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Roscoe Woods



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Roscoe Woods

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Presidents Report
February 2019

Roscoe Woods

As many of you are aware, the APWU and the USPS were unable to come to a negotiated agreement, and once again we are headed to arbitration.

How we arrived at this point this year is another story entirely.

My perspective on the Rank and File and 1300 L Street:

I need to thank first of all Rank and File Committee Chair Scott Hoffman, Boston Metro Area Local, our Vice Chair A.J. Jones Eastern Montgomery County PA Area Local and our Secretary Doris Orr-Richardson President for the State of Florida for all their leadership throughout the experience. Brother Scott kept us focused, AJ provided much insight and Doris did the tireless job of recording the vital information the committee needed as we conducted our business. All three are exceptional local and state leaders in their own right, but they made the APWU proud the way they lead this committee.

As members of this committee, the 13 of us that had the duty to determine whether or not any tentative contract would be worthy to be given to the general membership for a vote. I have to say I was very proud to serve in such a capacity on the committee.

The committee spent nearly forty hours over several days both in DC and from home via conference call reviewing numerous tentative agreements that made up a possible new contract. The tentative agreement was presented to the committee by President Dimondstein as an extension of the current contract. However, with so many changes it seemed more like a new contract than an extension of the old contract. So it was after scrutinous deliberation that a majority of the committee rejected what President Dimondstein presented to us.

I regret that we were not able to vote to send the membership a tentative agreement for consideration. I have stated several times that I have never been on the winning side of any vote and felt so defeated. No one wants to go to arbitration if it can be avoided.

While we as a committee have agreed to stay silent on the sticking points to avoid tipping our hand to the USPS as we head to arbitration, I would like to report to you some of my experiences as a member of this committee.

First, I have to say the future of this union looks very bright, the young leaders on the committee showed we have a solid foundation for the future. There was a great mix of young and older members each of us listening to the others as we deliberated and debated the various aspects of the tentative agreement.

Truthfully, I expected the more experienced members of this committee to lead and they did but what I witnessed time and time again was the younger members stepping hard into this challenging process and more often than not directing the conversation and focusing the deliberations.

I also expected that some of the members would be beholden to the officer that picked them for the committee. However, what I saw was a majority of the committee deliberating independent of who selected them; Instead focusing on the deal in front of us and spending hours reviewing it as we sought to determine how it may impact the decades to come plus the several hundred thousand current and future APWU members. The simple truth is we were consumed by this assignment and the importance of it.

Honestly, I witnessed a severe disconnect between our President and quite a few other elected national officers.

The fact not one National Craft Officer or the Executive Vice President was sitting at the head table during direct negotiations with the USPS was an avoidable error by President Mark Dimondstein. Ultimately, it’s what I believe led directly to some of the issues we just could not overcome when the committee had to decide whether the tentative agreement was good enough to send to all of you for an up or down vote.

I walked away from this experience seriously troubled by our national president’s management style. We had several interactions with President Dimondstein regarding our concerns over the agreement, and he was combative, profane and disrespectful. I kept wondering if he feels comfortable being so rude to one of the most critical committees this union has how does he interact with the remainder of this union's other elected officers?

While I can understand Mark takes this personally, no one can spend days and months working on something and not feel some serious ownership of it, but at the end of the day, we all owe each other the respect we demand from postal management and Mark’s behavior was simply unacceptable. The committee had a job to do, and we did it, he minimally owed us the respect we gave him.

We have always heard that 1300 L Street is a politically charged environment but what I took away from this experience was that’s it’s also a hostile workspace and that hostility is driven by our national president.

We witnessed some of this at the national convention in Pittsburgh when President Dimondstein overtly and publicly disrespected APWU National Executive Vice President Debbie Szeredy by refusing to allow her to run the convention when he stepped away for a break. That public display of disrespect left the Michigan delegation as well as others ready to shut the convention down.

Mark's temper was in evidence again at the Presidents conference in Maine when he disrespectfully lashed out at a local president when questioned about his decision on a specific MOU.

