Sisters and Brothers,
The article posted below sums up with a firsthand account what an utter failure
this Governors leadership has been in dealing with this disaster that is and
remains the Flint Water Crisis. Were it not for the volunteers on the ground
getting it done who knows what the actual human cost of this man made crisis
might actually be. I too do not have the words to describe what I have seen in
just the few moments I have been there in Flint.
The one word I do come back to time and time again is shame. This should never
have happened in what I truly believe is the greatest nation on this earth.
I ask you all read the story, then call your governor - call your state Senator
and House Rep and demand they get off their butts and focus on this crisis until
it is resolved.
Contact information for all is listed below the story.
The struggle is real and it does in fact continue.
480-481 Area Local
By: Beverly Davidson, LMSW
Yesterday two of my friends and I had the honor of volunteering in Flint, MI for
a small NGO called Crossing Water. This is a volunteer organization started by
some members of the National Association of Social Workers-MI chapter. The goal
of this group is to create connections among community groups in Flint to help
serve impoverished communities who are deeply affected by the current water
crisis. What I saw was heart-breaking beyond words. And it was only one day
there. I am trying to imagine living this way and I can’t.
We came to a low-income housing complex run by the Flint Housing Commission. I
saw a case of water on people’s doorsteps that had been delivered earlier in the
day by volunteers. There was no governmental system in the complex to test
water, distribute water, or provide lead-testing to the children. This is a
complex managed essentially by HUD. Where are the government leaders?
We knocked on one door to deliver filters and water. A young man answered who
was happy to see us. “Do you have a filter?” He does, but it did not fit, so we
gave him another one which would work in his unit. I asked if he had had his
water tested, and he was not sure. He showed me the testing bottle he had from
his aunt’s house, which was on the floor of his car, but he could not find the
paperwork to go with it (which is used for tracking and data analysis). I
explained how he had to get his water tested, making sure he understood to use
unfiltered water that had been in the tap for at least 6 hours. He had no idea
he had to do this, as he had not heard that filtered water was not safe to drink
either. Children under six live with him, and they cannot drink even the
filtered water. He had no idea, no one told him, and he does not have access to
the internet to get all of the updates online. My brilliant friend had the idea
that instead of the Governor hiring PR firms to spin his reputation, perhaps he
should hire PR firms to get a coordinated message out on safety and testing to
ALL the people of Flint.
The next house four young children answered the door gleefully, as if they knew
we were delivering water to them. The little girl joyfully showed us her
newly painted nails as we talked to her young auntie who was caring for them
while their mom was at work. We explained to the aunt about how to get her
water tested, and she had no idea of the process. She at least had a filter and
we made sure she knew the kids could only drink the bottled water. Then, the
young boy strongly and sternly put out his arms for the case of water. I said,
“It’s pretty heavy, kiddo,” but he persisted with “I can do it!” I gave him the
case and he proudly held it and brought it into the apartment. All I could
think about was that this little boy should not have to be so strong and sturdy
that his little arms have to carry a case of water for his family, he should be
holding out his arms to catch a ball or grab a swing. But he was eager and
ready for water. Water he should be getting out of his tap, not out of a
Knock. knock. A young mom answers her door and we ask if she needs water or a
filter. She needed both, and I asked if there were any urgent medical issues.
She said her baby had a bad skin rash after a bath the other day, “but it’s ok,
it went away today.” NO, NO, NO, it’s not ok. In the state of Michigan in
2016, a mother should be able to joyfully give her baby a bath and trust that
her baby will be safe from skin rashes. The saddest part is that this young mom
just accepted this without much anger or question. She has learned to live in a
world that has treated her less than for so long that she readily accepts that
her home is giving her baby skin rashes.
A few doors down, a young man answers the door for his elderly male relative who
is homebound. We give him some jugs of water and ask if they have a filter.
“yea, someone came by one day and gave us one.” Did you know that you have to
change your filter regularly, like every 2 months? He yells to his relative and
asks about the filter. “no, we didn’t know that, ya got any?” So we gave him a
replacement cartridge. Did anyone tell you to test your water? “Nah, how do you
do that?” We give him a test kit, the instructions, and realized that the
water testing being done is abysmal.
A woman runs out to our car and asks if she can have some water because her
daughter is pregnant. Her apartment is not on our targeted list but of course
we will give her water. “Do I need to sign something for the water?” My
friend reassures her “No, no, you do not need to sign anything, we are not
checking anything, we just want you to have water.” She knows that her pregnant
daughter cannot drink even filtered water, but she does not know how to get her
unit tested. We give her a test kit. “We need to get our blood tested, do you
know where we can go?” I look up test sites on my Iphone, give her some
information and tell her to take care of herself and her daughter. She thanks
us profusely, and we get in our car and scream. How can this be happening?
