Democratic Leaders Promise to Block National Right-to-Work (For Less) Bill

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Democrats’ top two congressional leaders have told the Teamsters that they will do everything possible to block a proposed so-called “national right to work” bill from passing the GOP-run Congress.

But while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made that pledge, she can do little to halt the legislation, authored by right-wing anti-worker and anti-Hispanic Rep. Peter King, R-Iowa.

The story is different with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Backed by his 46-member Democratic Caucus, plus two independents – Maine’s Angus King and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders – who usually support Democratic positions, Schumer controls enough votes to sustain a filibuster. They can thus talk RTW to death.

Right-to-work, which workers and their allies call “right to work for less,” has been a key business and right wing cause for more than 70 years, but now it’s only allowed state-by-state, under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which emasculated U.S. labor law.

King wants to nationalize RTW. Other national Republicans agree. They would let non-union members covered by union contracts use union services – bargaining and grievances – without paying one red cent for them. That robs unions of needed money to defend all workers.

Schumer and Pelosi both told the Teamsters’ legislative and political coordinators, meeting in D.C. in June, that it was “a top priority of theirs to make sure so-called RTW doesn’t progress in Congress,” the union reported.

“I have union in my blood. We all know the middle class is declining,” Schumer said. “As long as I’m a leader in the Senate, they will not pass a national right-to-work law.”

Pelosi added that “The labor movement our country must not only survive, it must grow. We have to not only resist, but push back.”

The coordinators spent their time lobbying lawmakers on several issues. Besides opposing RTW, they advocated restricting unsafe and polluting Mexican trucks and ill-trained and ill-rested Mexican drivers to within 20 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border under any “new NAFTA,” reform of multi-employer pension funding, collective bargaining rights and fair trade.

Those issues, particularly pensions and NAFTA, particularly resonated with lawmakers, the union said. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told the coordinators that without the Mexican truck restrictions, any “new NAFTA” would fail because the GOP Trump administration would need some Democratic votes to pass it – and wouldn’t get them.

And Teamsters Joint Council 32 Political Director Edward Reynoso told the union his group stressed that message in meetings with Minnesota lawmakers, notably Rep. Rock Nolan, DFL-Minn., a former Teamster. “When it comes to the issues, they (legislators) need to hear from the local people,” Reynoso said.         

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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