APWU e-Team Weekly Newsletter #03-11, June 26, 2011

Also in This Issue:
Congressman Fattah’s Amendment Defeated Along Party Lines
Republicans Put Forth Effort to Eliminate Election Assistance Commission
Obama Proposes New Rule Targets Anti-Union Consultants
"The Truth About the Economy"

H.R. 1351 Needed!
“Cash Strapped” Postal Service
Suspends Employer Contribution to FERS

APWU Web News Article 074-2011, June 22, 2011

The American Postal Workers Union is working fervently to make certain that the Postal Service’s decision to suspend employer contributions to FERS does not negatively affect the nation’s postal employees, President Cliff Guffey said on June 22. “We will take every step necessary to ensure that retirement benefits are protected. We are currently evaluating the best course of action.”

There is a solution to the Postal Service’s financial crisis, Guffey noted:

  • The USPS has overfunded its FERS and CSRS retirement accounts by billions of dollars;
  •  It is the only employer — public or private — that is required to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees. This obligation drains more than $5 billion annually from the USPS budget, and is the principal cause of the Postal Service’s dire financial circumstances.
Tell Congress: Support H.R. 1351

Contact Your Legislators

H.R. 1351 Co-sponsors

“Congress must act now to correct these inequities,” Guffey said. “It can start by passing H.R. 1351, which would allow the Postal Service to apply pension overpayments to the pre-funding obligation. This bill would provide the USPS relief from its financial crisis at no cost to taxpayers.

The Postal Service’s financial predicament is the result of flawed legislation (the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006) that Congress can and must correct, the union president added.

“Postal workers did not cause USPS financial problems and their retirement benefits should not be jeopardized to solve them.”

If you have not taken a minute to contact your member of congress asking them to cosponsor H.R. 1351 please do so now.

Congressman Fattah’s Amendment Defeated Along Party Lines

On Thursday, June 23rd Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) offered an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill that would have been a tremendous help for the USPS during the existing financial crisis. Unfortunately, Fattah’s amendment was defeated along strict partisan lines by a 21 – 28 vote of the Appropriations Committee.

Fattah’s amendment would have directed the Secretary of the Treasury to transfer funds USPS has overpaid into FERS form the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund into:

  1. Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits fund to pay annual cost of pre-funding retiree health benefits.
  2. The Employees Compensation Fund, and if any excess funds exist, to,
  3. The USPS

Had the amendment succeeded USPS could have paid the $5.5 billion pre-funding requirement, and could have continued paying into the FERS account for employee service credits.

Republican’s Put Forth Effort
To Eliminate the Election Assistance Commission

After the fiasco that was the 2000 Presidential Election where hanging chads, long lines, last minute moved polling places, broken electronic voting machines and voting machines without paper backup all lead to people to ask their representatives one thing: “Is my vote being counted?”. As a result of all of those problems along with others the House passed the Help America Vote Act with bipartisan support gaining 357 votes for the legislation. The Senate also showed bipartisan support only having two Senators vote against the legislation.

This provisions of this legislation resulted in the creation of the Election Assistance Commission. This legislation was to provide continued support in the form of grants to states. The commission was to provide ongoing support in the form of guidance and solutions for states to share best practices, which would lead to fewer problems at the polls. Other aspects of the ongoing work of the commission are to ensure full and complete access for all disabled voters. Along with sharing best practices for voting and voter registration the EAC also set up a program to test state voting systems for accuracy, which in turn has saved many states millions of dollars through not having to individually test multiple best practices. The EAC continues to make sure that all our troops’ overseas votes are counted fairly.

Republican legislators took aim this week at eliminating the Commission in the form of H.R. 672. With a 235-187 vote the republican effort to pass H.R. 672 this week failed. Republican’s chose to suspend rules therefore requiring a two-thirds vote in the affirmative for passage of this bill. This is simply another attack aimed at hampering the ability to vote sweeping across our country.

A recent Washington Post Editorial this week highlights more of the same from Republican lawmakers aiming to make it more difficult for citizens to vote through requiring a voter to present a photo ID in order to vote. The article goes on to highlight the tiny fraction of cases regarding voter fraud in some states that are moving ahead with this sort of legislation. However, the article then highlights and estimates the percentage of the population that does not have a Valid Photo ID at around 11%.

Please click here to read the entire article.

Obama Proposes New Rule
On Employers’ Use of Anti-Union Consultants

This proposed rule would target a 50+ year loophole in favor of employers' in labor law. Currently, employers are required to report any arrangement that they have made with consultants that are hired to influence employees in direct connection with any organizing and/or collective bargaining drive. However, the loophole kicks in due to the fact that employers do not have to report these arrangements in scenarios where third party consultants to not directly speak to employees, instead only give “advice” to management directly on how to defeat an organizing drive or bargain for a better contract for management.

This new rule change would now require employers to disclose any consultants that are hired to either “directly or indirectly persuade workers concerning their rights to organize or collectively bargain”.

Currently a public comment period is open with the Department of Labor. That period ends August 22, 2011. After the August 22, the DOL will decide if the new rule will become official, then requiring all companies to comply with the new rule.

If you are interested in making your voice heard by submitting a public comment to the DOL please click here.

Please note: Any information (e.g., personal or contact) you provide at the above link may be publicly disclosed and searchable on the Internet and in a paper docket and will be provided to the Department or Agency issuing the notice.

“The Truth About The Economy”

Truth About The Economy
(two-minute video)

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor gives us the truth about the current problem with the economy in less than two minutes and fifteen seconds.

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