Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Gift America Needs Most: Manufacturing

by Leo W. Gerard, Dec 22, 2009

In Columbus, Ohio, a 5-year-old girl jumped onto Santa’s lap last month and asked if he could give her dad a job as an elf.

Mike Smith, who works the Santa station at the Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, asked why, the Wall Street Journal reported. The little girl in the Dora the Explorer sweatshirt responded:

Because my daddy’s out of work, and we’re about to lose our house.

Happy Holidays, America!

The gift this country needs most this holiday season is an economy built on a solid foundation, one that will provide middle class, family-supporting jobs now and into the future.

That present would not be another version of Monopoly for Wall Street wannabees. It would not be Barbie-goes-to-the-mall-credit-cards for youngsters in families already maxed out on their plastic and their mortgages.

The metaphorical gift our economy could really use is an Erector Set—a strong steel construction kit from which the intrepid manufacture airplanes, automobiles, robots on motorized tracks, backhoes, helicopters, skyscrapers, cranes, even working Ferris wheels.

That’s because, most of all, this economy needs manufacturing. Enthralled by the glitz, glamour and bogus bonuses of Wall Street, we’ve allowed multinationals to export our grit and grimy factories overseas. Factories that made clothing, sports shoes, large appliances, tires, glass and so much more in big and small U.S. towns—now transferred to China and Indonesia and India, lured not just by cheap labor, but also by lavish government subsidies and absent environmental regulations.

Manufacturing, the basis of any strong economy, has continuously declined as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product since its World War II peak, when it was 28.3 percent. Its new low is less than half of that—12 percent.

Here’s the most obvious difference between an economy based on manufacturing and one based on Wall Street: You can hold the handlebars of a Harley-Davidson in your hands, but just try grasping a derivative.

The paper traders on Wall Street bundle mortgages into exotic financial instruments called derivatives, sell those, buy pseudo-insurance to secure them, then engage in legal betting on whether the “instruments” will soar or fail. This kind of activity caused the financial collapse in 2008. Frankly, beyond being incredibly risky, these transactions don’t create true wealth; they just generate big bonuses.

In manufacturing, an entrepreneur takes raw material and adds energy, ingenuity, tools and labor to create a product, like steel, that has real value and can be sold on the market to someone who needs it to combine with other materials to make finished merchandise like motorcycles or refrigerators. And those manufactured items are durable and valuable.

In the process of manufacturing, many people are employed—to get the raw materials, whether it’s limestone or iron or trees, to transport it to a factory, to generate electricity to run the factory, to transform the raw material at the factory, to deliver the product to the buyer, to pave the roads and build the bridges and repair the railroads necessary for all that transportation, to design the highways and factories and overpasses, to feed all the workers lunch.

Tragically, the Great Recession caused by Wall Street has hit manufacturing hard. While unemployment is at a 25-year high of 10 percent, the unemployment in manufacturing has run a couple of percentage points higher than that. More than 2.1 million manufacturing workers have been thrown out of their jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

These workers are the parents of children in Dora the Explorer sweatshirts who are asking Santa for elf jobs.

These are the workers who have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments—although almost half are suffering from depression or anxiety, a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults showed.

These are the workers who told the pollsters that the frustration and stress of unemployment has provoked conflicts and arguments with family and friends.

These are the workers who have lost their homes or have been threatened with eviction or foreclosure, who have difficulty paying bills and have resorted to borrowing money from friends and relatives. These are the workers profiled by Anne Hull of the Washington Post in a story that began by describing desperate laid-off Warren, Ohio, residents in a pawn shop:

At campaign time, they are celebrated as the people who built America. Now they just want to know how much they can get for a wedding band.

These are workers selling their precious keepsakes to survive 15 percent unemployment in an area along the Mahoning River that once was the world’s fifth-largest steel producer—until it lost 50,000 of those family-supporting manufacturing jobs and another 11,500 middle-class jobs at the Lordstown General Motors plant, all in a decade.

These workers could be holding good, steady factory jobs if the United States had implemented a manufacturing strategy, the way China, Japan, Germany, even the Netherlands, did long ago.

Just last week, the Obama administration offered a gift to all those who believe in manufacturing. It is that strategy for America. Its formal name is the White House Plan to Revitalize American Manufacturing.

For that 5-year-old girl in the Dora the Explorer sweatshirt. For her furloughed father and her family. For the future of this country, let’s give ourselves the gift of a future constructed on a solid economic foundation. Let’s implement that plan to revitalize American manufacturing immediately. Millions of unemployed workers can’t wait.

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

On Senate Passage of the Health Care Bill

“The Senate health care bill is far from perfect. I am deeply disappointed it does not include a public option to help keep down costs and I also don’t like the deal making that secured votes with unjustifiable provisions. I will work to improve the bill, including restoring the public option, when the final version is drafted.

“But, while this bill could and should have been much stronger, it includes very important provisions for Wisconsin that I worked to include. The bill will bring more Medicare dollars to Wisconsin by improving the unfair reimbursement formula that has siphoned money away from the state for years, and by rewarding the high-quality, low-cost care practiced at places like Gundersen Lutheran and the Marshfield Clinic. Wisconsin taxpayers also win because we will see a boost in Medicaid funding, so our state isn’t harshly penalized for its leadership in expanding coverage. The bill also ends discrimination by insurance companies against people with preexisting conditions, expands coverage to 30 million more Americans and reduces the deficit by an estimated $132 billion. Despite the bill's flaws, it does meet the test of real reform, and the cost of inaction was much too high.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Four Good Reasons to Call a Budget Counselor Now

by Gerri Detweiler
The Union Credit Doctor

Just as it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you not feeling well for any length of time, it’s a good idea to talk with a budget and credit counselor to get relief from financial stress before it develops into something more serious.

Here are four reasons to call a counselor sooner rather than later:

1. Get a New Attitude: Even if you’ve gone over your expenses with a fine tooth comb, a budget review may turn up some new ideas for trimming expenses. Counselors can share creative ways to meet your needs while spending less.

2. Talk Money With Your Honey: When it comes to financial habits, opposites often do attract, and that can lead to sometimes serious disagreements about money. Talking with a counselor can bring an objective and impartial point of view to this often emotional subject.

3. Build Stronger Credit: About a third of your credit score is made up of the debt you carry and, in particular, how much of your available credit card lines you are using. If you carry high balances on one or more of your credit cards, your credit scores have likely taken a hit. Credit counseling can help you pare down your debt, and as a result, you may see your credit improve over time.

4. Beat the Crowds: Credit counselors gear up for their busy season after the holidays when bills start rolling in. By late January, counselor’s phone lines are ringing off the hooks.

Union members and their families are eligible for a free budget and credit counseling session through the Union Plus Credit Counseling Service. Visit or call 1-877-833-1745 to speak to a counselor over the phone. In-person appointments are available in 120 locations nationwide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

President Newby will be on "Fox and Friends"

(check your local Fox TV station) at 6:50 a.m. Thursday (December 17) talking about our "Labor History in the Schools" bill which Governor Doyle signed last Thursday. Opposition: Michael Dean, attorney with the First Freedoms Foundation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Endorses Tom Barrett for Governor

Milwaukee – The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO today announced its endorsement of Tom Barrett for Governor of Wisconsin in 2010.

