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President’s message Healthcare, an editorial APWU Healthcare Reform BINGO Pictures Consolidation Samuel Gompers

Volume 30 Number 7

Union Dues News Wichita Kansas Area Local American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO Member of the APWU Postal Press Association Supplement to the Plaindealer

August 2009

Even More Changes on the Way Chris Pruitt President

The GMF is undergoing a number of changes AGAIN! At some point it would seem like they would get tired of messing with people’s lives but That really seems to be a “pipe dream” on my part. Anyway, management has determined to remove the Flat Sorter machine 1000. This is the machine that previously had keying stations. Management disabled the keying portion a while back. They are sending the machine to North Platte, Nebraska. I have conversed, electronically, with the President of North Platte and she is THRILLED to be getting the machine. Now that management has actually decided which machine is coming out, they have the opportunity to make some changes in the staffing in the section. When Skip White first notified, via phone, that the 1000 was coming out, he said that they would be excessing from the section. This would make sense since they were going from 3 machines down to 2 machines.

However, an examination of the current staffing in the section shows that they do not have sufficient employees holding Mail Processing positions in the section to fully staff both of the remaining machines. This realization prevents them from excessing. The process of excessing involves the reduction of employees. Whether this reduction is to a section (such as the Flatsorter section) or the installation (such as Kansas City, KS GMF) the idea is the same. Management makes a determination that they have too many employees in that area and they want to reduce it. So, they are not going to excess from the section. That does not mean that they plan to leave the section alone. There are currently 6 bid positions in the section that are Flat Sorter Operator positions. The need for these positions no longer exists in our facility. At the current time (while I am typing this) management plans to repost these Flat Sorter Operator positions as Mail Processing clerk positions. They will be in the same section but management has not made a

Why Healthcare Reform Matters Cindy Bryan Editor

There has been a lot of discussion recently about Health care reform. I have to admit, I pay as little attention as possible to the news, because it frustrates me, irritates me, and just makes me yell at the television. All of these things occur because I don’t think the politicians really get it. I think there is so much spin that the members of the public, rich, poor, and middle class, don’t get it either. People are afraid of having choices of medical care taken away. People are worried about having to spend more money. The rich, who have absolutely no sense of the reality of the middle class- let alone the poor, just see that they will have to spend THEIR money on others. Now mind you, what they will actually pay will be less

than they spend on a dinner or an outfit at Nieman Marcus. Many of you reading this article have the benefit of working for the USPS or having a good, union job with benefits. Many of us have held our positions so long; we forget the struggle of NOT having good wages or benefits. Some of us have even been fortunate enough to have never had to struggle for basic necessities of life. For those of you have forgotten, or never known, struggles, I would like to refresh your memory or educate you. For this sake, I would like to introduce you to Margo. Margo fell in love and was married right after high school. She and her husband got jobs and were planning on saving up a little money before going to college. They made enough money to continued page B

determination whether they will change the non-scheduled days on these jobs. This does not make every holding a Mail Processing clerk position “safe”. When management makes the decision whether to change the days off on the Flat Sorter Operator positions, they may also decide to change some of the other jobs. Personally, I put the current staffing into a spreadsheet and found that the current days off provide fairly consistent coverage on each day. There is a small difference on Tour 1 but we will just have to deal with management’s decision whenever they finally make it. Hopefully, the decision on the Flatsorter section jobs will provide a little more notice that what management recently provided for the Mail Processing clerks assigned to Automation. Employees were notified verbally on Monday that their reporting time would be changed starting the coming Saturday. I found out about it when Janice Hoesch reported for work at 1700. Needless to say, my anger level went off the charts!

I left a voice mail for JT and then tried Skip White. Skip was still in the office. He said that the change is due to the removal of the CSBCS machines in the Aos and that mail returning to the plant. Unfortunately, they were not aware of this change when they reposted the jobs. As for the REC, there was a “slide show” that was shown to all employees. The “slides” indicated that employees were “wasting” time when they adjusted their work stations and completed 3971s. There has been a grievance filed on this. The contract and REC manual provide for these work-related tasks to be performed on the clock. Do these things actually work against your efficiency? Yes. However, this is one of the reasons that management has not set the goal at 100%. Your ergonomic breaks and other work-related tasks are SUPPOSED to be performed on the clock. While it is true that Wichita could use some better numbers, it is inappropriate for management to attempt to increase efficiency by denying employees the ability to perform duties on the clock that are SUPPOSED to be performed on the clock.

