seminar

    APWU of Wisconsin and the La Crosse Area Local will host a Fall Seminar in La Crosse, WI. on October 29 and 30. The seminar will be held at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse and the hotel reservation deadline is September 28.


    CLICK HERE for information concerning: Seminar Registration, Class Agenda, and Hotel Reservations. You are encouraged to complete the attached pdf registration form and print it and submit it with your registration fees to Dale Anderson.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    PICKET ON FIRST DAY OF SEPTEMBER GETS MUCH ATTENTION

    Up to 50 participants picket the Oshkosh Mail Processing and Distribution Center at 1025 W 20th AV from 7am to 10am. Over 40 come out for the 1pm to 4pm picket! Special thanks go out to City Council Member Bob Poeschl, Rep. Dick Spanbauer of 53rd Assembly District, Rep. Gorden Hintz of 54th Assembly District, Mayor Paul Esslinger, and Deputy Mayor Jessica King for stopping in and some carrying singage. Retirees, former postal employees, as well as members of the public with labor union affiliation, current employees, the President of the Green Bay Local APWU, and Santa stood to support NOT closing down the Oshkosh P&DC. Flyers were distributed to customers many of which went out of their way to learn what they can do to help raise public awareness. Yard signs were available for pick up and going by the handful. Thanks to every one who mailed a signature card/petition showing their support of keeping 549 mail processing in Oshkosh!


    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    eRetire

    The following is a "Service Talk" provided to Offices in the Lakeland District:

    The Lakeland District has been selected by Headquarters to serve as the initial site for a new employee self-service application called eRetire. To use the program employees must be eligible for optional retirement within the next five years.

    Optional retirement means you meet the minimum age and service requirement for retirement. Eligible for CSRS employees are those who have attained 55 years of age and 30 years of service. Eligible for FERS employees are those who have attained their minimum retirement age and have at least 10 years of creditable service and are eligible for an immediate, reduced annuity.

    With eRetire, eligible employees can start the retirement process on LiteBlue. eRetire also has capabilities for Disability Retirement and Voluntary Early Retirement, but those options are not currently available.

    On eRetire, you can immediately:

    • View/print annuity estimate of eligibility date;
    • View/print annuity estimate of eligibility date plus 6 months; or
    • View/print annuity estimate of eligibility date plus 1 year.

    Employees within 180 days of retirement can:

    • Enter a custom date and receive an annuity estimate within 24 hours of your request; and
    • Print or order a retirement application.

    Employees ready to begin the retirement application process can schedule a retirement counseling session.

    eRetire is available to eligible employees through the Lakeland District LiteBlue Web site. When you finish using the eRetire, you will be asked to complete a survey. You will also be provided a dedicated email address where you can send questions and comments. Your input will be evaluated prior to the national rollout of eRetire.

    This program is open to Lakeland District employees who are eligible to retire within the next five years to participate. eRetire will be available beginning August 2 and we ask that you complete the survey by August 31.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    The Rich Got Theirs: What About the Rest of Us?

    A Labor Day Message from Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby

    Labor Day is the one day of the year intended to honor workers for their work. On this day all work should be acknowledged as conferring dignity, and working people should be recognized as the creators of wealth in this society.

    Labor Day 2010 should be no different—except that this year working people have little to celebrate. We have the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. We have lost nearly 70,000 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin during this Great Recession (and that’s in addition to more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs that our state lost due to fundamentally flawed trade agreements such as NAFTA). Tens of thousands have lost their homes.

    Yet the “experts” say that there is little that can be done. Recovery from this recession is going to be slow and long in coming, they say.

    And so the economy stagnates. But we don’t have to tolerate this. We can make large public investments in our infrastructure and increase support to state and local governments to get our economy moving again.

    However, the rich and the right-wing have mounted a sophisticated, well-funded and alarmist campaign to convince us, falsely, that the immediate threat is not unemployment but the growing federal debt. This well-orchestrated media operation has persuaded an astounding number of politicians and pundits (and, unfortunately, a small but vocal minority of working class and middle class Americans) that our biggest problem is indeed the deficit, and that we need to cut back government spending.

    What we need is precisely the opposite.

    What we really need is public investment to keep people in their homes, provide desperately needed heath care, feed and clothe those who are struggling, and put people back to work so they can support their families and regain their pride. We need to fire up the factories, keep small businesses alive, and operate our financial system so that it supports our economy, promotes economic growth, and fosters home ownership.

    For the health of our whole society, we need to rebuild, maintain and adequately fund our public structures including schools, roads and transportation systems, libraries, police and fire protection, and parks. We need to end the consolidation of media ownership, which excludes almost every progressive voice.

    There is so much to be done. To its credit, the labor movement has tried to sound the alarm. While some progress has been made, the voices of workers and unions have been largely muffled—and certainly ignored. Meanwhile, Wall St. and CEOs prosper.

