Legislative & Political Dept.
Get Involved in the Process
(This article by Legislative & Political Department officers Myke Reid and Steve Albanese first appeared in the March/April 2008 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The year 2008 will present several opportunities for APWU members to engage themselves in the legislative process. The opportunities include the battle to enact the Mail Network Protection Act, the presidential primaries, and the national elections this fall.
The Mail Network Protection Act of 2007 (H.R. 4236) was introduced in the House of Representatives on Nov. 15 by Stephen Lynch (D-MA). We now must work to secure as many House co-sponsors as possible: Every local and state organization should make this a priority. We urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to sign on and support this important bill. Please keep us apprised of your activities in this regard; as supporting legislators are identified, we will publish the APWU organizations that helped secure co-sponsors.
The legislators may be expecting you. Our office has sent packets of information to every House member detailing the significant aspects of this bill and why it is important to our future.
If enacted, H.R. 4236 would require the Postal Service to bargain with affected unions before engaging in substantial subcontracting. The bill does not apply to contracts for mail delivery, but would cover USPS contracts involving mail processing, mail handling, or surface transportation of mail. The law would apply to contracts that over a 12-month period would:
The Primary Elections
At the national level, the APWU has not yet made a formal endorsement in the presidential race, but we are always evaluating the campaigns and voting records of the major candidates. Elsewhere in this publication, we have listed the 2008 primary-election dates for each state and we encourage everyone in the union to get involved during this crucial election cycle.
As USPS employees you can participate in the process – as long as you are off the clock, out of uniform, and off postal property. Registering people to vote, working on phone banks, speaking to potential voters in person, and otherwise working on behalf of the candidates of your choice are all permitted activities. It is important that APWU members have a voice in the decision about the nominees this November.
If you need information on any of the candidates, you can contact our office or go to the candidate’s Web site. This is your right and your decision: Please exercise your rights: Find out as much as you can about each candidate. Do not rely on 30-second TV spots.
You Can Be a Delegate
Although some states have already concluded their delegate-selection process, many of you will still have time to participate and you should do so. Serving as a delegate is permitted as long as you are on leave while attending meetings.
Information on how you can be a delegate to state or the national party conventions can be found by contacting your state or national party, or by visiting their Web pages. Do not leave these decisions to others: Get involved!
Mississippi ’s New Senator
On Dec. 31, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour named Rep. Roger Wicker (R) to replace Trent Lott in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Lott resigned his position for personal reasons at the end of the 2007 congressional session.
Sen. Wicker had served in the House of Representatives since 1994 and is considered a conservative who generally votes with his party. He will be the state’s junior senator until a special election this November, with the winner filling the remainder of Lott’s term, which was due to expire in 2012. Wicker has announced that he will be a candidate.
While serving in the House, Wicker had a voting record that was deemed favorable to working-families only 5 percent of the time. In the last session, he voted wrong on the minimum wage, funding for children’s health insurance, and the Employee Free Choice Act.
Four “grassroots coordinators” joined the APWU’s Legislative Department in January to work on the union’s political-campaign efforts. After initial training at APWU headquarters, the new staffers were assigned to the field.
The hiring of these four (a fifth coordinator position will soon be filled) staffers is part of the APWU’s growing commitment to its legislative field operations.
Working under the direction of the APWU Legislative Department, the coordinators will develop and maintain regional e-mail networks of local and state APWU officers and members, as well as Senate and House members for the states in their regions; monitor state legislative initiatives on labor-related issues, as well as the voting records of legislators on working-family issues; work with APWU state and local leaders on their COPA fund-raising efforts; and develop strong working relationships with the AFL-CIO central and state labor bodies in their regions.
They also will work with APWU retirees and retiree chapters. Retirees have always played a major role in our fund-raising and political activities, and these efforts will now be coordinated with our overall political agenda.
One of the new staffers’ first priorities is to help gather co-sponsors for H.R. 4236, the bill introduced in November that would require the Postal Service to bargain with postal unions before making a commitment to significant subcontracting.
Aaron Carmella, who will be based in the APWU Atlanta Region NBA office in Tampa, came to us after a stint as a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Virginia, based in the southwest part of the state. Prior to that, and during the 2006 elections, he worked in the Legislative and Political Action Department at the United Food and Commercial Workers union headquarters in Washington.
Carmella is a May 2006 graduate of the University of Georgia, with a B.A. in International Affairs.
Donna Dean’s new position is as grassroots coordinator for the Central Region. She will work out of the Dayton, OH, field office, home to APWU’s Cincinnati Region NBAs.
Dean’s most recent job was with a 1,600-member Service Employees International Union local in Columbus, OH. As part of her work servicing collective bargaining agreements for union members working in mental health fields, she was involved in member education and training, and edited newsletters and flyers.
Dean has a B.S. in Human Resources Management and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Janice Kelble, well known to the APWU, will serve the Northeast Region and will be based in New Hampshire. Kelble (pronounced “KELbee”) has been a member of the union since 1974, and has been in APWU’s Manchester Area Local since transferring there from suburban Maryland in 1993. As legislative director of the local, she has worked on a number of political campaigns in New Hampshire.
Since 2003, Kelble has been the national union’s Committee On Political Action liaison, tasked with working with locals to boost their contributions to APWU COPA.
Ian Stublarec, will be the Eastern Region grassroots coordinator and will work out of APWU headquarters in Washington. A teacher in the Youngstown, OH, schools for the past two years, he took considerable time off to work on the elections of Ohio’s governor, Ted Strickland, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
While studying Political Science at Otterbein College, Stublarec was a grassroots canvasser who worked on voter registration and election awareness campaigns.
Final interviews with candidates for the Western Region grassroots position were being conducted when this magazine went to press. The fifth coordinator will work out of the APWU Regional Coordinator’s office in Burlingame, CA.