APWU Local 735 $77(1' <285

81,21 0((7,1*6 NEXT REGULAR MEETINGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ARE


Wichita, KS Area Local APWU Local 735 Executive Board President .......................Christine â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chrisâ&#x20AC;? Pruitt Vice President ..........................Darrell Tate Executive Aide ........................Felicia Reed Secretary/Tres ..................... Janice Hoesch Clerk Craft Dir. .................. Rita Thompson Maint. Craft Dir. ............. Carl Underwood Motor Vehicle Craft Dir. ....................Vacant Mech. Dir. ............................ Paul Hendrix Install. Dir. ................................ Kelly Jobe Org. Dir. ............................... Cindy Bryan Legislative Dir. ....................... Stuart Elliot Editor ................................... Cindy Bryan Associate Editor .................... Linda Helsel

Editorial Policy:

The editor reserves the right to determine whether material submitted shall be printed and reserves the right to edit as needed for spelling, libel, grammar, length, violations of federal and state laws and regulations, etc. Opinions expressed by the writers of articles in the paper are those of the individuals and are not necessarily those of the editor or APWU Local 735. Articles and letters to the editor should be typewritten, double spaced or on computer disk saved as a text file. Material submitted must be signed although names will be withheld upon request. Anonymous material will not be published. Computer disks cannot be returned. Articles should be submitted by the 15th of the month before the issue month. Articles may be sent to P.O. Box 12190 Wichita, Kansas 67277 Or may be taken to the Union Office 6920 Pueblo Wichita, Kansas Office (316) 945-9430 Fax (316) 945-0520 Or they can even be emailed to: The Union Dues News is published monthly as a supplement to the PlainDealer.

Supplement to the PlainDealer

Page B

APWU Seeks Quick Action on Healthcare Measure APWU Web News Article #080-09, July 16, 2009

APWU President William Burrus is asking union members to encourage their legislators to support healthcare reform bills adopted by key House and Senate committees July 14 and 15. Burrus joined a chorus of labor and consumer voices favoring the bills, which would expand coverage to 97 percent of Americans and create a strong public health insurance option. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every American needs affordable healthcare, and every American should have it,â&#x20AC;? Burrus said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These bills meet our basic requirements for healthcare reform,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They have a strong public health insurance plan option; require employers to pay their fair share, and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tax health care benefits. After three House committees approved â&#x20AC;&#x153;Americanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Affordable Health Choices Actâ&#x20AC;? on July 14, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

sent to the full Senate the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Quality, Affordable Health Coverage for All Americansâ&#x20AC;? on July 15. The bills would create a government program that would compete with private insurance companies; would require all Americans to carry health insurance, and would provide generous discounts to many who are unable to afford conventional plans. In a statement, President Obama said that the proposal would â&#x20AC;&#x153;bring down costs, expand coverage, and increase choice.â&#x20AC;? The committee votes should provide the urgency for both chambers to finish work on healthcare reform before the early August recess, he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The reform measure clearly meets the presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s standards for comprehensive, progressive legislation,â&#x20AC;? Burrus said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our members enjoy great healthcare coverage,â&#x20AC;? he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but the ever-increasing cost of insurance is a drain on the economy. Healthcare coverage is a significant issue at all contract negotiations â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including ours. Bringing down the cost

will have a positive effect on all working people.â&#x20AC;? The plan would impose a surtax on income above $350,000 per year to help defray the costs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are mindful,â&#x20AC;? Burrus cautioned, â&#x20AC;&#x153;that raising taxes on the rich to fund any bill faces tough opposition from the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests.â&#x20AC;? The APWU president and other labor leaders are asking union members to urge their legislators to back the bills before Congress adjourns for its August recess.