I ask another woman if anyone from the Housing Commission has been out here.
“Nah, but we got some water delivered once by a guy in a big Budget truck.”
Good God, this crisis has been going on for 2 years and no one from Housing &
Urban Development (HUD) or the Housing Commission has been out here to educate
its residents or test the water?
Later in the afternoon we go further into the East side of Flint. The
dilapidated homes are surrounded by barren lots, old abandoned buildings, a
trailer park with gutted trailers tagged with graffiti all next to a junk yard
and old factory. One house we are trying to reach has a disabled adult who is
homebound. His dog is outside and greets us, doing his duty and barking and
protecting his home. We respect him, but then I see a person looking out the
window. We hold up some water, but no one comes out. I wonder, would I come
out and get water and a filter from a complete stranger? Would I want to show
my vulnerability and inability to perhaps walk or move, and come face to face
with a stranger who reminds me daily that I cannot drink water from my own home?
No, I do not think I would. We understand this, we understand that this dog is
not menacing, but protecting its owner, and we gently leave the cases of water
and filter on the driveway. I hope they understand we do not judge, we do not
want to cause shame. We just want them to be safe.
My friend knocks on the next door, and an elderly woman doesn’t get up but let’s
her peek in. “We are here with Crossing Water to deliver water to you.” She
does not want us to come in and really does not want us to ask any questions.
We know she is homebound, is isolated, and has cancer from the canvassing done
earlier, which is why we are there. We want to make sure she is medically ok,
has a filter and understands the risks. My friend tells her we have 3 cases of
water for her. “I only want 2.” No, really, we have three for you. “I only
want 2.” Respectfully, we leave two cases for her. And I know my friend will
never be able to get this woman’s face out of her mind. What will happen to
her? 2 cases of water does not last long.
Across the street we go and knock, knock, knock. A young mother of four races
out to greet us in her driveway. “Oh, my god, I’m so glad to see you guys, I
just had a baby 3 weeks ago and I’ve been drinking water from the tap my whole
pregnancy. I don’t have a car because someone stole the ignition out of it. I
have some water for the formula but I have to wash his bottles with the tap
water.” We give her a filter, a test kit, and extra jugs, breaking the rules of
how much water we can deliver to each house. My heart breaks. I work with
infants, I know the effects of neurotoxins during pregnancy. This baby likely
has had massive lead exposure that is yet to be discovered. This mom may have
known the risks but HAD NO CHOICE
but to use her only source of water for the last 9 months. Her older daughter
is watching us from the window. She looks sad. But is she mirroring my face?
The city was eerily quiet, with a myriad of In and Out marts, gas stations,
bars, vacant lots, run-down houses, and churches surrounding the East side. I
wondered where all the water trucks were, where the National Guard were, where
are all the governmental leaders? This city has its entire water distribution
destroyed, and all we could see were private volunteers at churches and
businesses handing out cases of bottled water to people through a make-shift
assembly line. We can go to the Middle East, bomb and destroy entire cities,
rebuild these cities, and we can’t fix this? Where are the temporary water
systems that our government could set up? Where are the military personnel and
trucks who could deliver cases of water and filters to people who have no
resources nor transportation? Folks are supposed to go to a local fire station,
pick up a filter, a test kit, some water, and then return the test kit to the
fire station for testing? That’s the plan? Seriously? In 2016, that’s the
I thought we’d see a local Command Central in an abandoned building, a church,
or a school where there was a base of operations for water testing, water
distribution, and lead testing. I thought we’d see National Guard going
door-to-door collecting water samples from each home so that accurate testing
and mapping of the city could be done in an organized and coordinated manner. I
thought we’d see Red Cross tents throughout the poorest parts of the city. What
I did see were local groups and amazing volunteers of people from churches,
social service groups, and unions meeting people in their homes so they could at
least have bottled water and filters. What I did see was good people trying to
help, perhaps restoring some kernels of hope for people who have been beaten
down. More importantly, what I did see were poor people who, instead of being
outraged at the indignity and destruction their government has created for them,
have been so disenfranchised and are so impoverished that they have been
conditioned to believe they are not worthy of even a basic human right such as
Not only does the infrastructure need to change, but so does an entire belief
system on how we treat the poor.
In the words of Hubert Humphrey, “The moral test of a government is how it
treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the
twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick
and the needy, and the handicapped.”
In this city, in this state, our government has failed this test immeasurably.
