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AFSCME has endorsed the American Postal Workers Union’s boycott of Staples, which was given a no-bid contract by the U.S. Postal Service that would allow Staples to staff in-store Postal Service counters with its own low-paid employees.
In a July 2 letter to Staples Inc. CEO Ronald L. Sargeant, AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes said “we are asking our members, friends, family members and colleagues to take their business elsewhere.”
While noting that AFSCME has done substantial business with Staples, nationally and locally, President Saunders and Secretary-Treasurer Reyes wrote that Americans “have a right to Post Offices staffed by highly-trained, uniformed postal employees – employees who have taken an oath to safeguard the privacy and security of their mail. We also object, in principle, to short-sighted business arrangements that replace good, living-wage jobs with high-turnover, low-wage jobs, as the USPS-Staples deal does.”
The Postal Service announced last October that it would open postal counters with limited services at 82 Staples locations nationwide.
The pilot program could potentially expand to all of the Massachusetts-based chain's 1,500 locations nationwide starting this September.
AFSCME’s letter to Staples’ CEO notes that, since the deal was announced, the USPS has reduced service hours in more than two dozen San Francisco-area Post Offices. All of them are located near a Staples store with a postal counter. “It is apparent that more cuts in postal services are planned, along with the eventual closing of U.S. Post Offices,” the letter states.
“Only the U.S. Postal Service can accomplish the mission it has carried out with distinction for more than two centuries: Providing universal mail service to all Americans, in every corner of the country,” wrote President Saunders and Secretary-Treasurer Reyes.
AFSCME victories among EMS professionals across the country keep on coming. Just one week after an organizing win among these emergency employees in Missouri, 500 EMS professionals employed at American Medical Response in Riverside County, California, have voted to join AFSCME.
“We chose AFSCME because we want to unite and focus on gaining respect for our profession,” Aaron Duncan, a paramedic and member of the organizing committee, said after the ballots were counted Tuesday. “Now we’re ready to show AMR the way forward and get to work on a contract.”
“We voted for AFSCME so that our resources could go to fighting for our profession,” said Craig Alvizo, a Riverside County paramedic.
Volunteer Member Organizers from Northern California helped bring this victory home and were present at Tuesday’s vote count. They took time out to travel to Riverside County and share their vision for EMS and the victories they’ve had since coming together as AFSCME Local 4911.
“It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we pull together,” said Andre Velasquez. “It was an enlightening experience seeing that people are willing to fight.”
"It was definitely worthwhile and I felt like I made a big difference being here," said EMT Brittney Silva.
More than 23,000 EMS professionals across the country working in both the public and private sectors have found their voice with AFSCME.
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – At Columbus’ Independence Day celebration, “Red, White and Boom,” Teamsters who work at Heidelberg Distributing gave information to the public today about anti-worker behavior by the company, which is the distributor of Mike’s Hard Lemonade products in Ohio.
Laundry drivers at Angelica Linen voted 9-5 yesterday in favor of union representation with Teamsters Local 988 in Houston, Texas. There are 14 drivers in the new bargaining unit.
Five years ago, our health care system was utterly failing millions of Americans. But as the components of the Affordable Care Act have gone into effect, things have steadily improved. The cost of care is no longer spiraling out of control, and more people than ever have access to quality care.
But about 5.7 million Americans are still waiting for care because they live in states whose legislatures or governors are obstructing the law out of pure political spite, even as their own citizens suffer and die for lack of care. Twenty-four states have chosen not to expand access to Medicaid coverage for the poor and uninsured, even though the federal government is prepared to cover the full costs of the expansion for the first three years of the program and 90 percent of costs in perpetuity after that.
As a new study from the president’s Council of Economic Advisors shows, the impact of these decisions reaches far beyond those 5.7 million uninsured people. States that refuse federal Medicaid dollars are unleashing economic and public health consequences that bring down the quality of life for all citizens.
The 24 states opting out of Medicaid expansion also have opted out of some 184,000 jobs and $66 billion in projected economic activity, the study reveals. More people using the health care system would mean more jobs in hospitals and clinics, and those workers would in turn spend their money in the local economy. The citizens of Florida and Texas, where Governors Rick Perry and Rick Scott have refused expansion, are each missing out on more than $10 billion in projected GDP.
Besides not getting the economic boost from federal funds, these states also are losing resources to the destabilizing effects of untreated health problems and outrageous medical bills. People who are enrolled in Medicaid are 5.5 percent less likely to face catastrophic out-of-pocket medical costs and 14.2 percent less likely to take out loans or face difficulty paying bills in a given year compared to the uninsured.
When hospital bills go unpaid, the quality of the health care delivery system declines and costs go up for even those who are insured. And more generally, people who have access to quality health care are more able to participate in the workforce and less likely to die early.
