Oversight and Government Reform
Federal Worker Protections
Norton, a senior member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal employees, made special efforts to protect these repeatedly beleaguered employees during perhaps the worst year in decades for federal employees, when hundreds of thousands faced both sequester furloughs with loss of pay and a third year of pay freezes.
Norton has been a leader in fighting for improved wages for workers employed by federal contractors, speaking at their demonstrations and participating in Change to Win and Good Jobs Nation meetings with workers. In July 2014, Norton introduced the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act at a rally with hundreds of federal contract workers from Change to Win in front of Union Station. The ROSIE Act incentivizes federal government contractors to support collective bargaining, pay living wages and benefits, to stop wage theft, and avoid paying CEOs excessive salaries. Norton has called on the President to put the ROSIE Act into an EO. She also plans to introduce a bill when the House returns in November that would direct federal agencies to give points in federal contractor competition for businesses paying decent wages and benefits to their entire workforce and that permit their employees to unionize so that wages can become a private matter for bargaining between the contractor and its employees. Following rallies by federal contract workers and Change to Win, some of which Norton participated in, President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO) in February 2014 that raised the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour. However, Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage for workers nationwide, from its current $7.25 per hour.
Protecting Letter Carriers, Mail Delivery, and the Integrity of the U.S. Postal Service
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee has special jurisdication over the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Congress does not fund the USPS, but requires the USPS, unlike any other federal agency or private organization, to prefund future retiree health benefits, taking billions in revenue from operations. Norton and other congressional Democrats have offered several alternatives for relaxing the prefunding to allow more postal revenue to go to service, which is the fourth most trusted company in America.
In October 2014, Norton called on Postmaster Donahoe to reconsider the consolidation of more than 80 mail-processing centers in January 2015 that will delay First-Class and other mail delivery, without public input. A recent USPS Inspector General report said the decision to consolidate several mail-processing centers across the United States should have included comment from the public, as required by law, but USPS moved forward without notice to the public. Norton believes that cutting services that customers have become accustomed to will not only lead to customer dissatisfaction, but it has the potential of affecting USPS revenue.
In August 2014, Norton held a postal service roundtable following the killing of a letter carrier doing late night deliveries, as well as a surge of complaints from residents. The Roundtable brought together the District of Columbia Postmaster, Gerald A. Roane, Cynthia Goodwin of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Dena Briscoe of the American Postal Workers Union, ANC 3F ChairmanAdam Tope, and Brennan Dorn and Gail Broeckel, two District residents who shared their experiences with local postal service in the city. Among the recommendations were:
- Quarterly Postmaster meetings with ANCs;
- Setting up an automated phone system for residents who want only routine information, such as operating hours, freeing up customer service representatives to handle substantive issues;
- Creating the role of Postal Ombudsman to focus on recurring customer reports in order to detect patterns of service problems; and
- Getting State Department assistance in processing passports using postal office personnel
In February 2014, Norton joined Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other members of the Maryland congressional delegation in a letter to Donahue urging USPS to immediately devise a plan to protect worker safety in inclement weather and the evenings, and to ensure that no homes or businesses experience multiple-day delays. In 2013, she wrote to USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe after the death of USPS letter carrier Tyson Barnette to request that further efforts be made to ensure the safety of letter carriers at night.