View the original blog post.
Flint's Water Crisis
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Our local has been receiving a lot of calls asking how people might assist the
citizens of Flint in dealing with this current water crisis.
I have done some research and if you would like to contribute directly to the
campaign to help please point and click your way to:
The United Way of Genesee County has set up this fund for the purchase of
filters, bottled water, emergency support services and prevention efforts.
100% of the fund is used for these projects and no Administrative Fee is
The UWGC has sourced more than 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement
filters, ongoing sources of bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
and also supports a dedicated driver for daily distribution.
This is by far the best way to donate cash.
If you wish to donate water feel free to bring water to our next scheduled
general membership meeting and we will make arrangements to get it to the folks
on the ground assisting the Flint’s people.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
We can make a difference.
480-481 Area Local
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All
In keeping with our belief that an injury to one is an injury to all I wanted to
share with you all the articles below regarding the ongoing struggles of the B&H
Warehouse employees in New York City and the transit workers right here in Grand
I found the articles describing these struggles interesting because a lot of
what they are fighting for we at times take for granted, as well as a lot of
what they are struggling to achieve we still struggle for despite having the
APWU to support us.
Please read the articles below and please when you get the chance to support
those who are trying to organize or improve their way of life for them and their
children and as in the case of our sisters and brothers in Grand Rapids – ALL OF
US walk the line, support the cause, take a stand for their rights and while
you’re at it, take an interest in your own by supporting YOUR Union.
This thing we do requires constant attention to move it forward, it is in fact
called the labor movement.
I hope you find the time to read the stories below.
480-481 Area Local
Workers Fight Back Against Racism, Wage Theft, Toxic Hazards, and Chronic Overwork at Brooklyn B&H Warehouse
The vintage retailer’s mom-and-pop branding doesn’t immunize it from the structural bias and exploitation pervading low-wage logistics work.
By Michelle Chen
This workweek got off to an unusual start for Jorge Lora. In recent months at
his workplace, a Brooklyn warehouse run by photography-equipment retailer B&H,
he and his coworkers had become resigned to a miserable routine of working to
exhaustion while subjected to injury, racial abuse, and wage theft. But he was
surprised when he arrived this week. The atmosphere was calmer, supervisors
weren’t hassling them, and, best of all, his workday was shorter: Instead of the
usual 13-to-18-hour shift, he worked “only 12 hours.”
“Honestly, I was thinking that today there would be tension in the workplace,”
Lora said through a translator on Tuesday. But this was the calm before the
storm. He and his co-workers’ campaign to unionize the warehouse staff just launched last
Sunday with a street rally and delivery of a list of grievances to
management, along with an announcement of the initiation of the formal
unionization process, with 199 out of about 240 workers signing cards approving the
union. So far, the management has issued a few public statements denying the
charges and grudgingly acknowledging the campaign. But Lora says, “We are ready
for the retaliation. We know that’s going to happen. That’s not going to stop
us, because we have the power.”
The workers accuse the famed photo-gadget emporium of discrimination against the
largely Latino immigrant warehouse workforce. On a typical workday, according to
a list of charges issued by workers and their legal counsel, workers labor
several hours straight without eating or drinking, sometimes in sweltering heat.
The local advocacy group Laundry Workers Center (LWC), which is helping the
workers organize along with the United Steelworkers union, say a combination of
economic exploitation and workplace oppression have driven staff to regularly
work over-80-hour weeks. They are routinely denied rest breaks and paid sick
Latino workers report systematic bias in the assignment of schedules, wages, and
workplace cellphone use and bathroom privileges, and that sometimes they have
been hit with outright racial epithets. And with a stark divide between the
largely Orthodox retail-store staff and the warehouse workforce, Latino
employees say they were denied the leave schedule reserved for observant
Orthodox Jews. The language barrier further silenced them, as management forced
Spanish-speaking workers to sign English-only employment forms.
The claimants also allege they were exposed to “more unsafe conditions” compared
to non-Latino coworkers, including blocked exits, toxic chemical exposures, and
a lack of basic protections like safety hoists and gloves for handling loads. On Tuesday, Al Jazeera America reported on the struggles of
several workers to cope with health problems, from severe falls to kidney
stones, all linked to chronic overwork and hazardous conditions that are sadly
common among poor immigrant workers. The company tended to downplay workers’
complaints of occupational injury and refused to cover medical expenses.
In an incident that helped catalyze the unionization drive, a fire outside the
Brooklyn Navy Yard site last year, workers recalled being impeded from escaping
by a security checkpoint, presumably to ensure they were only fleeing for their
lives, not looting.
