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Postal News Roundup

Labor Notes: How We're Surviving Right to Work: Boston Postal Workers Use Grievances to Build the Union
“Federal-employee unions are all open shop. Yet the Postal Workers (APWU) Boston Metro Area Local, representing 2,100 workers, hovers around 94 percent membership. ‘I think the key is get to them as often as you can, early in their career,’ says General President Scott Hoffman. At each new-hire orientation, a representative walks new hires through the benefits the union has won. A week later there’s another chance, at the training session for window clerks. ‘We ask who still hasn’t joined or had anybody talk to them,’ Hoffman says. ‘Try to get as many bites at the apple as you can in the beginning…’

Federal News Radio: Postal regulatory agency to conclude postage review this fall
“The U.S. Postal Service’s independent regulatory body may raise the price of a postage stamp after it finishes reviewing the current rate-setting system later this fall. The Postal Regulatory Commission’s ruling later this year could give USPS some of the pricing flexibility on postal products that Postmaster General Brennan has repeatedly called for as part of a larger campaign to reform the Postal Service’s financial future. The current cost of a first-class stamp is 49 cents. The PRC in April 2016 repealed a 2 cent exigent postal rate increase that had been in place since the 2008 recession, bringing the price of a stamp down to 47 cents, but had reversed that decision this January. The PRC regularly reviews postal rates to keep pace with inflation. USPS recently announced that it ended its second quarter of fiscal 2017 with a $562 million loss…”

Marketplace.org: The Postal Service wants you, millennials
“The Postal Service’s workforce is aging. In fact, almost a third of its approximately 640,000 workers are eligible to retire. Sixty-five year old Larry Anthony is one of them. He’s a mail carrier in Silver Spring, Maryland. On a rainy May morning, Anthony loaded up his mail truck for the day and headed out on his route.  Anthony's been with the Postal Service for nearly 33 years, and the job has changed a lot over that time. With less mail to deliver, the Postal Service downsized. But it still has to deliver to almost every address in the country. So, with fewer carriers, Anthony said sometimes he has to work overtime… But new Postal Service workers don’t have quite the same benefits as older ones like Larry Anthony. He said he sent two of his kids to college on his Postal Service salary. ‘Yeah, the Postal Service – they do take care of their carriers nicely, especially the older ones,’ he said. ‘Now, the newer ones – it’s going to take them a while to get where we are…’”

Government Executive: 200K Postal Workers Would See Pay Raises, Benefit Cuts Under New Labor Contract
“More than 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees would be in line for a raise but face a slight decrease in health benefits under a recently unveiled tentative labor contract. The National Association of Letter Carriers, which represents 213,000 city mailmen and women across the country, reached the agreement with USPS management to avoid binding arbitration. NALC members will vote in the coming months on whether to formally ratify the contract, though the union’s executive council has unanimously recommended its members do so…”

USPS: Response to Lexington Institute’s “Getting the Details Right” article
“How ironic, that in his article for the Lexington Institute on “Saving the Postal Service requires getting the details right,” Don Soifer doesn’t get much right at all. Contrary to his assertions, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the oversight body tasked by Congress with reviewing the matter, has concluded every year that products covered by the letter monopoly do not cross-subsidize the Postal Service’s competitive products. The reason we continue to attract e-commerce customers and grow our package delivery business is not because of unfair competition with private carriers, as Mr. Soifer alleges, but because customers increasingly see the value of our predictable service, enhanced visibility, and competitive pricing…”

News Leader: Beam Bros. Trucking execs guilty of conspiracy
“…Between 1999 and 2017, Beam Brothers Trucking knowingly violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's safety regulations by encouraging, permitting, causing or requiring drivers for Beam Brothers Trucking to make trips in violation of federal safety regulations designed to prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes caused by fatigued drivers, according to evidence presented by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen J. Pfleger and Christopher Kavanaugh…”