pay for daycare, but she feels guilty for doing so. She still doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have health insurance and still makes too much to qualify for Medicaid. The baby gets sick. She doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any money to pay a doctor and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get paid for another week. The baby is wheezy and running a fever. She knows it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t life threatening (yet at least), but she doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want her child to suffer. She takes the baby to the emergency room. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t require payment up front. Because she couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford a $70 payment to a doctor, she has just incurred a $1200 hospital bill. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already strapped paying for other medical bills, so this one will go to collection too. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the thing, if she had had insurance to begin with, the delivery bills wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have been so high. The negotiated charges through the insurance company may have only been half that. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the way it works. The hospital sets the charges, the insurance companies, negotiate what they think its worth, and the patient pays according to their policy. But, because the people without insurance are charged full price, they often canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pay it off before it goes to collection. Then the hospital can charge it off as bad debt, (even though the person may have actually paid more than the insurance company would have) and raise rates to â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;coverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; the losses. There are many who talk about those who â&#x20AC;&#x153;liveâ&#x20AC;? off the system. Things arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

always as they seem. Yes, I know there are some, I have even known a few. But I also know that there are many who are embarrassed and ashamed, who turn to the system as a last resort. And then there are those who wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t use the system and struggle silently. They are the working class poor. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family, and even our co-workers. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right, our co-workers. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a numbers kind of person. (I have included at the end of this article the breakdown of the amounts used in a release about healthcare reform.) A transitional employee (around 1,000 at the REC) could gain health care coverage with Healthcare Reform. There are workers who support a FAMILY and yet are BELOW the poverty level, even here at the USPS. If a TE could actually work 40 hours a week for a full year, the gross pay would be $27,290. 133% of the poverty level for a family of 4 is $29,260. Many of our TEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s make too much money to qualify for state coverage for their kids, yet they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t afford health coverage through the USPS. Family coverage (the APWU consumer driven option) would cost them over $10,000 a year. That would take their wages BELOW poverty level. Support Healthcare Reform. Contact your legislators. Support those in your community and help make a change that will make a difference!

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live comfortably, as a new couple starting out anyway, even though they each had a job making slightly over minimum wage. Neither job offered benefits, but that was okay because they were both young and were in good health. A year later, they are pregnant. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t qualify for â&#x20AC;&#x153;welfareâ&#x20AC;? benefits because they make just over the maximum amount to qualify. The have a hard time finding a doctor, because without insurance, you have to pay up front. There is a clinic that offers a sliding scale fee, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s difficult to get an appointment that wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t interfere with work schedules. Now jump forward three years. Margo is now divorced with two kids. The financial problems of having to pay $12,000 for the delivery of the first child, and $23,000 for the second were too much for her marriage to survive. They made the $200 a month payment to the hospital, but even though they did, it still went to collection a year later because hospitals like to cover themselves. Margoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s husband had found a better paying job, but it was too much for him to never be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Margo works 40 hours a week for a temp company hoping to prove herself and get hired on full time. She also works 20 to 30 hours a week at a fast food company. She did NOT want to be a burden on the system. After struggling financially, she finally decided to get help to

APWU Local 735

Supplement to the PlainDealer

Page C

Winner of 50/50 drawing for $141.00: Henry Dowell, wife Pat REC. First half - Grand prize, adult $100: Sharon Dunbar, mother in law of Lisa Dunbar, REC First half - Grand prize, child Nintendo DS Ethan Morton, grandson of Mary Winter, REC Second half - Grand prize, adult $100 Erika Casad, mother in law of Carleen Casad, REC Second half - Grand prize, child Nintendo DS Destiny Dunbar, niece of Lisa Dunbar, REC

All pictures by Stuart Elliott Look next time for photos of the winners!!!

