Monday, November 21, 2011



It’s getting to look a lot like open season. In the next several weeks, employees will have opportunities to sign up, make changes to their employee benefits — or consider a new program.

Open Season for the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) program begins Monday, Nov. 7, while Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) begin Monday, Nov. 14.


Employees should note that the 2010 Affordable Care Act changed FEHB eligibility requirements allowing children up to age 26 as eligible dependents for Self and Family coverage (Link, 8/17/2010). Employees also should check their insurance coverage for details that could save them money.

Employees can make FEHB and FSA selections on PostalEASE. For FEDVIP elections, go to or call 877-888-FEDS (877-888-3337) or TTY 877-889-5680.

Open Season for the Annual Leave Exchange (ALE) begins Tuesday, Nov. 15. Employees eligible to make an ALE election will receive a letter.

FEHB, FSA and FEDVIP booklets also will be arriving in the mail. Look for the information and save it when it arrives or go to the “My HR” section on LiteBlue for more details.

Employees will need their employee identification numbers (EIN) and USPS personal identification numbers (PIN) to enter PostalEASE or LiteBlue.

Enrollment changes and new enrollments made during the 2011 FEHB Open Season will become effective Jan. 14, 2012 (pay period 03-12). New premium payments will be reflected in paychecks dated Feb. 3, 2012. New enrollments made during the 2011 FEDVIP and Flexible Spending Accounts Open Season will be effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apply Now for a Union Plus Scholarship

Application deadline Jan. 31, 2012, for $150,000 in awards

Washington, DC-Applications are now open for the 2012 Union Plus Scholarship Program, which provides $150,000 in scholarships to union members, their spouses and dependents.


To apply, visit This year's application is entirely online-allowing students to complete their application over time and save their responses. The application deadline is January 31,2012.


How the Scholarship Program Works In addition to demonstrating academic ability, applicants are required to submit essays of no more than 500 words describing their career goals, detailing their relationship with the union movement and explaining why they are deserving of a union scholarship.


Individuals must be accepted into an accredited college or university, community college or recognized technical or trade school at the time the award is issued. Graduate school students are also eligible for Union Plus Scholarships. There is no requirement to have participated in any Union Plus program in order to apply.


Since 1991, Union Plus has distributed more than $3.2 million in scholarships to working families.


In addition to the Union Plus Scholarships, the following benefits help union families afford higher education:


•Scholarships to help union members and leaders finish their degrees with an affordable, flexible and convenient online program at the National Labor College.


•Discounts of 15 percent to 60 percent on college and graduate school test preparation courses from The Princeton Review. Includes classroom, online and private tutoring for the SA®, AC®, GMA®, LSA®, GRE® and MCA ®as well as college affordability and admissions online courses. Visit or call 1-888-2437737.


Visit for applications and benefit eligibility.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Death by a Thousand Cuts – Yet One More

Another Perspective

By: Donald L. Foley

If you have had any involvement with compensation contracts, then you know that cost of living adjustment (COLA) clauses never result in real economic advancement for the recipient of the adjustments. These adjustments, generally based on the consumer price index (CPI), give the person receiving them some percentage of the full rise in the cost of living as an upward adjustment in wages or salary or other compensation. They never fully keep up, much less advance the individual’s economic status. And they always come after-the-fact – that is, they arcolae calculated on cost of living increases that have already taken a toll and they are applied in subsequent payments of income. Certainly, they are a worthwhile benefit to the recipient but that person will continue to slide just a little further behind economically in spite of receiving them.

Now comes more “shared sacrifice” from the Obama administration with, apparently, bipartisan support from members of Congress. This is the proposal to change the method of computing the CPI for the purpose of applying COLAs, changing to something called the Chained Consumer Price Index (reported by Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press). Allegedly this would “save” the federal budget almost twelve and a half billion dollars over the next decade. And we all know how important it is for all of us to share in the sacrifices necessary to get the federal budget out of the red.

Using this chained CPI, they say, is more realistic because for one thing it takes into account the fact that as prices go up people just naturally learn to live more poorly – and, consequently, don’t really have to spend more to live. In other words, becoming poorer does not have to be measured as becoming poorer. One of the real effects of changing to the use of the chained CPI will decrease COLAs for Social Security recipients on a regressive scale – by which, as one gets older and older, one loses more and more. It would also reduce federal military and civilian pensions by $112 billion over the next decade. And it would result in an effective tax increase on the poor far greater than any increase on the rich. By the end of the coming decade, taxpayers in the $10,000 to $20,000 income range will pay about 14.5% higher federal taxes, while taxpayers with more than $1 million income would see a tax increase of just 0.1%. And fewer people would become eligible for federal benefits as they slip deeper and deeper down the economic ladder, because they would take longer to fall below “poverty” level thresholds.

However, as I said, this idea has bipartisan support and was introduced to the debt debate by the White House. It is one of those sleight-of-hand maneuvers politicians are so good at; it involves some rather arcane mathematics and bookkeeping rules; and it is fairly obscure in its basic statement – just change to a “more realistic” CPI. Certainly, to slip through a change like this might go generally unnoticed and would not generate a large public outcry. It is not an overt increase in taxes, so the Republicans have plausible deniability; and the Democrats can claim they have not cut Social Security. How perfect could you get?

Perfect, indeed. Yet another perfect tactical thrust in the class warfare prosecuted for the past forty years so successfully by the ruling class against the working class.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

NPMHU Releases Contract Update #8

2011 No. 8 – November 10, 2011

Postal Service Submits Harsh Proposals at Bargaining Table

Bargaining between the NPMHU and the U.S. Postal Service is reaching its critical stages, as the November 20th deadline draws closer.

Full Story

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

House panel approves bill to shrink federal workforce

By Kellie Lunney  /  / November 3, 2011

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would reduce the federal workforce through attrition by 10 percent over the next three years.

In a 23-14 vote, the panel approved the measure, which calls for hiring one federal employee to replace every three workers who retire or leave their job, shrinking the workforce across-the-board by 10 percent by 2015. The bill was amended to include the contractor workforce as well as government employees. There are about 2 million federal employees and the contractor workforce is roughly 10.5 million.

H.R. 3029 would make exceptions for certain national security concerns or any event that threatens public health or safety. The attrition policy would stay in effect through Sept. 30, 2014. The proposal also includes a provision that limits procurement on service contracts to supplement the reduced workforce "except in cases in which a cost comparison demonstrates that such contracts would be to the financial advantage of the government." Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., the bill's sponsor, estimates the legislation will save $139 billion over the next decade.

In recent days, federal employee groups have publicly opposed the legislation through letters to the committee and press releases. "The bill undermines critical government services for the American people, ranging from defending our borders to safeguarding our food and drugs to assisting taxpayers and processing tax refunds," National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley said. "The list goes on and on. Yet, this legislation fails to consider the negative impact on those services."