”Tom Barrett is focused on creating new, family supporting jobs in Wisconsin, and as Governor, he will make that the state’s highest priority. He recognizes that working people in Wisconsin – their skills, their commitment, and their experience – are assets that will help us build a new, strong economy,” said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby.

As mayor, Tom Barrett has demonstrated a willingness to listen and cooperate with people from all walks of life. That approach has led to better policies and better outcomes for all working people.

“I am proud to stand with the working men and women from all across Wisconsin as we build on this state’s economic strengths,” Mayor Barrett said of the endorsement. “We have faced remarkably tough economic times recently, and too many hard working people have been pushed out of jobs. But I continue to believe this state’s greatest days are ahead of us. I will provide the leadership Wisconsin needs to make certain everyone benefits from our future success.”

As the statewide coordinating council for AFL-CIO unions in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO determines union policy on state issues, speaks for working men and women on matters of public concern, provides services to local unions, and coordinates political and legislative action with its over 1,000 affiliated unions which represent over 250,000 members in the state.

Obama Executive Order on Labor Management Forums: Deadline Dates and Requirements

No, is not a typo. Government adores an acronym. So will the President's new National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations be called the "en-co-flemer"? What else could it be? In any event, March 9th is the deadline for Agencies to submit the following: [Full Story]

Source: FedSmith

NARFE Concerned About Proposal to Have OPM Administer “Public Option”

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste announced today that NARFE is concerned about a compromise proposal being considered in the Senate’s health care reform bill that would have the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administer a health care delivery system consisting of at least two national, private nonprofit insurance plans or a government plan. Baptiste said that NARFE specifically opposes a component of the proposal that would require Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plans to offer coverage though the OPM-administered public option, if the personnel agency cannot otherwise find at least two carriers willing to offer nationally available plans.

“Most organizations are successful when they focus on their core mission like a laser beam,” Baptiste said. “OPM should be in the business of attracting the best and brightest to federal service, if our nation is to effectively grapple with an unparalleled economic upheaval, two overseas wars and homeland security. OPM’s role as the government’s HR office is too important to dilute with the massive undertaking of creating and administering a new health care system for millions of Americans.

“While NARFE supports access to comprehensive health care for all Americans, we are concerned that an OPM-administered health care system is being proposed as a political solution to a legitimate national problem,” she said. “It would make better public policy to have the Department of Health and Human Services manage this new program since one of their fundamental responsibilities is to administer large health care systems for diverse communities of coverage.

“In addition, we are troubled that this proposal could compromise the integrity of the FEHBP, which is an earned employer-sponsored worker and retiree benefit. For that reason, we insist that the FEHBP and the proposed OPM-administered plan be negotiated and managed separately to ensure that FEHBP continues to offer federal workers and annuitants comprehensive coverage with affordable and predictable premiums. For example, NARFE opposes part of the proposal that would require FEHBP plans to offer coverage in the public option because the mandate may encourage some insurance carriers not to participate in either program. As a result, competition and choice, which are hallmarks of the FEHBP, would be undermined.

“Above all, any proposal to have OPM administer a public plan must guarantee that federal workers and annuitants who like the health insurance coverage they currently have through the FEHBP are allowed to keep it, just like other Americans who are covered by employer-sponsored health plans.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Department of Labor to ReconsiderBush’s Last-Minute FMLA Changes

APWU Web News Article #145-09, Dec. 10, 2009

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced [PDF] Dec. 7 that she is reviewing changes made early this year to regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act. The announcement has set off speculation that the Department of Labor will overturn revisions implemented at the very end of the Bush administration.

APWU members may recall that just four days before President Bush left the White House, he implemented several regulatory changes to the FMLA, some of which have caused problems for workers, including postal employees. The APWU was among several workers’ advocacy organizations that fought the imposition of the new rules.

Included among the changes were a narrowing of the definition of a “serious health condition,” requirements for additional medical documentation, requirements that medical evidence be provided more frequently, and permission for employers to contact an employee’s healthcare provider directly, without the employees’ knowledge or permission.

“We hope the Department of Labor will reverse policies that were pushed through just before President Obama took office,” said APWU Legislative & Political Department Director Myke Reid.

APWU President William Burrus wrote to Solis in June, saying that the Bush FMLA rules “weakened the law and made it more difficult for workers to exercise the right the legislation was designed to protect.”

The expected “new” regulations will be developed and published by November, Reid said, and the APWU’s concerns again will be shared with the Department of Labor. “Eleven months may seem like a long time, but notice must be given and a 60-day ‘comment period’ is required. We are optimistic that the subsequent review will work in our favor.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Will Read the Bedtime Story When Mommy Leaves for Afganistan

It's that time of the year again when Postal and Federal Employees can contribute to their favorite cherites via Payroll Deduction. Please consider contributing. If every postal employee would donate just $1.00 per pay period we would have a very succesful campaign.

Click here to find the answer: Who Will Read the Bedtime Story When Mommy Leaves for Afganistan?


Official notification is hereby given that the Convention of the APWU of Wisconsin will convene on Thursday April 29, 2010 and continue through Saturday, May 1, 2010. It will be held at the Radisson Paper Valley in at 333 W. College Avenue in Appleton, WI . The Hotel is located in Downtown Appleton and reservations MUST be made by March 15, 2010 to reserve your room.

In addition on the afternoon of Thursday, April 29, 2010 a training seminar will be held in conjunction with the convention. Please phone the hotel at 920-733-8000 to reserve your room as soon as you can.

Again this year a new part of our constitution will go into effect. In past years the convention was concluded with the banquet on Saturday evening. The banquet is always a nice time to reflect on the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of our Union. Unfortunately a number of Brothers and Sisters left after the convention recessed on Saturday afternoon and missed the camaraderie of the banquet. This year the banquet will be held on Friday night and the fee for the banquet will be included with the registration fee.

Some of the governing portions of the State Constitution appear below.


Nomination and election of all Officers of the APWU of Wisconsin will take place at this convention.

On the afternoon of the opening day of the Convention, the Chairman of the nominations committee shall declare the convention open for nomination for all offices and the Convention City at which the next Convention is to be held. Article VI Section 7,(2).

The nomination shall proceed in the following order: 1; General President, 2; Secretary-Treasurer, 3; Director of Legislation, 4; Director of Human Relations, 5; Director of Education and Organization.

The election of officers shall take place on the afternoon of the second day of the convention. Article VI Section 7 (4).


Credentials will be mailed out by the Secretary - Treasurer by February 21, 2010. They shall be properly signed, returned and in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer by April 1, 2010 so that committee assignments can be made by the State President, and committee members can be properly notified.


