Unions Urge Action to Stop GOP Tax Scam

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Communications Workers President Chris Shelton warned workers and their allies to act now against a planned Republican tax hike on the middle class.

“You may hear from Trump that it’s ‘tax reform.’ I want to caution you: That’s the usual bullshit,” the blunt former telephone lineman told union activists in an Oct. 26 conference call.

“What is being proposed is a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires,” Shelton said. “Donald Trump and the GOP leadership want to get this massive giveaway to their Wall Street friends through by the end of the year.

“This is another phase in the ongoing fight for decades to shift more and more of the wealth to the elites and away from the rest of us.”

Labor must mobilize through protests, call-ins swamping lawmakers’ switchboards, constant visits to congressional offices and educating the public on the real impact of the tax cut, Shelton said. His union is already preparing materials to educate voters about how it would hurt them.

Congress’ GOP leaders plan to roll out a tax legislation on Nov. 1 that would cost $1.5 trillion over a decade. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., aims to pass it by Thanksgiving.

The tax bill would cut top tax rates for the rich, but raise tax rates – from 10 percent to 12 percent – for those who earn the least. And it would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation calculated that 80 percent of the benefits would go to the richest 1 percent.

The claims that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to the rest is “clearly wrong,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Josh Bivens. 

“Economic logic and evidence argues strongly that American workers should not expect any noticeable wage boost from cutting corporate income taxes,” he said.

To grease the skids for the tax plan, Ryan shoved a House-Senate budget blueprint agreement through by a 216-212 vote the night of Oct. 26, with 20 Republicans defecting because the pact would let the tax bill hit their constituents hard.

The budget agreement would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shove the tax cut through the upper chamber by “reconciliation” with only 50 GOP votes, plus Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker.

Twelve House GOP “no’s” came from lawmakers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, whose constituents would get socked by the proposed elimination of the state and local tax deduction. Every Republican from California and Illinois, whose constituents would also get hurt, voted for the budget blueprint. All Democrats opposed it.

Trump’s claim the tax cut would help the middle class “is the biggest lie I’ve seen in my five years in Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., a Painter, who joined Shelton on the conference call. If Trump’s tax cut is approved, millionaires “are likely to be paying less” as a share of their income “than the average family,” he said.

Shelton warned that Ryan and the Republicans would cut Medicaid and Medicare to make up for part of the massive deficit their tax cut would create.

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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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