As your local president, now in my third term, I try to leave local politics out of the decisions I make. While I have supported other candidates in our elections over the years, I make every effort to work with every elected board member and chief steward in this local whether I supported their candidacy or not; to do otherwise would be a violation of the oath I took to put this union first in every decision I make.

I get up every day knowing the difficult task in front of me, and I know that I do not have all the answers. I would never unilaterally embark on any serious negotiation without the input of the officers, steward, and members impacted by these negotiations. I believe President Dimondstein did just that, I think he purposefully excluded the craft officers and the executive vice president from the head table, and for reasons only he can explain he went forward with just the counsel of the Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman.

We are one of the more democratic industrial unions in this nation and what I continue to see from our chief executive is behavior that is exhibited by those who unilaterally believe they know what’s best and it is becoming clear that Mark does not tolerate any form of dissent.

Dissent in our democracy is vital to its health; we are many voices from many backgrounds all coming together for a single common purpose, to bust our butts to ensure we have the best job security, decent wages, benefits, and work environment.

Besides this article, I have sent President Dimondstein a personal letter outlining my concerns with his treatment of the rank and file committee. I get no pleasure out of any this especially since I have known Mark for most if not all of my union life. I have considered him a friend, and I believed him to have the qualities to be a great leader.

It is clear he can build coalitions outside this union, what’s also clear is internally we have some pretty severe divisions, and it all starts and stops with our chief executive.

We have an uncertain future, the polarization of our national politics has put working people at the back of the line. Also, brothers and sisters, we cannot tolerate such an epic level of dysfunction at 1300 L Street.

We have a national election coming up, it pains me to say this but if president Dimondstein cannot unify this union from 1300 L Street on down, if he cannot live the solidarity he preaches then we may well have to find another leader to steer us through the difficult times ahead.

Leadership is hard, and decisions must be made. Then the explanations for those decisions follow. What we cannot allow is a few at the top excluding the rest of those elected craft officers, thinking they have all the answers.

We cannot voluntarily take one step backward; labor has sacrificed enough. If we have to go to war with the USPS then we expect our chief officer to lead us into battle, not attack us for disagreeing, not criticize or vilify us for having the courage to speak truth to power - even if it's his.

All we have is each other, and at the end of the day I stand shoulder to shoulder with the APWU, I do so proudly, I do so willingly, and I will speak truth to power no matter who it is. We will disagree, elections will come, and presidents will go. This exercise isn’t about me as your president; it’s about what’s best for this union and its rank and file.

I challenge President Mark Dimondstein to go back and reread his oath of office, bring the National Executive Board to the table, clear the air, and recognize the decades of talent he has in that room. Perhaps then he will understand the real power that comes from rising above the pettiness of politics and that when unified we are a formidable force! It's time for President Dimondstein to quit worrying about the next election and instead take us into arbitration and get us the best damn contract he can. The membership deserves better.

Nothing about writing this article was easy, but it’s what I witnessed, and sisters and brothers I stand by every word.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
480-481 Area Local


Has It Really Been 30 Years?

As of September 10th, 2018 I will have achieved a milestone so many before me have and that is three decades of service in the USPS. It is hard to believe it’s been 30 years.

To sit in front of this key-board reflecting is an amazing and truthfully emotional thing.

I recall my first pay check, after looking at that first pay stub as well as my net take home pay I asked a coworker if my pay looked correct, the answer was yes. I smiled and said, get used to seeing me around!

Let’s review.

As a level 5 Step-B PTF in September of 1988 I made $10.53 an hour. For even more contrast a full time regular level 5 clerk made $28,199.00 a year. Today had I stayed in the clerk craft I would be at the top of my pay schedule earning $60,737.00 a year that’s $29.20 an hour.


Because of the APWU for the last 30 years I have never had to worry about whether or not I would have a job, nor have I ever worried about my health care. Three straight decades of job security!

Ask other unions if they have that when you start comparing, ask others if they’d pay dues to an organization that cold secure those types of benefits. Ask a scab why they think that’s a freebie for them to take from us.

On a side note, I have paid union dues for everyone of those 30 years. Best money I have ever spent.


