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  NALC Food Drive
No. 05-09A  May 13, 2005

Topics in this issue:

Postal Reform on front burner
Senate To Begin Markup May 25; House Floor Action in Early June

The time has arrived!

Both chambers of Congress are set to take major steps within the next couple of weeks toward enactment of historic postal reform legislation that could determine the long-term fate of the Postal Service and all letter carrier jobs.

  • In the House of Representatives, backers of H.R. 22 including House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) expect that the Republican-led leadership will bring the legislation up for floor action in the first full week of June.
  • In the Senate, Senate Homeland Security Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) has announced that she intends to begin markup of S. 662 in her full committee on May 25.

NALC President William H. Young said the union generally supports both the bill approved by the House Committee and Senator Collins’ initial draft, with the reservation that the NALC will continue to have a seat at the table as the legislation evolves.

“The union’s ultimate support depends on whether the finished product serves the needs of letter carriers,” Young said.

H.R. 22, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, was approved by the House Government Reform Committee on a unanimous vote of 39-0 with the support of Davis, Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL) and John McHugh (R-NY).

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee has under consideration a similar bill authored by Collins, and Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and George Voinovich (R-OH).
Neither bill included the dangerous anti-worker, anti-labor provisions that were suggested in the aftermath of the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service.

The union’s national officers and legislative department, together with legislative activists throughout the nation, are working with key legislators on one of the most contentious issues – a plan supported by the White House to saddle the Postal Service with $27 billion in military retirement costs.

It is vitally important that all active and retired letter carriers stay informed on the issues and stand prepared to act in their own best interests if called upon. For information on joining the union’s e-Activist Network go to the NALC website: www.nalc.org.

NALC-USPS hold DOIS talks;
viewed as ‘important step’

NALC President William H. Young and Director of City Delivery Fred Rolando met with officials of the U.S. Postal Service May 12 over use by the Service of the Delivery Operations Information System (DOIS) for route adjustments. Young described the session as “forthcoming ... honest and open.”

"It’s only a minor step, but an important one,” Young said after the session at Postal Service headquarters, noting that it was the first discussion on DOIS since the Service on December 7, 2004 unilaterally terminated a joint memo on route adjustments reached by the two parties.

“I believe we are on the road to making DOIS compliant,” Young said cautiously. “Even as we press forward with our critical role in developing postal reform legislation, I have pledged to the membership that we will not forget major issues that occur on the workroom floor such as DOIS violations.”

Young said he and Rolando gave postal management a list of the violations of postal handbooks and manuals that have occurred in their use of DOIS and management said it would examine the situation.

Carriers Go Direct to Congress
Rep. Hoyer Pres. Young at PA Rep. Rahall
At left, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second-ranking Democrat in the House, enjoys a light moment while addressing the Region 13 congressional breakfast May 5. In center photo, NALC President William H. Young explains the union’s legislative and political strategy to a huge crowd of activists from Pennsylvania at state’s annual congressional breakfast, also on May 5. At right, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) speaks at Region 13 breakfast.
It’s Food Drive Day!

Months of preparation for the 13th annual NALC National Food Drive came to a close with massive media coverage across the nation; a live appearance by Long Island, NY Merged Branch 6000 on CBS television; a regional kickoff at Campbell Soup headquarters in Camden, NJ; and countless proclamations and endorsements all aimed at urging tens of millions of American to donate food on May 14.

Communications Workers union President Morton Bahr sent a letter to all CWA local presidents to encourage participation by themselves and their members. “Let’s do our part to assist our brothers and sisters at the Letter Carriers in this vital community effort,” Bahr wrote.

On March 10, a delegation of letter carriers from Long Island Merged Branch 6000 in New York were featured on CBS News’ “The Early Show” and interviewed by weatherman Dave Price. Later the same day, Campbell Soup President Douglas Conant kicked off the drive in South Jersey by announcing that Campbell’s was earmarking 10 million cans of its annual charitable donation in the name of the NALC Food Drive. Conant and letter carriers from several South Jersey branches then joined to pack up a truck with Campbell Soup headed to a local food bank.

Need Even Greater

One thing became abundantly clear in media reports in advance of the drive – the need is as great this year as ever, with more and more people utilizing food pantries and shelters. Dawn Wallace, food drive coordinator for Br. 47 in Denver, explained that letter carriers’ jobs make the event a natural. "We’re out there every day with the people,” Wallace said. “We see the people that are struggling, the neighborhoods that are struggling, the people that need the help.”

“Every day letter carriers see the faces of hungry people on their routes,” Lone Star Br. 132 President Earl Hibbs told The Paris (TX) News. “On May 14, they will be able to help put smiles on those same faces.”

“Many of the recipients are from working families – people who just need a helping hand to get through some tough times,” said Salt Lake City Br. 111 President Mike Miller.

You Realize Problem

In the Rogers School District in Northwest Arkansas, half of all elementary school pupils qualify for free or reduced-price meals. “Once you get off the (Interstate) 540 Corridor, you realize we’ve got a real hunger problem out there,” said Pete Sonetz of the Ozark Food Bank.
Shel Kolner of Jewish Family Services told the Las Vegas Sun that the pinch is just as hard for smaller agencies like his. “We see 60 families a week coming to us for food – that’s triple what it was last year,” Kolner said.

The Maui News wrote that it is a sad irony that in a community that is wealthier than most, there are families struggling to put food on the table. “Finding your kitchen bare is an annoyance for most,” the newspaper added. “For too many on Maui, it means going to bed hungry.”

The Naples (FL) Daily News ran a thankful editorial that concluded: “Hats off to the mail carriers for this very special pickup and delivery.”

‘Humbling Event’

John Harding, coordinator for the drive for Br. 154 in Marietta, Ohio, explained to The Marietta Times what the generosity of his postal customers means to him. “Walking up to someone’s mailbox and seeing a big bag of food has always touched me,” Harding said. “It’s phenomenal. It’s a humbling event.”

Early Show
In left photo, CBS News’ “The Early Show” weatherman Dave Price introduces Long Island (NY) Merged Br. 6000 members during “live” nationwide network appearance March 10. Carriers are (l-r) Charles Smith, Jim Jongebloed, and Jim Schmalacker. In right photo, Campbell Soup President Douglas Conant, (left) pitches in as carriers load up donation for local food bank after South Jersey kickoff ceremony at Campbell Soup headquarters in Camden, NJ. Shown (l-r) are Conant; Dean Umscheid, Cape/Atlantic Br. 903; Greg McMonigle, Mt. Laurel Br. 2682; Rob Curry, Willingboro Br. 5801, and Vicki Elcess, Br. 2682.
  © 2001-2005 National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO