Two days on the Hill-
Roscoe Woods goes to Washington D.C.
On March 15th, 2017 I returned from a 5 day trip to
Washington D.C. at the March 2017 National President Conference. The conference
covered 3 days with 1 day set aside for meeting with our members of congress.
In addition to being your local president I am also the legislative director for
the MPWU (Michigan Postal Workers Union). Understanding this conference is as
much about discussing the large contractual issues and strategies with other
local presidents as it is about meeting with our members of congress we made
certain we took 2 days on the hill to meet with as many members of the Michigan
delegation we could. If they took time to meet, we worked out who would take
I want to thank MPWU/FMAL President Mike Mize, DDAL President Keith Combs, WMAL
President Amy Puhalski as well as TCL Vice President Ron Krumrie and his
grandson Kayden for all their support and hard work attending the various
meetings. I also want to thank them for dealing with the chaos that is their
legislative director trying to deal with a fluid meeting schedule and some
pretty crazy DC weather.
As you will see based on the schedule below, at times we had to split up so we
could take meetings in different buildings that were at the same time or within
a few minutes of each other.
A quick breakdown of our schedule was like this:
APWU national officers reports, legislative update on HR 756 and HR 760 from
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Discussion on NPC agenda items from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
9:15 a.m. Rep. Lawrence
10:00 a.m. Rep. Conyers
11:00 a.m. Rep. Walberg
12:00 p.m. Rep. Upton
1:30 p.m. Rep Bergman
8:00 a.m. Sen. Stabenow
8:30 a.m. Sen. Peters
10:00 a.m. Rep. Trott
11:00 a.m. Rep. Huizenga
12:00 p.m. Rep. Levin
12:30 p.m. Rep. Amash
12:30 p.m. Rep. Mitchell
1:00 p.m. Rep. Dingell
1:30 p.m. Rep. Moolenaar
It was a pretty hectic couple of days but we all believed it important since we
were there we needed to meet with as many reps as possible. As a frame of
reference my step counter hit 18,000 on Monday, 20,000 Tuesday.
We had a late meeting set with Rep. Kildee’s staff on Monday but it was
cancelled and we will follow up with him in Flint soon enough. In most instances
our meetings with the Democrats was to thank them for their continued support on
postal issues and ask them if they had any questions for us.
A common theme from all parties we met with was that when the respective
interests came to the capital to discuss postal reform at this point all seemed
to agree this bill was worth voting for.
With respect to Rep. Bishop his scheduler never got back to us and I reached out
with my concerns. After receiving our email she called me back and we will be
meeting with the Representative in person on April 13th, 2017 at his office in
Brighton MI. We expect HR 756 will have cleared the house by then but there are
plenty of other issues important to this union and its membership we will
discuss with Representative Bishop.
As I sit writing this for our April Communicator I notice that HR 756 has
cleared the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. This is its first
hurdle on its way to the house floor. Next this bill will be reviewed by the
Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committees. If there are no
changes we expect it to land on the house floor soon.
I want to take a moment to thank Minority Ranking House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee Member Reprehensive Cummings from Maryland. In the past GOP
leadership has used postal reform as an excuse to gut our collective bargaining
rights, attack our injured sisters and brothers as well as trying to insert
other nefarious items that do more to undermine our rights in ways that
truthfully are unrelated to postal reform.
Rep. Cummings forged a deal with ranking member and committee Chairman Jason
Chaffetz out of Utah that is far from perfect. This bill makes sweeping changes
to not only current postal employee’s health care options but places a new
financial burden on retirees by making Medicare B now a mandate when we turn 65.
What is significant is that Rep. Cummings seems to have an agreement with the
GOP leadership that this bill will move through the house and there will be no
amendments added that could break the coalition.
In the past quite often it wasn’t the first marked up bill that put us at odds,
it was destructive amendments. I have been to our nation’s capital several times
to discuss postal reform. This trip was surreal in that I got a much keener
sense of how little clout the democrats have in this legislative session, that
realization makes it that much more remarkable (in my opinion) what
Representative Cummings was able to accomplish.
HR 756 still has a long way to go, at times the best deals reached fall apart in
a second. We made it clear to those republicans and democrats alike that there
are still serious issues that are hurting America’s postal service and as such
damaging one of the most trusted brands in the federal government. We made it
clear we intend after this issue is settled to come back and address our
concerns with the reduction in delivery standards, the attacks on 6 day delivery
and other attempts to subvert our collective bargaining rights.
We will be back to DC and we will continue to talk common sense postal “service”
reform and in the process we will not only be the voice of our membership, but
the voice of the American people.
On a side note while in Washington D.C. we took a moment to walk over and see
the newest memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. If you have not yet been to D.C. I
encourage you to go and see this specific memorial. I am at a loss to describe
how utterly breathtaking this is.
Wikipedia notes that “the memorial is located on a 4-acre site in West Potomac
Park that borders the Tidal Basin, southwest of the National
cite_note-memorial-5 The memorial is near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
and is intended to create a visual "line of leadership" from the Lincoln
Memorial, on whose steps King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on
Washington, to the Jefferson Memorial.”
Behind the memorial is a wall and inscribed on that wall are numerous quotes
from Dr. King. Among those I have always found inspiration in were the following
words he said on December 10, 1964 in Oslo Norway:
"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a
day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity,
equality and freedom for their spirits."
Looking at our nation today I find that Dr. King’s spirit and his leadership are
still needed today and I believe they still thrive today in the acts and
leadership of Reverend Dr. William Barber and others like him.
I believe we must fight for civil rights and be certain they extend to all
segments of our society. I will close with one additional quote from Dr. King
from a speech he gave in Washington D.C. in April 1959:
"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal
rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your
country, and a finer world to live in."
