e-Team Report, Nov. 2, 2013

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With so much at stake, the time for workers to VOTE is now!

It’s coming down to the wire: For some of us Election Day is just around the corner, on Tuesday, Nov 5. As postal workers we have certainly seen the importance of electing people who support working families, so please get active, be involved and VOTE!

Critical Get-Out-the-Vote mobilizations are kicking into high gear in Boston, New Jersey and Virginia.  Walks and phone banks are scheduled in all three locations, so please get the word out to your co-workers in these critical locations and urge them to get involved for the last few days of outreach to voters. 

  • In Boston, AFL-CIO-endorsed mayoral candidate Marty Walsh serves as a local union president and has been a long-time champion of working families at the State House, fighting to protect collective bargaining rights, and making sure that workers have a voice on the floor of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Between the walks and the phone banks, every conversation is making a difference. The stakes in the Nov. 5 election couldn’t be higher: Marty Walsh’s vision includes a voice for working families in every Boston neighborhood. For information on walks and phone banks, please call Dan Justice at (617)794-2035.
  • In New Jersey, the Labor 2013 program is in high gear, with walks continuing across the state on Saturday, Nov. 2, to support labor’s endorsed candidates and theMinimum Wage Ballot Question (#2).  Vote YES on Question #2.  More than 70 rank-and-file union members are on the ballot in New Jersey on Nov. 5, and they need the support of their brothers and sisters. Please help to spread the word, join in the labor walks, and encourage your APWU brothers and sisters to help get out the vote.  For more information on raising the minimum wage, click here and for information on endorsed candidates, call the NJ AFL-CIO at 609-989-8730.
  • And in Virginia, because of the hard work of union members and allies across the state over the past few months working families’ candidates are surging at just the right time. But the opposition is also doubling down to try to derail us.  A strong turnout by labor can make the difference.  Labor walks are taking place across Virginia on Saturday, Nov. 2, for AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates Terry McAuliffe for Governor,Mark Herring for Attorney General, and labor-endorsed candidates for the state legislature. There are real pick-up opportunities, with union member candidates poised to win in key districts. Please help elect candidates who support working families. For more information about labor walks or endorsed candidates in your district, please contact the Virginia AFL-CIO at 804-755-8001 or call Western VA Labor Federation Coordinator (and APWU member) Lisa Kirkwood at 540-204-8056.

Congressman Calls USPS Plan to Cut its Way Back to Financial Health Unworkable

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) added his voice to the growing chorus of opposition to the Postal Service’s plan to relocate the West Hollywood Post Office.  In a letter to the Postal Service, Rep. Schiff urged the Postal Service to abandon its current plan to try to cut its way back to solvency, writing ,“Taking a piecemeal approach of selling off a small number of postal facilities and redistributing the retail operations of facilities — such as the one on San Vicente Boulevard — to another facility will do nothing to help USPS’s financial health recuperate and will instead place an undue burden on many local residents.”  

Instead, Schiff called for big fixes, such as resolving the disastrous pre-funding mandate placed on USPS by the Congress, noting, “No other agency or company in America is required to pre-fund its benefits, especially on such an aggressive schedule.”   Schiff, a strong advocate for a public Postal Service, is a co-sponsor of responsible postal reform legislation such as H.R. 630 and H.R. 961.

To read more about Rep. Schiff’s letter, please click here.

Supreme Court to Hear Cases that Could Devastate Unions

In the coming months, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could cripple labor unions’ ability to organize and collect union dues, Mulhall v. UNITE HERE Local 355 and Harris v. Quinn

In Mulhall the court will decide whether agreements between labor unions and employers that set ground rules for organizing violate the anti-corruption provisions of the Labor Management Relations Act.  In this case, the plaintiffs argue that an employer allowing a union to organize in exchange for the union’s promise not to strike, for example, constitutes bribery!  According to labor expert and Harvard Law School Professor Benjamin Sachs, the case “deserves serious attention.”  “Essentially all successful union organizing campaigns today are conducted according to ground rules established this way, the case could effectively outlaw union organizing or, at least, outlaw effective union organizing” he writes.  

In Harris, the court will decide if the requirement that a public-sector worker pay union dues violates her freedom of speech.  Here, a home-healthcare provider is challenging the state of Illinois’ rule that she must have a union representative to petition for Medicaid reimbursement.  The decision could have major implications on efforts to unionize independent contractors.

For more on these landmark labor cases, please click here.

Senate Republicans Block Nominee to Important Federal Appeals Court

On Thursday, Oct. 31, Senate Republicans blocked President Obama’s nomination of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Appeals Court for the Washington DC Circuit.  The DC Circuit is considered one of the most powerful courts in the country, second only to the Supreme Court.  Republicans opposed Millett's nomination because they feared it would tip the balance of power away from conservatives on the DC Circuit court.  Noting the outsized influence the DC Circuit has on working families, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said, “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 damaging effect this court could have on working families was felt in January when the DC Circuit pushed the National Labor Relations Board to the brink of dysfunction by invalidating several of President Obama’s appointees to the Board.

To read more about the stalled nomination of Patricia Millett, please click here.

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