The voting power of the members of the American Postal Workers Union of Wisconsin , AFL-CIO, at State Convention shall be as follows: Article V section 1:


The convention can at its pleasure give visiting Members at Large a vote; providing not more than three Members at Large attend the Convention. If more that three attend, the Chairman of the Credentials Committee with the consent of the Convention, shall apportion one-third vote to each Member at Large. Article V Section 2.

Voting delegates shall be based on the average amount of per capital tax paid by each local/area local during the two (2) preceding calendar years of the convention year. Any local whose charter has not been in existence for this period, shall receive voting delegates based upon the average per capita one month previous to the month the convention is held. Article V Section 5.


All resolutions to be presented at the Convention must be in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer at least four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention in order to be printed in the Convention Book. Article VI Section 5. ALL RESOLUTIONS MUST BE IN THE SEC/TREAS HANDS BY APRIL 1, 2010.

All proposed Constitution changes must be in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer at least four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention in order to be printed in the Convention Book. Article VI Section 8. ALL CONSTITUTION CHANGES MUST BE IN THE SEC/TREAS HANDS BY APRIL 1, 2010.

All Officer’s reports shall be ready and in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention. Article VII Section 8.


ALL LOCAL DELEGATES MUST BE ELECTED BY SECRET BALLOT VOTE OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP, UNLESS YOUR LOCAL CONSTITUTION PROVIDES FOR AUTOMATIC DELEGATE(S) TO A CONVENTION. MAL’S are to get their authorized credentials from the State Secretary-Treasurer. These procedures must be followed or delegates will not be seated.
Education classes will be held on April 29, 2010. The programs have not been confirmed at this time.

The official opening of the Convention will be at 10:00 AM on Friday, April 30, 2010, the convention will close with a the installation of officers on Saturday May 1. 2010.

Now is the time to start preparing any resolutions that you wish to submit to the convention for consideration by the delegates in attendance and to be forwarded if acted on to the National APWU convention.

Please bring any COPA donations from your local to the convention.
Dale Anderson
American Postal Workers Union of Wisconsin

Help One of Our Own

email sent from APWU of WI President Steve Lord:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Attached to this email you will find a letter from SPC Erik Mckenna. He is the son of our brother Paul Mckenna the Milwaukee Area Local President. I know from time to time you get requests to help our young men and women in the military. Here is a chance to help a service member of our own APWU of Wisconsin union family. I hope I can count on your local or members of your local to help with some of the items in the letter. Some of the items are higher ticket items that your local or members of your local would like to contribute money to help buy. If you are willing to help please post this letter on your union board and bring it up at your next local union meeting. If you have items or dollars to contribute please call me at 920-426-5285. Thanks in advance for your help.

Steve Lord, President
APWU of Wisconsin

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let’s Get the Facts Straight: House Gets Health Care Reform Right

With the U.S. House vote Nov. 7 approving historic health care reform, America’s working families are another step closer to winning quality, affordable health care for all.

The citizens of Wisconsin owe thanks to Reps. Kagen, Baldwin, Kind, Moore, and Obey, who voted for the bill, and have every right to be very disappointed in Reps. Ryan, Sensenbrenner and Petri, who did not.

I am particularly grateful to our own Representative Dr. Steve Kagen; his vote clearly indicates that he put people first, rather than insurance company special interests. He has also made many strong public statements explaining and supporting reform.

Representatives who supported the bill faced down a daylong barrage of blatant falsehoods from opponents. Let’s get the facts straight.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, which now must be merged with a bill the Senate is expected to pass in coming weeks, covers 96 percent of Americans, is fully paid for and reduces the federal deficit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The White House Council of Economic Advisers confirms it will aid job creation in both the short term and the long term.

At the core of the House health care bill is shared responsibility—individuals, companies and government all have a role. Companies are required to cover employees or pay into a common fund, so the rest of us don’t have to pick up the health care tab for the workers of highly profitable companies. Small businesses are exempt and tax credits will help small responsible employers take part. Individuals must have insurance, but low-income people will get help paying for health insurance. Every year, about $1,000 of our health insurance costs goes to cover the uninsured. Bringing previously uninsured people into the insurance risk pool is key to driving down health care costs for all of us.

The House bill increases choice by adding a strong public health insurance plan option that will drive down health care costs by forcing private insurers to compete. The public plan is an option. If your employer provides insurance, you can keep it. If not, the insurance market, including the public plan and private plans, is open to your choice. And if you can’t afford insurance, this bill will get you help.

The House bill helps America’s seniors by strengthening and improving Medicare benefits and attacking waste, fraud and inefficiency—including gross overpayments to insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage plans. These overpayments do nothing to improve care for seniors—they just raise costs and weaken Medicare. The Alliance for Retired Americans and the AARP support the House bill as the right choice for older Americans.

Under the House bill, veterans and their families will continue receiving care as they do now through the VA and TRICARE—but they gain the opportunity to get additional coverage, if they choose, by enrolling in an insurance plan through the bill’s Health Insurance Exchange.

There are right ways and wrong ways to reform America’s broken health care system. Allowing big private insurers to continue to call the shots that mean life and death to us is wrong. Allowing wealthy companies to shirk their responsibilities and shift the burden of health care for their employees to taxpayer-funded programs is wrong. Financing reform on the backs of middle-class families by taxing health care benefits is wrong.

The House got it right. Let’s hope that the Senate follows their lead.

Tony Vanderbloemen
Greater Green Bay Labor Council
1570 Elizabeth St.Green Bay, WI 54302

NOTE: Tony was a long time Local President of the Northeastern Wisconsin Area Local APWU in Green Bay, WI. This article appeared in the Green Bay Press Gazette on November 25, 2009.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Statement by Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby on Senate Cloture Vote on Health Care Bill November 22, 2009

Last night's vote by the Senate to break a Republican filibuster and move forward with debate on health care reform is a critical and historic milestone in the march toward quality, affordable health care for America.

Our senators, Sen. Feingold and Sen. Kohl, stood up for working families in Wisconsin by voting to begin formal debate on a solution to the health care problems that torment our state's working people daily.

Senators will now have the opportunity to come up with the best health care law for America. They have a ways to go.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act's strong cost cutting measures go further than any previous legislation. But the bill must be improved in important areas. The employer responsibility provision should be expanded to cover all employers. And any plan to tax working families’ benefits should be eliminated -- taxes on the middle class are the wrong way to pay for health care.

We look forward to working with our senators and representatives to fulfill the promise of quality, affordable health care that our country deserves.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5-day delivery: Depends on your perspective

Bottom line: it seems that technology will increasingly take the place of postal service in the years to come. This time around, Saturday service may be eliminated. But give it a few more years, and we might see Monday-Wednesday-Friday service. One day, USPS may be eliminated entirely. (Full Story]


Paid Leave Key to Slowing Spread of H1N1

by Mike Hall, Nov 17, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one worker sick with the H1N1 (swine flu) virus will infect one in 10 co-workers if he or she goes to work while infected with the virus. Even more frightening, another recent study predicted that 63 percent of Americans will be infected with the virus by the end of December.