    Still, we will not be silenced. Unions in America will continue to sound the alarm and fight for the interests of working people here in the United States and around the world. We will find new ways to communicate, new ways to organize, new ways to exercise power, and new structures that serve working families—because even when everyone gets back to work, we still will not have established social and economic justice in our society. But workers will always find a way—to restrain greed, restore economic justice, and build community for us all.

    Solidarity!

    David Newby, President
    Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Resolution seeks three cent PPA funding adjustment

    A matter of cents (sense)

    by Tony Carobine, National PPA President

    For the first time in 14 years, the APWU National Postal Press Association is asking national convention delegates to support an adjustment in its funding. Currently, Article 16, Section 2(e) of the APWU Constitution provides that "The APWU shall remit five (5 ¢) cents of the national per capita tax, per month, per member to the Postal Press Association." The resolution calls for adjusting this amount to eight cents per month per member. This measure has gained wide support and has been adopted in various forms by 23 state conventions and a number of locals throughout the APWU. [Full Story]

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Why is Wal-Mart blocking 35 cents an hour for Bangladeshi workers?

    Over 3.5 million mostly young women garment workers are trying to climb out of misery. With a new minimum wage of just 35 cents an hour, the workers could live with a modicum of dignity. Ask Wal-Mart to stop lobbying against a new minimum wage of 35 cents an hour forBangladesh's garment workers. They should be ashamed!

    Please call Wal-Mart today.

    Wal-Mart "Organic" Jeans Sell for just $8.00......Is that a great deal, or what? Imagine, women's "Faded Glory" relaxed-fit, flared blue jeans selling at Wal-Mart for just $8.00! (Full Story)

    Source: National Labor Committee via APWU National Postal Press Association

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Crucial Postal Bill Clears First Hurdle

    APWU Web News Article 071-2010, July 22, 2010

    Legislation to restore financial stability to the Postal Service cleared its first hurdle July 21 when the House postal oversight subcommittee approved H.R. 5746. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) on July 15, would alter the methodology for allocating the Postal Service’s share of pension costs for employees whose careers spanned the former Post Office Department and the USPS.

    “This is an important first step,” said Myke Reid, APWU Legislative and Political Director, “but we still have a long way to go.” The bill must be considered by the full Oversight and Government Reform Committee before it can be voted on in the House.  (Full Story)

    Statement by Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby: Long-term Unemployed Workers Finally Get a Lifeline

    (Milwaukee – July 22, 2010) Finally, the House and Senate have extended Unemployment Insurance benefits to workers who have been without a job for more than six months.

    As outrageous as it may seem, Senate Republicans engaged in a filibuster to stop a vote on this bill; they are responsible for over two million unemployed workers being denied jobless benefits. These same Republican Senators have no problem with extending tax cuts to the very richest Americans, but somehow they don’t understand or don’t care about the basic needs that ordinary people have. Even with the extension, ordinary people are struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, buy food for their families, and pay for other necessities of life.

    The Republican defense—that extending benefits to the unemployed will increase the deficit—is total nonsense. Unemployed workers who receive benefits spend every dime on essentials—which puts more money into the economy and helps businesses stay afloat without more layoffs. The immediate deficit we need to pay attention to is the deficit in family-supporting jobs. Once we get people back to work, they will pay taxes again and much of the current deficit can be eliminated.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    OSHA Launches New Whistleblower Protection Site

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that workers who blow the whistle on safety violations and other unlawful practices “play an important role in assuring compliance with federal laws.”
     
    But, say workplace safety advocates, too many times workers don’t speak up about safety and health problems on the job because they fear retaliation from their employers, even though it’s illegal.
     
    OSHA now has a new website specifically dedicated to its whistleblower protection program, http://www.whistleblowers.gov/.  (Full Story)

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Finally, Financial Reform!

    The following is a statement by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
     
    Today’s vote represents a historic shift of power—away from big bankers and CEOs to working families and Main Street. For years, big banks have profited on the backs of working families. Millions of working families lost their jobs and still can’t find work because of the reckless and selfish actions of Wall Street and the big banks.
     
    After the financial meltdown brought on by Wall Street’s greed and irresponsibility, it would have been an outrage for the status quo to stand. Yet all but three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against reforming our bloated and unaccountable financial sector.
     
    Fortunately, President Obama and working family leaders in Congress stood firm to put our country back on track toward an economy that works for everyone. In the end, fifty-seven Democrats and three Republicans voted for this landmark legislation. This vote will make it a lot harder for big bankers to indulge their greed at the expense of working people.
     
    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will:
    • Create a strong consumer protection agency to protect working people from predatory lenders;
    • Shed light on the shadow markets by requiring most derivatives to clear and trade on open, transparent exchanges and mandating that large managers of hedge funds and private equity funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission;
    • Give long term investors new tools to hold corporate boards and senior management accountable; and
    • Help prevent future bank bailouts by creating a council of regulators to oversee systemic risk, giving regulators authority to dissolve failing financial institutions while prohibiting bailouts for bank shareholders and executives
    • Move toward restoring of Glass Steagall by limiting banks ability to make risky bets backed by taxpayer funds.
    We will continue to fight for reforms that will further address too big to fail financial institutions and make Wall Street pay its fair share to create the 8 million jobs it helped destroy.