The states that have refused Medicaid funding are, unfortunately, the states which need it the most. Unless additional states sign on to the expansion, two-thirds of the nation’s poor African Americans and two-thirds of single mothers will be living in states without expanded programs.
In a major blow to a state plan that would have imposed new costs on retired state workers, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the health benefits included in pension packages are protected under state law.
Workers with AFSCME Council 31 and allied unions will be allowed to go forward with a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that threatened retiree health benefits. The law would have forced retirees to pay exorbitant new premiums on their health benefits. Pension benefits are guaranteed under the Illinois state constitution.
"The Supreme Court ruled today that men and women who work to provide essential public services can count on the Illinois Constitution to mean what it says," said Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer. "Retirement security, including affordable health care and a modest pension, cannot be revoked by politicians.”
The workers will still have to fight their case in court, but the 6-1 ruling that allowed the case to move forward is an “extraordinarily encouraging sign,” according to an attorney involved in the case.
A little courtesy goes a long way, they say, and two Alaska State Troopers found out exactly how true that could be June 20. That’s the date a fugitive from justice, wanted on multiple felony warrants, approached troopers in the parking lot of the Anchorage headquarters and turned himself in.
Reports indicate Brian John Fahey made the decision to surrender after watching an episode of the reality show “Alaska State Troopers,” telling the troopers, "Alaska State Troopers were more professional and courteous to the people they arrested than other law enforcement personnel he had dealt with."
Stories like Fahey’s are rare, but Alaska Troopers are continually put to the test and out saving lives. Many of their acts of heroism are featured on the same show that encouraged Fahey to bring himself to justice.
Just this past week four Troopers, Gordon Young, Erik Hill, Chris Bitz and Jim Ellison — all members of Public Safely Employees Association, Local 803 (an AFSCME affiliate) — rescued a hiker stranded on a cliff edge near Denali. Cherelle LaGrou was hiking on a ridge top, where she lost her footing and slid down the side of the mountain.
Troopers Young and Hill climbed the ridge after receiving a call from LaGrou’s employer. Shortly afterwards, troopers Bitz and Ellison made their way to the ridge top and passed additional ropes down to LaGrou to aid in her rescue.
“We respond to several life-threatening situations each year, but we always approach each instance as if it is unique to ensure our safety and those we set out to rescue,” Young said.
Alaska State Troopers recently decided to suspend production of the TV series following the deaths of two states troopers. However, the entire rescue was captured on video and is expected to air in the fall on the National Geographic Channel.
AFTER 30 PLUS years of being a part of this great and crazy Boilermaker life, I want to thank all those “slices” who helped, taught, looked out for and just plain put up with me that made up my Boilermaker “pie.”
I also want to thank the Boilermaker ladies in my hall and in the Funds Office for being so nice.
FRED ELDER (“Elder the Welder”)
South Boston, Mass.
Local 29, Boston
The AFL-CIO’s “Low-Wage Villain of the Week” is the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a non-profit association that regulates athletes of more than 1,200 schools, conferences and affiliate organizations. The NCAA received this dubious distinction because of its hypocrisy in a legal case involving fair compensation.
The case involves Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player who is the lead plaintiff in an antitrust class action lawsuit against the NCAA. O’Bannon claims that college athletes, himself included, should be paid when their likenesses are used in a sports video game that generates profits for NCAA schools.
The AFL-CIO writes that the millionaire president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, “claimed that if football and men’s basketball players were paid in any way, shape or form, fans would lose interest in college athletics.”
That, of course, is exactly what it sounds like – an excuse to fix the game against college athletes.
Here are today's top news stories of interest to Teamsters for July 3, 2014.http://teamsternation.blogspot.com/2014/07/teamster-news-today_3.html
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that home care and child care providers members were not required to pay fair share dues.
MSNBC Host Alex Wagner and Dorian Warren of the Roosevelt Institute engage in one of the smartest conversations we've seen yet about the Supreme Court's anti-worker decision in Harris v. Quinn.
They note that it is part of a union-busting power grab by the Koch Brothers and Walton family that will hurt mostly low-income women all over the country.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request by Daycon Products Co., a Maryland-based janitorial supply company, to overturn rulings by the National Labor Relations board and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in favor of Local 639 members who were blocked from returning to work.
Teamsters Back Obama’s Call For ‘Economic Patriotism,’ Creating Good-Paying Jobs; Enjoy Teamster-Made Beer And Ice Cream This Fourth Of July; Supreme Court Delivers Bruise To Unions; Teamsters, Community Allies Picket Republic Services in Alabama; Local Teamster Leaders Endorse Proposed AEI Agreement; Horizon Air Workers Approve New Contract; N.Y. Bakery Drivers Join Local 264; Wisconsin Local Votes To Merge With Local 200; This Week In Teamster History; Low Work Participation Rate Is Shaped By Sorry Salaries