Today, family advocates and heath care professionals told the House Education and Labor Committee that along with vaccinations, and good hygiene practices, the best way to protect workers and slow the spread of the H1N1 virus is through guaranteed paid sick leave legislation, such as the Healthy Families Act.

The CDC’s guidelines to employers and workers to slow the spread of the virus says workers who suspect they have the swine flu or another influenza-like illness should stay home and employers should allow workers to stay home “without fear of reprisals or…losing their jobs.”

But nearly half of all private-sector workers—and 76 percent of low-income workers—have no paid sick leave. That leaves sick workers facing the dilemma of staying home and losing several days of pay or likely spreading the disease to fellow workers and the public. Many low-wage workers have jobs that have direct contact with the public, such as the food-service and hospitality industry, schools and health care.

Says Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families:
Congress should waste no time in passing paid sick days legislation so that working people can earn paid time off and help prevent the spread of illnesses, without jeopardizing their economic security.

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says paid sick leave benefits both employers, workers and their families along with customers and the general public. For employers, Benjamin says:

Sick workers are not productive ones and by spreading disease in the workplace risk the overall productivity of the business. By providing paid leave for sick workers, worker safety and business productivity can both be enhanced—a win-win for employers.

While we want to encourage workers to make healthy and rational decisions, when they are faced with the choice of staying home sick without pay or going into work sick so they can put food on the table and pay their mortgage, many workers choose to go to work and “tough it out,” putting their co-workers and their customers at risk.

Committee chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) says that Congress has been “pushing for universal paid leave policies for workers of all income levels.”

Let’s face some simple facts: When you’re struggling to make ends meet, you’re going to do everything possible to not miss a day’s pay. The lack of paid sick leave encourages workers who may have H1N1 to hide their symptoms and come to work sick—spreading infection to co-workers, customers and the public. This isn’t good for our nation’s public health or for businesses.

Earlier this year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460 and S. 1152), which would require businesses with more than 15 employees to provide workers with up to seven paid sick days a year to care for themselves or a sick child or spouse.

At a Senate hearing on H1N1 earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris announced the Obama administration’s support for the Healthy Families Act.

The Healthy Families Act offers an important opportunity to provide workers with economic security by assuring that they have the ability to stay home if they are sick without fear of losing their jobs or being forced to go to work sick because they cannot afford to stay home. We support this bill and look forward to working with you on it as it moves through the legislative process.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Santa

"Good Morning America" / Wal-Mart Linked to Swine Flu

Dear Friends,

If you missed Friday’s ABC "Good Morning America" report on Wal-Mart's punitive sick-leave policies -including demerits and docked wages, driving Wal-Mart employees to work no matter how sick they are-you can still see it at:

An estimated 14,886,054 viewers saw the program.

Wal-Mart said it will not change its sick leave policies-which put both workers and customers at greater risk of catching swine flu because, well…. "because it is our policy." In a real humanitarian step, Wal-Mart has promised that no employee will be fired for having the H1N1 virus.

The story hit a nerve. A flood of Wal-Mart employees are sending their horror stories both to ABC and to the NLC. Other companies are also being exposed, including Home Depot and the major airlines.

We encourage you to weigh in about Wal-Mart's punitive sick leave policy on ABC/Good Morning America's site. If we can reform Wal-Mart, other companies will follow. The door is open. We must run through it. Let's keep the pressure up.

-ABC/Good Morning America, November 6, 2009 "Risking Demerits or Spreading H1N1?-

National Labor Committee, "Wal-Mart's Sick Leave Policy Risks Spreading Swine Flu; Retail Giant Flouts Recommendations of Centers for Disease Control"

Source: National Labor Committee

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reps. Baldwin, Kind, Moore, Obey and Kagen Get A+ for Historic Health Care Vote

Health Care Vote Shows Who Sides With
Working Families vs. Insurance Companies

(Milwaukee, WI, Nov. 7, 2009) – On the heels of an historic late night vote in the House of Representatives for a good, balanced health insurance reform bill, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO released its scoring of how our state’s U.S. representatives voted on HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

The legislation which passed Saturday evening by a vote of 220 to 215, would finally bring security and stability to our nation’s health care system. Working families would get much needed relief from skyrocketing health care prices, and uninsured Americans would be able to choose between a public option and private for-profit insurance.

Wisconsin Congressional Health Care Scorecard

A+ /Sided with Working Families
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Dist. 2
Rep. Ron Kind, Dist. 3
Rep. Gwen Moore, Dist. 4
Rep. David Obey, Dist. 7
Rep Steve Kagen, Dist. 8

F-/ Sided With Insurance Companies
Rep. Paul Ryan, Dist. 1
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Dist. 5
Rep. Tom Petri, Dist. 6

“This is an historic victory that moves Wisconsin’s working families one step closer to the passage of real health insurance reform, “said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby. “And it was a huge test of who will stand with working families versus the moneyed special interests. While some of Wisconsin’s House members passed with flying colors by standing up for the people who sent them to Washington, others failed by voting to keep the status quo. Make no mistake: Working families will remember who fulfilled the promises they were elected on and they will continue to stand with their Representatives who delivered.”

The legislation would also help small businesses access quality, affordable health care with lower rates and stable pricing from year to year. And it would lessen the burden of covering the uninsured by requiring employers to provide health care for their employers or pay into a common fund.

The House bill is also financed in a responsible way – it is fully paid for and would reduce our nation’s rising deficits. Furthermore, it does not attempt to pay for health care on the backs of middle class working families by increasing taxes on the health care that families are already struggling to pay for.

Once the Senate votes on its own bill, the two bills will be reconciled into final health insurance reform legislation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Policy of Returning Office Budget Part of Feingold’s Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold announced today that he recently returned $269,209.41 allocated to him as part of his office budget to the U.S. Treasury as part of his commitment to fiscal responsibility and curbing the deficit. Returning a portion of his office budget is a longstanding practice for Feingold, who over the course of his career has returned more than $3.2 million in office funding to the Treasury. Feingold is trying to expand this general practice Senate-wide in an effort that could save taxpayers $54 million. A provision in Feingold’s Control Spending Now Act, legislation to cut the deficit by more than one half trillion dollars over ten years, would cut five percent from this year’s allocation for House and Senate offices.

“We are staring down a record deficit that our children and grandchildren will pay for if we don’t take action,” Feingold said. “Returning this funding won’t get us out of the red but it will show the American people that some of us in Congress understand how important it is to cut the deficit.”

Trimming office budgets is one of several ways Feingold is proposing Congress tighten its belt to help cut the deficit. Feingold is also continuing his push to end automatic annual pay raises for members of Congress, which could save $80 million over ten years. Feingold does not accept pay raises during his term and, since 1993, Feingold has returned more than $70,000 in pay to the Treasury.

Feingold is also working to end wasteful spending by requiring campaign finance reports to be filed electronically. Despite presidential and House candidates having to file their reports electronically, the Senate has yet to enact Feingold’s legislation to do so. Instead, the Senate hires outside contractors to re-enter data that campaigns have readily available in electronic form. Ending this waste could save $2.5 million over ten years.

