Legislative & Political Dept.
A Lot to Fix in 2006
Legislative & Political Department Director
(This article appeared in the March/April 2006 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
This year is shaping up to be a historic one in American politics, and the APWU is poised to play a part in it.
The union can make an impact, but your involvement is what will make all the difference. A chart [PDF] produced by the Federal Voting Assistance Program shows the primary election dates for every state. All concerned APWU members should review this chart and plan to get involved in selecting party nominees for local, state, and congressional offices, and for helping pro-labor candidates win in the general elections on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Wherever you live, now is the time to get involved. You are urged to contact your “Central Labor Council” (the typical name for a metropolitan area, county, or state labor federation) to see which issues its members are most concerned about. You also should review the voting records of your legislators.
To help make a bigger difference, you can also ask questions at candidate forums, write letters-to-the-editor, and volunteer to help your local, your labor council, or your favorite candidates to "get-out-the-vote."
What’s at Stake
Up for election this fall are 38 governorships, 33 U.S. Senate seats, and all 435 U.S. House of Representative seats. Recent polls show that the vast majority of Americans are not happy with the way Congress has performed. All the elements for change are in the air.
Your union is coming off its best “off-year” ever in fund-raising for COPA [2005 report - PDF], the union’s Committee On Political Action, and we will carefully review the records of all legislators who are up for re-election before actively supporting any candidates. In the final analysis, however, you will make the difference.
The most important step you can take is to make sure that you and your family members are registered to vote. We simply cannot afford to be a passive observers: Our rights, our benefits, and our retirement security are on the table. The last few years have shown how vulnerable our way of life is.
During the last two sessions of Congress, we went through one close vote after another. A change in just a handful of seats in either the House or Senate can make the difference.
The party in control holds a majority of seats on all legislative committees and gets to name each committee’s chairperson. These committees decide the language that bills will contain, and when and even whether proposed legislation will go to the floor for a vote.
In other words, the party in control has a lot of power and influence over the legislative agenda. We need to make sure that legislators who support our views hold those important positions; the upcoming elections will determine that.
Postal Board Recess Appointment
On Jan. 6, President Bush appointed John S. Gardner to the USPS Board of Governors. Since the appointment was made while Congress was in recess, no confirmation process was required. Gardner replaces Legree Daniels, who recently passed away. Gardner’s term expires in December 2007.
Gardner has served as general counsel of the U.S. Agency for International Development and worked in both Bush White House administrations. He has also held positions in the Department of Health and Human Services, and, like board chairman James Miller, he has served as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
The Gardner appointment means that there now are five governors on the board, which is one more than is required for a quorum for the board to act. The current board is made up of four Republicans and one Democrat. By statute, there cannot be more than five members from either party.
Several candidates are under consideration for the remaining four openings on the board.