An Opportunity to Do Better
11/13/2006 - The overwhelming wave of victories by Democrats on Nov. 7 presents an opportunity for the U.S. Congress to do a better job of representing the interests of American workers and their families, said APWU Legislative Director Myke Reid.
“All too often for the last several years,” Reid said, “the Republican-controlled House and Senate opted to enhance corporate profits at the expense of the very people who performed the work that generated these profits.”
“From increasing the minimum wage to reversing policies that significantly reduced overtime pay for so-called supervisors, Democrats — the new majority party — have a mandate in the 110 th Congress to do better for American workers.”
Reid said that the APWU will continue to work with members of Congress from both parties. “We hope to help develop legislation favorable to our members and retirees, and their families.
“In addition to efforts make sure that postal workers get a fair deal, we will fight for affordable healthcare coverage for our members and the millions of Americans who are uninsured and under-insured. We will work to ensure that any citizen who wants to be represented by a union has that right under law. We will fight to defend from likely continued attacks the rights our members already enjoy,” Reid said.
He added that the APWU will also work to enact legislation to repeal the so-called Windfall Elimination and the Government Pension Offset provisions of current Social Security law, issues of paramount importance many current and future postal and federal retirees.
The 110 th Congress will not convene until January. Further action on the postal “reform” legislation (S. 662 and H.R. 22) introduced in the 109th Congress may yet occur during the “lame duck” session that began on Nov. 13. “So, of course, we continue to work with House and Senate leaders to develop a favorable legislative outcome,” Reid said. “The APWU, however, will continue to oppose legislation that provides for excessive discounts to corporate mailers, penalizes employees for work-related injuries and illnesses, and sets a rate structure that imposes onerous financial burdens on the USPS, and indirectly, on APWU members.”
The election results will bring a number of APWU friends back to positions of power as committee chairs. “We welcome as chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, California Democrat Henry Waxman, and, in the Senate, the new chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Joe Lieberman.” The Connecticut senator, who ran as an Independent, is sponsor of an amendment to pending postal legislation that would restrict the unfair discounts given to major mailers.
“Even when we were in a weaker position, we worked well on a number of issues with the ranking soon-to-be minority members of these two committees,” Reid said about Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
Labor 2006 Gets It Done
“We are extremely proud of the efforts of APWU members throughout the country who participated in the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2006 program,” the legislative director said of the countless APWU members who performed crucial tasks in labor education and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) operations.
While data from Labor 2006 is only beginning to be analyzed, a number of things are already known, such as that nearly three out of four union members voted for Democratic House candidates (74 percent) and Senate candidates (73 percent). There also was a significant increase among union members in the turnout of “drop-off” voters in the 2006 election.
Drop-off voters are those who vote regularly in presidential elections, but not as regularly in mid-term elections. Among this year’s drop-off voters (who voted in 2004, but not in 2002), 76 percent cast ballots for Democratic candidates.
APWU members are justifiably proud of their efforts in helping to elect a worker-friendly Congress, Reid said. “Elections provide an opportunity for candidates to govern on behalf of their constituents, and not at their expense, but they are just part of the process.
“Now that the balloting is over, we have to work together to protect the interests of APWU members and the American people.
“Enjoy the victory, and then make sure your representatives get to work! We can do better!”