What to Expect in the 116th Congress
(This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Legislative & Political Department Director Judy Beard
Our campaign to stop postal privatization is a fight to keep a universal Postal Service that serves all Americans for an affordable, uniform price and provides union jobs which pay living wages and good benefits. The White House Task Force report released on Dec. 4 recommends drastic cuts to service, privatizing pieces of the Postal Service and eliminating your rights to collective bargaining over wages and benefits.
We will not stop fighting the efforts to privatize the Postal Service. We know that the attack on collective bargaining in the report is a way to lower wages and decrease benefits to make any sale of the Postal Service more lucrative to the buyer (to read more on the White House Task Force recommendations, click here).
As we begin the 116th Congress, our legislative priority remains stopping postal privatization; other important issues include (but are not limited to):
- Postal reform
- Protecting collective bargaining and stewards’ rights
- Ending voter suppression
- Automatic voter registration and Vote by Mail
- Protecting and expanding Social Security
- Protecting workers’ pensions and jobs with a living wage and fair benefits
When bills or resolutions are introduced addressing these items, we will keep you informed on APWU’s position.
In the 115th Congress, House Resolution 993 and Senate Resolution 633 both achieved bipartisan majority support. We are working with members of Congress now to have these resolutions re-introduced. You should continue reaching out to all members on both sides of the aisle to educate them on the importance of keeping our public, universal Postal Service.
With the midterm elections resulting in split party majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, we will be seeing new leadership on key committees in the House. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over postal matters, will soon be led by Representative Elijah Cummings (D, MD-07). Rep. Cummings has shown himself time and again to be a true champion of postal issues and is eager to take up substantive bipartisan postal reform in the 116th Congress starting on Jan. 3.
The midterm elections, with your help, resulted in many states voting in support of labor initiatives, promoting voters’ rights and supporting increases to the minimum wage. We thank all those who participated in the Labor 2018 program.
Not only did union members turn out to vote, but they also helped elect hundreds of union members to seats across the county. One of the newly elected union members is Tom Sullivan of Colorado. Tom, a retired APWU member, will represent the 37th district of the Colorado General Assembly, located in Arapahoe County. Tom worked for the United States Postal Service for over 30 years and served as Secretary- Treasurer of the Aurora Local while also being a shop steward. Prior to winning his election, Tom served as an organizer for the Colorado AFL-CIO, working on issues of equal pay, minimum wage, and teachers’ rights (to read more about Brother Sullivan’s victory, click here).
As we ring in 2019, make a new year’s resolution to stop postal privatization. Your involvement is critical to successfully stopping the sale of all or part of the Postal Service, winning economic justice for all and keeping your collective bargaining rights. Let’s remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”