The Government Managers Coalition, composed of the five major federal sector executive and management professional associations, wrote a Nov. 2 letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., expressing concern over the impact downsizing the government will have on agencies' ability to serve the public. "A reduction in the size of the federal workforce could well amount to a reduction in vital services Americans expect on a daily basis," the letter stated. "Past efforts to reduce the civil service carried out during the Clinton administration resulted in an immediate deterioration of service to the public, leading to the hiring of contractors to make up for lost work."

During the committee's markup Thursday, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., suggested changing the bill to allow the government to hire two employees, rather than one, to replace every three workers who retire or leave. Issa said he didn't have any "inherent objection" to that number and pledged to work with Cooper on a figure as the bill winds its way through the House. "We have a little headroom in the 10-year window," Issa said, referring to the savings the bill's supporters claim attrition will produce over the next decade.

Opponents of the legislation complained that a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in the government workforce was arbitrary and did not take into account such critical services as law enforcement or those provided to veterans. "I don't think it's a good management principle," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who voted against the measure.

Reducing the federal workforce through attrition was also a recommendation of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission, created by President Obama and led by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson from Wyoming and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

During an Oct. 26 hearing of the joint congressional super committee on deficit reduction, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf mentioned the effect a smaller federal workforce could have on government operations. "Having fewer federal workers would probably lower the levels of service that federal agencies provide to the public, unless cuts in the agencies' workforces were accompanied by actions to enhance productivity," he said.

Source: Government Executive

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

On Ohio Issue 2 Citizens Veto
November 8, 2011

One message rang loud and clear tonight in Ohio and across the country: those who spend their time scapegoating workers and pushing a partisan agenda will only strengthen the resolve of working people. From the very beginning, it’s been clear that Gov. Kasich, and indeed many politicians, were pushing an agenda that was about politics, not about solving our nation’s problems or creating jobs.

Today’s defeat of Issue 2 is a major victory for working families in Ohio and across the country. Ohio’s working people successfully fought back against lies pushed by shadowy multi-national corporations and their anonymous front groups that attempted to scapegoat public service employees and everyone they serve by assaulting collective bargaining rights. And it’s a great day for common sense, as Ohioans from all backgrounds and political parties rejected the crazy notion that the 99 percent -- nurses, bridge inspectors, firefighters, and social workers -- caused the economic collapse, rather than Wall Street.

Politicians in Ohio and across the country should finally understand that working people will fight hard to ensure the survival of the middle class, and politicians who fight battles for the richest 1% will find their radical efforts stopped by the voices of working people.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Union Denounces USPS Plans to Dismantle Mail Processing Network

APWU Web News Article 101-2011, Sept. 15, 2011

APWU President Cliff Guffey condemned USPS plans to study 252 mail processing facilities for possible closure, saying widespread closures would “dismantle the mail-processing network.” On Sept. 14, the USPS released a list of offices where studies will take place.

“The Postal Service should be urging Congress to address the cause of its problems – not slashing service and demolishing its network,” the union president said.

A 2006 law has pushed the USPS to brink of insolvency by imposing a burden on the Postal Service that no other government agency or company bears. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act requires the Postal Service to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees. The mandate, which forces the agency to pre-fund a 75-year liability in just 10 years, costs the USPS more than $5.5 billion annually.

“The mail processing network is a major asset,” Guffey noted. “Destroying it is misguided and counterproductive.

“Degrading service is not the answer to the Postal Service’s problems,” he said, noting that extensive closures would force the USPS to reduce delivery standards and delay mail delivery. “The Postal Service should be looking for ways to strengthen service and increase its relevance in the age of digital communication.”

Guffey said he was extremely displeased by the Postal Service’s refusal to provide the union with any advance notice of its plans.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Contact Your Member of the House Today!

When Congress comes back into session right after Labor Day both Houses of Congress are going to be looking at revamping the Postal Service and/or fixing billions in FERS and CSRS overpayments which have been made by the Postal Service. Many bills have already been introduced in both Houses of Congress taking aim at overhauling the Postal Service while others look to allow access to billions in overpayments made by the Postal Service into both FERS and CSRS retirement funds. Multiple legislators have polarizing views as to how to fix the Postal Service and the USPS’s financial problems.

The APWU are asking our members to reach out and urge their member of Congress to cosponsor and support Congressman Lynch’s H.R. 1351, which will let the USPS use billions of dollars in CSRS and FERS overpayments to meet its financial obligations. Unlike, other bills that address the pension overpayments, H.R. 1351 will not attack the rights of workers to collectively bargain.
Also, tell your member of Congress to oppose Congressman Issa’s H.R. 2309. Rep. Darrell Issa’s H.R. 2309 does not correct the massive USPS overpayments to its CSRS and FERS pension accounts. Congressman Issa’s bill will wage an attack on current negotiated wages, benefits, and protection against layoffs of postal workers.
What can you do to help? Contact your member of Congress today! You can reach your member of Congress by calling the Capitol Hill switchboard today at (202) 224-3121 or to find your member of congress click here.

If you have not already sent a quick message to your member of congress asking them to cosponsor H.R. 1351 and oppose H.R. 2309 take action today by clicking both of the links below.
To send your member of congress a quick message asking them to cosponsor and support H.R. 1351 please click here.

To send a quick message to your member of congress asking them to oppose Congressman Issa’s H.R. 2309 please click here.

Below you will find a list of those members of Congress who have not yet signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 1351. If you see your member of Congress listed below please reach out to them and ask that the cosponsor and support H.R. 1351.