    As we look ahead to November, when voters will once again have the ability to stay on the path to change or look back to the failed policies of the past, this vote is a defining line in the sand. Working families will be dedicated to supporting leaders who vote to create jobs and hold Wall Street and big business accountable.

    Voters now have a clear picture of those who stand on the side of Main Street and those who choose instead to stand on the side of Wall Street.

    We will not forget.

    Source: Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Blog

    Union Urges Affected Workers To Complete NRP Questionnaire

    APWU Web News Article 068-2010, July 15, 2010 
    (07/15/10) To strengthen the fight against the Postal Service’s harsh National Reassessment Program (NRP), the APWU is encouraging limited-duty and permanent-rehabilitation employees to complete a questionnaire sponsored by a law firm that has filed a class-action complaint against the USPS. The complaint alleges that the NRP discriminates against disabled employees. The NRP, which was initiated nationwide in 2006, “is part of an aggressive campaign by the Postal Service to reduce costs by denying work to injured employees,” said APWU President William Burrus. “The union has fought the program every step of the way,” he said. [full story]

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Postal Employees’ Relief Fund

    PERF is a CFC funded agency; below is an example of how your annual CFC contributions do make a difference….

    COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS. The Postal Employees’ Relief Fund — jointly administered by USPS, its unions and management associations — gave more than $1.1 million to 207 employees throughout the country in 2009. Since it began in 1990, the fund has provided more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $15 million to active and retired employees in need of humanitarian aid.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    OSHA Safety Citations Update OSHA Fines USPS for Safety Violations at Minneapolis MPC

    (06/29/10) Adding to the growing number of safety citations issued to the Postal Service in recent weeks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the USPS $210,000 for exposing employees to electrical hazards at the Eagan, MN Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC). OSHA issued the Postal Service citations for “severe and ongoing” violations at the facility. Inspectors found employees working on live machinery without proper equipment or training, exposing them to the risk of electric shock.

    [full story] | [USPS Also Cited for Violations at Southern Maine PDC]

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Lessons of Financial Collapse Can’t Be Ignored

    If the nation ignores the history of what caused the collapse of the financial system, says Phil Angelides,

    “We will be doomed to bail it out again.”

    Angelides is chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission charged with finding the causes and culprits behind the nation’s economic disaster. Speaking at panel discussion this afternoon at the America’s Future Now conference, Angelides said he dubbed the meltdown, “the immaculate financial crisis” because no one on Wall Street, the Big Banks or the deregulating policy makers that controlled the reins of the system, will take responsibility.

    There has been almost no reflection by Wall Street over the crisis because the American taxpayers gave them $1 trillion. Wall Street reform is a start, not an end. We have to commit to changes in our financial system so it works for the many, not the few.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

    Three Wisconsin Congressional Representatives Cosponsor H.R. 173

    The most recent information found indicates that only three of Wisconsin's Congressional Representatives have signed on so far in support of H. Res. 173.

    In short, H. Res. 173 would urge the U.S. Postal Service to take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.

    Current Wisconsin Congressional Cosponsors are:

    Representative Tammy Baldwin (D - 02)
    Representative Gwen Moore (D - 04)
    Representative Steve Kagen (D - 08)

    Please contact them and thank them for their support of 6-day delivery by the postal service.

    The following Congressmen from Wisconsin are not yet cosponsors at this time. Please contact them and urge them to sign-on as cosponsors.

    Representative Paul Ryan (R - 01)
    Representative Ron Kind (D - 03)
    Representative F. James (Jim) Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R - 05)
    Representative Tom Petri (R - 06)
    Representative Dave Obey (D - 07)

    There are currently a total of 203 cosponsors. A total of 218 votes are needed.

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    APWU Offers Pins to Commemorate Postal Strike

    APWU Web News Article 040-2010, May 7, 2010

    40th Anniversary Pin
    To honor more than 200,000 postal workers who participated in the Great Postal Strike of 1970, the APWU invites union members to purchase lapel pins that commemorate the 40th anniversary of the illegal work stoppage. Proceeds from sales of the pins will benefit the union’s Committee On Political Action (COPA).

    Members can order the pins online at http://www.apwustore.org/ for $15 apiece. They also will be available at the 20th Biennial National Convention, which will take place on Aug. 23-27 in Detroit. The circular pins are gold and embellished with shiny stones.

    In March 1970, postal workers across the country began an eight-day unauthorized strike, risking their jobs, their pensions, and their freedom. Their actions halted mail service and sparked significant changes in the lives of postal workers, politics, and the nation’s postal service. Less than a year later, five unions merged to form the APWU.