After my nearly 4 year stint in the Army (HooYah!) I took the test to work at the USPS. When I got called in originally it was to work as a Letter Carrier in Warren but for reasons we won’t discuss here my driving record was not conducive to driving a USPS vehicle so that job was not to be.

A short while later I got a call to work at the Processing and Distribution Center in Troy. What was interesting back then was I had to go off the clock and meet the basic keying qualifications for a flat sorter before I could get hired. Once hired I still had to meet the full qualification to keep the job.

Thanks to Mr. Neubauer at Lamphere High School for having that data entry class. I never thought that elective would serve as anything but a break from the regular classes but in the end that training made it so much easier to qualify on the flat sorter.

September 10th, 1988 I began my career working in the flat section, 5:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. with Mon/Tues off days. Back then we had four flat sorters with four keying consoles and believe it or not we had 30+ hand cases to sort the flats.

If I recall when I first looked at the seniority roster I was approximately 960 out of 960.

One memory that stands out is we could smoke in the hand cases. They actually issued you little ash trays you could clip on to your hand case while you worked. I am amazed we did not burn the place down.

As a young single 24 year old working afternoons and weekends it put a dent in my personal life, retired Flat Sorter and APWU Steward Karl Roach told me that I just had to be patient, with seniority came a chance to improve my hours and off days.

Within three years I was working afternoons with weekends off. It was tour 3 in automation where I would spend the next 15+ years and make some of the best friendships in my life.

30 years seems like a long time but it also seems like yesterday that we were heading to Liberty Park on Tuesday mornings for the Tuesday morning softball league. We had two teams just from the plant.

At the end of the soft ball season the two postal teams would square off and the losing team had to by the beer. We’d head to Annie’s house and have a big pool party and BBQ. I am not saying we were closer then, but it sure seems we did not stress the BS at work the way we seem to do now.

I hear Liberty Park is gone now. Tuesday morning softball turned into after work darts and too many pizzas at the gathering place to count.

I recall my mom telling me that in the beginning the job I had now was not like any of the other jobs I had had in the past, this was if I wanted it to be a career.

My mom told me to look to my left at work, look to my right, she said if I was blessed, if I stayed healthy, those folks I worked with every day would become some of my best friends.

Like so many other things my mom has said over the years she was right.

So many memories work back then was what we did before we went out to have fun. Yes we were younger, most of us had yet to start families and it was in those in-between life moments that lifelong friendships were made.

After 20 years as we prepared to move into the Metroplex I made the jump to custodian, when I migrated to Tour 2 I did not see my friends from afternoons as much and it was difficult. As much as we were a social group we were a support group for each other as well

I could fill this edition of our paper with stories about the fun we had at work as well as outside of it. What I do recall was that as much of a grind as the job could be, I recall the best moments while the difficult times are much harder to recall. Maybe it’s just how I am wired, see the good move on from the no so good. Maybe we are all wired that way?

As I write this my mind fills with memories of friends who have past-away. As I write this I feel the difficulty of their loss. One such friend was Ted Waters.

For a while working in flats we were the best of friends.

Ted his wife Barb and their son Chris welcomed me into their family. We partied at his cabin up north, we hung out after work, and before work. I recall calling off work with him for several days in 1989 to watch the Bad Boys take the NBA by storm (I figure that’s long enough ago the ACO cannot get me for admitting it). I thought one night his trailer would rock off its foundation as we jumped for joy watching Isiah and crew take it to the Lakers.

Bad Boys! Bad Boys! Yes indeed!

I see and hear that as if it were yesterday. 30 years.

This paper is simply not big enough to fill it with the stories I recall, the good times we had or the number of friends I was lucky to make. I want to list all my friends by name and I find myself lucky enough that if I tried I’d run out of space. So I do not forget anyone I will simply thank you all for your patience, your friendship and your love.

I find my mother’s words regarding the friendships I would make one of the truest statements I have ever heard. And as I sit here reminiscing I believe as I have written before, I am blessed and I am one of the luckiest people I know.