Adams, Sandy    FL    24    R
Aderholt, Robert    AL    04    R
Akin, Todd    MO    02    R
Alexander, Rodney    LA    05    R
Amash, Justin    MI    03    R
Austria, Steve    OH    07    R
Bachmann, Michele    MN    06    R
Bachus, Spencer    AL    06    R
Baldwin, Tammy    WI    02    D
Barletta, Lou    PA    11    R
Barrow, John    GA    12    D
Bartlett, Roscoe    MD    06    R
Barton, Joe    TX    06    R
Becerra, Xavier    CA    31    D
Benishek, Dan    MI    01    R
Berg, Rick    ND    AL    R
Biggert, Judy    IL    13    R
Bilbray, Brian    CA    50    R
Bilirakis, Gus    FL    09    R
Bishop, Sanford    GA    02    D
Black, Diane    TN    06    R
Blackburn, Marsha    TN    07    R
Boehner, John    OH    08    R
Bonner, Josiah    AL    01    R
Bono Mack, Mary    CA    45    R
Boustany, Charles    LA    07    R
Brady, Kevin    TX    08    R
Brooks, Mo    AL    05    R
Broun, Paul    GA    10    R
Brown, Corrine    FL    03    D
Buchanan, Vern    FL    13    R
Bucshon, Larry    IN    08    R
Buerkle, Ann Marie    NY    25    R
Burgess, Michael    TX    26    R
Burton, Dan    IN    05    R
Calvert, Ken    CA    44    R
Camp, David    MI    04    R
Campbell, John    CA    48    R
Canseco, Francisco    TX    23    R
Cantor, Eric    VA    07    R
Capito, Shelley    WV    02    R
Carney, John    DE    AL    D
Cassidy, William    LA    06    R
Chabot, Steve    OH    01    R
Chaffetz, Jason    UT    03    R
Christensen, Donna    VI    DL    D
Clyburn, James    SC    06    D
Coble, Howard    NC    06    R
Coffman, Mike    CO    06    R
Cole, Thomas    OK    04    R
Conaway, Michael    TX    11    R
Cooper, Jim    TN    05    D
Cravaack, Chip    MN    08    R
Crawford, Eric    AR    01    R
Crenshaw, Ander    FL    04    R
Cuellar, Henry    TX    28    D
Culberson, John    TX    07    R
Davis, Geoffrey    KY    04    R
DeFazio, Peter    OR    04    D
Denham, Jeff    CA    19    R
DesJarlais, Scott    TN    04    R
Diaz-Balart, Lincoln    FL    21    R
Dicks, Norman    WA    06    D
Dold, Robert    IL    10    R
Donnelly, Joseph    IN    02    D
Dreier, David    CA    26    R
Duffy, Sean    WI    07    R
Duncan, Jeff    SC    03    R
Duncan, John    TN    02    R
Ellmers, Renee    NC    02    R
Farenthold, Blake    TX    27    R
Fincher, Stephen    TN    08    R
Flake, Jeffrey    AZ    06    R
Fleischmann, Charles    TN    03    R
Fleming, John    LA    04    R
Flores, Bill    TX    17    R
Forbes, J.    VA    04    R
Fortenberry, Jeffrey    NE    01    R
Foxx, Virginia    NC    05    R
Franks, Trent    AZ    02    R
Frelinghuysen, Rodney    NJ    11    R
Gallegly, Elton    CA    24    R
Gardner, Cory    CO    04    R
Garrett, Scott    NJ    05    R
Gibbs, Bob    OH    18    R
Gibson, Chris    NY    20    R
Giffords, Gabrielle    AZ    08    D
Gingrey, Phil    GA    11    R
Gohmert, Louie    TX    01    R
Goodlatte, Robert    VA    06    R
Gosar, Paul    AZ    01    R
Gowdy, Trey    SC    04    R
Granger, Kay    TX    12    R
Graves, Samuel    MO    06    R
Graves, Tom    GA    09    R
Griffin, Tim    AR    02    R
Griffith, Morgan    VA    09    R
Guinta, Franklin    NH    01    R
Guthrie, Brett    KY    02    R
Hall, Ralph    TX    04    R
Harper, Gregg    MS    03    R
Harris, Andy    MD    01    R
Hartzler, Vicky    MO    04    R
Hastings, Richard    WA    04    R
Hayworth, Nan    NY    19    R
Heck, Joseph    NV    03    R
Hensarling, Jeb    TX    05    R
Herger, Wally    CA    02    R
Herrera Beutler, Jaime    WA    03    R
Hoyer, Steny    MD    05    D
Huelskamp, Tim    KS    01    R
Huizenga, Bill    MI    02    R
Hultgren, Randy    IL    14    R
Hunter, Duncan    CA    52    R
Hurt, Robert    VA    05    R
Issa, Darrell    CA    49    R
Johnson, Bill    OH    06    R
Johnson, Samuel    TX    03    R
Johnson, Timothy    IL    15    R
Jordan, Jim    OH    04    R
Kelly, Mike    PA    03    R
Kind, Ron    WI    03    D
King, Steve    IA    05    R
Kingston, Jack    GA    01    R
Kinzinger, Adam    IL    11    R
Kline, John    MN    02    R
Labrador, Raul    ID    01    R

Lamborn, Doug    CO    05    R
Landry, Jeff    LA    03    R
Lankford, James    OK    05    R
Larsen, Rick    WA    02    D
Latta, Robert    OH    05    R
Lewis, Jerry    CA    41    R
Lewis, John    GA    05    D
Long, Billy    MO    07    R
Lucas, Frank    OK    03    R
Luetkemeyer, Blaine    MO    09    R
Lummis, Cynthia    WY    AL    R
Lungren, Daniel    CA    03    R
Mack, Connie    FL    14    R
Manzullo, Donald    IL    16    R
Marchant, Kenneth    TX    24    R
Matheson, James    UT    02    D
McCarthy, Kevin    CA    22    R
McCaul, Michael    TX    10    R
McClintock, Tom    CA    04    R
McCotter, Thaddeus    MI    11    R
McDermott, Jim    WA    07    D
McHenry, Patrick    NC    10    R
McKeon, Howard    CA    25    R
McKinley, David    WV    01    R
McMorris Rodgers, Cathy    WA    05    R
Mica, John    FL    07    R
Miller, Brad    NC    13    D
Miller, Candice    MI    10    R
Miller, Gary    CA    42    R
Miller, Jeff    FL    01    R
Moore, Gwendolynne    WI    04    D
Mulvaney, Mick    SC    05    R
Murphy, Tim    PA    18    R
Myrick, Sue    NC    09    R
Neugebauer, Randy    TX    19    R
Noem, Kristi    SD    AL    R
Nugent, Richard    FL    05    R
Nunes, Devin    CA    21    R
Nunnelee, Alan    MS    01    R
Olson, Pete    TX    22    R
Palazzo, Steven    MS    04    R
Paul, Ronald    TX    14    R
Paulsen, Erik    MN    03    R
Pearce, Stevan    NM    02    R
Pelosi, Nancy    CA    08    D
Pence, Michael    IN    06    R
Petri, Thomas    WI    06    R
Pitts, Joseph    PA    16    R
Poe, Ted    TX    02    R
Pompeo, Mike    KS    04    R
Posey, Bill    FL    15    R
Price, David    NC    04    D
Price, Thomas    GA    06    R
Quayle, Ben    AZ    03    R
Rahall, Nick    WV    03    D
Reed, Tom    NY    29    R
Rehberg, Dennis    MT    AL    R
Reichert, David    WA    08    R
Renacci, Jim    OH    16    R
Ribble, Reid    WI    08    R
Rigell, Scott    VA    02    R
Rivera, David    FL    25    R
Roby, Martha    AL    02    R
Roe, David    TN    01    R
Rogers, Harold    KY    05    R
Rogers, Michael    AL    03    R
Rogers, Michael    MI    08    R
Rohrabacher, Dana    CA    46    R
Rokita, Todd    IN    04    R
Rooney, Thomas    FL    16    R
Roskam, Peter    IL    06    R
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana    FL    18    R
Ross, Dennis    FL    12    R
Royce, Edward    CA    40    R
Ruppersberger, C.A.    MD    02    D
Ryan, Paul    WI    01    R
Scalise, Steve    LA    01    R
Schilling, Robert    IL    17    R
Schmidt, Jeannette    OH    02    R
Schock, Aaron    IL    18    R
Schweikert, David    AZ    05    R
Scott, Austin    GA    08    R
Scott, David    GA    13    D
Scott, Tim    SC    01    R
Sensenbrenner, Jim    WI    05    R
Sessions, Pete    TX    32    R
Shimkus, John    IL    19    R
Shuster, William    PA    09    R
Simpson, Michael    ID    02    R
Smith, Adrian    NE    03    R
Smith, D. Adam    WA    09    D
Smith, Lamar    TX    21    R
Southerland, Steve    FL    02    R
Stearns, Clifford    FL    06    R
Stivers, Steve    OH    15    R
Stutzman, Marlin    IN    03    R
Sullivan, John    OK    01    R
Terry, Lee    NE    02    R
Thompson, Bennie    MS    02    D
Thompson, Glenn    PA    05    R
Thornberry, Mac    TX    13    R
Tiberi, Patrick    OH    12    R
Tipton, Scott    CO    03    R
Turner, Michael    OH    03    R
Upton, Frederick    MI    06    R
Vacant    NV    02    R
Vacant    NY    09    D
Vacant    OR    01    D
Van Hollen, Chris    MD    08    D
Walberg, Tim    MI    07    R
Walden, Gregory    OR    02    R
Walsh, Joe    IL    08    R
Watt, Melvin    NC    12    D
Waxman, Henry    CA    30    D
Webster, Daniel    FL    08    R
West, Allen    FL    22    R
Westmoreland, Lynn    GA    03    R
Whitfield, Edward    KY    01    R
Wilson, Joe    SC    02    R
Wittman, Robert    VA    01    R
Wolf, Frank    VA    10    R
Womack, Steve    AR    03    R
Woodall, Rob    GA    07    R
Yoder, Kevin    KS    03    R
Young, C.W.    FL    10    R
Young, Todd    IN    09    R


