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Home » Clarion » 2012 » August 2012 » Labor in Brief

Labor in Brief


Privatizers Put Postal Service in Peril

On August 1, 2012, the US Postal Service defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury. The default doesn’t immediately threaten mail delivery, but the agency is closing mail processing centers, scaling back overnight delivery and reducing post office hours.

The Postal Service’s deficit is mainly due to a 2006 law that requires the post office to pre-fund retiree healthcare benefits 75 years into the future within 10 years – an artificial target imposed on no other employer. Payments totaled $38 billion through 2011, with further installments of between $5.6 billion and $11.1 billion a year due through 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times. Supporters of the post office say the crisis has been manufactured by conservatives intent on privatizing the mail while also breaking the Postal Service’s contracts with its highly unionized workforce.

Cleaning Up the Car Wash Industry

Time to clean up your act. That’s the message to car wash owners as their workers step up demands for fair treatment. Workers at car washes in the Bronx and Queens have sued their bosses for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime. In July, another Bronx car wash owner received a $150,000 fine as well as weekends in jail for four months after pleading guilty to wage theft.

“This prosecution makes clear that dishonest employers of low-wage workers are not above the law,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The effort to end wage theft and improve unsafe working conditions in the car wash industry is being led by WASH New York, a joint campaign of Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which hopes to unionize New York’s car wash workers.

No Solidarity for Romney

When Mitt Romney visited Poland on July 30, 2012, he made a point of posing for photos with Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and labor leader. However, Solidarnosc (Solidarity), the union that Walesa helped to found in 1980, disavowed the visit by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. “Solidarnosc is in no way involved in the organization of this meeting nor had the initiative to invite Mitt Romney to Poland,” the 700,000 member union said in a statement.

The Polish union noted that it has spoken out forcefully in recent years against attacks on collective bargaining in the United States, including those launched by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and that Romney has been on the wrong side in those fights.

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