If I have any advice to offer it’s do not stress the BS at work, focus on the good things, the great people you work with and hopefully when you reach this milestone in your career your memories will be like mine, good times, great friends and three decades building a life I can look back on with pride and love.

Like my time in the Army, it’s been more than a job; it has truly been an adventure.

30 years down, 3 to go.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
480-481 Area Local


Medicare For All

I recently read the article below at the In These Times web site. It originally appeared on a blog at the Sanders Institute. I wanted to share it with you all. Besides the fact the author agrees as I do that health care is a human right he does a great job of noting how we can use our power – our numbers – to make the change we desire.


Can Medicare for All Be the Next $15 an Hour? It’s Up To the Labor Movement.

By: Michael Lighty

Healthcare is the crossroads where the assault on workers meets the juggernaut of “crony capitalism.” That’s the term used by the mainstream neo-classical and Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton to describe the coziness between the healthcare industry and its government “regulators.” In fact, Deaton argues, how healthcare is financed and delivered is a driver of inequality.

Registered Nurses see that inequity every day in hospitals and clinics, where the standard of care patients receive depends on the quality (and cost) of the health plan they buy. Not only the benefits but access to treatments, prescription drugs, certain facilities and the latest technologies all depend on what you can pay. And guess who has the money to buy the best: the wealthy. So for the first time, after the Great Recession, two unprecedented trends occurred: the 1% increased their share of income spent on healthcare, and the average life expectancy people in the United States declined.

Historically, the labor movement has stepped into this breach of injustice and inequality. Yet in 2017, the union membership rate overall in the US was just 10.7%. In the private sector it was 6.5% and in the public sector it was 34.4%. Unions established the system of job-based health benefits after World War II, in part to provide better coverage to encourage new memberships, and now employers run it for the benefit of the insurance industry’s bottom line.

“Controlling” healthcare costs for businesses has meant a huge cost shift to workers. Rather than pay the annual double-digit insurance premium increases out of their profits—soon to go up under the new tax bill—companies raise the workers’ share, increase deductibles and co-pays, and promote employee-funded health savings accounts. Though it expanded coverage for low-wage workers, the ACA also lessened the “union advantage” in health benefits, established new taxes on union plans and created incentives via an excise tax to lessen benefits.

The decades of incremental erosion of health benefits, escalating costs, deferring wages in favor of funding benefits, and the thousands of strikes over just keeping the health plans workers have fought to win, has taken a huge toll on the quality of those plans and on attitude toward unions. In short, “unions have become the bearers of bad news,” unable to stem the tide of concessions. And the incremental progress—expansions of insurance for kids, limits on the worst abuses by HMO’s, expanded private coverage under Medicare for prescription drugs, the ACA itself—none has slowed the increasing costs or the decreasing numbers of employers providing benefits, or the decline in membership of unions.

A defensive posture and incremental demands have not worked. Let’s play offense instead. In the face of existential threats to unions’ ability to fund their operations, and the continuing assault on health benefits, let’s unite with the growing public demand for Medicare for All. We don’t need insurance, we need healthcare. This is the strategy that can turn the tide: building a broad movement of workers to demand economic and health justice. That’s not an alliance with insurers and employers to “fix” the system in order to stabilize the healthcare industry. Rather, based on the economic interests of workers, we need to make healthcare a public good. Only if it is not compromised by high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, without narrow networks and “gatekeeping” that restrict access, can we guarantee healthcare as a human right. Parsing out healthcare through insurance based on ability to pay simply means we’ll only get the healthcare we can afford.

The labor movement exists to stop money from being the metric of value and power. Healthcare is exhibit A for money as the metric (see Elizabeth Rosenthal’s book, “American Sickness”). Unions derive power from members, engaged in fights to win a better life at work, home and in society. Medicare for All enjoys strong majority support among the general public, and overwhelming support among union members and Democrats. Medicare works and is popular. A movement led by labor, inspired like the Fight for 15 by a broad, popular demand for fairness and security, can build the solidarity we need. A movement positioned as the 99%, can assert that all workers are part of the labor movement.