    Because sales of the pin will benefit COPA, payment cannot be made from the funds of local or state organizations. Only personal checks, personal credit cards, or money orders will be accepted.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    OSHA Cites USPS for Safety Violations in Denver Findings Occur Just Days After Citations Issued in Providence

    APWU Web News Article 039-2010, May 5, 2010

    Five days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations and fines of more than a half-million dollars to the Postal Service for safety hazards in Providence, RI, the agency charged the USPS in Denver with similar violations. The Postal Service willfully exposed workers to serious and potentially fatal hazards, including shock and electrocution, at the Denver BMC, OSHA said. The agency issued additional fines of $217,000.

    The safety violations [PDF] in Denver mirror the hazards found at the Providence facility, and support APWU claims regarding the Postal Service’s failure to adhere to OSHA electrical safety standards.

    In four “willful” violations, inspectors found postal employees working on equipment they were not familiar with and properly trained to maintain; on machinery with exposed, live parts that were not de-energized; in areas with potential electrical hazards; and without protective equipment for the eyes and face, exposing them to injury from electric arcs, flashes, or flying objects. These violations accounted for $210,000 in fines.

    The remaining $7,000 fine was associated with a serious safety violation in which safety signs, symbols, or accident prevention tags were not used to warn employees about potential electrical hazards.

    OSHA inspections of the facility were conducted between Nov. 2, 2009, and April 22, 2010, after the APWU Denver BMC Local filed a complaint. The local acted in response to a request from Industrial Relations Director Greg Bell, who urged local presidents to file complaints with OSHA regarding the Postal Service’s failure to comply with electrical safety regulations.

    The APWU expects more safety violations to be issued by OSHA in the coming weeks. Check http://www.apwu.org/ for updated information.

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    2010 APWU of Wisconsin State Convention - Day 1 Pt.1

    Wisconsin AFL-CIO President David Newby addressed the Delegates and guests gathered at the APWU of Wisconsin State Convention on Friday morning.

    Newby presented a slide program outlining items such as how worker salaries have been dormant since the mid seventies, how the US worker compares with the rest of the World worker, US worker is the most productive worker, general labor information, jobs in America is priority number one, etc.

    It should also be noted that Newby had pledged Labor’s support of the APWU in our quest to preserve the best postal service in the world for the American Citizens and businesses in our fight against the 5-day delivery threat and more.

    The Convention was sponsored by the Appleton, WI. Local American Postal Workers Union.

    Click Here - to see short video of Dave Newby presentation.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Equal Pay Day 2010: Women, 78 Cents, Men, $1

    Today’s the day when women workers finally catch up with the pay men received last year—the day we mark as Equal Pay Day. Being three months and 20 days behind men’s wages means women who work full-time still are paid, on average, 78 cents for every dollar men are paid. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wages of full-time, year-round workers in 2008 stood at $35,745 for women and $46,367 for men.

    The wage gap is even worse for women of color. In 2008, the earnings for African American women were $31,489, 67.9 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 68.7 percent in 2007), and Latinas’ earnings were $26,846, 58 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 59 percent in 2007).

    The chart here shows the molasses-like movement in closing the wage gap. One way to speed up the progress is to urge lawmakers to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was passed by the U.S. House in 2009. It updates the Equal Pay Act by giving employees the tools they need to close the wage gap and providing the government with enforcement power to correct pay inequities. Momsrising has an action here to urge your senator to close the wage gap and back the Paycheck Fairness Act.

    The group notes that given equal résumés and job experiences, mothers are offered $11,000 lower starting salaries than non-mothers. Yet fathers are offered higher starting salaries than non-fathers. More than half of women bring home at least half the family’s earnings—which means entire families suffer when women are paid less.

    The average woman loses $700,000 in pay due to gender discrimination in her lifetime.

    Kudos to President Obama who has established the White House Council on Women and Girls. The high-level body, made up of Cabinet members and heads of sub-Cabinet agencies, is charged with advancing the rights and needs of women, including equal pay. Declaring today National Equal Pay Day, Obama notes that “government can only advance this issue so far.”

    The collective action of businesses, community organizations, and individuals is necessary to ensure that every woman receives just treatment and compensation….I call upon American men and women, and all employers, to acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination and to commit themselves to equal pay for equal work.

    And kudos to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who changed his Twitter icon to reflect Equal Pay Day.

    Sen. Tom Harkin, who has sponsored the Fair Pay Act, and Lily Ledbetter, whose landmark U.S. Supreme Court case re-ignited the issue of equal pay, put the issue of wage discrimination in the broader context:

    [W]e must recognize that the problem of unequal pay goes beyond insidious discrimination. As a nation, we unjustly devalue jobs traditionally performed by women, even when they require comparable skills to jobs traditionally performed by men. Why is a housekeeper worth less than a janitor? Why is a parking meter reader worth less than an electrical meter reader?

