Monday, January 25, 2010

Join Us in Las Vegas to Build Retiree Power

by Barbara J. Easterling

I hope you will consider joining me April 5-8 in Las Vegas for Building Retiree Power, the 2010 national convention of the Alliance for Retired Americans. We will offer a wide array of education and training opportunities to improve your skills as a grassroots activist and as a leader of a local or state retiree group.

It may be a new year, but many of last year’s challenges – health care, retirement security, and a lingering recession – still remain as great as ever. The future of our retirement, and what will be there for the generations that follow us, will be dramatically affected by what our leaders do this year.

I’ve heard experts say that in this November’s elections older voters will make up over one-third of the turn-out. If the health care debate has been any indication, retirees will be the object of a lot of attention – and a lot of misinformation. We must do our homework on the candidates and the issues, and educate our neighbors so they will be able to separate fact from fiction come election time.

The Alliance convention will feature noted speakers and training workshops on topics such as health care reform, Social Security, community organizing, fund-raising, and using new on-line communications tools such as Facebook to reach more retirees in your area.

For more information about the Alliance for Retired Americans national convention, to be held April 5-8 at Bally’s Las Vegas, visit or call 888/373-6497.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas!

Barbara J. Easterling is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. She was previously the secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

OIG Says USPS Overpaid Federal Government $75 Billion

A Stunning Announcement:

Burrus Update 03-2010, Jan. 20, 2010

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued a stunning announcement [PDF]:
The USPS has been overcharged $75 billion in contributions to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension fund.

After an in-depth investigation, the OIG has concluded that an inequitable system for computing the Postal Service’s CSRS pension responsibility has caused the dramatic overpayment. The OIG study [PDF] was conducted in conjunction with the Hay Group, a well-known economic consulting firm.

The funding error follows two previous findings that the Postal Service had been required to overfund its pension obligations. In 2002 it was determined that the Postal Service was on track to overfund CSRS by $78 billion, and in 2003 the USPS was overcharged $27 billion for CSRS military service credits. The earlier overpayments were corrected by legislation adopted in 2003 and 2006, respectively.

The newest overfunding debacle, if corrected, would more than offset the Postal Service’s deficit from Fiscal Year 2009 and the expected shortfalls in FY 2010 and 2011. The doomsday predictors of the imminent demise of the Postal Service must now find a new rationale for their efforts to dismantle postal services.

The cry for a new business model and legislative relief ring hollow when USPS financial difficulties could be fully resolved by returning to the Postal Service the overpayments made to date. Realigning the network, reducing employee compensation and benefits, and transferring the cost of universal service to individual mailers can now be exposed for the fraudulent exercises they represent. Instead, we can engage in a meaningful dialogue about the future of hard-copy communication and the role of postal services in the 21st century — without the looming threat of bankruptcy.

This report is good news for a beleaguered government service. USPS service standards and productivity have remained at high levels; the economy is recovering, and the black cloud of fiscal insolvency could be removed. All parties in the postal community who wish to be of assistance must join in an effort to correct the inequity and relieve the Postal Service of the unjustified funding requirement.

In the meantime, we can take a deep breath and stop the momentum for another round of harmful postal “reform.” And after the attrition of 115,000 APWU-represented positions since 2002, we would appreciate a public recognition that our members have contributed their share.

William Burrus

Terrence Wall Kicks-Off Campaign against Wisconsin Working Families

Republican Primary Candidate Pays No State Income Taxes, Says He Owes No State Income Taxes

Madison, WI – Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby said today that multi-millionaire real estate magnate Terrence Wall had a lot of explaining to do about media reports that he paid no state income taxes in four of the last five years.

“Working families want to know why a multi-millionaire is saying he owes no state income taxes,” said Newby, “They also want to know why he isn’t paying any state income tax. What makes Terrance Wall special?”

According to a personal financial disclosure report Wall recently filed, Wall reported income between $3,494,197 to $15,273,332 and reported personal assets totaling $58,584,046 to $129,862,000. In a November interview with WisPolitics, Wall scoffed at the idea he’s not paying his fair share in taxes, saying, “There’s no such thing as ‘What is your fair share?”

“Wall supports the same economic policies that threw this country into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and he opposes the solutions we need to get us out of it,” said David Newby, President, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Working families are angry with tax cuts for the wealthiest few, unfair trade deals that have outsourced jobs overseas, and rising health care costs.”

Newby cited Wall’s past support for President Bush’s economic policies and unfair trade deals, like NAFTA and expanded trade with China, that have shipped Wisconsin jobs overseas.

“Wall has said Wall Street shouldn’t be regulated and that our health care system isn’t broken. He couldn’t be more wrong,” Newby said, “I believe comments like that show how out of touch he is with working families who want Wall Street bankers to be held accountable, and who need health insurance reform and an economy that works for everyone.”

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO represents over 250,000 members in over 1,000 affiliated unions and is a key part of the nation's largest and strongest labor federation—the AFL-CIO, which unites 10.5 million working women and men of every race and ethnicity and from every walk of life.

Wispolitics: 1/15/2010 –
The Wall Report: 5/2007 –
The Wall Report: 2/2008 –

Friday, January 15, 2010

Workers in Small Offices We Want to Hear From You

APWU Web News Article 001-2010, Jan. 5, 2010

Postal employees in small offices whose hours have been reduced while managerial hours have been increased are being asked to complete and return a union-sponsored questionnaire [PDF] on the subject. Work-hours for part-time flexible clerks at many small offices have been slashed, APWU President William Burrus noted in a column in the January/February issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.

The National Agreement limits management’s right to shift work from clerks to other employees, Burrus wrote, but management continues to violate arbitrators’ rulings on the issue. “While the APWU-USPS contact recognizes the right of supervisors and postmasters to perform bargaining-unit work in small offices, arbitrators have repeatedly concluded that supervisory work cannot increase at the expense of work for clerks,” he said.

“Some employees have had hours reduced to two hours per week; others have been forced to travel to distant offices; many have surrendered — and terminated their employment. In most instances, these reductions should not have taken place,” Burrus wrote.

The Postal Service persists in violating prohibitions on increasing the workload of postmasters, postmaster-reliefs, and other supervisors at the same time that clerk hours are being reduced, the union president said. The union and management have agreed that Rural Letter Carriers cannot perform clerk work (including when they are on light duty), but management often violates this ban as well.

The union has initiated a series of national-level grievances seeking to have the work returned and to make affected employees ‘whole,’ Burrus wrote.

Employees who worked at small offices between 1993 and the present are asked to complete the survey, which appears in the January/February issue of the magazine, along with a Business Reply Envelope.

Completed forms should be mailed to:

APWU Survey
1300 L Street NW
Washington DC 20005