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Founded in 1889, The National Association of Letter Carriers (or NALC) is the labor union of city letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service.

History

In 1889, knowing many of their colleagues would be attending the Grand Army of the Republic encampment in their city that summer, Milwaukeemarker letter carriers issued a call to meet during the reunion to form a national association. 60 letter carriers from 18 states gathered in the meeting room above Schaefer's Saloon on Plankinton Avenue in Milwaukee. On August 29, 1889 they unanimously adopted a resolution to form a National Association of Letter Carriers. The next day, the convention elected officers and adopted a number of resolutions.

Prior to the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the U.S. Post Office was a department of the executive branch of the United States Government and the Postmaster General was a Cabinet member. This meant that the rate of postal pay was set by the United States Congress into federal law. This somewhat-unique arrangement meant that the NALC was even more overtly political than most other labor unions. Like most other U.S. unions, it has largely supported the Democratic Party, but has been critical of Democrats who have hurt the interests of its members (such as the veto by President Lyndon B. Johnson of a postal pay raise in the mid-1960s), and has supported individual Republicans that it has found to support its members' interests. The NALC worked hard for and supported the Postal Reorganization Act; its expertise was more in lobbying than in traditional labor-management negotiations and collective bargaining. Nonetheless, it is now recognized as the collective bargaining agent for all city carriers.

This arrangement carries some difficulties for the union. By the Taft-Hartley Act and other federal legislation, the federal government is uniformly an "open shop"; no one can be compelled to join the NALC or any other union as a condition of gaining or continuing employment with the government. However, over 93% of all working Letter Carriers are members of the NALC. Also, by federal law, carriers (like other governmental workers) are forbidden from striking, meaning that the primary threat that private-sector unions can make if they feel an employer is not bargaining in good faith is not available. This means that collective bargaining agreements between the NALC and the USPS must be politically feasible; if they are not, this could invite unwanted intervention by United States Congress.

Issues

Over the years, the union has worked to reduce working hours, the weight of loads that must be lifted at any one time, the strictness of uniform-wearing standards, and other worklife-quality issues, as well as the obvious ones of pay and benefits. Activists stress that the Postal Service management style is often one of the more dictatorial ones in the modern United Statesmarker, and imply that this is one of the reasons that a seemingly disproportionate number of USPS employees become infamous for "going postal", although they also point out that the vast majority of such employees were not members of the union. However, statistics show that NALC member carriers are one of the most respected group of workers in the United States.

The future of the union, and the post office itself, seem to be threatened on an unprecedented level by the march of technology, with the Internet, fax, electronic bill-paying, and other forms of communication that do not involve the physical transportation of pieces of paper from one location to another. This has put even more pressure on the NALC to merge with the other major postal union, the American Postal Workers Union, which represents postal clerks; as of this writing, this has not yet occurred, although it has been formally proposed at various times for decades. It should also be noted that most NALC members overwhelmingly reject any mergers with the APWU. It should also be noted that technologies such as the internet has increased mail flow. Any business done online generates hard mail.

CDS

Contract Delivery Service is purchased on a contractual basis by the U.S. Postal Service whereby mail is carried from one USPS specified starting point to another, via highway, by private carriers; also called star route. CDS carriers are not USPS employees, but are independent contractors who provide mail service on these routes. Politically, the NALC is inalterably opposed to postal privatization and to any termination of the USPS monopoly on "First Class mail".

The NALC is combating contracting out to low wage, no benefit workers. These workers are subjected to minimal screening and the NALC believes that contract delivery inhibits the security, sanctity and service of the USPS, and believes that Congress should supporting H.Res. 282 and S. 1457.

2010 census

The newest bill to receive endorsement from the NALC's and the NRLCA's Legislative Department comes from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utahmarker), the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and D.C.. Chaffetz introduced H.R. 3167 requiring the Commerce Department’s execution of the 2010 Census to be conducted in partnership with the United States Post Office. The Census previously announced a need to hire in excess of 750,000 people to conduct the Census. The Post Office has 760,000 employees.

In a controversial approach, the Census previously announced it is partnering with a multitude of community organizations, including ACORN, to find people to hire to gather Census data. In committee hearings, Rep. Chaffetz and others said that a lack of standards by the Census would allow objectionable organizations and individuals to gather this sensitive data. Chaffetz feels that Letter Carriers are the most qualified individuals to carry out this task, and with the USPS budget shortfalls, he also is aware of the need for additional revenue.

"It is imperative the American People have the utmost confidence in the collection of Census data. We should not rely upon ACORN to gather Census data. I don’t trust ACORN and neither do the American people. We already have a trusted workforce. This is a common sense business approach. Rather than hire 750,000 new, unknown people, let’s use people and assets already in place. This should save money, help the Post Office in a time of financial need, and give confidence and credibility to the collection of personal information. Postal carriers know the people on their routes, they know how to find them and how to count them. The census is a good example of an inefficient government program with billions of dollars of cost overruns that could immediately become more efficient with this common sense approach using resources already at our disposal," said Chaffetz.

He is joined by Chairman Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusettsmarker) in introducing this legislation.

S. 1507

On Thursday, July 30, 2009, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 12-1 in favor of S. 1507 (Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Funding Reform Act of 2009), which would provide financial relief to the Postal Service. An amendment, offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), requiring the arbitrator to take into consideration the financial health of the Postal Service when deciding Postal Union contracts, was added prior to its passage. Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government information, Federal Services and International Security, supported the amendment, and voted with committee Republicans for its adoption. The APWU, NPMHU, the NRLCA and the NALC have all voiced opposition to S. 1507 with the inclusion of the arbitrator amendment.

Distinction from other unions

The NALC in a few minor ways distinguishes itself from private sector unions and even other government unions; for one, it refers to its chapters as "branches" rather than "locals". It developed its own retirement community for its members, Nalcrest, Floridamarker. It operates a mutual benefit association which sells insurance to members which predates the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan, in which it is also a major participant, even as most other employee groups have discontinued their participation.

The union has a close relationship with Jerry Lewis and his annual Labor Day telethon and is invariably one of the groups showcased by the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Annual food drive

Another yearly charitable event for the NALC is the one day food drive Stamp Out Hunger, which is the largest single day food collection in the United States. City & Rural Letter Carriers collect food from Americans as they deliver them their mail. Letter carriers also promote this event heavily. On May 12, 2007 over 70 million pounds of non-perishable foods were collected. Campbell Soup, Valpak, United Way of America, Second Harvestmarker, the AFL-CIO, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association and cartoonist Bil Keane are all partners in the food drive.

Branches

The NALC has 2,500 local branches representing letter carriers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

See also



References

  1. [Kirkpatrick, Keith "E-mail Not Slated to Stamp Out Postal Service - Industry Trend or Event". Home Office Computing April 2001 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1563/is_4_19/ai_72790767/]
  2. “Statement Of Ted Keating, President, National Association Of Postal Supervisors, to the Subcommittee On Federal Workforce, Postal Service, And The District Of Columbia of the Committee On Oversight And Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives” April 17, 2007
  3. http://www.nalc.org/nalc/facthist/nalcfact.html



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