More on Senator Feingold’s legislation to cut the deficit by more than one half trillion dollars is available at

CWA on health care reform:

The House bill has got it right

"The U.S. House of Representatives got it right," writes CWA in its legislative newsletter. "[The House] bill does not tax health care benefits but would require every employer to pay and the wealthiest one percent of Americans to pay their fair share." Many union members' health plans would be subject to the Senate's proposed excise tax--and unions are prepared to fight to keep that tax out of the final health care reform law.

AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel confirmed on a conference call last week that unions need to use the upcoming Veterans Day Congressional recess to visit lawmakers at home and keep the pressure on for no excise tax and a strong public option.

The House bill includes several positive measures, such as continuing medical coverage for pre-Medicare retirees, and a strong public option that would force insurance companies to compete more effectively.
Source: ILCA Insider

This Veterans Day, You Can Help Honor and Remember our Nation’s Heroes

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson observed the first Armistice Day, which would later become Veterans’ Day, by reflecting “with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” Ninety years later, Americans everywhere continue to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans on November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I.

One tradition I have been proud to participate in is the Honor Flight program. Honor Flight brings World War II veterans to Washington free of charge to visit their war memorial for the first time. Last year, this program helped over 11,000 veterans visit the memorial that was constructed in their honor. I have been proud to personally support this effort, and honored to meet Wisconsin veterans during their visit to the World War II memorial. To learn more about Honor Flight, please visit their website at:

While meeting Wisconsin veterans on an Honor Flight, I was deeply troubled to meet a man who had not received the awards he deserved because his service records were destroyed in a fire. He was wounded at the battle of Zigzag Pass in the Philippines, but the Army rejected his two previous Purple Heart applications because of the missing records. After working with the Army, enough information was found in reconstructed records to allow me to present the veteran with his long overdue medals, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, on September 11, 2009.

Preserving the memories of the men and women who defended our country is more important than ever. In 2000, Congress created the Veterans History Project to collect interviews with veterans, as well as wartime letters and photographs. The Library of Congress saves these valuable memories for future generations, and Americans everywhere can submit material to the collection and join this effort.

To participate in the Veterans History Project, I encourage you to visit their website at Visitors can search the project’s collection and read about the experiences of our country in wartime. You can also download a field kit to submit your own interviews or materials to the collection.

Veterans Day gives us an opportunity to honor those who defended our freedom – but we must also remember the tragedy of war. Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954, after World War II and the Korean War ended the hope that World War I would be the “war to end all wars.” President Eisenhower’s proclamation called on Americans to “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly…and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

Source: Senator Herb Kohl

Monday, November 2, 2009

BP Hit with Largest-Ever OSHA Fine of $87 Million

Posted By James Parks On October 30, 2009 @ 12:20 pm In Organizing & Bargaining

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied the largest fine in its history—$87.4 million—against BP for failing to correct safety problems identified after a [1] 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Texas, refinery.

In a telephone press conference this morning, Solis said the fines are the result of BP’s failure to comply in hundreds of instances with a 2005 agreement to fix safety hazards at the refinery.
Solis said the fines represent the Obama Labor Department’s commitment to maintain [2] safe workplaces:

Let me be clear. This administration will not tolerate disregard of our laws. Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their workers who ultimately are America’s most important assets. The laws are designed to level the playing field for all businesses and ensure that workers in any economic climate are kept out of harm’s way.

OSHA has issued 271 notifications to BP for failing to correct hazards at the Texas City refinery since the explosion. The agency also identified 439 “willful and egregious” violations of safety controls at the refinery.

Wayne Ranick, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers ([3] USW), which represents the BP workers, says the union has not yet read the citation, but “we have faith in OSHA.”

In the past we have offered to work with the company to address safety concerns and that offer still stands.

BP management initially tried to blame the workers for the explosion, but evidence collected in investigations by OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board forced the company to acknowledge it operated dangerous, obsolete equipment with a history of problems and malfunctioning control valves. Instead of venting flammable liquids to a flair, they were vented into the atmosphere, where they overflowed and exploded—even though OSHA had warned the company years before that the equipment was dangerous and should be replaced.

In addition to killing 15 people, the explosion injured 170 workers and obliterated 13 employee trailers and damaged 13 others, some as far as 300 yards away.

Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary for OSHA, said the safety problems at BP are systemic.
There are some serious systemic safety problems within the corporation, specifically within this refinery as well. I think that just the fact that there still are so many life-threatening problems indicates they have a systemic safety problem at this refinery.

BP already has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the explosion and agreed to [1] pay $50 million, the largest criminal fine ever assessed against a company for Clean Air Act violations. Six months after the explosion, BP [4] agreed to pay a $21.3 million OSHA fine, then the largest in the agency’s history.

Since the explosion, BP has settled more than 4,000 civil claims, paid from a $2.1 billion fund it set aside to resolve claims.

Solis ended the press conference by reiterating that job safety is a top Labor Department priority:

Our number one concern is the safety and protection of the current workers. We don’t need to see another loss of one life there. Our motto is that we would like to see people go into work and be able to come home to their families.


Article printed from AFL-CIO NOW BLOG:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] 2005 explosion:
[2] safe workplaces:
[3] USW:
[4] agreed to pay a $21.3 million:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Follow the Union Contract

Reprint from: 617 SENTINEL APWU NEWS

Postal Service Relies on Incomplete Data, Discriminates Against Underserved Communities

APWU Testimony on Station Closings

APWU Web News Article #135-09, Oct. 29, 2009

An analysis of the postal stations and branches being considered for closure shows that the USPS study process “discriminates against communities with high percentages of low-income, minority and transit-dependent residents,” according to recent testimony submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) by the APWU. In addition, the union asserts, the Postal Service uses incomplete data to support its conclusions.

In testimony submitted to the PRC on Oct. 21, economist Anita B. Morrison and APWU steward Michael T. Barrett enumerated significant deficiencies in the Postal Service’s methodology in selecting stations for closure. The national union has intervened in proceedings before the commission, which is preparing to issue “an advisory opinion” on the station-and-branch initiative.

Morrison’s testimony [PRC 10-21-09 Morrison - PDF] provided statistical evidence that the USPS plans would most severely impact communities where the postal services are needed the most — low-income neighborhoods where computer use is relatively low and where residents are especially dependent on public transportation.

More than three out of four stations — 287 of 371, or 78 percent — under consideration for closure have median household incomes below the national average, Morrison testified, and 41 percent have incomes below $20,000. These households are most likely to be affected by the inconvenience and cost of accessing more distant post offices, she said.

Pointing out that post offices in more well-to-do areas were less likely to be considered for closure, Morrison wrote: “This suggests that the process favors postal stations in more affluent neighborhoods.”

She also noted that “closure of a branch post office can have significant negative impacts on local business districts,” particularly in walkable neighborhoods that are critical to reducing America’s dependence on cars.

