Attacks on the Working Class

January 23, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

I hope you all had a great Holiday Season. Your dedication and hard work bring smiles and happiness throughout the holidays to people worldwide. Thank you for your hard work.

In 2020, we will face new challenges. First, a new Postmaster General (PMG) will be named. The USPS Board of Governors will select the next PMG. This is significant because the Board of Governors is appointed by the President of the United States. The governors that have been appointed are not the friendliest to postal workers or even the public Postal Service. The next PMG may not be supportive of the labor force. He/she may be a privatizer looking to hand the USPS over to the private sector.

It is not just the selection of a new PMG that should concern us. When you look at what has happened over the last few years, you can see that our government’s leaders do not have the best interests of the American working class at heart.

Looking at many actions over the last three years confirm this theory. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 significantly cut the taxes of the very wealthy. It also permanently cut the taxes of businesses and corporations. The working class saw losses in mortgage interest, property taxes, and many other personal deductions after the law passed. This led to actual income tax increases for many working-class Americans.

Deregulation has been hailed as making it easier to do business in America. There has been deregulation in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Department of Labor rolled back the rules on overtime pay working-class people were entitled to, causing 2.8 million workers to lose their overtime pay. In December, the Department of Transportation codified new rules on their regulations by including language mandating to “where feasible, foster greater private-sector cooperation in enforcement.” If you look at the Boeing 737-MAX groundings you can see what happens when “greater private-sector cooperation” is used for safety regulation enforcement.

The United States Supreme Court is another place where the working class has been attacked. The Janus ruling ended the practice of many unions of collecting “agency fees” from non-members who refused to join the union but still required representation. The court also ruled against the working class in its Lamps Plus case that disallowed workers from class-action arbitrations to settle disputes with their employers. The court ruled that each individual worker must separately exercise the arbitration clause. Instead of one arbitration case where costs would be shared, workers will have to foot the bill for their own separate arbitration cases (class action arbitration is allowed in our contract, so this does not affect APWU represented employees).

Finally, you can look at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This agency is tasked with protecting worker rights. However, the president-appointed board has instead reversed rulings that supported workers in management’s favor. The NLRB now aggressively pursues charges made against unions and does little when charges are filed against employers.

My point is that elections have consequences. In 2020, we have the chance to go to the polls in local, state, and national elections. The people we choose as our government leaders directly impacts our jobs, wages, hours and working conditions. Every single one of us who is eligible should be a registered voter and must vote this year. We need to select candidates that are working-class friendly and have our best interests at heart. If we don’t, we will continue to face consequences that harm all of us. Solidarity!

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