APWU Local 735

Supplement to the PlainDealer

Page D

Consolidation of Stations and Branches An excert from APWU Web News Article #076-09, July 1, 2009

The Postal Service blames the consolidation of stations and branches on the dramatic decline in mail volume and the financial losses the USPS has suffered as a result. On May 20, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report [PDF] titled “U.S. Postal Service – Network Rightsizing Needed to Help Keep USPS Financially Viable.” The GAO study concludes that due to a mail-volume decline of 10 to 12 percent, the Postal Service will suffer a loss of more than $6 billion in FY 2009; the report shows similar projections for mail volume and revenue losses for FY 2010. The GAO criticized the USPS for failing to take the necessary steps to remain viable, such as “rightsizing its retail and mail processing networks by consolidating operations and closing unnecessary facilities,” and “reducing the size of its workforce.” “The USPS has substantial excess capacity in its mail processing network,” the report says. “In the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, Congress recognized USPS has more facilities than it needs, and strongly encouraged stream-

lining its networks.” The GAO went on to suggest “other options that could help USPS remain financially viable,” including: * Deferring USPS payments for retiree health benefits; * Reducing deliveries to five days a week; * Raising statutory debt limits; and * Providing direct appropriations. The report concluded that “USPS can streamline its retail network while improving access by closing unnecessary retail facilities and promoting lower-cost alternatives such as purchasing stamps by mail, telephone, and the Internet, as well as carrier pickup of packages.” Although the USPS has long recognized the need to adjust its retail network, the report said, it “has not significantly downsized its retail operations in recent years.” “Opportunities to reduce retail facilities are particularly evident in urban and suburban areas, where USPS retail locations are close to one another, customers have more options, and facilities are expensive to operate and maintain,” the audit found.

The APWU will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that management complies with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and will provide updates as developments warrant.

Samuel Gompers: First President AFL

by Stuart Kaufman, Courtesy of New York Labor History Association

Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), the cigarmaker who became the first president of the American Federation of Labor, put his mark indelibly on the modern American labor movement. To understand the cigarshops in which Gompers worked is to understand what made Gompers the kind of labor leader he became. The son of Dutch immigrants to England, Gompers spent his first thirteen years in the poor Spitalfields section of East London. His entire formal education consisted of four years at London’s Jews Free School before the needs of his family sent him to work as an apprentice cigarmaker at the age of ten. Three years later, in 1863, he and his family settled in New York City’s Lower East Side. There his “finishing school” became the workplace. Gompers felt a special affinity with his trade and was proud of his skill. “I loved the touch of the soft velvety tobacco and gloried in the deft sureness with which I could make cigars grow in my fingers,” he later related. He also valued the ‘mindfreedom’ that his skill earned him, allow-

“The working people will not stop when any particular point is reached; they will never stop in their efforts to obtain a better life for themselves, for their spouses, for their children, and for all humanity. The object is to obtain complete social justice.” - Samuel Gompers

ing him to concentrate on the ever-present discussion, reading or singing that filled the shop. Shopmates in one predominantly German shop introduced him to a new world of ideas that shaped his thinking about trade unions. They encouraged him to master German by reading only in that language for months so that he could read from Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Ferdinand Lasalle, and other leading socialists thinkers of the day. Gompers came to believe, like many of his colleagues, that strong trade unions established on a bedrock of high dues and sound benefits, pursuing high wages, shorter working hours, and better work-

ing conditions, would play a key role in emancipating the working class. These were ideas he first tried out in helping to strengthen the Cigar Makers’ International Union in the 1870s. They became the hallmark of his leadership of the AFL from the 1880s on. A central experience of cigar shop life for Gompers was the spirit of solidarity, or what he and his shopmates called ‘manliness,’ a habitual posture they struck in the face of the employer. An employer who arbitrarily moved a shop ‘old-timer’ to a back bench soon found himself without any workers. The message was the same after Gompers became the president of the

AFL in 1886: “The American Federation of Labor proposes that every working man shall do his thinking for himself and not go down on his knees to any man, no matter who he is or what position he holds.” The lessons in simple shop solidarity that Gompers brought with him into the labor movement translated into a general belief that the worker had the right and power to control his work life, that his job was his ‘equity’ even though the workplace was owned by someone else. For all the years he was president of the AFL (1886-1924 with the exception of one year), this was Gompers’ central belief. He recognized that the American dream of the worker rising to economic independence individually was a dead letter for most workers of his day. As he puts it, most of the workers would have to recognize that they were “permanently members of the working class.” But Gompers believed that a union designed to reinforce shop floor solidarity could achieve another kind of independence for them, a basic dignity and control of their work lives that came from the understanding that, “The working man can compel the most arrogant employer to come to terms.”

APWU insert, Plain Dealer, 08/2009