    The Fair Pay Act would ensure that employers provide equal pay for jobs that are equivalent in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.

    Civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, who died today, early on championed the notion that the rights of women are fundamentally connected to issues of fairness for all Americans. As the New York Times put it:

    Ms. Height is widely credited as the first person in the modern civil rights era to treat the problems of equality for women and equality for African Americans as a seamless whole, merging concerns that had historically been largely separate.

    Height “embodied struggle, strength, determination, love and elegance,” says AFL-CIO Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, and her passing today is a reminder of how an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Limbaugh Lies About Big Branch Mine: No, Rush, It Wasn’t Union

    by Mike Hall,  Apr 16, 2010

    It was Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.) in his previous incarnation as an author and comedian who called Rush Limbaugh “A big fat liar.” Well, others can address the first part, but Limbaugh himself has again offered solid evidence about the liar part.

    Last week, Limbaugh lambasted the Mine Workers (UMWA) for not protecting their members who, he claimed worked at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., where 29 coal miners were killed when the Massey Energy Co. mine exploded.

    Of course as we all know, and has been widely reported in mainstream media–and even on Fox News–Upper Big Branch was non-union coal mine. While he never acknowledged his mistake, at least he piped down for a few days.

    But yesterday, with a full bag of gas at the ready, Rush claimed he had irrefutable facts to back him up, that UMWA did certainly represent the miners at Upper Big Branch. He said the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had ordered Massey to hire union coal miners.
    There were union workers at this mine…You people, it’s been 21 years. At some point you are going to learn: If you go up against me on a challenge of fact, you are going to be wrong. It’s just that simple.

    Let UMWA President Cecil Roberts throw the challenge flag on this one.

    Yesterday, Rush said on his program, “But in 2009, the [NLRB] agreed with the decision that Massey Energy rehire 85 coal miners who said they had been discriminated against because they were union members. So there were union workers there. So the United Mine Workers should have been overseeing their safety, the United Mine Workers of America.”

    Wrong again, Rush. The decision you refer to was AT ANOTHER MINE! And, Massey is appealing that decision, meaning the workers who were discriminated against at the Cannelton mine (in another county from the Upper Big Branch mine) have yet to reclaim their rightful jobs as the NLRB ordered.

    Those are the facts. Who’s wrong now, Rush?

    While Limbaugh may have lost a few pounds, that liar part still fits quite snuggly.

    Workers Memorial Day - April 28th

    Remember the coal miners.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    2010 PayWatch Exposes Corporate Lobbying on Financial Reform

    The nation’s biggest banks helped create the current financial crisis that required a $700 billion taxpayer bailout. In return, the banks cut back on lending to consumers and small businesses but paid out a record $145 billion in total compensation in 2009.

    The 2010 AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, which launched today, shows the same Big Six banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo—are spending millions of dollars lobbying on financial regulations, including limits on executive pay and risky actions like the ones that caused the current crisis.


    Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

    RE: Microsoft supplier in China Forces Teenagers to Work 15-hour Shifts Under Sweatshop Conditions

    Producing computer mice & webcams for Microsoft, HP and other companies
    The National Labor Committee is releasing an in-depth report, "China's Youth Meet Microsoft: KYE factory in China produces for Microsoft and other U.S. Companies."

    Over the course of a three-year investigation of the KYE factory in Dongguan, China, unprecedented photos were smuggled out of the factory, of exhausted teenagers, seen slumping over asleep on their assembly line during break time.

    * KYE recruits hundreds (up to 1,000) "work-study" students 16 and 17 years of age, who work 15-hour shifts, six and seven days a week making webcams, mice and other computer peripherals. Some of the workers appear to be just 14 or 15 years old. A typical shift is from 7:45 a.m. to 10:55 p.m. Most of the students work for three months, but some stay longer.

    * Along with the students, KYE prefers to hire only women 18 to 25 years old, who are considered easier to discipline and control.

    * Workers report that before the recession, they were at the factory 97 hours a week, while working 80 ½ hours. In 2009, workers were at the factory 83 hours a week, while toiling 68 hours.

    * Workers are paid 65 cents an hour, which falls to a take-home wage of 52 cents an hour after deductions for factory food.

    * Workers have to report early, unpaid, for military-like drills. Management controls every second of their lives.

    * The work pace is grueling as workers race to complete their mandatory goal of 2000 Microsoft mice per shift. During the long summer, factory temperatures reach 86 degrees and the workers are drenched in sweat.

    * Security guards sexually harass the young women. Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or going to the bathroom during working hours. Freedom of movement is restricted and workers can only leave the factory compound during regulated hours.

    * Fourteen workers share each primitive, dirty dorm room, sleeping on narrow bunk beds. To "shower" workers fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket for a sponge bath. Workers report that the food is awful.

    KYE management claims factory conditions are excellent, and that they are in full compliance with China's labor laws. But the young women describe the factory as a prison, where everyone who can flees within six months. It is almost impossible to find a worker who has been at the factory for more than a year or two. As usual, the codes of conduct for Microsoft, HP and the Electronics Industry Council have zero impact.

    Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Welcomes the Improved Clean Energy Jobs Act... Latest proposal makes bill better for working families

    “We are excited about the proposed modifications to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The working families that we represent appreciate the improvements made to increase and to speed up job creation,” says Phil Neuenfeldt, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “The provisions added to allow job creating conservation and efficiency to count towards the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the clarification to the nuclear language are both positive changes.”

    Wisconsin has no natural gas, no coal and no oil. We currently send $16 billion out of our state every year to meet our energy needs.

    The Clean Energy Jobs Act will create clean energy that works for Wisconsin, and is made in Wisconsin. This is a huge opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign fuel and make sure that Wisconsin doesn’t lose green jobs to countries like China.

    “The jobs created by this legislation are good, family-wage jobs,” says Neuenfeldt. “This is the right choice for the environment and our economy.”

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    NARFE Lauds OPM for Consultation on New Voluntary Annuitant FEHBP Option

    National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste praised John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for consulting with NARFE on a proposed Medicare-related pilot project in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). The proposed project would test the viability of a voluntary “sub-option” within the FEHBP that would pay all or part of a Medicare Part B (as appropriate) for Medicare-eligible federal annuitants. The proposal was released yesterday in OPM’s “2010 FEHBP Carrier Letter” (also known as the “Call Letter”).

    “If proven feasible, the Medicare sub-option could save some federal annuitants money and help to contain costs in FEHBP for workers, retirees and survivors,” said Baptiste. “What’s more, we appreciate that, through our consultation with Director Berry, the call letter clarifies that the ‘sub-option’ would not open the door for separately rated annuitant plans, which we believe would result in retirees and survivors paying substantially higher premiums than other FEHBP enrollees. NARFE would oppose the creation of any FEHBP plan for annuitants with premiums based on their age and health costs.”

    The OPM letter stipulates: “We do not support splitting risk pools for annuitants and active employees and believe that these pilots can demonstrate ways of stemming cost growth through strengthened benefits coordination.”

    The new coverage would be offered to Medicare-eligible annuitants as a sub-option of an existing FEHBP plan. If an annuitant chose the sub-option of an insurance carrier’s “standard option,” they would pay the same premium share as a worker or retiree enrolled in the traditional standard option. However, unlike the standard plan, the sub-option would pay all or part of a Medicare Part B premium, as appropriate. As a result, an annuitant enrolled in the sub-option would save about $1,200 a year on Part B premiums.

    However, a sub-option participant would be required to pay the same deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance as workers or retirees who are age 64 and younger and not yet eligible for Medicare. With the exception of premiums and prescription drug co-payments, most annuitants age 65 and older who are enrolled in Medicare and a traditional FEHBP fee-for-service or preferred provider plan pay no out-of-pocket costs. Therefore, the sub-option could be cost-effective for an annuitant who does not have high out-of-pocket costs. In addition, annuitants might appreciate an option for what is basically seamless coverage, which mirrors what they had while they were on the payroll.

    “Given the potential savings to federal annuitants, and the voluntary nature of the pilot, we believe that the Medicare sub-option ought to be given a chance. We are pleased that the Call Letter clarifies that the sub-option will not automatically become a regular feature of FEHBP until OPM evaluates it and decides whether it merits continuation after the second year of the demonstration. NARFE will continue to review the development of the new option with OPM as the pilot project moves forward,” Baptiste added.

    NARFE, one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/ retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly 5 million current and future federal annuitants, spouses, and survivors.

    Trumka Warns ‘Forces of Hate’ Fanning Flames of Workers’ Economic Anger

    An economy that seems to work for just a privileged few, 11 million vanished jobs and a bailout for banks and Wall Street—but not working families—is fueling justified anger in workers. Speaking last night at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told an audience about the “forces of hate” and “radio voices” that are frantically fanning the flames of that justified anger to divide working people.

    There are forces in our country that are working hard to convert justifiable anger about an economy that only seems to work for a few of us into racist and homophobic hate and violence directed at our President and heroes like Congressman John Lewis. Most of all, those forces of hate seek to divide working people—to turn our anger against each other. [Full Story]

    Source:  AFL-CIO Now Blog

    Early Retirement Rumors:

    Again, APWU Says: Don’t Go!

    Burrus Update 07-2010, April 8, 2010

    Rumors about Voluntary Early Retirement offers are once again circulating throughout the Postal Service, and employees are evaluating the possibilities.

    Let me state plainly:
    • There have been no discussions with postal management about offering new monetary incentives as an enticement for retiring.
    • If incentives are contemplated at some future date, the law says they must be negotiated with the union.
    • Any rumor that monetary incentives are under consideration is false.
    In recent years the Postal Service has offered Voluntary Early Retirements (VERs) — without monetary incentives — without the union’s involvement. Management may do so again in the future.

