WASHINGTON (PAI) — “Unity and solidarity must trump any political divisions within our union” National Association of Letters Carriers (NALC) President Fredric Rolando stated in the December issue of the Postal Record.
And in language that could easily be applied to unions and workers nationwide, Rolando said the future of the union movement – and of the nation’s most important social programs such as Social Security and Medicare—is uncertain, due to the many unknowns regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s plans.
“We will need all of our members, across the entire political spectrum, to step up to help defeat any such proposals,” Rolando wrote.
Although the Letter Carriers national union formally endorsed Hillary Clinton, members of NALC – like members of many unions — were split between Clinton and Trump.
In the same edition of the Postal Record Michael Willadsen, president of Letter Carriers Branch 96 in Hartford, Conn., quoted CNN election day exit polls showing Clinton beat Trump among union voters and households by only two percentage points, 49 to 47 percent.
By contrast, retiring Democratic President Barack Obama won at least 62 percent of union and union-household votes in his runs, past exit poll data to the AFL-CIO shows.
Rolando said NALC members must not undertake “finger-pointing and recriminations” as a result of the election’s outcome. He added: “We need to generate support from every point on the political spectrum to protect our jobs, our rights and our employer.”
Local union presidents, writing in the same edition, agreed. “I hope that Letter Carriers, whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc., make it a point to do their due diligence with our elected officials,” said Ken Janulewicz of Branch 12, in Worcester, Mass.
But one sounded a dire warning for all unionists. “Republicans now control all three branches of government, so is the end of collective bargaining but a signature away?” asked Terry Miller, president of Branch 1035 in Independence, Kansas. “Some are saying that will never happen and that I’m just talking gloom and doom. I hope they’re right.”
In his column, Rolando said his union’s members must unite against bad features of postal “reform” bills that died when the Republican-run Congress adjourned, but which may be resurrected when lawmakers convene in January. That’s because the same Republicans who authored that legislation will chair the committees that write USPS and federal worker laws.
The union’s top priority remains a postal “reform” bill that would end the decade-old mandated $5.5 billion yearly USPS “pre-funding” requirement for future retirees’ health care. That requirement, imposed by a GOP-run Congress, has pushed the Postal Service technically deep into the red every year since.
The “red ink”—despite billions of dollars in profits from actual operations for the last three years—prompted prior Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to propose deep job cuts, killing Saturday service, and ending individual delivery for new addresses, among other slashes. And some right-wing lawmakers want to use the deficit as an excuse to trash the contracts the USPS has with the Letter Carriers, the Postal Workers and other unions.
The NALC-backed bill would enact other reforms to expand USPS revenues, such as letting post offices provide basic banking and notary public services and letting USPS ship liquor through the mails. NALC, other postal unions, USPS management and major mailers are in a coalition pushing the basic “red ink” reform, though not all coalition members agree on all of the other details.
The House postal reform bill, HR5714, had many flaws, Rolando said. “We will continue to work with House leaders to address” them, he added. “We remain concerned about the proposed cuts to door delivery services and about the need to protect retired Letter Carriers in special circumstances” as they face mandatory enrollment in Medicare’s Part B, he noted.
“We can heal any divide among NALC members by focusing on our common interests, as employees and retirees, in the legislative and regulatory fights ahead,” Rolando said.