The oppressive workplace climate allegedly plunged some workers into deep
anxiety and depression. Warehouse worker Oscar Orellana told Al Jazeera that since suffering a massive back
injury, “Even if I feel I am dying from the pain, I have to work.”
Outside of B&H’s core Hasidic sales-floor staff, other employees have brought various discrimination claims over the years—including a
discrimination lawsuit brought by Latino workers that resulted in a $4.3
million settlement and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission monitoring,
and women’s claims of gender-based pay discrimination). But through its
strategic publicity, the new warehouse labor dispute gives workers a bigger
stage on which the shame their employer.
For Lora, B&H’s fame is a pressure point: “The most difficult part was going
public,” he says, because workers “were afraid about having to fight it
themselves inside the company.” Now they’re drawing support from other labor
activists and are donning pro-union stickers with fellow union champions to
broadcast their solidarity.
The workers feel “positive” about the forthcoming National Labor Relations Board
election process, Lora says, “Because this is a giant company with a big
reputation.… What’s going to happen if many customers just do not buy at the
company” in response? The potential of a negative business impact is “in our
strategy. If they agree to recognize the union, then we don’t have to” have
The company has not responded to a Nation inquiry, but defended its labor practices
with a website statement touting its human-resources department’s commitment to
respecting labor regulations. Though the statement did not refer specifically to
the workers’ grievances, it indicated that the campaign would
proceed and the company would not interfere with their labor rights: “It is
a decision to be made by our employees, and there is a process underway to
resolve that question.”
But that process seems to
be taking an ugly turn. On Thursday, LWC blasted out a notice stating that
workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard site had been fired. B&H then tweeted back denying it had dismissed workers
or that cops were deployed there. LWC continues to assert that B&H retaliated by
threatening termination and forcing out workers.
LWC has wielded such Occupy-inspired rabble-rousing tactics in other local campaigns, including a dramatic union drive at a Manhattan Hot and Crusty Bakery and
protests and legal battles with low-wage employers and
landlords. But the stakes seem higher with in the showdown with B&H, a
world-famous artisanal geek paradise with a loyal customer base and uniquely
clannish Hasidic store staff. Yet the warehouse workers’ claims show that the
vintage retailer’s mom-and-pop branding doesn’t immunize it from the structural
bias and exploitation pervading low-wage logistics work.
Workers now hope to mobilize a united front to pressure B&H both in the public
and the legal spheres. Lora hopes the campaign can inspire other low-wage
workers with the idea that “unity is strength.” Employers now “have to recognize
that workers have the power because in the city, nothing can move if there’s
nobody working there.”
And as the warehouse labor struggles move into public light, organizers are
inching toward a vision that once seemed unimaginable: a workplace where they
can expect a good day at work every morning.
View the original article on The Nation website.
Fighting Inequality at the Local Level
Transit workers in Grand Rapids are organizing against pension theft and fare hikes.
By Jim Hightower
Inequality isn’t a condition. It’s a creation. Inequality is produced by
thousands of decisions deliberately made by bosses, bankers, and big shots to
siphon money and power from the many to the few.
We see Wall Street and Washington doing this, but the deepening chasm of
inequality in America is also the product of decisions that local elites are
making every day. Take Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city largely run by a few
billionaire families sharing an entrenched laissez-faire ideology. They
oppose heavy-handed government policies — unless you’re poor or working class.
Thus the city’s leaders, who find it unconscionable to hike taxes on the rich,
recently socked low-income bus riders with a 16 percent
jump in fares. For the 27 percent of people in Grand Rapids who live below the
poverty line, that’s a serious chunk of change siphoned right out of their
Then, the board of directors of the city’s transit agency slipped a siphon tube
into the wallets of the agency’s own drivers and mechanics, arbitrarily
terminating their pensions. Adding a crude insult to injury, the board
simultaneously gave the transit boss a raise — literally stealing from workers to lift the CEO’s salary above $200,000 a
When the workers, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, began leafleting bus
riders to oppose the fare hike and pension theft, the arrogant boss and
autocratic board threatened to arrest and fire them.
Luckily, it’s still legal to exercise your First Amendment rights even in Grand
Rapids, so the union won
an injunction against this repression. Better yet, the attempted siphoning
of money and power has rallied community groups, students, bus riders, and
others into a grassroots movement to stop widening the inequality gap and start
View the original article on the OtherWords website.
Welcome to the Club...