Morrison criticized the Postal Service’s procedures for gathering public input. “USPS currently gathers information from interested stakeholders without a specified forum for sharing initial feedback with the public,” she wrote. “In addition, the feedback represents a reactive rather than pro-active approach. Expanding the methods of soliciting feedback and adding other affordable feedback options could greatly improve this process.”

Incomplete Data

Testimony by Michael Barrett, of the Buffalo (NY) Local, [PRC 10-21-09 Barrett - PDF] asserts that the USPS uses incomplete data to support its conclusions, and overlooks information that would offer a more accurate indication of cost savings and the impact of closures on nearby stations and branches.

“The current analysis of cost savings performed by the Postal Service is cursory at best,” Barrett said. Many transactions currently performed at stations slated for closure will migrate to other postal facilities, he said, and so will the costs associated with them.

In addition, he noted, “The Postal Service calculates the total salary and fringe benefits costs associated with employees of stations or branches under study and considers this entire total to be savings to the Postal Service.” These costs will continue at other facilities, he said, and must be considered in USPS evaluations.

The data necessary to more accurately measure these costs is readily available to the USPS using current resources, Barrett testified.

USPS studies fail to accurately analyze the ability of nearby facilities to accommodate the migrating business, he said. “Where a neighboring station or branch does not have sufficient space for a separate box section dedicated to the closed station or branch,” Barrett’s testimony noted, “the closing will initially turn the entire volume of arriving box mail into Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) mail. ... It is obvious from the UAA costs reported [by the USPS] that these additional processing costs are not insignificant.”

This should be accounted for in each USPS discontinuance study,” the APWU steward testified. “Yet despite the ready availability of the information needed to determine the additional processing costs,” the Postal Service does not appear to consider them at all.

Commenting on the testimony, Assistant Clerk Craft Director Mike Morris said, “Barrett and Morrison made important points about the consequences of USPS plans to close hundreds of stations and branches. We should share these conclusions with elected officials and other community leaders.”

Morris and APWU Vice President Cliff Guffey are coordinating the APWU’s response to the Postal Service’s Stations and Branches Initiative. A “tool kit” [PDF] to assist locals fighting the closure of stations and branches is available in the “Members Only” pages at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NARFE Thanks President Obama for Signing into Law Re-Employed Annuitant and FERS Sick Leave Bills; Association’s Persistence Results In Victory

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste today commended President Obama for signing into law the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Authorization bill, which includes several civil service improvements long sought by NARFE.

“Enactment of this legislation to eliminate inequities, increase productivity and address the skills shortage in the civil service is a great victory for active and retired federal employees — and something that NARFE has worked for behind the scenes for a long time,” said NARFE President Baptiste. “We are happy the president has signed this important bill into law, and we are grateful to our friends in Congress who moved heaven and earth to include the civil service improvements in the final legislation.”

Baptiste praised Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, D-MD; Chris Van Hollen, D-MD; Frank R. Wolf, R-VA; James P. Moran, D-VA; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC; Gerry E. Connolly, D-VA; John P. Sarbanes, D-MD; Donna F. Edwards, D-MD; Elijah E. Cummings, D-MD; and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-MD, for the significant role they played in this victory on behalf of NARFE and the federal/postal community. In addition, she thanked Reps. Edolphus Towns, D-NY; Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA; and Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-CT; Susan M. Collins, R-ME; Daniel K. Akaka, D-HI; and Jim Webb, D-VA, who served as the Defense bill conferees, for helping to persuade their colleagues, particularly Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-MI, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-MO, to include the civil service provisions.

The new law allows federal agencies to re-employ federal retirees on a limited, part-time basis without offset of annuity; permits Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) workers to initially credit half, and in 2014 all, of their unused sick leave toward retirement; provides for retirement equity for federal employees in Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Territories; ends the Department of Defense’s pay-for-performance personnel system, the National Security Personnel System or NSPS, restoring employees to the federal General Schedule pay system; and includes other civil service provisions.

“During the past several years, NARFE has played a leading role, along with other federal and postal employee organizations, in overcoming many obstacles to achieve passage of these needed civil service improvements,” Baptiste said. “For example, absent NARFE’s persistence, legislation sponsored by Collins; Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI; and Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-OH, (S. 629) to allow federal retirees to be re-employed by the government would not have been included in the final Defense bill. Many federal retirees continue to make critical contributions to our safety and well-being during this time of national need, when work force shortages have deprived some agencies of employees with critical and specialized skills,” Baptiste said.

Baptiste was particularly pleased that a compromise was reached on the FERS sick leave legislation by phasing in the allowance. “We recognize that the inequity in the treatment of accrued sick leave between FERS and CSRS has hurt productivity and increased agency costs,” Baptiste said. “For that reason, we have strongly supported the concept that all federal civilian retirement programs credit unused sick leave toward retirement.” The NARFE president specifically lauded Moran for being a long-time champion of this issue.

* * *

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.

Note: APWU of Wisconsin members (especially those under FERS) may want to write letters to Senator Herb Kohl and thank him for his support.

Labor history could soon be part of Wisconsin school curriculum

By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

MADISON (WPR) Wisconsin schools would be encouraged to teach the history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process under a bill headed to the Governor's desk. [Full Story]

Source: Fox 21 Online

Monday, October 12, 2009

Article 14 – Influenza Cleaning Contingency

The Postal Service issued the attached MMO, MMO-109-09, titled “Influenza Cleaning Contingency” for facilities to impose ADDITIONAL cleaning methods to reduce the spread of infection during the current 2009 to 2010 Influenza (Flu) season which includes H1N1 influenza. The contingency reflects the latest guidance issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The additional cleaning methods are not intended to decrease the cleaning frequencies currently used in your facility (the current cleaning frequency for your facility can be found in the current authorized and approved custodial staffing package).

The additional cleaning requirements must be performed until the flu season (Fall of 2009 to April 2010) has ended, unless otherwise notified.

Recognizing that there are facilities that may not have career maintenance employees or those career maintenance employees may be incapacitated due to flue, the MMO provides for cleaning tasks to be performed by nonmaintenance employees. In this regard the language states:

If custodial resources are not available for these tasks in facilities in which the cleaning services are performed by career maintenance bargaining unit employees, including those facilities covered by relief from another office, the Senior Postal Official (SPO) may require non-custodial personnel to perform them. However, before non-custodial postal employees can perform these cleaning requirements, they must be trained on the proper use of the cleaning chemicals and provided with any necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

There is much that is still unknown on how the H1N1 influenza pandemic will develop. At this point the CDC does not expect the H1N1 's severity to increase this flu season and therefore the cleaning tasks and infection control strategies contained in this MMO should suffice. However, this can change. Should CDC's guidance change, additional information will be issued.

Gary Kloepfer
Assistant Director
Maintenance Division
American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Will Postal Consolidation Hit Green Bay?

Picketers on one side of the driveway at the General Mail Facility in Green Bay on September 15th.