480-481 Area Local
APWU Election Results
Hello Brothers and sisters,
Today I was reviewing what can only be called a dismal turnout by the 480-481
Area Local for our APWU national elections - less than 300 full dues paid
members of the 480-481 Area local voted - out of a membership of over 2,000. I
find it crazy that when its a mail in ballot and all of us work at a post office
we cannot find the time to participate in our democracy. I mean we work at the
post office for crying out loud, I remember bringing my ballot to work and
putting it together on the clock then dropping it right into Barney for
processing! Perhaps someone can email me and tell me why there is such an
indifference to our own hard fought democracy. All the complaints I field about
various contract issues and over 1,700 of our members could not be bothered to
complete and turn in their ballots.
The results of this APWU election can be found at: http://www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/apwu-election-results-certified-1
I will congratulate our newly established 480-481 Area Local Retiree Chapter
that was recognized for having a 54% voter turnout for the national election.
That's well over half of the 200 retirees in our local chapter who took the time
to complete their ballots and vote. Retirees, still leading by example.
Congratulations to them and their newly elected President David Campbell.
Lastly - I wanted to share the story below - in part because I am a fan of
Lipton Tea and secondly its a pretty good story of workers coming together
against a company that tries to discourage them. Enjoy the read and email me if
you have any suggestions as to how we can get our members more involved in our
480-481 Area Local
Lipton Workers Vote to Unionize:
“Everyone just got tired of it”
The organizing drive came after years of declining benefits—loss of sick pay,
supplemental time off and a downgrade in insurance coverage considered too
expensive for what it offered. (UFCW Local 400/ Facebook)
Juanita Hart has worked as an operator at the Lipton Tea manufacturing plant in
Suffolk, Virginia, for 25 years. She’s seen a lot of change in that time, but
nothing like what happened last month.
“I was crying like I had won the lottery,” Hart told In These Times. I was so glad and I was so
happy because I’ve been told for all this time, all these years, that it would
never happen. And when it happened, I had so much joy that all I could do (was)
She was talking about workers’ decision to join a union.
They voted, 108-79, in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board on
August 26. More than 200 workers at the plant, which makes nearly all of the
Lipton Tea sold in North America, will now be represented by United Food and
Commercial Workers Local 400.
The organizing drive came after years of declining benefits—loss of sick pay,
supplemental time off and a downgrade in insurance coverage considered too
expensive for what it offered.
“We’re hoping that maybe we can get some of this back,” says Robert Davis,
another 25-year veteran at the Lipton plant. “I don’t know if we will or not. We
would like to try.”
Another important issue that affected most workers was what is alleged to be
forced overtime work, also known as “drafting.” Workers at the Suffolk site have
been known to work a routine of 12-hour shifts for 13 days before getting a day
In These Times reached out to company
representatives for comment on the campaign and the issues behind it. They did
not immediately respond.
“They tried to, attempted to talk to them and they just turned a deaf ear toward
us. And it’s just like we were robots and what they said went. It was not going
to change and we had to do it or we could leave,” says Davis. “The employees
just—they became so disgusted with what was going on and everyone just got tired
Workers at the plant approached UFCW Local 400 in June.
“The workers were the ones who took ownership of it from the very beginning,”
says Kayla Mock, an organizer with Local 400. “They very clearly understood that
their union was something that they needed to build, almost like a tangible
thing, and they built it from the ground up—they just owned it.”
Another important factor in the campaign was the fact that Lipton’s parent
company, the international behemoth Unilever, was seen as treating its unionized
workers far better in other locations. At a Hellmann’s plant in Chicago that is
organized with the UFCW, for example (the Hellmann’s mayo brand is another
Unilever property), overtime pay is much more immediate and a health care plan
similar to the one offered to the Suffolk workers is half as expensive. A
conference call between the workers at the Hellmann’s plant and those at the
Lipton one helped spread the word of the benefits of union representation.
The campaign wasn’t the first time that organizing was attempted at the plant in
Suffolk. In recent years, Hart says, workers’ efforts were met with resistance
by those in charge.
“Every time it would be—someone said the word ‘organizing’ or ‘union,’ any of
those kinds of words were used, the next thing you know we were called into a
meeting and we were shown a film about how disruptive it would be to have a
union,” she says.
But now, after years of decreased benefits and a near-$100 million upgrade of
the Lipton facility, pro-union workers have finally carried the day.
“Top reason to me why people aren't afraid anymore (is) because they're fed up,”
says Hart. “When you strip the person of their dignity, and you have no respect
for the person, and you’ve taken away what they feel, their self-worth … that’s
when you stop being afraid.”
View the original article on the In These Times website.
The 480-481 Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union Endorses
Ferndale MI -
At the general membership meeting of the 480-481 Area Local on
Sunday November 15th, 2015 in a nearly unanimous vote the membership passed
to endorse the candidacy of Bernie Sanders for President in the
2016 election to be held next November.
The resolution which noted Senator Sanders many actions accomplishments that
- Introducing legislation to eliminate the health care prefunding
requirement attached to 2006 legislation that has strangled postal finances.
Introduced and passed a sense of the Senate that called for
moratorium on plant closures and a return to the regional overnight delivery
Senator Sanders support of the expansion of postal services to
include the introduction of postal banking.
Senator Sanders blocking of anti-labor and anti-postal selections
for the Board of Governors such as postal privatization advocate James
Miller and payday loan lobbyist Mickey Barnett.
Senator Sanders track record of standing up for labor and his record
of standing up for ordinary Americans.
It is for those reasons that the membership of the 480-481 Area Local, representing over
2,300 clerks, maintenance craft and motor vehicle services employees across Metro
Detroit and SE Michigan go on record as supporting Senator Bernie Sanders for the next
President of these United States of America.
Download a copy of the resolution to endorse Bernie Sanders.
480-481 Area Local
Happy New Year 2016
Happy New Year to you all!
The points listed below coupled with the efforts of Bernie Sanders in the Senate
reaffirm to me that the endorsement of Bernie Sanders for President by this
local was the right thing to do at the right time!
Bernie Sanders continues to fight for working people all across this country
even while running a campaign for President of this nation. Bernie is by far the
most labor friendly candidate this nation has had in a long time.
The web article below from APWU.org clearly illustrates his support for this
union as well as a postal service that does indeed provide a universal variety
of services to all of America’s citizens.