    The APWU has challenged these VER offers in the appropriate forums. As we noted in grievances protesting non-incentive VERs, the National Agreement requires the payment of severance pay to employees who voluntarily terminate their employment through early retirement.

    We await final disposition of the dispute. In the meantime, it is very likely that postal management will pursue further reductions in the employee complement through Voluntary Early Retirement offers.

    The union repeats the advice we offered regarding prior VERs without incentives: Don’t Go!

    William Burrus
    President

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Ask the President (April 7, 2010)

    Question:

    For the first time in my union heart, I feel you have let me down. You have allowed the government to make you blind to socialism. A union’s fight is to stop management, CEOs and government from telling the workers what’s best for them. But you have endorsed a program that 65 percent of the American people did not want. You are rejoicing in a system that allows government to dictate my health care.

    A program that requires its citizens to buy a product is not freedom, and putting the IRS in charge makes it worse. This new law will not change the cost or the real problems in the health care system. In a few years the health care system will be destroyed.

    Is there a problem with healthcare in the country? Yes. But the cost and insurance impunity are the problem, not access. Everyone having an insurance card will not fix the problem; it’s just going to compound it.

    I now have to think really hard if I still want to belong to a union that endorses socialism and not freedom.

    Greg, Eastern Montgomery County PA Area Local

    President Burrus:

    Thank you for communicating with my office through Ask the President. It is important that the lines of communications between union members and the president remain open, and that you feel as though you are part of your union.

    It is apparent that you are a proponent of small government, and you oppose government expansion into areas that you believe are best left to individual effort. I respect your position and I believe that we probably have many similar beliefs, but I find that those who object to government’s role in society often use a very broad brush.

    The most glaring example of extreme anti-government rhetoric is to characterize government efforts to address serious national problems as “socialist” or anti-American. This is unfortunate, because without these sweeping denouncements, individuals of good heart and positive intent could engage in meaningful dialogue — and perhaps reach agreement somewhere in the middle.

    Our strength as a nation lies in the effectiveness of our government, which encourages individual initiative and provides for the common good. Where the line should be drawn is the subject of legitimate debate and frequent disagreements.

    Those who decry government nonetheless accept the government’s role in providing Medicare, Social Security and unemployment insurance, and in the schooling of our children, the protection offered by police and firefighters, the construction of roads, enforcement of traffic rules, protection against unscrupulous entrepreneurs, national defense, and thousands of other benefits.

    Government records our birth, documents our citizenship and eligibility for Social Security, records our demise and the effect on our estate, and — a result of healthcare reform — will soon guarantee that every citizen has access to medical care.

    The opponents ignore the fact that previous generations decided long ago that all citizens are entitled to emergency medical services. If government involvement in medical care is socialist, we crossed that bridge long ago. The alternative would be to stand by and watch people die because they lack insurance. I am sure that despite your opposition to government, you would not advocate refusing to provide emergency care to those who cannot afford to pay for it or who refuse to purchase it.

    You and others who share your views prefer that the insurance companies set the rules. And they have: The insurance companies decided to deny coverage to people with “pre-existing conditions,” to limit medical services with lifetime “caps,” and to set fees based on whether or not an individual’s employer offers insurance.

    I prefer that the representatives of the people set the rules. I respectfully acknowledge your position, and expect you to recognize my right to arrive at a different conclusion.

    And I ask that you refrain from threatening to withdraw from the union. In our democratic organization, you have the right to express your disagreement through the ballot box. I notice that you do not renounce your citizenship, because the consequences would be too great. Unfortunately, non-members are not denied union representation. Perhaps you would temper your threat to quit the union if it meant you would lose protection against layoffs or that you would suffer a 20 percent reduction in pay.

    I believe citizens must provide for the common good through their government. That’s not socialism, it’s civilization.

    Massey Mine Cited for 450+ Safety Violations Before Deadly Blast

    The Massey Energy Co. mine, where 25 coal miners were killed and four remain unaccounted following an explosion yesterday, was assessed nearly $1 million in fines for safety violations last year, including violations concerning escape routes and ventilation, according to federal records and news reports.

    The mine is owned by Massey and operated by its subsidiary, Performance Coal Co.

    Early indications indicate the blast was caused by highly explosive methane gas leaking from sealed-off areas of the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.—the same cause of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster that killed 12 miners. New federal mine safety rules enacted after the Sago disaster included tougher new requirements for sealing off worked-out areas. [Full Story]

    Source: AFL-CIO Now Blog

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    What Do You Expect From an Organization Intent in Creating Corporate Suicide?

    Food for Thought by the webmeister.

    Recently the Postal Service sent their proposal for 5-day delivery to the PRC. One would think that they would use the popular premium service and frequently advertised click and ship along with a flat rate priority box with delivery confirmation right? (If it fits - it ships.)

    Wrong... Although they complain that it will cause our demise - they sent it via email!!!

