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Postal News Roundup

Why the US Postal Service is never affected by government shutdowns

Business Insider - “The shutdown only affects congressional funding that is approved annually, so self-sustaining operations like the Postal Service are spared.”

Postal Service responds to Rockland fire chief's concerns

Knox Village Soup - The U.S. Postal Service is defending its response to an incident last month when smoke was reported in the Rockland post office and staff initially refused to evacuate when the fire chief arrived. The spokesman for the Postal Service called the matter a ‘soot incident’ that did not occur in the portion of the building leased by the Postal Service…Rockland Fire Chief Christopher Whytock said the Rockland Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has a clear mission, ‘to protect life, property and the environment.’… He said the building had deficiencies in life safety codes. ‘The lack of basic smoke detection is clear. Fire doors that should be providing common areas with proper separation are also not correct by NFPA 101 standards. As far as the fire extinguishers are concerned, I  saw one in the common hallway, and on the day of the initial call, [it] had a tag that showed the extinguisher was past its inspection,’ the chief said.”

Why was the U.S. Postal Service at CES?

Marketwatch - “The post office has been exhibiting at CES, the largest annual tech conference, for nearly two decades, including at the 2019 show, where the national mail carrier showed off its ‘Informed Delivery’ system, an online service and app that lets registered users view grayscale images of incoming letters before they are delivered to their mailboxes. The agency also showed off a ‘connected home mailbox’ capable of providing ‘capacity alerts’ and delivery notices. An announcer speaking on a microphone encouraged visitors to stop by the booth and check out the smart mailbox that ‘turns the conventional home mailbox into a smart device’ and represents ‘the future of mail delivery.’”

UPS and Latch are expanding in-building deliveries to 10 more cities

Tech Crunch - “After launching apparently successful pilot runs in San Francisco and New York, UPS announced today plans to expand its in-building delivery service to 10 additional U.S. cities. In mid-2019, the parcel service will be adding Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and Seattle.”

Amazon tests traffic management system for drones

Dayton Daily News - “Drone technology is becoming common, so common that Amazon is now testing an air traffic management system to prevent mid-air collisions.”

‘Will work for pay’: Furloughed federal workers stage sit-in outside senators’ offices; 12 arrested

The Washington Post - “On the 33rd day of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands without pay, union leaders and furloughed federal workers marched into the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday and demanded a meeting. When office staff refused, a dozen of them took a seat in the hallway outside. “Majority Leader McConnell, where are you?” asked Jeffery David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.”

Elizabeth Warren to propose new ‘wealth tax’ on very rich Americans, economist says

The Washington Post - “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will propose a new annual “wealth tax” on Americans with more than $50 million in assets, according to an economist advising her on the plan, as Democratic leaders vie for increasingly aggressive solutions to the nation’s soaring wealth inequality. Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two left-leaning economists at the University of California, Berkeley, have been advising Warren on a proposal to levy a 2 percent wealth tax on Americans with assets above $50 million, as well as a 3 percent wealth tax on those who have more than $1 billion, according to Saez.”

U.S. Labor Market Powers On Despite Growth Concerns

The Wall Street Journal - “A gauge of layoffs across the U.S. fell last week to the lowest level since 1969, suggesting the labor market remains on solid ground despite concerns of slowing economic growth. Initial jobless claims declined by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 199,000 in the week ended Jan. 19, the Labor Department said Thursday. This marks the lowest level for claims since November 1969, when applications clocked in at 197,000.”

Forced to work, and unable to strike: US federal workers need solidarity

The Guardian - “As the government shutdown enters its second month, we are witnessing an unprecedented effort by the administration to starve out federal employees, decimate the agencies we compose, and undermine the very foundation of the civil service. Unprecedented – but not unexpected….But more than anything else, federal workers need solidarity from the broader labor movement: actual material support while we are locked out or forced to work without pay can help bring us to our feet. We need all unions to defend the role of the public sector and the integrity of civil service against small government fanatics. And we need political repression and intimidation in federal agencies to be understood as a threat to all of labor.”

Poll: Majority of voters support $15 minimum wage

The Hill - “A majority of Americans support increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, according to a poll released Thursday. The latest Hill-HarrisX poll found that 55 percent of registered voters said they would support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Another 27 percent said it should be increased but to a lesser amount.”

Los Angeles Teachers Have Approved a Contract to End Their Six-Day Strike

Time - “Teachers overwhelmingly approved a new contract Tuesday and planned to return to the classroom after a six-day strike over funding and staffing in the nation’s second-largest school district. Although all votes hadn’t been counted, preliminary figures showed that a ‘vast supermajority’ of some 30,000 educators voted in favor of the tentative deal, ‘therefore ending the strike and heading back to schools tomorrow,’ said Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.”

Denver teachers strike: Union votes to authorize first walkout in 25 years

The Denver Post - “Denver teachers have voted to strike in the name of fair wages, marking the first time educators in Colorado’s largest school district have agreed to walk out of their classrooms in 25 years. The results of voting by the teachers union — the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, which represents about two-thirds of Denver Public Schools’ 5,600 educators — were announced Tuesday night following the culmination of balloting that began on Saturday. ‘Tonight, Denver teachers overwhelmingly agreed to strike,” Rob Gould, the union’s lead negotiator, said at a press conference. “Ninety three percent voted to strike. They’re striking for better pay. They’re striking for our profession. And they’re striking for Denver students.’”

Union membership rises in Missouri, bucking national trend

St. Louis Post Dispatch - “The defeat of a right-to-work law wasn't Missouri unions' only victory in 2018: They also added 25,000 members, bucking a national trend. The gain meant that 9.4 percent of all Missouri workers were union members last year, up from 8.7 percent in 2017. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that union membership fell to 10.5 percent from 10.7 percent. Over the last 15 years, however, union membership has fallen faster in Missouri than in the nation.”

What It's Like To Lose Your Local Post Office

HuffPost UK - United Kingdom - “It’s part of a wave of closures of Crown post offices we’ve seen in recent years which has been an effort by the post office to save money and cut costs,’ he told HuffPost UK. ‘The reason why it delivers big savings for the Post Office is because it replaces decent, well-paid union organised jobs on secure terms, with low-paid, insecure work. The savings are on the back of undermining decent, quality work,’ he said."