BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
When the United States had a thriving industrial economy one class complimented the other. Labor was well paid and given the security of knowing that they had a job for life, so they had the confidence to purchased goods that the corporations produced. That allowed the companies that sold the goods to prosper, to the benefit of the investor class.
But now, in a global market, in order to remain competitive with countries that pay their workers just above slave wages, corporations have to squeeze every penny and every concession out of the labor class that they can get. And since the heads of these corporations must make huge profits to justify their unconscionably oversized bonuses, they prey on their workers by undercutting their benefits and outsourcing the very jobs that the economy is dependent upon to sustain the corporation, and the nation. But since these corporate heads live from bonus to bonus and only think about themselves, they never stop to consider the negative impact of their irresponsible behavior on the economic viability of the nation.
The American people have always been comfortable in their belief that while the citizens of many other countries are routinely victimized by their government that ‘it can’t happen here.’ But what the comfortable middle class fail to understand is the comfort that they take so easily for granted is under dire threat. They’ve been so mesmerized by MTV and their hedonistic pursuits that they’re totally oblivious to the fact that under the new global economic structure the standard of living of the American middle class has become a liability to American business. While many may not feel the pinch yet, if they don’t wake up, their carefree way of life is going to become a thing of the past.
Due to the apathy of the American people, the very government institutions that are suppose to protect the poor and middle class from being victimized by business interests are beginning to turn a blind eye to employee abuse – in fact, in many cases, as shown below, they’re acting in direct collusion with those they’re supposed to be protecting us from. The narratives below will clearly demonstrate that the postal service’s Office of Inspector General is a perfect case in point.
The horrible tragedy that befell the twenty-nine coal miners in West Virginia might have been an accident, but it was an accident just waiting to happen. And it’s virtually certain that the same is true of the eleven oil workers who recently lost their lives in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the fact is, under the new American business model, the life and well being of American workers – in fact, the lives of the middle class – is now looked upon as expendable. Look at what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The high and mighty pay a lot of lip service to loving America, but how many of the rich and privileged are actually dying for this country? I’ll answer that, a very precious few.
During the fifties journalist icon Ed Murrow warned us that “A citizenry of sheep begets a government of wolves.” Now, due to a sustained attack on our educational system and a steady diet of hedonistic distractions, that’s exactly what we’ve become, a citizenry of sheep – and ignorant sheep at that.
And as a direct result of our apathy, what you’re about to read below is what we’re getting in return – and not from some corporate bogeyman, but from our very own United States government. But here’s the irony. The few people who are trying to stand up against this insidious encroachment are being completely ignored by both their government, and their disinterested and hedonistic counterparts – “I’ll talk to you after the game.” And they might as well be spitting in the wind when they turn to the government. After all, you can’t ask the bogeyman to protect you from the devil – one is in league with the other.
The majority of Americans are totally oblivious to what’s going on around them. The only time that it really begins to soak in is when the chickens come home to roost at their doorstep. So for those of you who think that you’re comfortably ensconced in the middle class, and that your government institutions, laws, unions, and civil rights organizations will protect your interests, you’re living in an illusion. The narratives from the victims below clearly demonstrate that you no longer live in the kind of America that you think you do. The only protection that you have from becoming an economic refugees is to wake up and begin to support one another . . . before it’s too late.
With regard to the unions, they’re a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are many strong advocates among their number. We mentioned NAPS vice president, Debbie Washington, in last week’s article. While we strongly disagree with her position that her member, Marci Luna, is blameless in the falsification of Joann Snow’s clock rings, we couldn’t help but respect her strong stand on behalf of her member. That’s the kind of union representation that’s necessary for the system to work as it should.
But on the other hand, we’ve found far too many union officials who are star struck. They love rubbing shoulders with postmasters and corporate executives. As a result, it is far too easy for a postmaster to throw his arm around their shoulders and say something like, “You know, I like you. You’re one of us. That’s why you’ve risen so high in the union. You represent good people, but they just don’t have the intellect to see the big picture like we do. But we can work together, and I’m sure you have the intellectual capacity to help your people to see the light.”
Then just like a petted puppy, the union official will start waggin’ his tail, and say, “Yeah, I like you too. I think we can work together too,” then immediately start throwing his or her membership under the bus. If that wasn’t the case, managers would have long since been in the unemployment line, and even jail, for the kind of behavior being described below. But instead, they’re stealing from their employees, and abusing them with impunity, people who are paying very hard-earned money to unions every pay period.