Save Our Service

by: John E. Durben

Members of the Northeastern Wisconsin Area Local APWU were joined by members of the Oshkosh Area Local as well as members from the National Postal Mailhandlers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers in an informational picketing. The picketing took place on September 15 at the General Mail Facility in Green Bay and was organized to inform the American Public of a study being performed by the Postal Service to take the outgoing mail operation as well as the Green Bay Postmark and send it to Oshkosh, WI.

The results of the postal survey are expected to be available in about 60 days. All APWU members, their families, relatives, and friends are urged to contact their Legislative Representatives and urge them to get involved and Save our Service in Northeastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan . At last count there were 79 employees involved in the event.

Not only is the postal service threatening to take the mail to Oshkosh, they are also planning to close the Station A office on Chestnut Street. This Office is located in the West Side downtown area and has been run by one clerk for many years. Aside from a full service window unit the Station operates a post office box section. There goes some more service

Is it time to say good-bye to the Green Bay Postmark? Say hello to the Oshkosh Packers...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Dream Shall Never Die

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American...will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.
— Ted Kennedy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Union Negotiates Monetary IncentiveFor Retirements, Separations

Moratorium on Excessing Through Oct. 9

APWU Web News Article #099-09, Aug. 25, 2009

APWU-represented employees who retire or separate on or before Nov. 30, 2009, will receive a monetary incentive of $15,000, in accordance with an agreement negotiated by the union. The incentive will be paid in two installments to eligible employees.

“This agreement achieves a long-standing objective of the APWU,” said union President William Burrus
The incentive will be offered to eligible career full-time employees who terminate their service through regular retirement, Voluntary Early Retirement, or voluntary separation. (Eligible PTR and PTF employees will receive proportional percentages of the incentive.)

To qualify for regular retirement, employees must have at least 30 years of service and be age 55; must have at least 20 years of service and be age 60, or must have at least five years of service and be age 62.

To qualify for early retirement, employees must have at least 20 years of service and be 50 years of age or must have 25 years of service at any age. (The annuity is reduced for employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System [CSRS] by 2 percent for each year employees are under age 55.)

Employees who do not qualify for regular or early retirement but wish to receive the incentive may resign.

Not covered by the agreement are employees who were issued a notice of discharge on or before Aug. 24; MPE 9s, ET 10s, and ET 11s who cannot be replaced without training; Operating Services employees; employees in the Accounting Services section of the IT/ASC bargaining unit, probationary employees, and Transitional Employees.

Eligible full-time employees may, at their option, end their service on or before Sept. 30, or they will be assigned a date of Oct. 31 or Nov. 30 by management, based on operational needs. Employees will be paid $10,000 within two pay periods after separation, and will receive an additional $5,000 on Oct. 29, 2010. Part-time employees will be assigned a date of Nov. 30.

Negotiations over the agreement, which was finalized Aug. 24, took two months, Burrus said. “Our goal was an incentive of 50 percent of a year’s salary. Because of the difficult economic times, however, the agreement had to be structured to avoid adding to the deficit. Nonetheless, we feel that the settlement will provide a modest incentive to employees to end their service.

“The USPS financial condition is precarious,” Burrus said. “The congressionally-imposed obligation to pre-fund the retirees’ health insurance fund has caused tremendous deficits over the last two years, and without legislative relief, improvement is not in the forecast.

“Management has been forced to reduce costs, but unfortunately, the cuts have been applied disproportionally to bargaining-unit employees, especially to those in mail processing,” the union president said.

“Because our contract prohibits layoffs, the only means for cutting work hours have been to reassign full-time employees and to reduce the hours of PTFs,” Burrus noted. “Excessing and work-hour cuts cause severe hardships for our members,” he said, “so finding a way to make voluntary complement adjustments became an urgent matter.”

There will be a moratorium on excessing from Aug. 24 through Oct. 9 to allow time to assess the vacancies created by the retirements and separations. During this period, excessing notices that have already been issued will be reviewed.

If more than 25,000 employees indicate they wish to accept the offer, the parties will discuss implementation, based on a proportion of the number of employees in the complement of the APWU and Mail Handler crafts. Mail Handlers are expected to receive an offer virtually identical to the APWU-negotiated agreement.

The agreement includes the following:
  • There will be a $10,000 payment to eligible full-time employees who terminate their service through regular retirement, Voluntary Early Retirement, or voluntary separation, to be paid as soon as administratively possible, but no later than two pay periods after separation;
  • Each full-time employee who terminates employment also will receive a $5,000 payment on Oct. 29, 2010;
  • Part-Time Regular and Part-Time Flexible employees who terminate their service will receive a proportional percentage of the $10,000 and $5,000 incentive, as follows:

Number of Paid Hours ...................Percent of Incentive Payment

Under 520...............................................................................25
520 and under 1020...............................................................50
1020 and under 1520..............................................................75
1520 and over............................................................................100

The agreement applies to all non-probationary career postal employees in the APWU bargaining unit employees, including employees in the Clerk Craft, Maintenance Craft, Motor Vehicle Services Craft, mail equipment shops, material distribution centers, occupational health nurses, with the following exceptions or limitations:
  • Employees who were issued a notice of discharge on or before Aug. 24, 2009, are excluded;
  • MPE 9, ET 10, and ET 11 employees will be eligible if the residual vacancy created as a result of their retirement or separation can be filled by a qualified employee who does not require additional training to fill their vacancy;
  • Operating Service employees are not eligible;
  • Employees in the Accounting Services section of the IT/ASC Collective Bargaining Agreement are not eligible.
For the full text of the agreement, click here [PDF].

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Postal Press Conference Photos #2

Learning from the Past to Conquer the Challenges of Today

As the Conference booklet would put it:

This workshop explored the relevance of labor history in today's labor movement. By examining how our predocessors built and maintained effective unions, we can learn what stategies and tactics might be currently usefull. As the labor movement increasingly becomes comprised of a new generation of members, it's important to pass on the lessons that the founders of our unions learned so well themselves.

This session will help comunicators educate their readers about the purpose of unions, inspire them to increase their involvement and encourage them to face up to the issues of today.

Peter Rachleff, Instructor

Peter is a labor historian based at Macalester Cellege in St. Paul, MN. and is no stranger to the American Postal Workers Union with connections back to 1980 in one form or another. He has published two major books, Black Labor In Richmond, Virginia, 1865-1890 (University of Illinois Press, 1989) and Hard Pressed In the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future Of The Labor Movement (Sounth End Press, 1993).It is this writers opinion that this is one of the most interesting workshops at the Conference.

How to Write More Gooder

Exerpt from a workshop at the recent 2009 PPA National Editors' Conference

Instuctor: Jennifer Sherer

In today's microwave world, readers want information fast. Therefore, if the union's message is to be heard, newsletter writers must strive to communicate quickly and clearly. This workshop focused on news writing, feature writing and headline writing.

Participants learned how to write news stories that demand to be read: explored ways to write feature stories that leave readers satisfied but ready for more; learned how to create vibrant headlines that pull readers into the story, and examine why it's critically important to include "real people" in every aspect of writing.