Additionally I have included a link to a
New York Times editorial discussing
what might be done to Social Security depending on who wins the White House and
or Congress in the 2016 elections.
It does a great job of detailing the differences in plans between the candidates
and as far as I am concerned destroys the myth that Social Security is bankrupt
and any of you who are FERS employees you need to be certain the candidates you
elect understand that Social Security is a vital component to your retirement,
and any decision regarding you social security benefits need to be to expand,
not eliminate or drastically reduce.
Hope you take the time to review the articles below and I hope to see you at the
next union meeting!
480-481 Area Local
Sanders’ Antidote to Wall Street Corruption Includes Postal Banking
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:002-2016
01/06/2016 - In a speech given just blocks from Wall Street, Sen. Bernie Sanders
promised to implement postal banking as one of the ways to fix the country’s
broken and corrupt financial system.
“If elected president, I will rein in Wall Street so they can’t crash our
economy again,” Sanders said on Jan. 5.
Sanders vowed to break up banks that are deemed “too big to fail,” pledged to
provide Americans with affordable banking services, and offered several other
Taxing Wall Street speculations
Reforming credit rating agencies
Capping credit card interest rates and ATM fees
Reforming the Federal Reserve
Implementing postal banking
Regarding postal banking, he said, “The reality is that, unbelievably, millions
of low-income Americans live in communities where there are no normal banking
services. Today, if you live in a low-income community and you need to cash a
check or get a loan to pay for a car repair or a medical emergency, where do you
“You go to a payday lender who could charge an interest rate of over 300 percent
and trap you into a vicious cycle of debt,” Sanders said. “That is unacceptable.
“We need to stop payday lenders from ripping off millions of Americans. Post
offices exist in almost every community in our country. One important way to
provide decent banking opportunities for low income communities is to allow the
U.S. postal Service to engage in basic banking services, and that's what I will
fight for,” Sanders said.
View the original article on the APWU website.
View the Social Security in an Election Year editorial on the New York Times website.
We Are Unionized
Update On Old Business
In April I wrote about a new sector of our economy that was considering joining
the ranks of unionized workers. The employees at Gawker Media an on line news
blog site was considering joining the Writer’s Guild of America, in April I
copied from their article:
"The final shape that the union might take, and who exactly will be in it, and
what specific goals it will pursue all remain to be seen." That sentence is at
the heart of every union, the democratic process that determines the shared
destiny of all who choose to be a part of it….
Well the results are in and from the gawker.com site I copied the following
brief but albeit telling message:
..Yesterday, more than 100 Gawker Media editorial employees voted on the
question of whether to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, East for
the purpose of collective bargaining—that is, whether we want to form a union.
The results are in.
Yesterday’s votes were cast electronically and tallied by VoteNet, an
independent online voting system. Out of 118 eligible voters, 107 cast votes.
The results are:
Yes: 80 votes—75%
No: 27 votes—25%
The next steps: determining what we want to bargain for; forming a bargaining
committee; and negotiating a contract.
We are unionized.
Congratulations to those employees of Gawker.com who have taken the bold step to
demand a voice in their cyberworkplace. The APWU salutes you, we support you and
we wish you well as you take organized labor into the next millennium. We are
not dead yet sisters and brothers.
480-481 Area Local
For Posting on all APWU Bulletin Boards
January 15, 2015
If under the post plan implementation you have been awarded a position
that has resulted in your promotion from PSE to PTF or FTR or from PTF to
FTR and you have yet to see your pay and or status properly updated we
need you to contact the 480-481 Area Local Union office and let us know as
soon as possible.
If you have not yet been properly paid as a result of your promotion then
please FAX to the 480-481 Area Local a copy of your most recent pay stubs
as well as the notice you received telling you when the effective date of
your promotion was. The FAX number: 248 543 2750
The local is working to identify those impacted members so we can make
certain you receive the appropriate pay and back pay as necessary.
If you have been awarded a NTFT job and it is less than 40 hours a week,
remember that any hours you work outside that new NTFT schedule are
paid at the out of schedule premium, which is another 50% of your base
hourly rate. Any questions about this please give us a call at
248 543 3262 and we will be
happy to go over the out of schedule rules as they apply to NTFT
jobs with you.
The APWU was successful in getting this work back into the bargaining
unit, now let's get down to making sure you are being paid properly for the
work you are doing.
Download a PDF flyer for posting.
480-481 Area Local
Stand Up and Fight
Brothers and sisters,
As I ponder the defeat labor suffered last week at the ballot box (the victory
of Senator Elect Gary Peters not-with-standing) I saw the article below and
thought I would share.
So many aspects of this election troubled me, but one issue, one specific
statistic left me reeling as I assessed the aftermath of the November 4th, 2014
mid-term election. It was the number 225,556, that is the number of people who
voted for Gary Peters and then crossed over and voted for Governor Snyder. Had
those folks who voted for now Senator Peters held the line and voted for Mark
Schauer he would be our new Governor by a margin of 97,426 votes. Why people
would cross a line to vote for a Governor who clearly has stacked the deck in
the favor of large corporate donors leaves wondering what part of Mark Schauers
message turned voters off?
Enjoy the article below – I think it’s a thoughtful look at the election and the
Roscoe Woods, President
Stand Up and Fight
Sophisticated campaign targeting and get-out-the-vote operations can't
substitute for the passion, clarity, and vision that motivate Democrats to vote.
By Robert L. Borosage
Debacle. Bloodbath. Drubbing. Call it what you will. For Democrats, this was an
ugly Election Day. But there’s no mandate for right-wing policies in its
Arkansas voters chose to raise the minimum wage while electing a senator who
opposes doing so. Colorado voters are pro-choice and elected a senator who
isn’t. Voters want action on climate change and gave the Senate over to those
who are in the pocket of Big Oil.
The most rational voters — given what’s coming in Washington — were those in the
District of Columbia and Oregon, who chose to make marijuana legal.
The 2014 mid-term elections were fundamentally about frustration with a recovery
that most people haven’t enjoyed. The Republicans blamed this on President
Barack Obama and claimed Democrats were guilty by association. That aroused the
GOP base as candidates played down their conservative stances on reproductive
choice and went silent on marriage equality.