Yet Another Appeasement in Store?

Another Perspective Donald L. Foley - NBA, retired

Not to state it over-broadly, but the fate of collective bargaining for postal employees and the fate of the Postal Service itself may well depend upon the decision of the National Mediation Board concerning employees of the Federal Aviation Administration. Altering a rule of some 75 years standing, last year the Board ruled that union certification votes in the aviation and railroad industries should be by ordinary rules for counting votes in a democratic election. That is to say, the Board revised the old rules in a manner that requires a union certification election to be controlled by the votes of only those who vote, not including votes of those who choose not to vote. Under the old rules, in a union certification election for a bargaining unit of 100 employees, if 75 employees cast ballots, the remaining 25 employees who chose not to vote were all counted as ‘nay’ votes – meaning in effective that, regardless how many employees voted, the only way to achieve an affirmative result would be to register a full majority of all 100 employees in the bargaining unit. In nearly all democratic election processes, a majority is of those who vote; it does not count those who fail to exercise the right to vote. So the National Mediation Board changed the rule – a majority vote would be of those who vote.

As one might imagine, this rule – making it easier to achieve a majority in favor of union certification – ran afoul of the agenda of most Republican Congress persons. And, because of this rule by the National Mediation Board, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives brought the operations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a very near standstill earlier this year. The House refused to adopt the normally perfunctory funding bill for the FAA, causing the FAA to experience a circumstance not unlike the economic situation presently confronting the Postal Service. In short, the FAA did not have the money to operate all of its functions – contracted work was halted, inspections were delayed or terminated, nearly everything other than manning the control towers of our airports stopped. Finally, before Congress recessed, a very short term extension of funding the FAA was adopted – with a requirement to revisit the issue after the summer recess (stop-gap funding expires September 16).

When Congress gets back to work very soon, Postal employees would do well to pay very close attention to what happens with the FAA funding and the Federal Mediation Board rule. We ought not to simply sit on the sidelines, either.

It amazes me that so little has been said about this fight in labor or progressive media sources, though there does appear to be some appetite among some Democratic members of Congress to take on the fight – one of the few that may bear fruit for labor. Labor should get behind this issue in a big way. And I believe we would be right to fear that, at some point, President Obama will decide to exercise his unique “negotiation” skills to resolve the impasse over FAA funding. Should President Obama negotiate away the gain achieved through the National Mediation Board ruling – recognizing simple democratic voting principles – in order to appease the Republican radical right (once again) it would be a significant setback for labor. But even more important to Postal employees, it would signal to us that we cannot count on this administration to protect the collective bargaining rights of Postal employees. Where, supposedly, little is actually at stake – the FAA is not all that big a government agency, and no presently protected union employees’ jobs are threatened – one might easily see Obama cause the National Mediation Board ruling to be reversed to achieve ordinary financing of the FAA operations.

However, such a move by Obama – unfortunately typical appeasement of the radical right – would also signal that he will have no stomach for the support necessary to save the collective bargaining rights of Postal unions in the struggle to save the Postal Service. The stakes for the economy in the battle to save the Postal Service from itself and from Republican radicalism are so high that, I’m afraid, they will sway Obama in exactly the wrong direction. If Obama cannot muster the intestinal fortitude to protect future union recognition votes in the aviation and railroad industries, he will fold like a house of cards when confronted with the need to protect the Unions while preserving the Postal Service. My deepest hope is that Obama never becomes involved “resolving” this fight; my deepest fear is that he will.

While we wage our campaign to convince Congress to save the Postal Service and to save our jobs, we should also take the time to convince Congress to save the National Mediation Board ruling in favor of democratic union certification elections. Or ignore it at our peril.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Labor Day Events Around the State

September 05 - Fox Valley / Neenah-Menasha

10:00 A.M. The Parade Route starts in Menasha on Milwaukee Street to Main Street down Tayco Street to Neenah Commercial Street and turns on Wisconsin Avenue ends at the intersection of Church and Main Street.