Note: Jennifer is currently director of the University of Iowa Labor Center. She teaches classes on a range of subjects, including steward education, organizing and mobilizing, collective bargaining, labor communications labor and employment law (particularly the Family and Medical Leave Act), and public policy issues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two Wisconsin Labor Publications Claim Journalism Awards at National Conference

The American Postal Workers Union National Postal Press Association held its National Conference recently in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Editors from throughout the U.S. attend the Conference in order to sharpen their editing skills and get recharged for the next two years before the next Conference. Editors got tuned into writing, layouts, labor history, photos, and what’s legal and what’s not among other things.

The Awards Banquet is the finale of the Conference where those Editors that submitted their publication to the scrutiny of the judges for a number of Journalism Awards sit with their fingers crossed with hopes of hearing their publication title called out.

Thanks to Jennifer Schweitzer, John Miceli, and their Local contributors, Milwaukee claimed an unheard off seven Awards. Jennifer is the Editor of the HI-LITES and John is the Assistant Editor. The awards are as follows:

John Miceli: First Place - Best News Story
Jennifer Schweitzer: First Place - Best Community Service
Carl Pietrzak: (member) Hon. Mention - Best Creative Writing
Greg Preuss: (steward) Hon. Mention - Best Headline
Chris Czubakowski: (officer/steward) Hon. Mention - Best Non-Postal Labor Story
Hi-Lites: Hon. Mention - Best Non-Professional (A) Single Issue
Hi-Lites: Hon. Mention - Best Overall Excellence Non-Professional (A)

The BADGER BULLETIN was fortunate to secure one award for: First Place – Best Professional (Single Issue) which is very much appreciated. Credit must go to our contributors who determine the content and our publisher – Stacy Publishing. (Thanks Tom and Laury!)

PPA Award Winners (Seated L to R) John E. Durben, Editor - THE BADGER BULLETIN, Jennifer Schweitzer, Editor - THE HI-LITES

Photo Credit to: BAY BREEZE Editor, Steve Winnowski

Congratulations to all of the 2009 Award Winners

Click on Photo to enlarge

Postal Workers Cost Of Living Adjustment Is ZERO..Again!

APWU COLA Information:

In July, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) fell to 627.093, still well below the July 2008 index of 644.303 (upon which our last COLA increase was based). The CPI-W must rise above 644.303 before another COLA is due. After the final month of the six-month measuring period, the sixth COLA under the 2006 National Agreement and the Operating Services Agreement, which would have been effective Aug. 29, 2009 (pay period 19-09, pay date Sept. 18, 2009), will be zero.

The fifth COLA, which would have been effective March 14, 2009, was also zero, due to the fact that the January 2009 CPI-W had fallen below the July 2008 CPI-W (upon which our last COLA increase was based).

Editor: The next non-COLA salary increase: November 2009

Source: Postal

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rolando Cautions Congress Against Harmful Changes by Postal Service

WASHINGTON - Letter Carriers’ union President Fredric V. Rolando urged Congress today to ensure that structural changes being made in U.S. Postal Service operations due to the nation’s current economic crisis do not cause more harm than good over the long term to its mission of delivering mail to the American people.

Rolando, who assumed the presidency of the 300,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) on July 4 following the retirement of past President William H. Young, cited a current study by the Postal Service of reducing mail delivery to five days a week, and also its ongoing postal branch and station optimization program.

“Down-sizing to meet depression-level demand without considering the long-term impacts on the ability of the Postal Service to meet new demands when the economy recovers, would be short-sighted,” Rolando told a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia.

“Short-term savings that undermine the Postal Service’s capacity to offer new services and to take advantage of future growth opportunities such as Vote by Mail, e-commerce deliveries, and other potential uses of our incomparable delivery network would be self-defeating,” Rolando added.

Rolando emphasized the NALC’s long history of working with postal management to improve efficiency and adjust to change, including a new dispute resolution process, health and safety initiatives, and the automatic sequencing of letter mail. He noted that the union and management are currently engaged in a joint process to adjust delivery routes in response to the steep decline in mail volume resulting from the current economic crisis.

Rolando said the Postal Service and Congress must look ahead to new ways of boosting postal revenue, using its unmatched delivery network to expand a whole range of valuable services, including everything from Vote by Mail elections to a recent Congressional proposal to use letter carriers to conduct the next Census.

“That is why we must be careful with branch and station consolidations and reject drastic proposals like the elimination of Saturday delivery,” Rolando added. “The cost of lost opportunities from service cuts and other operational changes must be recognized.”

He said Congress can help in the short term by reforming the way the Postal Service prefunds its future retiree health benefits and noted that the current prefunding provisions are both “unaffordable and unreasonable,” costing the Service billions of dollars annually.

Overhauling the prefunding policy and reforming the OPM’s (Office of Personnel Management) policies with respect to the Postal Service must be a part of this reform if the Postal Service is to continue to provide affordable, universal postal service,” the postal union leader concluded.

Union Calls for Campaign To Defeat Anti-Postal Worker Senate Bill Teleconference Set for Aug. 3

APWU Web News Article #088-09, July 30, 2009

APWU President William Burrus has called on APWU locals and state organizations to organize opposition to a Senate bill that contains a provision that would be devastating to postal workers. The Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act of 2009 (S. 1507) was intended to provide temporary financial relief to the cash-strapped Postal Service, but an amendment to the bill has rendered it unacceptable to postal workers.

Because a vote on the bill is expected early next week, before the Senate adjourns for its August recess, local and state activists must move quickly, Burrus said. The national union will hold a teleconference for local and state leaders on Monday, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss the issue.

“I call on every APWU local to generate messages to their senators based on a 1 to 5 ratio of their members,” Burrus said. “If the bill passes as written, it will destroy collective bargaining for postal workers.”

The amendment would require arbitrators ruling on postal contracts to take into account the “financial health of the Postal Service.”

“Given the severity of Postal Service’s financial crisis, if this bill passes, we can anticipate that in the next round of negotiations, many of the things our members take for granted — such as cost-of-living increases, raises, and protection against layoffs — will be at risk.” Under current law, arbitrators must consider the “comparability” of postal wages to employees in the private sector who perform similar work.

“In fact, arbitrators routinely consider the Postal Service’s financial status as part of the context of negotiations,” Burrus said. “However, to attach this specific requirement to the law leaves workers at a severe disadvantage.

“By singling out this one factor, the amended bill would give the Postal Service’s short-term financial conditions supremacy over all other relevant considerations. It will make the bargaining process subject to all-out manipulation.

“The APWU supported legislation that would have provided the Postal Service with relief from its financial crisis,” Burrus noted, citing the union’s support for H.R. 22. “But relief cannot be on the backs of postal workers who would be forced to accept wages and working conditions commensurate with the USPS deficit.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) — the APWU has supported both in the past — favored the amendment, and voted with committee Republicans for its adoption on at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on July 29.

“We are deeply disappointed that lawmakers voted for this reactionary amendment,” Burrus said. “We will do everything we can to defeat it. We must start by generating 50,000 contacts from postal employees to their U.S. senators.”