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USPS closes Pulaski post office citing safety reasons

WSLS 10 - “People in southwest Virginia who tried to go to their local post office Thursday are feeling frustrated after they received an unwanted surprise. The United States Postal Service issued an emergency suspension in Pulaski, closing down the building for safety reasons. The post office will be closed starting Friday.”

Amazon and USPS: Not a Jungle Out There

The Wall Street Journal, Op-Ed - “By law our competitive package products, including those that we deliver for Amazon, must cover their costs…While Josh Sandbulte gets some things right about the U.S. Postal Service in “Why the Post Office Gives Amazon Special Delivery” (op-ed, July 14), he provides an inaccurate and unfair account of the package delivery side of the USPS’s business. By law our competitive package products, including those that we deliver for Amazon, must cover their costs. Our regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), looks carefully at this question every year and has determined that they do. The PRC has also noted that competitive...”

Another blow for heartland workers: Slashed pensions

CBS News - “February was a bad month for Larry Burruel and thousands of other retired Ohio iron workers. His monthly take-home pension was cut by more than half from $3,700 to $1,600. Things have been rough in the Rust Belt, but this was a particularly powerful punch in the pocketbook for Burruel, who started in the trade at 19 and worked 36 years before opting for early retirement to make way for younger workers. Unfortunately, this sagging industry doesn't have enough younger workers to pay for retirees like Burruel, whose pension plan is in what the U.S. Treasury Department calls "critical and declining status." Burruel and the 400,000 members of his Central States Pension Fund are the canaries in the coal mine as far as pension cutbacks go. At least 50 Midwestern pension plans -- mostly the kind jointly administered by trustees for a labor union and a group of employers -- are in this decrepit condition. Several plan sponsors have already applied to the Treasury Department to cut back retirees' allotments.”

Toss Out Your Milquetoast Campaign Slogans: It’s Time to Build Power: To win elections, People’s Action is mobilizing from the grassroots.

In These Times - “Laurel Wales teaches people how to run for public office, but her aim isn’t just to win elections. She hopes to build a broader, stronger progressive movement and a more representative democracy. “We want to change how elections happen,” she says. “We’re teaching them not only how to run for office, but what it looks like to run with the movement, for the movement, by the movement.” Wales is the deputy director of movement politics at People’s Action, which is cultivating people to run at every level of government.” 

Robots Are Replacing Workers Where You Shop

The Wall Street Journal - “Wal-Mart and other large retailers, under pressure from Amazon, turn to technology to do workers’ rote tasks… Last August, a 55-year-old Wal-Mart employee found out her job was being taken over by a robot. Her task was to count cash and track the accuracy of the store’s books from a desk in a windowless backroom. She earned $13 an hour. Instead, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. started using a hulking gray machine that counts eight bills per second and 3,000 coins a minute.”

There's a large group of Americans missing out on the American dream

Business Insider - “There's a growing tendency for mainstream economists, including several of those at the Federal Reserve, to dismiss all income disparities as the product of a skills- or education gap, a misleading explanation given weak wage growth that points to ongoing weakness in the job market.  So it was relieving to see, tucked in the US central bank’s latest semi-annual report to Congress on monetary policy, an analysis of recent inequality research that refutes the idea that education is the only factor behind income inequality. Race, unsurprisingly, also plays a major role, as do social and economic measures, including taxation, interest rates, and labor policies...”

From overtime rules to worker protections, 5 ways Trump is shifting labor policy

The Chicago Tribune - “Whether you call it a weakening of worker protections or an easing of over-regulation, labor policy is in the midst of a shift under President Donald Trump's administration. A Senate committee is set to vote Wednesday on nominees to the National Labor Relations Board who would give the agency a Republican majority expected to reverse major pro-labor decisions issued during the presidency of Barack Obama.”

House Republican budget slashes billions in spending, paving path to tax cuts

CNN - “After months of infighting, House Republicans are unveiling a budget resolution Tuesday that would dramatically reshape the federal government, requiring more than $200 billion in cuts to mandatory programs and set the path for a major overhaul of the tax code. The document is essentially a GOP wish list with many of the policies and reforms Republicans have pushed for years like repealing Obamacare, rolling back financial regulations, paring back social welfare programs and getting rid of some of the Obama Administration's top priorities. Even before the budget panel set the topline numbers for the 2018 fiscal year, the appropriations committee already crafted spending bills that designated $621 billion for defense spending and $511 billion for non-military domestic programs.”

Hits on federal retirement advance as bill is introduced to fire feds for ‘no cause at all’

The Washington Post  - “House Republicans greeted current and future federal employees with two controversial body blows in recent days — one amounts to a pay cut and the other would allow new feds to be fired for “no cause at all.” The House Budget Committee approved a spending plan that would save the government $163.5 billion over 10 years by taking that amount from federal employees. They would pay that in the form of “greater contributions to their own defined benefit retirement plans,” according to the panel’s budget document. Republicans call their plan “Building a Better America.”  But the Americans now working to build a better country through their federal jobs would be called on to sacrifice again, as they have repeatedly over the years.”

OSHA Enforcement Faces New Cuts Under House Bill

Bloomberg BNA - “Fewer federal OSHA inspections will likely be conducted next year under a proposed fiscal year 2018 spending plan the House Appropriations Committee released July 18. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s enforcement budget would be cut more than 7 percent to $194.3 million, trimming $14.7 million from the agency’s fiscal year 2017 enforcement spending. No funding cut is sought for enforcement programs administered by states, which would receive $100.9 million, the same as in fiscal 2017. The committee is expected to vote July 19 on the spending plan, which also funds other Labor Department safety agencies. During the hearing, Democrats will likely try to increase funding for OSHA and workplace safety agencies, a Democratic aide told Bloomberg BNA July 18. In past hearings, party-line votes have defeated most Democratic amendments.”

Trump’s Renegotiation of NAFTA Is Starting to Look a Lot Like the TPP

The Nation - “What happened to his campaign promise to write better rules for trade?”

Denmark’s postal service doubles losses

The Local DK – Denmark - “Postnord, the company responsible for distribution of Denmark’s post, has doubled its losses during the first half of 2017. The company’s turnover has also fallen, reports broadcaster DR. The company, which has 60 percent Swedish and 40 percent Danish ownership, lost 748 million Swedish kronor (78 million euros) during the first hald of 2017, more than double the amount 304 million Swedish kronor (32 million euros) loss from the same period last year. The result is affected by strong digitalisation in Denmark, which has not been balanced by increased logistical turnover and turnover adaptations in delivery operations.”