Neenah Labor Temple 157 S Green Bay Road, Neenah, Wisconsin LIVE MUSIC BEAKER STREET 11:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. LITTLE VITO & THE TORPEDOES 3:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M. Corn Roast, Paddlewheel, Beverage & Food Tents, Huge Crafts & White Elephant Sale. FACE PAINTING by BEST FRIENDS BADGER BOUNCERS

September 05 - Kenosha Laborfest

12:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  This is the annual Kenosha Laborfest featuring booths from all labor organizations in the Kenosha area. Exceptional variety of food vendors at reasonable prices and free kids activities. Raffle prizes, beer tent and activities for the whole family. Rain or Shine!  Sponsored by: Kenosha Central Labor Council.  Location: St. Therese Picnic Grounds, 9005 22nd Ave. (91st. St. & 22nd Ave.), Kenosha, WI 53142

September 05 - Marinette Labor Day Picnic
Noon to 5:00 PM.  City Park, Marinette.  We will have food, beer, and a first class blues band (Kilborn Alley Blues Band- to celebrate solidarity. The local police and firefighters will also be having events for children. Show up and join the fight. 

September 05 - Greater Green Bay Labor Council Annual Labor Day Family Picnic

11:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Bay Beach Park.  Food and Refreshments, Rides, Raffles, Music, Bingo, Games for the Kids.  Click here for flyer and agenda.

September 05 - Oshkosh Labor Day Picnic and Car Show 
The Winnebago County Labor Council will be hosting the Annual City-Wide Labor Day Picnic and Car Show in South Park in Oshkosh Wisconsin.  Along with the picnic we will be having our 11th Annual Antique and Classic Automobile Show all day in the park. Food and refreshments will be sold from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  Live music will be from 12 noon till 4:00 P.M.  Raffle prizes will be given away and BINGO will be played all day at the picnic. We hope to see you there!!

September 05 - Wausau Labor Day Parade 
Assembly @ 3:00 p.m. (On West Wausau Ave between 1st And 3rd Ave).  Parade Starts @ 4:00 p.m.  Grand Marshal Donna Seidel Rep from the 85th Assembly District.  Citizen of The Year John Spiegelhoff AFSCME Bus Rep.  Labor Day Parade Food Drive: We will be collecting non-perishable food items and cash donations. Donations will be given to the Neighbors Place. (Look for vehicle and staff at the end of the parade or drop off at the Labor Temple parking lot.)  For more info Contact Randy Radtke @ cell 715-370-8908, home715-845-7094 or or check us out on the web @

September 05 - Milwaukee Labor Day Parade & Laborfest
Parade assembly begins at 9:30am with kick-off at 11:00am from Zeider Union Square Park. Laborfest is held on the Summerfest grounds and runs from noon until 5:00pm. There is plenty of food, fun and speakers. Please join the festivities!!  Click here to print poster

September 05 - La Crosse Labor Fest

The Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO LABOR DAY Parade begins at 10 a.m. on the North Side of La Crosse.  Labor Fest runs from 10 a.m. until approximately 2:30 p.m. at the north end of Copeland Park. Food Sold by Pogy’s Catering: Brats, Hot Dogs, Chips and Candy (cash must be used to purchase this food, no tokens accepted)  City Brewery Beer and Pepsi Products Sold by the Labor Council. Bingo Games hosted by IAFF Local 127 -- approximately 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.  Music provided by Vic Stone, Disc Jockey.  Saw Dust Pile with coins for the Kids (time to be announced)  To buy labor day tokens before the event, please contact Mike Koziara at (608) 317-9755.  Click here for flyer & parade route.

September 05 - Eau Claire

Greater West Central Area Labor Council Labor Day Walk, Rally and Picnic.  Walks from 4 locations around the city of Eau Claire to Phoenix Park in beautiful down town Eau Claire begin at 10AM.  Rally at Phoenix Park 11-Noon. Picnic, music, and prizes 12-3 PM. Raffle for $ with proceeds to “Feed My People” in West Central Wisconsin.  Open to “All Who Labor” but we ask for a non-perishable food item for our food bank.  Contact information to Jack Connell (715-529-3426). 

September 05 - Fond du Lac Labor Day Parade and Picnic
The Fond du Lac Labor Day Parade begins at 11:00am followed by a picnic at Lakeside Park in Oven Island. Food and refreshments will be served and live music will play from 1:00 - 5:00.

September 05 - Madison LaborFest
Annual Labor Day Celebration. Two bands, food & drink, kids activities, display tables, Solidarity Roll Call

September 05 - Racine County Labor Fest

Runs from noon to 5:00P on Monday, September 5th. Through the generousity of the tavern league,local unions, and their members food, beer, and soda are free. Games for the children, antique auto show, and political speeches. The three annual awards will be presented by 2:00 PM.  Franksville Park, 9700 Northwestern Ave., Franksville, WI 53126.  Click here for flyer.

Source: Wisconsin AFL-CIO

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tea Party Joe

Joe gets up at 6 am and fills his coffeepot with water. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, Joe takes his daily medication. His medicine is safe because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but ten dollars of his prescriptions are paid by his employer's medical plan, because liberal union workers fought for medical insurance -now Joe gets it too. He prepares bacon and eggs for breakfast. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meatpacking industry.

Joe takes a shower and reaches for the shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its proportion of the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. .

Joe walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. He saves a lot of money in parking and gas because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, benefits, retirement, and paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he'll get a worker's comp or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is lunch time and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some· bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car, which is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by the Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe doesn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car to drive home, and listens to a talk radio show. The host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection Joe enjoys throughout the day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big government liberals running our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

This piece has been circulated in various forms on the Internet.

PPA Reprint: The Communicator

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PPA Conference – Orlando FL August 10, 2011

Attached is an excerpt from and interview between National APWU President Cliff Guffey and Radio and Television Host Ed Shultz on Progressive Radio in Madison, Wisconsin today.

Editors look on as the interview between Guffey and Schultz is played live.

Part of the interview revolves around the over-prepayment of $75M in funds by the Postal Service.

The entire interview will be linked at a later date.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died ...a letter from Michael Moore

Friday, August 5th, 2011


From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?", I say, "It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981."

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to "go for it" -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they've succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:

* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.

* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here's your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.

* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help -- or not.

* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can't leave now, we're not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.

* You want to go to college? No problem -- just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!

* What's "a raise"? Get back to work and shut up!

And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:


The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that's just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers -- they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.

Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.

And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything -- and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn't accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.

And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The "masses" did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, "Give those controllers their jobs back or we're shutting the country down!"? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.

But we didn't do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we're now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here's a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).

It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party -- we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they've done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money -- or step aside.

When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?

Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?