The Independent: Commission to hold hearing on G.I. post office
“Hall County Supervisors Pam Lancaster and Doug Lanfear were very happy with a piece of mail they received from the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday. The letter told them that the Postal Regulatory Commission, located in Washington, D.C., will hold a hearing in June about the Postal Service’s plans for Grand Island. In April, the Postal Service announced that it will close the main post office next year and consolidate its Grand Island operations at the processing and distribution facility at 3835 Old Potash Highway…”

Answer Man: Slow mail processing in Greenville?
“While we were waiting in line at an Asheville area postal facility the other day, a clerk was helping a customer whose important correspondence had not made it to the IRS in time. I assume it was his 1040, though I don't know. The clerk told him that postal records tracked it as far as the sorting center in Greenville, and no farther. The clerk gave the customer a printout to help him with the IRS. Then the clerk made an announcement to everyone in the room: ‘Greenville is the black hole for mail from Asheville. Please try to do something about it. They won't listen to us.’ Greenville, the clerk said, processes their mail of local origin first, and Asheville last. The most effective thing that I know to do is to tell you. Done...”

KAIT: Residents fed up with delayed mail
“Mayor Dixon said the city mails out bills at the end of the previous month, giving ample time for residents to receive them, roughly 17 days. ‘It has to go to the Memphis hub to the post office for it to be sorted then sent back here,’ Dixon said. Which confuses everyone in the small Greene County town. And once residents receive that bill and send in their payment to the city, it's also late.  Dixon said those residents are automatically charged a late fee. ‘You know, they're postmarked with the proper date, you know that they put it in the mail way before the due date, so we have to go back and adjust our late charges,’ Dixon said. Longtime residents told Region 8 News, this has not been an issue for years but became one in the recent months.”

Lancaster Online: My kingdom for an old-fashioned mailbox
“…As I walked around the Hamilton Park section of Lancaster Township, that tune lodged itself somewhere in depths of my impressionable psyche. Then, a question came: When did looking for a mailbox become like trying to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster? (I know he’s there. I’ll just stare at the water for a while until he pokes his head out.)…”

CNN: Trump voters want jobs. Not noise about Russia (video)
“President Trump is in danger of doing what he accused so many "career politicians" of doing: Going to Washington and forgetting what real people care about. For months, I've traveled the country talking with dozens of Trump voters. No one has ever brought up Russia, an issue that President Trump seems obsessed with. The topic never came up in Ohio, Kentucky or Michigan. Last week, I was in Wisconsin. There too, Russia never came up, nor did the FBI, both of which are dominating news from the White House. These states went to Trump and were critical to his election. All voters there want to talk about is how America needs more jobs. They don't mean jobs at McDonald's or an Amazon warehouse. They mean jobs that will allow them to have decent, middle class lives, that pay over $25 an hour, and come with health care and retirement benefits…”

In These Times: Republicans Will Turn the NLRB into a Force for Union Busting. We Can Turn It Back
“According to a recent Bloomberg report, Donald Trump has submitted the names of two anti-union lawyers to the FBI for vetting. This is a precursor to nominating them to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by June to cement a Republican majority that will reverse many of the pro-worker decisions and policies that the federal agency has advanced in recent years. Marvin Kaplan works for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. William Emanuel is a lawyer at the union-busting firm, Littler Mendelson. Either of these garden-variety union-haters could have been appointed by Jeb Bush, John Kasich or whatever bland man in a navy suit the Republicans might have nominated…”

New York Times: Trump Sends NAFTA Renegotiation Notice to Congress 
“The Trump administration gave Congress official notice on Thursday that it plans to renegotiate Nafta but provided only the vaguest of hints about modest changes President Trump would seek to an agreement that he has called “the worst trade deal ever.” In a brief letter to lawmakers, Robert Lighthizer, the newly confirmed United States trade representative, said the administration aimed to support economic growth and better-paying jobs through unspecified improvements to Nafta that would modernize the 23-year-old agreement. But the notice — a drastically scaled-back version of a draft the administration circulated this year — promised no major modifications of the sort that the president has hinted he will seek…”

The Hill: White House tells Congress it will renegotiate NAFTA
“U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on Thursday that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Lighthizer said the United States will rework the 23-year-old trade agreement to support higher-paying jobs here and grow the U.S. economy by improving trading opportunities with Canada and Mexico. ‘USTR will now continue consultations with Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses,’ Lighthizer wrote. Since being confirmed last week, Lighthizer has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to discuss the White House's trade agenda...”

