Worry More about A Living Wage and Less About SNAP

By Bethany Swanson
USW Intern

The Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill last week with an 86-11 vote, setting up a fight against the House over food stamps, farm subsidies, and conservation funding.

The Farm Bill sets the eating and farming policy in the United States. It’s more than just how food is grown; it impacts the agricultural industry, but it also affects how Americans use the land, and more importantly, how millions of Americans eat.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income Americans. The program serves more than 40 million people annually and accounts for almost 80 percent of the Farm Bill's $430 billion five-year cost.

When the minimum wage has not been raised in a decade and when large corporations are spending their tax breaks on stock buy backs instead of the promised $4,000 a year raises for workers, SNAP benefits are more crucial than ever.

The House and Senate both have very different takes on the bill and need to begin resolving their major issues by September 30, when the current law expires.

Not a single Democrat supported House Republicans’ version of the bill, which would make major changes to SNAP.

The Republican House-passed bill  has strict new work requirements on many adults before they are permitted to receive food stamps, and it would also tighten eligibility requirements and move money from the program to others.

By decreasing the ability to be eligible for food stamps, many low-income families will no longer be able to provide for their children. Kids in families receiving SNAP benefits are currently automatically certified to receive free school meals. This now means that children could lose access to food both at home and school.

While the House has big changes in mind, the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill steered clear of any major changes to the SNAP program and instead focused on adding new conditions to increase safety to the environment, including adding provisions to maintain healthy soil and water.

The Trump administration supported House efforts and urged the Senate to similarly tighten the ropes on SNAP even though the majority of those who benefit from SNAP already work. Democratic legislators agree that the House’s version of the Farm Bill will hurt the working class and low-income families, especially children.

Instead of Congress decreasing SNAP benefits, they should increase the minimum wage so that fewer people need SNAP. They should also begin holding corporations accountable for the way they treat their workers.

The House and the Senate must work together and settle their differences to create a law that will empower the working class all across America, while still defending our environment and low-income families.

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Posted In: Union Matters

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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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work