With that, we’ll let the victims speak for themselves. The following is the text of a petition that went to Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Appended to the petition was six double-columned pages of signatures:
While the above was going on at LAXISC, Joann Snow was having to fight both the postal service, and the NALC. She indicated that dealing with Vice President Ray Espana made her wonder who he was representing, her or the postal service. In response, she wrote Branch President Larry Brown (also a national officer) the following:
President Larry Brown:
I spoke to Ray Espana today, and he told me that he was meeting with Marci Luna and the postal service next Friday to get me paid for their falsifying my clock rings. I told him at that time that I didn’t just want to be paid, I want the people responsible for falsifying my time removed from the postal service. In response, Ray told me that he couldn’t do that. That’s what EEOs are for.
Then once I got the document, it turned out that it wasn’t my clock rings at all. It was only a summary of my weekly time, without any indication of my rings, or any modifications there to. Why didn’t he reject that useless piece of paper out of hand and ask for the documents that I’m alleging were falsified? Ray Espana’s efforts in this case just doesn’t pass the sniff test. It looks to me like he either doesn’t know what he’s doing, or that he’s much too accommodating to management.
I am formally requesting that you have someone handle my case who is both knowledgeable, and has some modicum of integrity. And DO NOT RESOLVE THIS CASE WITHOUT THE PEOPLE WHO PERPETRATED THIS CRIME, AT THE VERY LEAST, BEING REMOVED FROM THE POSTAL SERVICE. Nothing else is acceptable.
18 U.S.C. § 1001 of the United States Code reads as follows:
I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’ve been in the postal service for 27 years, and 21 of those years was in management, so I know how things work in the post office. So please understand that I am far from an innocent and trusting fool.
I look forward to a just resolution of this case – not just for me, but for every employee who’s being robbed by the postal service.
Sincerely, Joann Snow
President Larry Brown, Branch 24, NALC:
I’d like to amend my grievance to include CSO Tyrone Williams for conspiring with Station Manager Marci Luna to falsify my clock rings for the purpose of defrauding me of pay that was rightfully earned in good faith.
Relevant to 1017B, postal regulations states in the Time and Attendance Handbook F-21, section 146.251, the following:
Unauthorized overtime is time that an employee, without prior authorization from a supervisor, works in excess of the scheduled tour.
(1) Because work was performed, that time must be paid as unauthorized overtime.
(2) If a supervisor did not observe or have reason to know that no work was performed by an employee while, “on the clock” that time must be paid while as unauthorized overtime.
(3) If no work was performed, and the supervisor had reason to know that no work was performed, the supervisor must disallow the time, and record it on form 1017-A, the disallowance record, and take appropriate corrective action.
*Note: In each of these unauthorized overtime situations the supervisor must document the occurrence on this form and take appropriate corrective action.s24
Both Tyrone Williams and Marci Luna clearly understood that they were in violation of the above regulation, as the falsification of my clock rings to reflect three (3) hour lunch breaks that I didn’t take makes abundantly clear.
Thus, in addition to the falsification of a government document, they are also in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, entering into a criminal conspiracy to commit fraud. The statute reads as follows:
*Note: To reflect the construction placed upon said section 88 by the courts the words “or any agency thereof” were inserted. (See Haas v. Henkel, 1909, 30 S. Ct. 249, 216 U. S. 462, 54 L. Ed. 569, 17 Ann. Cas. 1112, where court said: “The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing, or defeating the lawful functions of any department of government.” Also, see United States v. Walter, 1923, 44 S. Ct. 10, 263 U. S. 15, 68 L. Ed. 137, and definitions of department and agency in section 6 of this title.) Emphasis added.
Therefore, in the interest of justice, and in order to dissuade the postal service from committing similar criminal activity against postal employees in the future, I respectfully request that the NALC prosecute this matter to the limit of the law.
Finally, the parties involved have tried to contact both Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. As egregious as these situations are, however, neither Mr. Jackson nor Sharpton have even bothered to respond. Obviously, the simple fact that the United States government is running a latter-day plantation is not sensational enough for their attention. But one victim says that she still has faith in them – “Once the cameras arrive – and eventually they will – they’ll be knocking people down to address the issue.”
She then went on to say, “But please thank the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Black Star news, Veterans Today, The Postal Employee Network, and all of the other publications that’s run their story, and being willing to fight for justice beneath the limelight. Win or lose, we appreciate your support.”
Writer’s note: One can’t help but be concerned about what’s happening to this nation. If Rosa Parks had protested for her rights in today’s environment, she would have rotted in jail.
Wake up, America. The party’s over, and the only help you can truly rely upon is from one another.
Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.
Eric L. Wattree is a writer, poet, and musician, born in Los Angeles. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Black Star News in New York, and a Staff writer for Veterans Today. He’s also the author of A Message From the Hood.