Texas Tribune: [Texas] House panel approved bill requiring parental consent for minors to join unions
“A bill that would require parental consent for minors to join a labor union could be headed to the full Texas House. The House Economic and Small Business Development Committee on Monday approved Senate Bill 75 along a party-line vote, with one of the committee’s four Democrats, state Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, absent for the vote. SB 75 was voted out of the Senate in April — also on a party-line vote — with the bill’s author, state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, dubbing the proposal a ‘parental consent bill’ that sought to preserve ‘the rights of parents to see economic decisions…’ Those opposed to SB 75 argue that if someone in Texas is old enough to work, they should be able to decide on their own whether to join a union. Others, such as Anthony Elmo, communications and political director for a local United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000, say the bill targets minors working in grocery stores, unfairly hindering their freedom and opportunity in the workplace…”

Gazzette: Union-Busting Wisconsin group has its dollars in Colorado politics, according to two investigations
“Colorado labor and education are in the crosshairs of an anti-union Wisconsin foundation, according separate investigations by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation that supported the anti-union efforts in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (who grew up in Colorado Springs, coincidentally) are spreading their efforts nationwide, starting with Colorado and North Carolina…” 

MPR News: Why we don’t hear about the decline in retail jobs
“The job losses suffered by coal miners often take the forefront in discussions of the U.S. economy. These job cuts have been devastating to many cities and towns, and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made that a major talking point in last year's presidential campaign. But that narrative misses something big: Department stores have lost 18 times more workers than coal mining since 2001. And they've shed nearly 100,000 jobs since October. So, why doesn't the decline in retail jobs get the same political attention as coal jobs?...”

Safety&Health: OSHA rescinds ‘walkaround rule’
“OSHA has changed its policy on allowing employees at non-union workplaces to choose a union-affiliated representative for ‘walkaround’ inspections, according to an April 25 memo sent to regional administrators. The policy began in 2013 with a letter of interpretation from OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax to the United Steelworkers. A coalition of industry groups criticized the move, claiming it would “undermine the safety focus of these inspections” and give unions the chance to gain a foothold inside certain organizations. In September, the National Federation of Independent Business, with help from the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a lawsuit challenging the policy in a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division. The court denied part of OSHA’s motion for dismissal in February, and NFIB withdrew its suit April 27…” 

Huffington Post: Trump Administration Bottles up Another Workplace Safety Rule
“Employers worried about records of job-related injuries and illnesses becoming public can rest easy for now, thanks to the Trump administration. The Labor Department on Wednesday said it would hold off on enforcing a new rule requiring certain employers to submit the records to the government for posting online. Companies had been expected to start handing over the records by July, when portions of them would be available to the public…” 

Washington Post: Revisit a time when mail delivered by trolley cars was the best way to communicate
“Trolley crashes were regular occurrences in D.C., Pope says. But postal workers were dedicated: ‘The No. 1 thing a postal employee would tell you after a crash is how much mail was saved,’[Nancy] Pope says. Keeping the mail unharmed was serious business. ‘Only postal employees were allowed in the [mail] cars. The motorman and engineer were only allowed in if the oil lamp spilled and the car caught fire,’ Pope says. That’s something that actually happened, in 1896, downtown on 15th Street NW. Postal authorities were proud to report that all of the mail was rescued, and only a few letters got oil on them...”