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Postal union political spending up this election

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Organized labor may be hurting, but it would be hard to tell from the amount of money that the four big postal unions are spending on this year’s presidential and congressional races.

According to their most recent disclosure reports filed earlier this month, the four–through their political action committees–had shoveled about $9.6 million into the 2012 election cycle, already ahead of the $8.9 million total for 2010, a non-presidential election year, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Accounting for more than half of the 2012 sum was the National Association of Letter Carriers, followed by the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

The stepped-up giving comes as Congress is struggling to find a fix for the U.S. Postal Service’s myriad problems that could have far-reaching consequences for rank-and-file employees, particularly if lawmakers agree to the agency’s plan to end most Saturday mail delivery.

In regard to campaign contributions, the bulk of union giving has been directed to Democratic candidates and party organizations, although an occasional Republican does turn up as a recipient. Most notably, the rural letter carriers’ PAC gave $8,500 to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman who wants to eliminate layoff protections from future Postal Service labor contracts.

Here’s the spending breakdown for 2012 and 2010:

Union            2012                    2010

NALC:       $5,751,165       $5,407,918

APWU:     $2,136,855       $2,070,352

NRLCA:   $1,258,708       $1,255, 141

NPMHU:    $429,575           $198,359

TOTAL:   $9,576,303       $8,931,740

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Postal unions uniting for nationwide rallies

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There’s nothing like the prospect of looming disaster to bring people together. The latest case in point: The U.S. Postal Service’s four unions are teaming up for an unprecedented “Save America’s Postal Service” day later this month.

The basic purpose is to gin up support for legislation by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., that would let the Postal Service take advantage of billions of dollars in pension fund overpayments identified by an outside actuary to cover retiree health care obligations. Despite almost 200 cosponsors, that bill, like other proposed legislative fixes, is currently stuck in a congressional committee. But on Sept. 27, union members will be visiting the home offices of every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and also holding informational rallies, according to a joint website.

The four participating groups are the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

These are of course dark times for the venerable mail carrier, one of the nation’s largest employers and a bastion of relatively well-paying middle-class jobs. The Postal Service, running short on cash, now wants to lay off up to 120,000 career workers in the next three years.

In a phone interview, Philip Rubio, a historian at North Carolina A&T State University, could not recall anything comparable in USPS labor history.  “This does speak to the severity of the current crisis that the four of them would make common cause,” Rubio said. “It’s the kind of grass-roots effort that a lot of people will welcome.”



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