Michael Moore

P.S. Here are a few places you can connect with to get the ball rolling:

Showdown in America
Democracy Convention
Occupy Wall Street
October 2011
How to Join a Union, from the AFL-CIO (They've learned their lesson and have a good president now) or UE
Change to Win
High School Newspaper (Just because you're under 18 doesn't mean you can't do anything!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Office of Inspector General Report: Oshkosh, WI Processing and Distribution Facility Consolidation

We performed this review as a result of a congressional request on the consolidation of mail processing operations from Oshkosh, WI Processing and Distribution Facility (P&DF) imageinto the Green Bay, WI Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC). The objectives were to determine whether a business case exists to support the consolidation and to assess compliance with established area mail processing (AMP) guidelines.


Although the consolidation would result in cost savings, adequate facility and machine capacity does not exist at the Green Bay P&DC to process the additional mail volume and service could be negatively impacted. Our analysis also indicated that: (1) No career employees will lose their jobs at either location although there may be some reassignments; (2) Oshkosh P&DF is more efficient and processes its mail volumes at a lower cost than Green Bay P&DC; (3) Mail processing cost savings were overestimated, but significant savings still should be achieved; and (4) Some AMP guidelines were not followed, but had no impact on the business case.

Click here for full report

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on

“Gang of Six” Plan
July 20, 2011

Both parties keep telling us that deficit reduction requires “tough choices” and “shared sacrifice” and “taking on sacred cows.”  But then we keep seeing bipartisan support for plans like the so-called “Gang of Six” that cut Social Security benefits, kill jobs, give tax incentives for corporations to export good jobs overseas, tax health benefits, and lower tax rates for billionaires and corporations.  There’s no shared sacrifice here.  The only sacred cows being gored are working people, the middle class, seniors and the poor.  Though the plan is very specific when it comes to spelling out tax cuts for rich people, there are still a lot of blanks to be filled in.  Even so, we’ve seen enough to know that there is nothing here for working people.  We need to keep asking our leaders: “Who got us into this mess?”  It wasn’t working people.  The people who got us into this mess are getting off scot-free, and this Gang of Six proposal shows they have accomplices in both parties.

Friday, July 15, 2011

APWU Health Plan’s Blueprint to Medicare

This guide is designed to help you understand how APWU Health Plan works with Medicare. Dealing with one health insurance company is complicated enough, having to deal with another can be overwhelming. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for individuals:

     • Over 65 years of age
     • With certain disabilities
     • Who have end-stage renal failure
     • Lou Gehrig’s disease

Click Here for Medicare Brochure

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now is the Time to Contact Your Legislators!

On Thursday and Friday of last week a small but dedicated crew stuffed, stamped, and labeled 4000 letters to be sent out to all members of the APWU of Wisconsin. Included in this mailing is a letter for our members to sign and a stamped and addressed envelope for them to mail the letter in to their congressional representative. As local leaders your job is to make sure they mail it in. Please contact all of your stewards and tell them to remind members to send in their congressional letter. They should do this on the workroom floor and at service talks. You should also do follow ups with your representative to get them to cosponsor HR1351. No one else will do this for us. It is up to you to make sure this gets done.


Steve Lord, President - APWU of Wisconsin

Webmeister Note: If you are an APWU member and have not receive the aforementioned letter, you can contact President Lord at the following email address:  Steve Lord or at:

PO Box 2371
Oshkosh, WI 54903
Cell 920-279-0638

National Call-In Days: July 14-15



Your Social Security benefits are under attack by politicians in Washington. They want to:

  • Cut Social Security's Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) to reduce the deficit. But Social Security doesn't contribute a penny to the deficit.
  • Raid Social Security by using your contributions to give a tax break to Wall Street banks, Big Oil and other corporations.

They shouldn't get another taxpayer handout. Social Security belongs to you. You pay for it in every paycheck. Don't let them cut it or raid it!
Call your Senators on Thursday and Friday, July 14-15, at 1-866-251-4044.
Tell them:

  • NO cuts to Social Security!
  • NO cuts to Social Security's COLA!
  • NO Social Security payroll tax holiday!

No Cuts to Social Security

Contact WI Alliance for Retired Americans
6333 W. Bluemound Road
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53213

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling Affront to Democracy, Sets Dangerous Precedent - Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Blog

DSCF3434Earlier today the Wisconsin State Supreme Court overturned a permanent injunction issued by Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi earlier this month, effectively stripping workers of their collective bargaining rights. In the wake of the ruling, Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO issued the following statement:

The inability of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to separate partisan politics from the well-being of Wisconsinites is the latest indication that citizens do not have a voice in this state. And the only way for Wisconsinites to repair that voice is to take back the Senate this summer, stop Walker’s unbridled assault on working people and take back the statehouse in 2012.
Let’s be clear: This ruling will not silence the voices of millions of Wisconsinites who are appalled by Walker’s extreme choices, his addiction to corporate interests and his insistence on putting the wealthy ahead of the working. In their attempt to steamroll education, healthcare, and funding for seniors programs, Republicans have alienated countless Wisconsin families. Now, more than ever, Wisconsinites across the state are committed to holding Republicans accountable for their bad choices.
This ruling is an affront to our democracy. Green-lighting the sort of shady, backroom tactics that Governor Walker used to ram his extreme budget through the legislature sets a dangerous precedent for the future of our state. Democracy is the system by which all people, not just corporation and the wealthy, have a seat at the table – but this ruling is just one more indication that Wisconsin Republicans do not believe in a functioning, sound democracy inclusive of checks and balances.

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 John Akey Seminar



Hey Folks… here is the latest information regarding the 2011  John Akey Seminar.

Click here to view the updated registration information as well as the seminar listing of training classes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Milwaukee to Host Basic Steward Training Seminar

Mark Ferrari and Sue Pederson are putting on a basic steward's training class in Milwaukee on July 12th. They would be more than happy to accept people from other locals if they would like to attend.

They need to know if anyone is interested in attending the Seminar by June 30th.

The training will be at the Milwaukee Union Hall at 417 N. 3rd St., in Milwaukee. The training will start at 9am and last 4-6 hours. A light lunch will be provided (probably ham and/or turkey, rolls, chips, soda.)

For more information contact Mark Ferrari at:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Legislators Must Apply Pension Overpayments to Pre-Funding Bill

APWU News Bulletin 09-2011, May 17, 2011

Guffey to Senate Subcommittee:

In testimony before a Senate Subcommittee on May 17, APWU President Cliff Guffey urged legislators to take immediate action to restore financial stability to the cash-strapped agency.

“This is not a request for a subsidy or bailout of the Postal Service,” Guffey said at the hearing before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.

“The Postal Service is very capable of dealing with the challenges it is facing because of declining mail volumes and a shift to electronic transmissions,” the union president said. “What it cannot sustain is the burden of the unique and unreasonable requirement that it pre-fund its retiree health benefits over a 10-year period.” No other government agency or private company bears this burden.

The hearing was called to examine management plans and legislative proposals to address the USPS financial crisis, including an updated version of a bill introduced last year by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the subcommittee.