    Way to go people - way to make it look like you're really concerned about keeping us in business for the American public.

    End to Saturday mail faces resistance

    Two key lawmakers overseeing the U.S. Postal Service said they do not support the cash-strapped agency's plan to cut Saturday mail deliveries in hopes of saving more than $3 billion. [Full Story]

    Source: Government Executive

    New Labor Dept. Drive Sets to Stop Wage Theft

    In a 180-degreee turn from a Labor Department under the Bush administration that tried to gut overtime rules for millions of workers, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has unveiled a new campaign to inform workers about their pay rights and to put a stop to wage theft.

    In Chicago last week before a group of union, community and faith activists, Solis said: [Full Story]

    No Mandatory Overtime

    Last week, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) launched a new web site, http://www.nomandatoryovertime.org/, focusing on the issue of mandatory overtime for nurses and healthcare workers.

    This site provides facts about mandatory overtime and allows users to take action by contacting their legislators and urging them to pass a bill which would ban mandatory overtime in Wisconsin.

    Legislation to ban mandatory overtime for nurses and healthcare workers has been introduced by Senator Judy Robson (SB 108) and Representative Sandra Pasch (AB 152).

    “This web site will give nurses, patients and the public the tools to put an end to the unsafe practice of mandatory overtime,” said Candice Owley, RN, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.

    Nurses are routinely forced to work beyond the end of their shift, sometimes up to 16 hours in a row. Forcing tired nurses, often on short notice, to work beyond their shift is unsafe for patients. Tired caregivers are more likely to make medical mistakes such as medication errors.

    “Nurses are calling on state legislators to show the courage to pass the bill to end forced overtime. Patients are at risk when exhausted nurses make life and death decisions,” said Owley.

    Fifteen states have already passed legislation to protect patients by limiting forced overtime.

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Fundamentally flawed

    The Postal Service's proposal to drop a day of delivery is not the solution to its financial problems

    The Postal Service laid out a wide-ranging—some would say radical—plan in March for coping with its current economic problems and future business challenges. It featured headline-grabbing initiatives, such as eliminating Saturday mail delivery, and more mundane, nuts-and-bolts proposals, like streamlining the regulatory process.

    The NALC supports many of the plan’s recommendations and goals, especially relief from the burden of accelerated pre-funding of retiree health care and recovery of CSRS pension fund overcharges. [Full Story]

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    PRC Report Finds Excessive Postage Discounts

    (03/30/10) Confirming charges the APWU has made for more than a decade, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) concluded on March 29 that the Postal Service grants excessive postage discounts to large mailers. The USPS suffered a loss of $3.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2009. The PRC’s Annual Compliance Determination (ACD) identified 30 types of worksharing discounts that exceed USPS savings when work is performed by large mailers. [full story]

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Endorses Green to Gold Legislation Revolving loan fund needed to create good, sustainable jobs

    (Madison, March 25) – Today Rep. Cory Mason and Sen. Julie Lassa introduced legislation to create the Green to Gold fund, initially proposed by Governor Doyle in his 2010 State of the State Address. The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO strongly supports this bill because it will create and retain high-quality jobs while ensuring that Wisconsin companies are competitive in the new economy.

    “Working people will lose out if our state sits on the sidelines of green innovation,” says Phil Neuenfeldt, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. “Many Wisconsin manufacturers want to invest in energy efficiency technologies, but they don’t have the means to get started. The Green to Gold fund will help launch a more sustainable economy.”

    Green to Gold is a revolving loan fund which will align existing state resources and federal dollars to ensure that Wisconsin’s manufacturers have the capital they need to invest in energy efficiency, use renewable energy, and make products that support a green economy.

    Reducing energy costs through efficiency makes manufacturers more competitive and profitable by lowering their production costs. Retooling old facilities to higher energy standards is essential for long-term economic recovery.

    “Wisconsin’s workforce is a tremendous asset in the global economy. Productivity, skill and quality set us apart, and will continue to do so as long as we make the investments needed to stay ahead,” says Neuenfeldt. “The Green to Gold fund will make sure that both our natural and our human resources are employed wisely.”

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    10 THINGS EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM

    1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.2

    2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.3

    3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.4

    4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.5

    5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.6

    6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.7

    7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.8

    8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.9

    9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.10

    10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.11

    Sources:

    1. Final vote results on motion to concur in Senate amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 21, 2010
    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll165.xml

    2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010 http://wwwd.house.gov/akamaidocs/energycommerce/SUMMARY.pdf

    4. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010
    http://healthreform.gov/reports/insuranceprospers/index.html

    5. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
    http://wwwd.house.gov/akamaidocs/energycommerce/REVENUE.pdf

    8. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=87402&id=19504-15415391-Rxxc3.x&t=2

    9, 10. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=87403&id=19504-15415391-Rxxc3.x&t=3

    11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010
    http://docs.house.gov/energycommerce/DISPARITIES.pdf