Seems members of Congress are not immune from the destructive forces of the PMG
and her minions. Jeff Fortenberry a Republican lawmaker out of Nebraska steps up
for his constituents only days later to find himself to be a victim of the
disastrous reductions in service. Well Representative, that’s what happens when
you let your leadership sit idly by while the PMG destroys a centuries old
institution. Shame on you and your fellow Republicans for just now starting to
see what the APWU and your “constituents” have been saying for years. Perhaps
you can all now get off your collective behinds and get some meaningful and
HELPFUL legislation passed to get this service back to what it does best,
deliver for the American people.
Hope you all enjoy
unfortunately this is what’s happening all across
America. In the last month yours truly has sent two priority pieces from
Ferndale to Port Huron, one took 9 days the other took 4. That’s Priority Mail
USPS Detroit District sent out a notice for a labor management meeting on June
30th, 2015 – there was a July 9th Deadline to submit labor
management agenda items, we got the letter on July 9th. 10 days to
get from Detroit MI. to Ferndale MI.
We must be so proud, the rank and file still does our work but it’s clear I was
looking into the future when I wrote back late last year that the USPS is hell
bent to simply not deliver for the American people.
View the original article on the Omaha World-Herald website.
480-481 Area Local
Elections Have Consequences
Words cannot describe how angry I am as well as how we all should be at this
attack on us as postal/federal employees. Any APWU member who cast a ballot for
the GOP candidate in November's election has no one but themselves to blame if
this pile of steaming crap becomes the law of our land.
This bill represents a 5.2% increase in retirement contributions with no
increase in benefits. Do the math - subtract 5% from your yearly base and think
over the course of a career how much you could have saved or what you could have
done with that money. For a level 6 Step O that’s nearly a $2,900.00 a year
increase in the contribution to your retirement – with no additional increase in
your benefit. That’s money you could have put toward your TSP, in your kids
college fund, towards a car payment…
This bill represents a 12+% increase in what we currently pay for our health
care. It will also remove the contribution levels we currently pay as a
negotiating tool for the APWU at the HQ level - so in addition to attacking your
paycheck again - this attacks our rights to collectively bargain. Add 12% to
your current bi-weekly health plan payment and see what that costs you.
I lay this legislation at the feet of the GOP and all those working people and
union members who supported them in Novembers election.
Those Democrats who couldn't be bothered to show up and vote last November need
to take a hard look at what this legislation represents as well.
The GOP has never hidden their anti-worker agenda whether at the Federal or
State level and going back to APWU President Bill Burrus and his statements that
as soon as the GOP union busters finish with the others they would get to us -
well welcome to the future. Kudos to the House Democrats who stood firm (all of
them) and Kudos to Justin Amash the House Rep. from the west side of MI who
broke ranks with the remaining GOP'ers in MI and voted no. Thanks as well to the
26 Republicans who supported us and voted no as well. Sisters and brothers -
Elections have consequences and those short sighted members of the APWU who
either voted for the GOP or who sat on their backsides not bothering to vote at
all - well look in the mirror when your paycheck gets slashed as a result of
this crap piece of legislation, our apathy and our misguided loyalty will only
serve to further erode our ability to support ourselves and our families.
We all work way too hard to continue to vote against our ability to earn a
living. Elections have consequences and this, is only the beginning of the
attacks on postal/federal employees.
480-481 Area Local
House Passes Budget Targeting Postal, Federal Workers
The measure passed 219-208. All but 26 Republicans voted YES; every Democrat
voted NO. How they voted:
View final vote results for roll call 141
On Wednesday evening, March 25, the House of Representatives approved a budget
bill that targets the earned health and retirement benefits of postal and
federal employees. House Concurrent Resolution 27 passed the House by a 219-208
vote. The measure hits Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) contributions,
the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
(FEHBP). In addition, the budget bill suggests changes to mail frequency and
type of delivery.
Pensions: The budget bill proposes to
require members of the federal and postal workforce who participate in the
Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) to make a greater annuity
contribution. The budget bill assumes the
use of the equal-share proposal embraced in the 2010 National Commission on
Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (aka Simpson-Bowles Commission); that is, a 6
percent contribution rate by FERS participants. Currently, most
FERS participating NAPUS members contribute 0.8 percent towards their annuity.
