e-Team Report, June 7, 2013

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Grassroots Community Support Needed for Postal Reform

“It’s crunch time,” says APWU Legislative and Political Director Gary Kloepfer. “Our brothers and sisters must continue to contact their members of Congress and encourage their families, friends and neighbors to do the same.”  Postal reform that protects delivery standards and keeps facilities open must be achieved with the support of our communities.  At a feasibility hearing for the Madison Processing & Distribution Center last week, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) encouraged the members of the community to “express [their] concerns to the USPS so that we can protect our mail delivery.”  APWU members and those in our communities who support postal reform should continue to contact their U.S. senators and representative to ensure postal legislation is a top priority.

UPDATE: The Postal Service Protection Act (H.R. 630/S. 316) has gained 160 co-sponsors in the House (153, Dem.; 7, Rep.) and 27 co-sponsors in the Senate. 

To contact your members of Congress, please click here.

Some in Congress Make Headlines Instead of Solutions

The current House of Representatives is on pace to be one of the least productive in decades. While political posturing in the House continues, there seems to be little appetite for dealing with the nation’s pressing problems.

The need for postal reform is playing second fiddle to the desire of some legislators to focus on “scandals.”  It is important that Congress keep federal agencies accountable to taxpaying Americans; however, wasting time to take political potshots while ignoring other issues hurts us all.  The continued oversight hearings provide the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee high visibility, but they do not move us any closer to desperately needed postal reform.

For more on how the latest “scandals” may affect Congress, please click here.

OIG Survey Finds Internet-Connected Americans Support USPS

The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the results of a survey on the views of Internet-connected Americans on the Postal Service.  The report reveals several key findings, including: More than 70 percent of respondents oppose closing mail processing facilities if it would result in a one- or two-day delay in mail delivery; 74 percent also oppose reducing the hours of operation at post offices; 77% incorrectly believe the Postal Service is either partially or fully funded through tax dollars; 80% of Americans think that all areas of the country should continue to be served by the USPS; and nearly half of all respondents expressed interest in additional non-postal services being made available at post offices.

It is important to note the survey respondents did not include non-Internet users, who are likely to rely more heavily on postal services. Senior citizens, adults with less than a high school education and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access.  Today, 20% of Americans are without internet; and 40% – nearly 100 million people – do not have broadband access. 

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) Remembered 

On June 3, Senator Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey’s longest serving senator, died of complications from pneumonia. He was the Senate’s last surviving veteran of WWII, having served in the Army Signal Corps as an enlisted soldier. Crediting the GI bill for allowing him to get a college education, as a senator he co-authored a new GI bill, expanding benefits for those who would follow. He is also widely remembered for getting legislation passed to ban smoking on commercial flights and in other public places.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has appointed Republican Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the state’s attorney general, to temporarily fill the vacant Senate seat. A special election has been set for Oct. 16, with the primary to be held on Aug. 13. All candidates for the special election must submit petitions by June 10. Mr. Chiesa does not plan to seek the seat in the special election.

APWU President Cliff Guffey and Legislative and Political Director Gary Kloepfer encourage New Jersey APWU members to get active in selecting their next U.S. Senator.   It is crucial for us to work closely with the NJ AFL-CIO and Central Labor Councils in the state to make sure that the candidate elected to fill the vacancy created by Senator Lautenberg’s death will follow in his footsteps by standing with the APWU and other working people of New Jersey.

To view House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer’s statement on the late Sen. Lautenberg, please click here.

Obama Nominates Three to Fill Crucial Court Vacancies

On June 4, President Obama nominated three jurists to fill vacancies on the 11-seat U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  The D.C. Circuit is considered to be one of the most powerful courts in the country, second only to the Supreme Court.  AFL-CIO President Trumka urged the Senate to confirm the nominees and noted how profound an impact this court’s decisions can have on workers’ rights.  “The D.C. Circuit is extremely important to working families,” said Trumka.  “The court hears more significant labor-related cases—workplace safety cases, wage and hour cases, unfair labor practice cases and other regulatory cases— than any other Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The three judicial nominees now await confirmation by the Senate.  They join numerous other Obama nominees whose nominations are being obstructed by Republican senators, including Tom Perez for Labor Secretary and nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. 

To read more about the importance of confirming these judicial nominees, please click here.

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