Democrats chose not to run nationally against Republican obstruction, under the
assumption that their broad opposition to right-wing social positions would
mobilize their own base.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who drove the Republican
strategy to obstruct every Obama initiative and then paint Obama a failure, is
now warbling the soothing tones of bipartisan cooperation.
Any “cooperation” will, of course, be on Republican terms. GOP leaders will
invite Obama to join in on “reforms” like reducing corporate tax burdens, paring
Social Security benefits, approving budgets that savage the vulnerable and lard
the Pentagon, and cutting ruinous trade deals that undermine American workers.
To pay for infrastructure, the Republican-led Congress will champion the
“repatriation” of the dough that corporations have stashed abroad, handing those
tax dodgers a massive tax break and an incentive to avoid even more taxes in the
This is the Wall Street “bipartisan” agenda and it’s ready to go. Immigration
and renewable energy? You can bet they’re off the table.
The White House faces a choice. Will it lay out what the country needs? Will
President Obama make his case against those who would take the country backward?
Or will he just provide political cover for global deals that stack the deck
even more for the powerful and against the rest of us?
He shouldn’t be left to make that choice by himself.
In the circular firing squad already blasting away, Democrats will blame these
losses on their own liberalism. Conventional wisdom will urge them to move
rightward and cooperate with newborn “moderate” Republicans. They’ll be told
that the way back to power is to embrace “centrist” policies on trade, tax
reform, and entitlements.
But this election exposed the Democratic establishment’s fallacies. Social
issues alone, which increasingly favor Democrats, can’t spur victory.
Sophisticated campaign targeting and get-out-the-vote operations can’t
substitute for the passion, clarity, and vision that motivate the Democratic
base to vote.
Democrats won’t win votes by adopting a corporate agenda. They must drive an
agenda that will bring about an economy that works for everyone.
There’s a populist majority waiting to be forged. Millions will rally for
full-employment economics, for fairly taxing the rich and corporations,
investing in rebuilding the country and educating all children, strengthening
retirement security, making college affordable, lifting the minimum wage, taking
on the corruption of our politics by big money, and transitioning to the new and
more sustainable energy options that will create good-paying jobs.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has it right: Voters think the
government is corrupted and doesn’t work for them. If our country is to deal
with the real challenges it faces — extreme inequality and economic decline for
the majority, catastrophic climate change for the whole world, an oppressive war
on working people — we the people have to stand up and fight.
Democrats will have to make it clear that they’re ready to join in.
View the original article on the Other Words site.
An Economic Recovery
for the 1 Percent
Hello everyone –
Saw the article below and thought I would share it with the you.
With the 2014 elections right around the corner we have to be tuned in for those
issues that will attack our way of life. With the current state of our Congress
it is imperative we elect Gary Peters to office as well as making sure we vote
for those Democrats running for house seats. If you need any indication beyond
what is written below of the importance of electing majorities in either house
that are controlled by the Democrats simply look at the APWU web site informing
us all that over 160 House members have signed off asking that a moratorium on
plant closures and delivery standard changes and still no one in the house
leadership will bring this forward and get it done.
I found the article a bit dry but it is certainly informative.
President Roscoe Woods
An Economic Recovery for the 1 Percent
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
The evidence just keeps coming in: The country’s economic elites are the only
ones who have benefited from the so-called economic recovery.
The triennial Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve Board, released
this month, offers a treasure trove of data that documents the uneven recovery
and the persistence of inequality in the United States.
The study of these and similar data tell an all too familiar story—a story of
the decline of our standard of living.
But the exercise is always worth it because this storyline will continue until
the U.S. voters wake up and support progressive politicians and a political
agenda directed at working families that includes such polices as a national
jobs program, redistributive taxes, fair trade policies, labor law reform to
promote unionization, a higher minimum wage, the strengthening of Social
Security and retirement security, and national health care.
Widespread Income Loss
About the only good news for consumers in the Fed report is that Americans are
chipping away at their debt. But that also means they are cutting back on
spending, which can’t be good for the economy. And while housing and credit card
debt are declining, educational debt is increasing substantially.
Except for the top 20 percent, all families experienced a drop in median income
from 2010 to 2013, the years covered by the report. Only families at the very
top of income distribution saw widespread gains during that period. Families at
the bottom of the income distribution “saw substantial declines in average
incomes, continuing the trend observed between the 2007 and 2010 surveys,” the
Overall, average income increased by 5 percent during 2010 to 2013, but median
income fell. That points to an increasing concentration of income, as the
economic elite captured most of the economic gains during that period. That
observation is consistent with the findings of French economist Thomas Piketty,
who found that a staggering 93 percent of the pre-tax income growth in 2010–the
first year of the recovery—went to the top 1 percent.
The retirement security of most Americans continues to decline.
With employers failing to offer and continuing to drop traditional retirement
plans, the participation of families in the bottom half of the income
distribution has declined substantially from 2007 to 2013.
In 2013, only 40.2 percent of families actually participated in a retirement
plans. That’s down from 48.2 percent in 2007.
But even the families that do participate in retirement plans generally aren’t
on track to saving enough to be able to maintain their current standard of
living during their retirement years.
The typical combined balance of Individual Retirement Account and
defined-benefit pension for the lowest-income group with those assets was
$39,100 in 2013. The average balance for the upper-middle group was $147,300.
The ownership of retirement savings accounts dipped below 50 percent in 2013.
These accounts include IRAs, Keogh accounts, and certain employer-sponsored
accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and thrift savings accounts.
The report documents how lousy these retirement vehicles are. The average
account had $201,300 in 2013. Half of account holders had $59,000 or less. Try
living off that.
The low retirement savings show the need to expand Social Security rather than
reduce the benefit. The easiest and most equitable way to do that, of course, is
by scrapping the $117,000 cap on the income taxed for Social Security, an option
that’s gaining support.
The report notes that, “the shares of income and wealth held by affluent
families are at modern historical highs.” And among high-income groups
considerable inequality exists.
