MINNEAPOLIS , Minn. – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., told the 16th biannual national convention of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Tuesday that because they are on the frontlines of the war against terrorism, they deserve the respect and support of the American public.
“It is your hard work and devotion that is leading the Postal Service through some tumultuous times,” Lieberman said. “The men and women of the USPS not only keep one of the world’s most important communications backbones strong, but you’re now on the frontlines in the war against terrorism. It can never be said enough: you are heroes… That’s why you deserve our gratitude, our cooperation, and our support.”
President Bush has attacked provisions in the homeland security legislation Lieberman is spearheading in Congress for the protections it provides employees. The President wants the authority to strip union members transferred into the new department of their protections, even if their jobs do not involve national security.
“I know there are a lot of people in Washington who like to bash unions,” Lieberman said. “But let me remind them that the police officers and firefighters who ran up into the World Trade Center towers, and the postal workers who were exposed to anthrax, and still got the mail out and kept our system running – they are all proud union members. I know I’ll never forget that. And America won’t forget that. All of you at the APWU deserve our respect and our support.”
Lieberman also paid tribute to APWU members Thomas Morris and Joseph Curseen, who were among the casualties of the anthrax attack through the mail last fall. Their loss was compounded by the confusing and contradictory signals sent to the workers at the Brentwood facility in Washington , D.C., as they learned of the contamination.
“In the event of another attack,” Lieberman said, “officials must quickly communicate the facts, the risks, and the results to everybody – especially to those who are directly affected.”
He has requested a General Accounting Office investigation to determine if there were misrepresentations made to postal workers about the level of contamination of the Wallingford , Conn. , processing and distribution center last December.
On a separate topic, Lieberman dismissed President Bush’s economic summit in Waco , Texas , as “more like a valley… Instead of being a platform for progress, it seems to me to be nothing but a new stage for the same tired, old ideas,” he said. “What’s happening in Waco today looks less like a summit and more like a valley to me. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a valley of despair for the American economy.
“We need real leadership and we need it now. We need to postpone the most expensive and least progressive parts of the Bush tax cut that have yet to go into effect. With the money we save, we should reduce the deficit. We should make targeted, high-return investments in education and job creation. We should shore up Social Security. And at the same time, we should cut some federal spending, including unwarranted corporate subsidies.”