A Mixed Bag

Guffey praised provisions of Sen. Carper’s “POST Act” that would permit the USPS to use overpayments to its pension accounts to meet the pre-funding obligations, noting they would “give the Postal Service more than $5 billion in breathing room each year.”

But he also criticized several negative aspects of the bill. The proposed legislation would give the Postal Service authority to close post offices solely for financial reasons, and would require arbitrators to consider the financial health of the USPS when contract negotiations end in arbitration, he pointed out.

Guffey objected to proposals to allow management greater freedom to close small post offices, saying consideration must be given to the availability of postal services in these communities.

“We are sensitive to the cost and the possibility of deficits in small postal offices,” the union president added. “In our new National Agreement, we have agreed to flexible schedules and to the use of lower-wage and temporary workers in small facilities where such savings might increase the viability of small postal facilities.” Cutting service is not the answer to USPS financial difficulties, Guffey said.

Postal Workers Get the Blame

The union president also expressed the APWU’s “unalterable opposition” to proposals that would change the standards for arbitration when contract negotiations end in an impasse.

“The draft legislation we have seen would destroy the fairness of postal bargaining in several ways: It would put an arbitrary time limit on interest arbitration; it would make postal employees pay the price for congressionally-caused deficits employees have been powerless to prevent or alleviate, and it would place a cap on increases in postal wages.

“These provisions would gut free collective bargaining by postal employees, and the APWU is adamantly opposed to them,” Guffey said.

The APWU appreciates Sen. Carper’s leadership is addressing the pre-funding requirement and the overfunding of postal pension funds, Guffey said. “We will help in any way we can to support sensible legislation that does not seek to address postal financial problems at the expense of postal employees.”

APWU members are encouraged to contact their local legislators and urge them to support bills to correct the USPS financial crisis. “We must make legislative action a priority,” Guffey said.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Union Members Ratify Contract

APWU members approved a new contract May 11, with more than 75 percent of those casting ballots voting in favor of ratification. The final tally was 69,451 toContract 22,351 in balloting that ended May 10. The agreement will expire May 20, 2015.
“The new contract is an important achievement for the APWU,” said President Cliff Guffey. “We were able to retain protection against layoffs, bring back thousands of jobs in each craft, and limit excessing.
“The agreement includes many big changes, and I realize that some union activists are apprehensive,” Guffey added.“With help from the national union, I am confident that locals can implement the new provisions and protect the rights of APWU members.
“We also must make legislative activity a priority,” Guffey said. “We must support bills — such as H.R. 1351 — that will enable the Postal Service to remain viable in the future. This measure, which would correct postal funding inequities, is essential to our future.
“APWU members must visit members of Congress frequently and talk to them about our issues,” he said.
“In addition, we must focus on organizing,” the union president noted. “We have an opportunity to reach out to newly-hired workers and to non-members who are already on the rolls,” he said. “They will benefit from many of the new provisions, and we must let them know that their participation will make the union stronger.
“As a result of the new contract, the USPS will begin hiring — for the first time in many years. New people will strengthen the union and improve work life for current employees,” Guffey said.
New Provisions
In addition to safeguarding jobs and restricting excessing, the contract [PDF - members only] awards wage increases of 3.5 percent, as well as seven uncapped Cost-of-Living Adjustments. The first increase will take place in November 2012.
The agreement also includes several new concepts: The “full-time” designation will apply to any position of 30 or more hours per week and to any position of 48 hours or less per week. This will allow for the creation of a variety of full-time schedules, including four 10-hour days, three 12-hour days, and four 11-hour days.
However, no current employee can be forced into a full-time position of less than 40 hours per week or more than 44 hours per week. Furthermore, there will be no mandatory overtime for employees in non-traditional assignments or in functional areas that utilize non-traditional full-time assignments.
The new agreement also provides for the creation of new positions for non-career Postal Support Employees.
These employees will have the opportunity to join the ranks of the permanent, career workforce by seniority. They will be part of the APWU bargaining unit, and will receive raises, health benefits, and leave.
Transitional Employees and Casuals will be eligible for conversion to Postal Support Employees if they have passed the appropriate tests and are on the register. “We will begin to spread the word among TEs and Casuals right away and encourage them to take the necessary exams,” Guffey said.
The Numbers
Ballots were mailed to 176,611 union members, and more than 50 percent were returned by the deadline.
“I wish more union members voted,” Guffey said, “but I am pleased that participation increased substantially over previous ratification votes.” Forty percent of eligible union members took part in the ratification process for the 2006-2010 contract.
“The increase demonstrates that our membership is interested and active,” he said. 
Ballots were mailed to 35,668 non-members, who were invited to vote, provided they completed union sign-up cards that were enclosed in their ratification packets.
The vote count was conducted by the American Arbitration Association on May 11 near Washington, DC, under the supervision of the Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee. Clarice Torrence, chairperson of the committee, announced the final results at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Results showing the voting by individual locals will be posted at as soon as they become available. Winners of the union’s voter-participation contest will be announced as soon as they have been identified.
Bargaining between the APWU and the USPS began Sept. 1, 2010, approximately 90 days prior to the expiration of the old contract on Nov. 20. The parties agreed to several extensions while negotiations continued.
On March 14, the union and management announced a tentative agreement. The Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee voted unanimously to endorse the agreement, as did the National Executive Board.
“I want to thank the members of the union’s Negotiating Team for their invaluable assistance,” Guffey said. “They are Greg Bell, Executive Vice President; Mike Morris, Director of Industrial Relations; Rob Strunk, Director of the Clerk Craft; Steve Raymer, Director of the Maintenance Craft, and Bob Pritchard, Director of the Motor Vehicle Craft. In addition, APWU staff worked long hours and provided expertise that was crucial to our success.
“I also appreciate the seriousness and dedication of the members of the union’s Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee,” Guffey said. “They worked diligently to represent the membership of our union.
“Finally, thank you to all the union members who made the effort to read the agreement and vote. No matter how you voted, the APWU is stronger and better because of your participation.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2011 John Akey Seminar Scheduled–Make Your Plans Now!

The 2011 John Akey Seminar has been scheduled and as in the past, it looks to be a good one.

The Minnesota Postal Workers Union will host the seminar this year and it will be held August 13 - 14 at the Crowne Plaza in St Paul, MN.  Registration fee is $90 per person if paid by July 15th, $110 if paid later.

CLICK HERE... for information regarding room rates and educational seminar opportunities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Workers Memorial Day 2011: APWU Honors Those Killed or Injured on the Job

APWU Web News Article 046-2011, April 20, 2011

Each year, the APWU and the labor movement honors hard-working Americans killed or injured on the job and renews the fight for better health and safety protections in the workplace.