The income share of the top 3 percent amounted to 30.5 percent in 2013, with
this group recovering the hit it took during the Great Recession.
But the share of income received by the next highest group (percentiles 90
through 97) has not budged for a quarter of a century, amounting to just less
than17 percent in 1989 and 2013.
The “rising income share of the top 3 percent mirrors the declining share of the
bottom 90 percent in distribution,” the report says. Translation: Productivity
is not shared equally, and inequality reflects a direct transfer of income and
wealth to the 1 percent from the rest of us.
The Wealth Divide
The bottom 90 percent of families has seen its share of wealth plummet to 24.7
percent in 2013 from 33.2 percent in 1989.
The inequality in our country becomes particularly striking when you look at net
worth—the gross assets and liabilities of families.
The median net worth of all families fell by 2 percent to $81,200 from 2010 to
2013 while the mean (overall average) net worth—propped up by the gains of the
affluent–remained at $534,600.
Wide disparities exist among different income and demographic groups:
The bottom 20 percent of families had a median net worth of less than $50 in
2010 and 2013. Their average net worth was actually negative in 2013, as they
carried a debt burden of $13,400.
Families between the 75th and 90th percent groupings experienced a 20 percent
decline in their average net worth, which fell to $505,800.
The median net worth of the top 10 dropped to $1,871,800 in 2013, but their
average net worth rose a little to just over $4 million in 2013, pulled up by
the upper tier in this group.
The average worth of non-white or Latino families fell 2 percent to $183,900.
The report points to the lingering impact of the housing crash.
Overall, the ownership rate of nearly every type of asset declined from 2010 to
2013. The drop in homeownership and home prices explains most of the decline.
The percentage of families who own a primary residence decreased from 69.1
percent in 2004 to 65.2 percent in 2013. The median family’s house was worth
$170,000 in 2013. That is down from $182,200 three years earlier.
The survey is discussed in September issue of the Federal Reserve Bulletin,
which is available at the Federal Reserve System’s website, where you can also
find a video about the survey.
View the original article on The New Crossroads site.
Fighting for the Right
to End Inequality
As I follow the debate on whether to raise America’s minumum wage or not this
story struck me as interesting and I thought I’d share. The article does a great
job of showing how income inequality is directly tied to the funding of
elections and this article only reaffirms my belief that Congress needs to end
the orgy of money and get us into a system of a publically financned election
I doubt Congress has the stones to cut off their supply of cash so perhaps the
solution lies in a national referendum on this issue and that my friends is a
huge a task as any one group could undertake.
400 people in this nation control 62% of the wealth allowing any one
individual to funnel unlimited amounts of cash into as many political campaigns
as one likes. This is not a right all Americans can enjoy. Sadly when the Supreme Court
of the United States (SCOTUS) rules that any single donor can now funnel an
unlimited amount of money to a variety of political candidates, parties and
committees at the federal level – the Supremes have ensured that the game is now
rigged to favor the 400 over the 300,000,000.
As an example – 76% of Americans believe the minimum wage ought to be raised to
at least $10.10. Why hasn’t it happened? Because the minority in this nation
have used its wealth in conjunction with the latest SCOTUS ruling to rig the
game against the majority – and because of the money those on the right are
loath to do what even a majority of their constituents want.
I offer the story below to you and I hope you find it as interesting as I did.
Fighting for the Right to End Inequality
This is about money and politics.
Marjorie E. Wood
Fast-food workers in hundreds of cities across the country and the world
went on strike in mid-May to demand higher pay and better working
These workers targeted the richest and most powerful fast-food corporations such
as McDonald’s and Burger King.
Walmart workers went
on strike in 20 cities across the country a few weeks later, making demands
similar to those of the fast-food workers.
These mobilizations are the latest in the fight of ordinary people to make the
big corporations pay their workers enough to live decent lives.
Meanwhile, rich corporations are doing better than ever. According to the
National Employment Law Project, the 50 largest employers of low-wage workers
are highly profitable, massive corporations with executive compensation
averaging $9.4 million.
This now commonplace predicament — rich executives reaping fat paychecks from
companies that exploit low-wage workers — has become a symbol of extreme
inequality in America.
Despite a few “inequality deniers,”
most Americans realize that the gap between the rich and everyone else has grown
dramatically over the past decade. It’s no longer controversial to point out
that the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer.
Here are two ways former Labor Secretary Robert Reich illustrates this point:
The United States has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in
the world, behind only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon. And the 400 richest
Americans own 62 percent of wealth in America.
What we don’t talk about often enough is why this is happening.
Income inequality isn’t just about money. It’s about politics.
In this age of extreme inequality, the Supreme Court is handing down decisions
that enshrine the political influence of wealthy Americans. The rich aren’t just
getting richer. They are getting more powerful. As a result, the ability of
average citizens to make our voices heard is eroding.
Low-wage workers are organizing to demand basic rights because the wealthy have
In 2010, the Supreme
Court’s Citizens United ruling gave
corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence
elections under the guise of free speech. This year, its McCutcheon decision allowed individuals to
give unlimited amounts of money to any candidate or political party.
In the wake of the McCutcheon ruling, a single donor can now funnel an unlimited
amount of money to a variety of political candidates, parties and committees at
the federal level.
Only a few hundred people will be able to take advantage of this new “right” a
Supreme Court majority has defined.
That isn’t democracy. That’s granting a few wealthy Americans the right to
control our politics.
Bestowing such rights on the extremely wealthy in an age when ordinary Americans
are barely getting by erodes our democracy. These legal precedents make it
harder for workers to challenge exploitation or claim the right to a decent
When thousands of McDonald’s and Walmart workers go on strike, they are
exercising their basic democratic right to have their voices heard.
The American people are listening, but not Congress.
An overwhelming majority — 76 percent —
of Americans believe Congress should boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
However, that wage increase has stalled in Congress. A bill that would raise the wage from
$7.25 to $10.10 was shelved in the Senate in late April.
It’s unacceptable that the will of the people doesn’t stand a chance in the
halls of Congress. That’s why we must overturn these shameful Supreme Court
decisions by amending the Constitution. It’s about
protecting our democracy.