Retirement Savings: The budget bill
proposes to lower the interest rate earned on Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
contributions into the G-Fund. The G-Fund invests in special short-term Treasury
securities. Since its inception in 1987, the G Fund has earned an average
annualized rate of return of 5.43 percent. The budget proposal would have the
effect of reducing the rate of return to about 0.01 percent, according to the
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
Health Benefits: A perennial cost-cutting
proposal has been the replacement of the current Federal Employees Health
Benefits Program (FEHBP) contribution formula with a fixed-dollar voucher,
adjusted annually to the consumer price index (CPI). Presently, the employer
contribution is based upon the weighted average premium of all FEHBP plans. As a
result, health care inflation is taken into account when adjusting employee
premium contributions. The net impact of the proposed change would be to shift
about $127 billion, over the next
decade, from the government onto the backs of federal and postal employees and
retirees. A second proposal that would impact FEHBP premium contributions is
longevity-based retiree health plan contributions. And, finally,
the budget proposes that USPS contributions on behalf of its employees be the
same level as provided to federal employees. Postmasters already pay the same
share of premium as federal employees; so, this proposal would impact postal
employees covered by collective-bargaining agreements that provide for a higher
Postal Operations: The House budget
proposal references the adoption of unspecified changes to the “frequency and
type of delivery.” It should be assumed that the budget is promoting five-day
delivery and a move towards centralized or curbside residential mail delivery.
Late Thursday, the Senate was still considering its budget bill, Senate
Concurrent Resolution 11. Senate Budget Committee Chair Michael Enzi (R-WY)
introduced it. Over 640 amendments to the bill were filed and we expect
votes on about one-quarter of them. Significant cuts are assumed in the Senate
budget measure and would impact our benefits; however, the legislation did not
identify those cuts.
View the original article on the PostalReporter site.
Election Results 2015
March 6, 2015
There were 1,924 members in good standing who were mailed ballots,
851 ballot envelopes
were picked up from the Post Office Box # 20340 in Ferndale, Michigan
at 1:00 PM, March 6, 2015 by the Election Committee. A count of
837 ballot envelopes
were duly certified by the Election Committee. Of those,
7 'Reply Envelopes'
were received with the 'identifying' name label removed and therefore,
deemed not legal, 16
ballots were deemed ineligible for various reasons.
7 Envelopes were improperly
sorted into our box and were returned to the Ferndale Post Office.
Final Tally Results
Maintenance Craft Directorr
Pontiac Installation Director
Royal Oak Installation Director
Download a PDF flyer for posting.
480-481 Area Local Officers
The following is a lost of all nominees for office as they will appear on the ballot.
This notice must be posted at each installation of the APWU 480-481 Area Local on the
Union bulletin board.
Download a PDF flyer for posting.
We Need A New Strategy
Hello Sisters and Brothers,
Having attended a few rallies fighting for America’s postal service as well as for Walmart workers to get a living wage I was hopeful as I always am that
the cause for which so many braved the chilly temps would prevail. The local press has been kind to us all, and as such I was hopeful that this might
resonate with the average American citizen and as such turn itself into grass roots support for our cause and then the local populace would join us a
partners defending what is theirs. I was very happy at the show of solidarity by all those in attendance on 11-14-14 out in front of the Royal Oak Main
PO, nearly 100 + from far too many unions to count braved the cold weather to support our cause and whether it was on 11-14-14 in Royal Oak as we tried yet
again to save the USPS from itself or on 11-28-14 out in front of a Walmart as we joined others to fight for a living wage. I congratulate and thank each
person who came out for their leadership as well as their clear understanding of the peril we are all in.
It pains me to say that I have lost confidence that Congress will help us in our efforts to save this centuries old service, I now ponder the future with a
dread that often comes before having a filling done.
My skull has that dull ache that comes with knowing we are on the verge of changes that will forever alter the landscape of the postal service and will do
nothing except erode the public’s confidence in us as an agency that despite weathering horrific mismanagement, a coopted and corrupt leadership, still
manages with regularity to get the job done for the American people. The bargaining unit is the heart and soul of an organization that is destroying itself
I spent the Thanksgiving weekend reading various articles from across the nation opining as to the state of organized labor here in the USA. One specific
article suggests that current model that is organized labor may well have run its course.
Watching accomplished leaders like the AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka give commentary looking for the bright spot in Novembers collapse makes me wonder
at times as to the reality he is living in and to that end if the author Thomas Geoghegan maybe on to something. As for what happened in early November
there is no bright spot, there is no silver lining, all there is a political landscape that has been hijacked by the big money donors that are hell bent to
make certain theirs is the only voice heard in the workplace and in Congress.
I will have to begin question President Trumpka’s leadership if he does not sit quietly down with the other national leaders in organized labor and consider
if as a movement we do not need to make fundamental structural changes in how we market ourselves the masses. The GOP was not selling an idea – the were
selling apathy and encouraging people to disengage from the process. Whether its shifting voting rules to deny people their right to vote, or whether its
overtly lying about the damage they have done to this economy and job market people seemed to buy into it. When I see that in our own state the Nerd got
another term after he pretty much in plain view shoved the tax burden of this state onto to me and you as well as retirees while giving those NON JOB
CREATORS a tax break, well my head is still spinning and all I can do to maintain my sanity is begin to prepare for the next national election that is now
just 23 months away.
