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5/26/02

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 RATS IN THE HOUSE!

Claudia Richardson
President, American Postal Workers Union
Austin TX Area Local 299

President Bush, you’ve got rats in the house. Clean it up, sweep it out, George. If you continue to listen to the likes of congressmen Dick Armey and Tom Delay, the next thing we’ll see is your return to ground zero in New York and you will be handing out shiny dimes to the children of our fallen union brothers and sisters and all other working people.

Oh, the party of Lincoln, it sure has changed. Lincoln once said:
“If a man tells you he love America, yet hates labor; he is a liar:
If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor he is a fool.
There is no America without labor; and to fleece one is to rob the other.”

It’s bad enough that the workers took the brunt of the attack on September 11th; do we really need to attack their unions too? Let’s not forget what this war is all about, our freedom. Our hidden enemies whether they are foreign or domestic, despise our freedom. Why should you, President Bush, listen to your highly conservative counterparts in the house attack one of the most precious freedoms workers have in this country- the freedom to organize and bargain collectively in the workplace? It’s easy to lament the battles the unions have fought over this nations history. At least when the Rockefellers were hiring thugs to beat the crap out of us, we knew who the enemy was. Now we have our Texas congressmen attacking us with a fountain pen, and the next thing we know these rats are on national television telling us our airports are safe with minimum wage workers.

Your spokesperson, Ari Fleicsher stated we must not federalize the security of our airports because, after all, the workers cannot be fired. Let me remind Mr. Fleicsher, who probably has never hit a time clock, that unions are not opposed to firing people. We just ask that the employer have just cause. As a postal union president for over ten years many postal employees get fired in less time (one day) than it would take to fire Mr. Fleisher, who obviously has a job for three more years. When you as our President echoed your spokesperson during your most recent radio address, as an American citizen, there was disappointment. Many Americans, including myself, have refrained from criticizing you. It’s a time for solidarity; it’s time to let you do what you were elected to do, lead this country. But as we talk daily about our security at the airports and in our postal facilities, privatization is nothing more than a buzzword to cut labor costs. At $2.50 per airline ticket to cover the cost of airline security, how much will the worker see? Instead of paying minimal wages, will we get a workforce that can earn a living wage? Will they have health benefits that will allow them to remain gainfully employed and not looking for another job every month? As with most privatization schemes, the money and benefits will never reach the workers.

Oh yes, the Union, the mighty, mighty Union. As our numbers decline, as many conservatives are wont to tell us, why are you so afraid of 30,000 more “dues paying members”? You and your republican counterparts don’t object to us paying our house and car payments with union wages or putting our kids through college with wages we have negotiated at the bargaining table. Perhaps it is because we are vocal, perhaps we cry about safety when our workers are exposed to unsafe working conditions, (like Anthrax) while our employer is without a clue as to how to provide a safe working environment for their employees.
The blame is not with the postal service, or the airlines. They don’t know anymore about terrorists and anthrax than our mothers do. The blame should lie with those that are evil enough to kill our citizens in ways that no one should ever imagine. But when the pilot and flight attendants unions’ speak, you are not listening. When the American postal workers union speaks, you and the rats are not listening. Our workplaces are not safe, yet we come to work and do our jobs, just like you have asked us to do. We are at war, and we need to do our part, we ask that you display that “compassionate conservatism” now. The government is in charge of our safety and we ask that you do your jobs too.

When you went down to ground zero in New York, you dared not speak about privatizing the firefighters or the police or talking about the ability to hire and fire these union workers. It’s outrageous that you should do so now. Tell your Rat friends Delay and Armey to get down to the nearest post office and breathe the air. Our work goes beyond our jobs and beyond our fallen brothers and sisters, we will continue to fight to raise wages, shorten hours and provide benefits, and ensure a safe workplace. This is what we do, bring justice to the workroom floor, and we are not ashamed of it.

You can tell Congressmen Delay and Armey to keep their shiny dimes, maybe next election day, we’ll have the right to fire them (at will), and they will be unemployed.

Claudia Richardson
President, American Postal Workers Union
Austin TX Area Local 299
 


MARCH MADNESS – CALLING IN?

By APWU President Claudia Richardson


INSTRUCTIONS FOR CALLING IN SICK
1. Dial the number your office/pay location has designated as the absence call in number: 342-1234

2. Give your name and pay location (social security number if requested) and tell them you are calling in sick. Document the time you called and who you spoke with, then hang up.

YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE! If the so-called supervisor “message taker” wants to carry on a conversation of “twenty questions”, state the following:

I AM TOO ILL TO WORK.

I AM TOO ILL TO SPEAK WITH YOU AND I AM NOT ON THE CLOCK; THEREFORE, I DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS.

I WILL FOLLOW THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 513 OF THE ELM.

REFUSE TO BE INTIMIDATED

If you are asked to submit documentation for three days or less, ask what kind of documentation you are being required to submit. If you are being required to submit medical documentation then comply with the instructions. Keep receipts and record mileage to and from doctor’s office. Ask to see your steward for compensation.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: UPON YOUR RETURN TO WORK COMPLETE YOUR OWN 3971 AFTER YOU GET ON THE CLOCK. DO NOT SIGN THE 3971 UNTIL THE SUPERVISOR SIGNS. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT SIGN THE COMPUTER GENERATED 3971 PRODUCED BY THE RMS SYSTEM. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO COMPLETE YOUR OWN LEAVE SLIPS FOR ALL ABSENCES (IN DUPLICATE). TALK TO YOUR SUPERVISOR, TELL THEM WHEN YOU CALLED IN AND WHOM YOU SPOKE WITH. If any discipline is forthcoming it must come from your supervisor, not some management message taker answering the phone. THE RMD SYSTEM IS A DATABASE! THAT’S ALL. If you are disciplined from this management database, article 16 still applies: MANAGEMENT MUST HAVE JUST CAUSE; grieve every violation; see your steward.
 


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