In this fight to reduce inequality, let’s ensure that the democratic means to do
so aren’t taken from us as well.
View the original article on the Other Words site.
The Way Forward: Tax and Spend
This strategy would reduce joblessness
and inequality while stimulating the economy.
By Bob Lord
and Emily Schwartz Greco
Have you heard? Our economic policy debate is getting some spring cleaning.
President Barack Obama has signaled that he’s had it with all that talk about
America being broke and the belt-tightening austerity measures that went along
with that chatter. His
proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year will reflect this reality.
You know what he should try? A tax-and–spend strategy.
Yes, conservatives have tried for years to turn that simple solution into an
epithet. But it’s the best way forward.
Taxing more and spending more would stimulate a $17 trillion U.S. economy that’s
not producing at full capacity and dogged by high unemployment. It wouldn’t
expand the budget deficit. And it would reverse the concentration of income and
wealth that’s hollowing out our middle class and denying most Americans a fair
Changing tax rates and spending levels are two of the three standard tools
policymakers have at their disposal to goose the economy. The other is monetary
The Federal Reserve’s expansionary
monetary policy that began in 2008 is unprecedented. It may have helped get
our financial system back on its feet and unleashed a multi-year bull market.
But our economy is still staggering.
Unemployment still stands at 6.6 percent and typical American
workers are earning less than they did before the Great Recession.
That means it’s time to give targeted tax increases and higher government
spending a shot.
Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller and others have explained, raising taxes
and increasing spending by identical amounts, is budget-neutral. But that extra
tax revenue and government spending make a positive economic impact.
Why? Because the entire increase in spending is injected into the economy, where
its effect is multiplied as it circulates. The tax increase, by contrast,
doesn’t cause a dollar-for-dollar reduction in consumer spending.
That’s because it’s absorbed in part by a decrease in personal savings. Thus,
taxing and spending in equal amounts bolsters an economy that isn’t running at
full capacity. And if taxes rise at the top of the income scale, most consumer
spending won’t suffer a big blow.
Levying higher taxes on the rich and boosting government spending are the right
ingredients for a bigger and more effective stimulus than we’ve had since the
economy started to sag at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.
Plus, this strategy could help slow or reverse America’s increasing
concentration of wealth.
Everything else being equal, all but a few of us would prefer to accumulate
wealth. For most Americans, living expenses and the tax on our wages limit how
much wealth we can amass.
About three-quarters of us live paycheck-to-paycheck.
For those at the top, however, it’s a different story. Living expenses only
consume a tiny slice of their income, which they draw more from investments than
wages. Taxing investment income and inheritances at higher rates would level the
playing field on wealth accumulation and restrain extreme inequality.
Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the two leading researchers on income
inequality, teamed up with MIT student Stefanie Stantcheva to see how this
works. They looked at changes in top income tax rates, economic growth rates,
and the share of the top 1 percent in pre-tax income over a 30-year period in 18
countries, including our own.
Their conclusion? Income tax rates for
very highest earners could be set as high as 83 percent without curbing
At the same time, the researchers found, higher tax rates at the top correlate
with less concentration of income at the ladder’s highest rung. Given that the
top 0.1 percent of American earners rake in at least $1.7 million a year and pocket 10 percent of our national
income, that would get our economy on a healthier track.
The writer and sustainable food guru Michael Pollan boils his advice down to
seven words: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
We’ll use eight: Tax more, mainly at the top, and spend.
View the original article on the Other Words site.
Politics, Privatization and Some Fast Truths About Fast Food Wage$
I truly hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a Happy New Year.
I know the hectic life of postal workers makes it tough to be with friends and
families as we get down to the business of making sure everyone else’s
presents arrive in a timely manner, but I do hope you all managed to get some
quality time with those closest to you. I know how easy it is to let work get in
front of family and I pray all of you do not fall into that trap.
I wish all the members of this local, your families and the members and families
of the APWU all across this nation the most prosperous of New Years. I
cannot believe it’s 2014 already, I got my 25 year pin the other day and I cannot
believe how time flies.
It’s interesting to observe how our political process plays out as the GOP
and the Dems all take shots at each other on the national TV news outlets and
across the internet. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA
or as it’s better known, Obamacare) the vitriol has hit epic levels.
No one cannot admit that the roll out of the ACA was not (to quote many I have
heard) an “Epic fail” but the most frustrating thing to me was the
fact that problems with a web site grabbed the headlines when what ought to have
been reported on was the fact we had rolled out one of the most significant
pieces of social legislation in the history of this nation.
A majority of the American people elected a President who ran on a mandate of
providing affordable universal health care for all Americans, then some Dems and the GOP in
Congress fought him all the way, it took some serious convincing to get a
majority of the Democrats onboard and here we stand, passing a law that will
ensure well over 40,000,000 American citizens will not have to choose food over
And what grabs the headlines – a web site crashing.
I am not a fan of the ACA. I thought Representative Conyers HR 676 Single Payer
– Medicare for all (http://www.healthcare-now.org/) was the simplest and
most economic approach to solving what is truly an incredibly complex problem,
but the GOP’s approach of doing nothing or outright obstructing was not
something the American people wanted – as evidenced by the results of the last
two Presidential elections.
For the last 30 years our government led by Democrats and Republicans alike have
passed law after law that has made is easier and at times more profitable to
ship good paying jobs that sustained the middle class and provide benefits, like
health care out of this country.
The result of these failed economic policies created a huge benefit gap in this
country. For the first time in a long time a lot of Americans were not able to
pay their bills let alone cover the cost of providing quality health care for
themselves and their families.
If Congress and the President are going to spend decades applying economic
policies that lead us down such a road why would either party be surprised or
object when the American people step up and make a statement that they will not
allow 40+ Million other Americans to go without something as vital as quality
affordable health care.
How short sighted can our elected leaders be? That was rhetorical by the way.
For anyone on the right or the left to raise serious issues with respect to the
majority of the American people electing leadership who make it a part of their
mandate to craft legislation to fill the health care gap created by the last 30
years spent destroying the middle class infrastructure needs to a take a long
hard look in the mirror and ask themselves why is it so easy to leave so many
millions out in the cold?