The article below scratches the surface of where I believe we need to begin. It mentions that a series of one day strikes can be used as a means to disrupt
unruly employers and shame politicians into supporting a pro labor agenda.
I recall in the 1970’s how the “strike” was a powerful tool against an employer who refused to bargain. I watched as working people held a line and risked
their lives to keep others from crossing it. Well in the last 40 years not only the times but the laws as well as people's resolve and commitment to their
fellow middle class brothers and sisters has changed. Any extended walk out usually results in the employer hiring scab labor that seems all too willing to
cross a picket line and take the scraps or crap the employer is offering.
This is not by chance – it’s the result of anti-labor money and anti-labor politicians stacking the deck against the middle class over the course of the
last 5-6-7 decades. We need a new strategy and I believe the author below is on to something. Imagine if you will a series of one day strikes all across
this nation in different sectors at different times against different employers. What if the entire employee complement at every department store in
Michigan took the day after Thanksgiving off, just one massive sick out. Think of the message that would send.
Do not buy into the message that the minimum wage is an entry level wage that only young people earn, come to one of those rallies to raise the minimum wage
and see who is actually getting paid, the agenda in a right to work state is to drive down wages and increase profits, it is no more complicated than that.
There are other thought provoking items in the article below and at the risk of spoiling it for you all I will end with one quote, thank you for reading
this far and ask you continue just a bit further into Inthesetimes.com reporter Jeremy Gantz's piece on Tom Geoghegan's book - Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why Our Country Needs a New Kind of
“We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” – Justice Louis Brandeis
I hope you find it as thought provoking as I did.
Let Old Labor Die
With union membership declining, Tom Geoghegan has a radical prescription for labor.
By Jeremy Gantz
It is not difficult to imagine the United States without a labor movement. Less than 7 percent of the country’s
private-sector workforce is unionized. Twenty-four states have enacted
“right to work” laws that sap union treasuries by allowing workers to benefit
from union contracts without paying dues. Even Michigan became right-to-work in
Is labor’s decline terminal? Long-time labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan says
yes—unless we redesign the legal system upon which the modern labor movement was
The title of Geoghegan’s new book, Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why Our Country Needs a
New Kind of Labor Movement (The New Press), signals a manifesto. Geoghegan
methodically builds his case around two arguments. First, for labor to make a
comeback, American workers must be less beholden to hidebound unions and the
federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that referees union
elections and mediates labor disputes. Workers must have the opportunity to more
directly control their lives through workplace democracy.
Geoghegan’s second argument is that a new kind of movement can only be born
through new laws—which means the Democratic Party must return to its labor
roots. Geoghegan pleads with Democrats to do more than tinker with the minimum
wage and tout college diplomas. Given that most jobs being created in the United
States do not require a four-year degree, he argues, Democrats must foster a new
and stronger labor movement to combat rampant inequality.
Only One Thing Can Save Us is vintage Geoghegan: erudite, witty,
autobiographical and compulsively tangential. (He’s not shy about his love for
John Dewey and John Maynard Keynes.) There’s also some guilt. While running for
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s old Illinois congressional seat in a 2009 special
election, Geoghegan barely mentioned organized labor. He got clobbered (his
word) in the primary and now gives us this “act of expiation.”
Geoghegan churns out a book every three or four years, all while representing
embattled workers and unions (including the Chicago Teachers Union). He was
bound to return to the fate of the U.S. labor movement, having started there in
1991 with his first book, Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When
It’s Flat on Its Back.
Now labor’s back seems to be broken, and Geoghegan is tired of losing. The
ambivalence about unions (not to be confused with workers’ rights) that animated
Which Side Are You On? has become 11th-hour desperation. Outmatched by
union-busting employers in court and hobbled by the bottleneck of the NLRB,
organized labor’s last best hope is to conduct “political strikes” that force
deep change, he argues.
“To go up against employers with the idea of bringing labor back is futile,”
Geoghegan writes. “Yet if the real target is the Democratic Party and not the
employers, enough disruption, made up of little hit-and-run strikes, might
change the world.”
He advocates one-day strikes, concluded before employers can legally replace
workers, as a way to disrupt business-as-usual for employers and to shame
Democrats into pushing a pro-labor agenda. An example of the approach is the SEIU-backed Fight for 15
campaign’s fast-food worker strikes, which seem to have pushed a minimum
wage increase onto the Democratic agenda this year.
But Geoghegan is after more than wage boosts. “The goal is to build up to a
1968-style political fight to force the Democratic Party to sign on to a
revamping of corporate law,” he writes. The revamp would substitute a
“stake-holder” corporate model for our current one. In other words, follow the
lead of Germany, where labor power is baked into company operations through
“co-determined” boards of directors featuring elected employees and “works
councils” unaffiliated with any union that help manage local working conditions.
He explored such themes in his last book, Were You Born on
the Wrong Continent? How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life, which
declared his love for Germany’s labor relations and well-guarded industrial
Yet Geoghegan’s push for the stake-holder model has an air of unreality, and not
just because it’s nigh impossible to imagine Democrats altering the DNA of
American-style corporate capitalism. Importing the German labor-management model
would also change unions. Under current labor law, only an elected union
representing all workers can negotiate working conditions.
Geoghegan thinks this model alienates Americans who are looking for control
rather than solidarity—like “a guy in Alabama who deep down is waiting for a
labor movement that won’t be imposed on him.” So unions must surrender some
control, he writes, in a passage sure to anger some union officials:
The period of childhood or tutelage—the nature of it depends on which union is
the “parent”—has to end. In the century to come, new labor has to step back,
give up its control over the old labor law remedies, and let workers do things
Sounds great. But why would unions flex what little muscle they have left to
push for changes that undermine their own power—especially given what appears to
be long-term GOP control of the House and the Senate
filibuster. (The filibuster, Geoghegan notes acidly, “has always existed in
part to ensure a pool of either slave or low-wage labor.”) Mindful of
Washington’s perpetual gridlock, he suggests that state governments might first
experiment with amending the corporate model to boost workers’ power. For
example, they could give tax breaks to any company that allows employees to
elect half of its board of directors.
A more straightforward way to bolster the labor movement would be to amend the
Civil Rights Act to include the right to join a union. This would allow
individuals to bypass cumbersome NLRB procedures and sue anti-union employers in
federal court. Geoghegan is so confident that a civil right to unionize would
grow the movement that he proposes—if the filibuster isn’t abolished!—stomaching
a national right-to-work law in exchange for the amendment.
It is a troubling paradox that his vision for a new kind of movement—less
hierarchical and dependent on NLRB-certified elections and contracts—is so
predicated on government action. A New Deal Democrat, Geoghegan sees the modern
labor movement as a glorified federal policy project gone off the rails. It
began with Washington elites arming workers with legal tools, which have since
rusted into uselessness.
Apparently, then, the one thing that can really save us is a new kind of
Democratic Party. But as implausible as Geoghegan’s vision for labor—and the
Democratic Party—may be, its premise is right: Unions can only survive by
View the original article on the In These Times site.
Hello Everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!
I want to thank all those who came out to the rally in Royal Oak on 11-14-14. We
had well over 100 people from too many unions to count. APWU NBA James Stevenson
came to town to support us and I want to thank him personally for that. Rick
Blocker President of the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO was there and I thank him as well
– NALC Branch Pres. Paul Roznowski was there and again – if I try to thank
everyone individually I will forget someone so I want to thank all those who
braved the chilly weather and helped us raise public awareness of the attack on
America’s Postal Service.
I am happy to report that as of Friday November 14th, 2014 – all the Democrats
in the Michigan congressional delegation stand with us in supporting a moratorium
on these destructive delivery standard changes as well as the remaining plant
closures, no word on if and or when the GOP may get on the right side of this issue.
In keeping with the idea that an injury to one is an injury to all I am asking
that we all make it to the Walmart store located at 44575 Mound Road in
Sterling Hts. MI. on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This rally will be just one
of hundreds taking place all across the United States. I am asking that we show
up and support these workers like they showed up Friday and supported us.
Download a flyer with details of this rally
Read the entire story on the ThinkProgress site.
I hope we can count on your attendance to this very important Black Friday
480 481 Area L:ocal
It is with deep sadness that we must report the passing of former 480 481 Area
Local President Donna Ratkos-Mercier.
Donna was a mainstay of this union and this local, her hard work still impacts
the employees of this local and will for years to come.
Not a second was spent in her time as a member, steward and officer where she
was not trying to help her fellow union brothers and sisters or this union.
Donna truly believed an injury to one was an injury to all.
Our thoughts our prayers and our deepest sympathies go out to her family and her
The obituary can be viewed
In addition cards and condolences can be sent to the 480-481 Area Local at: 810
Livernois St. Ferndale, MI 48220, we will make sure her husband Mike and her family get