On April 28, the union joins the AFL-CIO in observing Workers Memorial Day on the 40th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). This year’s theme is Safe Jobs Save Lives: Our Work’s Not Done.

Despite the gains that have been made in the past four decades in ensuring safe workplaces, thousands of workers are still killed on the job, and millions more suffer from work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Unregulated and uncontrolled job hazards put workers in serious danger and cost lives,” AWPU Cliff Guffey said. “We must continue the fight to ensure every worker has the right to a safe job.”

This past year, the Postal Service was scrutinized for numerous willful and serious safety violations, including exposing employees to electrical hazards, under-recording illnesses and injuries in the workplace, and risking workers’ health from risks posed by Delivery Bar Code Sorter Machine operation. OSHA fined the USPS millions of dollars for these violations, and inspections are ongoing.

Although the union and our allies have fought hard for tougher enforcement on serious violations, proposed new safeguards for workplace hazards, and won protections that have made jobs safer, many anti-labor representatives are attacking these measures and trying to slash the budget for job safety enforcement and standards.

“No stone must be left unturned in our efforts to protect workers,” Guffey said. “On April 28, let us pause to remember those who have suffered and rededicate ourselves to safety on the job.”

For Workers Memorial Day materials and suggestions for how to organize an observance, please visit the AFL-CIO Web site.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What would happen if…?

Keeping a Tight Line

With Local Business Agent Peggy Whitney

What would happen if my next pay check was reduced by 10 percent? image

What would happen if my next pay check was reduced by 10 percent and my share of health insurance premiums increased by 50 percent on my next paycheck and every paycheck? What would happen to my actual take home pay?

What would happen to my retirement pension account if my contributions to my Thrift Savings Plan were no longer matched by my employer? What would happen to my retirement?

What would happen if, in addition to the reductions in my pay, pension and health care benefits, my earned sick leave and annual leave was also reduced by 50 percent, and What would happen if I was a young female with a difficult pregnancy or a middle aged man recovering from knee surgery and needed light duty work for 3-4' weeks and my boss told me "there isn't any such thing as light duty-Go Home !"?

What would happen to my bills and my mortgage payment?

What would happen if my 25 years of service was no longer considered Seniority, and

What would happen if there was no such thing as Seniority so, I couldn't bid for jobs, work locations or even work schedules?

What would happen if there is no such thing as Seniority so, Management could mandate me to work, massive overtime, every single holiday, or placed me on a work schedule I couldn't work, and

What would happen if I absolutely couldn't work when Management mandated me to, or I made a mistake and forgot to scan a parcel, and I was fired?

What would happen if I was fired from my job after 25 years of Service and I went to my Union to file a grievance and

I didn't have a Union?

What Would Happen to Me?

What Would Happen to You?

Source: PPA Reprint - The Northern Light (Minneapolis Area Local APWU)

Another Perspective

By: Donald L. Foley

Full member, retired

I’ve read the comments of former president Bill Burrus on the tentative Agreement. And it seems no great surprise he has criticized it. You may have heard the rumors I did that Brother Burrus thought he ought to have been kept on for contract negotiations after the end of his term of office and that he told the Executive Board that, should the contract go unresolved to arbitration, the Union should hire him with an appointment as our arbitrator for the panel. Instead, the new Executive Board did as it should – took upon itself the full weight of securing a new National Agreement. And it would seem, it has been successful. That Brother Burrus disagrees with one aspect of the economic package merely reflects the tunnel vision that dominated his involvement in contract negotiations during his tenure.

As I have suggested previously, the Union has hamstrung itself for one negotiation after another by pandering, to the near exclusion of all other matters, to the obvious desire of the members for pay raises. Not that there is anything wrong with pay raises. Everyone wants to earn more for what we do. I’ve defended the professional athletes’ enormous pay packages, because they have derived from the effort to force ownership to share the enormous profits derived from the exercise of those workers’ skills. But, when the APWU has focused so narrowly on pay raises, it has done so at the expense of a great many other pressing issues. For thirty years it should have been obvious that there were problems in the workplace that, though demanding of correction, went ignored when the contract was negotiated (or arbitrated) every few years.

And, while Brother Burrus would place himself in the company of Stu Filbey and other great leaders of this Union, contract reality shows stagnation in National Agreement negotiations for thirty years. The APWU National Agreement – originally negotiated by a team representing the joint efforts of all the great Unions/Craft organizations – was a work of art perhaps unmatched by anything in labor management negotiation of a first contract anywhere. It established rights and procedures to protect the bargaining unit that were reflective both of long-held labor principles and of what was then the thought that the federal government ought to act as a model employer. And it was perfected (though with some difficulties and some setbacks even then) in the next couple Agreements. Thus, the great contract under which hundreds of thousands of postal workers have worked and been protected was that created prior to 1980 – not by Brother Burrus or Brother Moe Biller, who first reached national office as the Biller-Burrus-Richards ticket in the 1980 elections. Since that time what dominated each successive contract negotiation was – how much more money are we going to get? And little attention was paid to our other issues.

Is it right that we have negotiated for future workers a less advantageous pay scale? For their long-term economic benefit, perhaps not; but on that point, all we can do is speculate. Consider that Burrus negotiated into the last National Agreement a transfer of jobs from career bargaining unit jobs to non-career, non-bargaining unit jobs; and consider that the last National Agreement did nothing to stem the persistent outflow of jobs from the Postal Service. How well did these factors of the last Agreement serve the interests of future postal workers – some of whom would never become career, some of whom would never even be postal workers? Not only does the new tentative Agreement eliminate the casual employment that Burrus helped to bolster, but it also creates a career path based on seniority for the new bargaining unit non-career assistant (NCA) workers. So, if one wanted to speculate about the cost to future workers, one would also have to speculate on such things as – how many more workers we will have; how many of those workers will be career instead of casual; how their pay scales may eventually be improved as this dismal economy regains its strength.

And, speaking of this economy, I cannot see any rational expectation that arbitration of this National Agreement could have accomplished a positive economic outcome, nor would it have achieved the bold initiatives we see in this Agreement. Additionally, there is simply no reason to suppose the economy will improve much any time soon. There are far too many factors in play, far too much damage has been done in the transfer of wealth to the wealthy, far too little political will exists for real job creation. In other words, the Union had to work with the hand we were dealt.

I fully expect I will have some good reason to offer specific criticism of some of the terms of this New Agreement – that seems evident from the highlights and talking points being presented. However, a full assessment of this Agreement cannot be made without having the opportunity to read and digest the entirety of it. Looking forward to that opportunity when the full tentative Agreement is published, let me urge every member to exercise due diligence and study what has been negotiated and then, VOTE.