There is a cause and effect to years of ill-advised free trade agreements like
I mean for crying out loud, there were over 40,000,000 Americans without access
to affordable basic health care, tens of millions of those were kids. How is it
as a nation we can allow this to go on – oh yeah, that’s right – we didn’t.
In my opinion where we need to go now is identify the problems with the ACA and
fix them. If Congress cannot recognize the will of the people at this point and
give HR 676 a real look then they are obligated to fix the system that has been
put in place.
We have done the right thing, we have taken the bold step that provides
universal health coverage, now we need to make sure that the law is followed and
any problems as they arise are fixed.
Now is not the time to run from this issue, now is the time for us all to call
our reps and tell them all, the right thing was done, keep pushing on and make
whatever improvements you can because in the end we will all better off as a
result of the ACA.
How would you like your 5% Staples Rewards?
Looks like Staples will now be a place where the American public can find a
majority of their everyday postal services, everything that is except hard
working, well paid trustworthy APWU represented postal employees.
Yep you read it right, the USPS has started a pilot program where they will be
offering certain postal services at approximately 94 Staples stores across this
nation, from the APWU web site:
“The Staples units will offer most postal products and services: They will
sell stamps; accept first-class letters, Priority, Priority Express, standard
mail, and first-class packages, and accept certified mail. The units will be
operational during Staples’ business hours — as late as 9 p.m. on
weekdays, on Sundays and many holidays. And, in a unique arrangement, the office
supply giant will offer 5% Staples Rewards for the postage on packages paid for
and shipped at its locations.”
I say we take advantage of this unique opportunity and begin the hard work of
organizing Staples. I respect APWU HQ and the position they have taken,
President Dimondstein has sent notice to all local Presidents that we must
prepare to take action ensuring such blatant efforts to privatize postal
services does not stand and I agree.
From APWU President Mark Dimondstein: “The APWU is adamantly opposed to
management plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs
held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the
mail. Postal workers deserve better. Our customers deserve better.”
Aside from pushing back in the halls of Congress I also believe the key to
ensuring this type of crap stops is by making sure the USPS and of course
Staples knows that no matter where they send our work the APWU will be there to
organize those they seek to take advantage of both to elevate their standard of
living and protect our own. Until we get additional leadership from APWU HQ I
will be adding Staples to the list of stores I will be boycotting.
How much would you pay me?
Chris Rock has always been a funny guy – one quote from him has always stayed
with me: “I used to work at McDonald's making minimum wage. You know what
that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was
trying to say? "Hey if I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the
I have been watching the fight that’s raging at fast food restaurants
across this nation as the workers fight for better working conditions and an
increase in the minimum wage. I find Chris Rocks words the best way to explain
really what the minimum wage is all about – if these employers could they would
pay all those hard working people less and I believe it would be a lot less.
To put it in perspective I point to a web-blog I read the other day and a story
by an author named Sarah Anderson, www.otherwords.org
is sort of a clearing house for issues relevant to the attack on the working poor
and our environment.
Sarah noted that, the company that owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut (Yum
Brands) employees roughly 380,000 folks earning at or near minimum wage. Since
these folks earn so little and the company Yum Brands refuses to offer any
substantial benefits these hard working folks end up turning to taxpayer-funded
anti-poverty programs just to get by. The National Employment Law Project
estimates that Yum Brands’ workers draw nearly $650 million in Medicaid
and other public assistance (such as food stamps) annually, that’s about
$170 of tax payer dollars per employee annually.
Now what makes that so maddening is the tax breaks these corporations get when
it comes to CEO compensation. You read right – the tax payer (me and you) also
subsidize these corporations in the form of tax breaks for the high dollar
salaries they pay their CEO’s.
For example: “McDonald’s, Yum, Wendy’s, Burger King,
Domino’s, and Dunkin’ Brands. Combined, these firms’ CEOs
pocketed more than $183 million in fully deductible “performance
pay” in 2011 and 2012, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an
estimated $64 million. To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to
cover the average cost of food stamps for 40,000 American families for a
Going on: “What makes all this even more galling is that these fast food
giants are pocketing massive taxpayer subsidies for their CEO pay while fighting
to keep their workers’ wages at rock bottom. All of the big fast food
corporations are members of the National Restaurant Association, which is
aggressively working to block a raise in the federal minimum wage to a level
that would let millions of fast food workers make ends meet without public
Sarah Anderson notes: “There’s an easy solution to the perverse
“performance pay” loophole. A bill introduced by Senators Jack Reed
(D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) would simply set a firm $1 million cap for
executive pay deductions — with no exceptions. Corporations could still pay
their CEOs whatever they choose, but at least taxpayers wouldn’t be
subsidizing anything above $1 million. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates
this legislation would generate more than $50
billion over 10 years.”
Imagine what could be done with another 5B in tax revenue each year?
Honestly it’s not the tax rates that are really out of whack, it’s
the manner in which tax breaks are applied. The government cuts earned income
tax credits which truly benefit the poor and they leave corporate breaks like
the ones noted above in place. I would really like to see a CEO live for 90 days
on $7.50 an hour, today’s minimum wage.
In case anyone asks, in addition to getting millions in tax breaks for CEO
compensation the golden arches raked in a cool $32.4 billion in profits for 2012 so you can see
getting several millions of dollars to subsidize their CEO pay really mattered.
It’s an orgy of money at the top of the “food” chain and these
companies can never ever have enough. It’s a super-sized problem for the
average employee to make ends meet.
Pope Francis said recently: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down
theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will
inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the
world,” This rich-people-friendly take on the world, he points out,
“has never been confirmed by the facts.”
Trickledown economics has failed and it’s important we let our
representatives know that we no longer want them representing tax policies that
depend on this failed method to spread the wealth. The job creators have spoken
and Chris Rock summed up their message – were it not for the law – millions of
workers in this nation would be getting a lot less than $7.50 an hour.
I do believe that sometime in the near future we will all have to stand firm and
tall on some line somewhere demanding that we are not left any further behind.
