McConnell scoffs at making Election Day a federal holiday, insults federal workers in the process

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Reporter, ThinkProgress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday railed against a proposal that would make Election Day a holiday for federal workers, arguing that doing so would help Democrats.

“This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot?” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

The bill would make “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in 2020″ a day off for federal workers and encourages private employers to give their workers the day off as well. It’s part of a suite of legislation, known as H.R. 1, that House Democrats have prioritized since taking back the chamber. But McConnell implied Wednesday that the proposal, long a pet issue for advocates working to increase voter turnout, would just be a giveaway to Democrats.

“Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for, I assume…our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns,” the majority leader said.

He did not provide proof to back up his claim that federal workers were spending their paid vacation days to work on Democratic campaigns.

McConnell’s comments notably come days after the end of a nearly 36-day-long government shutdown, the longest in history, which impacted nearly 800,000 federal workers, some of whom were forced to turn to food banks, sell their items, or take out emergency loans to make ends meet.

In addition to making Election Day a holiday, H.R. 1 would also create a national voter registration system and expand access to early online voter registration. It would create new disclosure requirements to political organizations and provisions for public financing for elections, including a system to multiply small dollar campaign donations.

H.R. 1, if signed into law, would also end most first-class travel for federal officials and require presidents to release their tax returns, something President Donald Trump has refused to do.

In addition to his comments Wednesday about the Election Day holiday proposal, McConnell shared a video one day earlier with similar remarks about H.R. 1 more broadly, deriding the fact that the bill is more than 500 pages long and wide-reaching in its reform efforts.

“I want to assure the American people right from the outset, [H.R. 1] may pass the House, but not the Senate,” McConnell said.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) expressed similar fury at the proposal in the House Wednesday, saying on the House floor, “There is one more thing the Democrats want to do. They want to make election day a holiday. A paid holiday. For federal employees. This is not where we need to be. This is not respect taxpayers deserve.”

As The Washington Post reported in 2014, many people still face major structural issues that keep them from being able to vote, including being unable to get enough time off work or having home or schooling obligations that prevent them from going to the polls.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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