Let’s understand this movement moment: the uprising in Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and now #MeToo have created social movements and a political/ideological context that infused the Bernie Sanders campaign for president, and provides the well-spring for a broader health justice demand, linked to and reinforcing the demands for social and economic justice. Medicare for All can be the health wing of the broader justice movements.

In the most personal area of public policy—whether we will get the healthcare we need—Registered Nurses, who are predominantly women, bring the values of caring, compassion and community to work and to their advocacy. Let that inspire others to join this movement for guaranteed healthcare based on our shared humanity. Promoting these values combined with organizing workers for health and economic security can overcome the deep pockets of the healthcare industry; it is only through mobilizing public opinion that people have overcome politically powerful economic forces.

In demanding guaranteed healthcare through Medicare for All, we are demanding a more just and humane society. Socio-economic status is the major factor in determining health status, and disparities based on race are rampant in healthcare access and outcomes. Here we see the confluence of addressing race-specific barriers to equality in healthcare and in society and the need for economic and health justice. Addressing the causes of poverty, overcoming structural racism, establishing $15/hour as the minimum wage, building more affordable housing and winning guaranteed healthcare are necessarily linked—we cannot achieve them individually in isolation. A fighting labor movement—that encompasses the broadly defined working class—is in the best position to make those connections and organize on a multi-racial basis to win. Medicare for All not only motivates millions to organize for justice, but winning it would help win justice for all.

View the original article at the Sanders Institute.


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 that meeting.

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 Mall. - 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."

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
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:

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 democratic processes.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
480-481 Area Local

Lipton Workers Vote to Unionize:
“Everyone just got tired of it”

Lipton Workers

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) cry.”

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 off.

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 of it.”

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

Bernie Sanders for President!

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 a resolution 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 included:

  • 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 standards.
  • 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.

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
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 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!

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
480-481 Area Local

Sanders’ Antidote to Wall Street Corruption Includes Postal Banking


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 solutions, including:

  • 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 go?

“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 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 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.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
480-481 Area Local


Urgent Notice

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.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
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 results...

In Solidarity,

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 aftermath.

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 future.

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


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 report says.

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.

Retirement Insecurity

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.

Increasing Inequality

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

Hello All!

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 process.

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.

Roscoe Woods

Fighting for the Right to End Inequality
This is about money and politics.

By 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 conditions.

These workers targeted the richest and most powerful fast-food corporations such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

Roscoe Woods


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 expanded theirs.

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 living.

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 shot.

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 policy.

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.

As 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 economic growth.

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 medicine.

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 ( 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 NAFTA.

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 law.”

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, 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 year”…

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 support.”

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 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 Representatives.

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:

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 further.

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 revenues, lately?

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 decade”

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 concessions.

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

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) bid cluster.

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.

Roscoe Woods
480 481 Area Local - APWU


E-Mail links are intended for questions of a general nature and are not for formal administration of the grievance procedure. Individuals with specific questions and or problems must contact their steward within 14 days in order to protect grievance time limits.

The 480-481 Area Local maintains offices at 810 Livernois in Ferndale, Michigan 48220 and represents all APWU members in the following USPS installations: Almont, Allen Park, Anchorville, Belleville, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Brighton, Carleton, Chelsea, Clarkston, Clawson, Davisburg, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Fair Haven, Flat Rock, Garden City, Grosse Ile, Hartland, Hazel Park, Highland, Keego Harbor, Lake Orion, Marine City, Marysville, Michigan Call Center, Michigan Metroplex, Milan, Milford, Mt. Clemens, New Baltimore, New Boston, New Haven, New Hudson, Novi, Oxford, Pinckney, Plymouth, Pontiac, Port Huron, Richmond, Rochester, Rockwood, Romeo, Romulus, Royal Oak, South Lyon, South Rockwood, St. Clair, Sterling Heights, Trenton, Troy, Troy Customer Care Center, Union Lake, Utica, Walled Lake, Warren, Washington, Waterford, Wayne, Westland, Willis, Wixom, Wyandotte and Yale.

The Union office is normally open from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday and the telephone numbers are (248) 543-3262/3263/3264. The 24 hour number is (248) 543-3262. FAX: (248) 543-2750.