Until then I encourage you all to write a letter, make a phone call, point,
click on over to the APWU Congressional Information Center
on www.apwu.org and get your reps contact info. Reach out
to them today, tomorrow and the day after and tell them. An injury to one is in
fact an injury to us all.
I Prefer Coffee
I prefer coffee, the Tea Party holding its
breath – while it holds America hostage.
As I sit and watch this Federal Government shutdown move into its second week I
am amazed at how the politicians in the Republican Party are allowing a minority
in one house of the Legislature to control both the Senate and House of
The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” as it has come to be known
was passed by Congress, signed by President Obama into law and then after the
GOP filed suit in U.S. Federal Court to overturn the law it was upheld by the
Supreme Court of the United States of America as legal.
It is the law. Like it or not – it is the law.
To date over 40 votes to defund this law have been had in the House of
Representatives, costing hundreds of millions of dollars and the votes were
purely symbolic and they were held as a result of the minority in one party
forcing the majority to act and still to date it is the law.
Those Tea Party GOP types will soon be holding their breath and stomping their
feet to get their way. Seems they have no respect for elections, or even the
rulings of our Supreme Court.
The Federal Government is closed, anyone who at this time is trying to retire
from the USPS is being held in limbo, there is a very real chance that some
recent retiree’s may not get their first annuity check because OPM is closed. It
appears those who left eraly and are waiting for their Social Security stipend
to kick in will have to wait a while longer.
OPM was already months behind in processing regular retiree applications, those
who are applying for a disability retirement end up sitting and waiting even
longer, all the while waiting and wondering when they will get paid.
We have injured employees losing compensation or having it delayed because the
OWCP offices are closed.
EEO complaints are sitting, FMAL issues are sitting, Labor Charges are sitting,
while the Tea Party holds its breath and stomps its feet real people, your
neighbors and your coworkers are being denied benefits and assistance they need,
and in the end they may well be losing money they need to pay their bills.
Point and click: http://capwiz.com/apwu/home/
Call and write your representative – if they are one of the 9 Republicans here
in Michigan tell them to show some leadership, tell them to get House Speaker
Boehner and his lackey Eric Cantor to bring the Senate resolution to the House
floor and vote the clean Continuing Resolution up or down, no baggage, no
demands, no conditions, just a clean resolution that when passed will end this
stalemate and get the Fed back to work.
I have attached below this message an interesting article from the NH Labor News
– enjoy and get active!!!
Roscoe Woods – President
Translating from TeaPartyese:
What “negotiate” really means….
By Liz Iacobucci | 10-3-13
Don’t let them fool you.
When GOP Congressmen say they “just want to negotiate” – what
they’re really saying is “we’re going to have it our way”.
And when they talk about “compromise” – they’re really talking
about “ratcheting it down even
You know how a ratchet works, right? When you turn it, the screw can only go
one way. And the Tea Party’s position is: government can only get smaller.
They’re yelling about the federal deficit – and accumulated federal debt –
but the only “solution” they’re willing to entertain is to cut
spending. Have you heard anybody suggest raising
The fact is: as a share of the nation’s economy, federal tax revenues are
at almost-record lows. Yes, they were lower, back when Harry Truman was
President – but that was before Medicare was enacted in 1965.
And it looks like the GOP may have already won the
federal budget game.
Remember 2011, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan came out with his budget? “$4 trillion of cuts over
Remember how radical that budget seemed, back then? How far to the right? How
extreme the cuts appeared?
Now, take a closer look at the “continuing resolution” passed by the
Democratically-controlled Senate last week, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the
government shutdown. Yeah, the same “continuing resolution” that
the House GOP won’t send to an up-do-down vote, without further
Funding levels in that “continuing resolution” are about 10% less than what
Chairman Ryan proposed, back in 2011.
And it came from the Democrats. And it’s still not enough for the GOP.
Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet.
View original article on the NH Labor News site.
Attention APWU members looking to use eReassign to get to the Call Center, Metroplex or other offices in the Royal Oak Bid Cluster.
You will have to apply for reassignment to the
ROYAL OAK(MI) POST OFC - INSHD (MI).
When you log on to eReassign:
Do your search by state, after clicking on Michigan, click to get to the Detroit
District. By selecting the Detroit District link, a list of bid clusters/offices
within the Detroit District displays. Scroll down through all the offices in
the Detroit District until you find the
ROYAL OAK(MI) POST OFC - INSHD (MI)
The ROYAL OAK(MI) POST OFC - INSHD (MI) covers the following offices:
- Pontiac MI Metroplex (not the Pontiac Main Post Office)
- Customer Care Center in Troy
- The Royal Oak Main Post Office
- The Royal Oak VMF
- The Madison Heights and Berkley Post Offices
When you select the Royal Oak MI bid cluster you are asking for reassignment to
any one of the offices listed above. Do not let this scare you off; you can bid
from anyone of these offices to the other.
A very important note:
For you PTF’s, reassignment to any of the offices above whether in the clerk or
maintenance crafts gets you converted to full time regular since the entirety of
bidding cluster is a 200 man Year Office.
Once you select the bid cluster you must select a craft.
My advice is that you set the broadest search possible and maximize your
opportunity and simply select the craft for which you wish to reassign. If you
select clerk craft then any clerk craft job on eReassign in the Royal Oak Bid
Cluster can come your way.
If you choose the maintenance craft most vacancies are level 4 custodial jobs.
Again - do not be scared by the level or nature of the work, the bid cluster has
maintenance jobs that rise to Level 10 and as maintenance craft with diligence
and hard work you can promote and make even more money. But again - you must
take the first step and truly decide where you want this career to take you.
If you want to go to the call center but the job offered off of eReassign is at
the Metroplex, remember, you can bid from the
Metroplex to the call center and vice versa so before you decline
anything, call your Union and ask some questions.
You can make two reassignment requests - one to the clerk side and one to the
maintenance side. The notice above is brief, and the opportunities listed will
not be around forever so if you have any questions please call: 248 543 3262.
480 481 Area Local - APWU