Meeting the Candidates - Legislative Director


Meet the Candidates

APWU Legislative and Political Director – Questions & Answers


Each candidates’ answers alternate between questions and are in different color as shown below.  Initials are bolded for each candidate at the end of each answer.

Judy Beard – Candidate for APWU Legislative and Political Director

Thomas Benson – Candidate for APWU Legislative and Political Director


1. What do you feel is the Most important legislation for postal workers going through the 2020-2022 Congress at this time and why is that?


Judy Beard – There is more than one significant bill going through Congress at this time that is important to postal workers. The Inflation Reduction Act, if signed into law, will invest in clean energy that to date includes billions in funding for an electric postal fleet as well as lowering families' energy costs. The bill also lowers the deficit and makes prescription drug savings for many seniors. Voting rights legislation would make it easier to register to vote, make voting more accessible via vote by mail and early voting. It outlines a criteria for redistricting that would draw fairer maps.


Thomas Benson - When I am elected APWU Legislative, and Political Director I will bring fierce determination to DC to safeguard and expand our legislated benefits. I am determined to restore our service standards to save our jobs and ensure every community has a post office. I dare to “imagine” us getting back to the time before 2012 when service standards demanded a letter mailed across the street by you, got there 98% of the time the next day. I plan on pitching a tent, if need be, in DC to make sure this message is delivered for “YOU” daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. 


I know for a fact; with the right relationships and hard work I can achieve this. Together John Marcotte, former legislative and political director, and I scored a huge victory in 2015. We achieved 2012 service standards for our membership by working with influential legislators. This was achieved without committees. This was done by building strong relationships with members from both parties. The pending legislation was pulled days prior to its anticipated passage at the request of the union leadership. I believe in communicating this goal clearly and concisely through our rank and file. We must return to the “Service Model” that proved successful for more than 230 years. 


Making 2012 service standards law will have a ripple effect across the country. It will produce faster delivery times, keep many processing plants from being consolidated and will save good paying postal union jobs. 


2. What do you feel is the Most important legislation for our retirees (and to working members as it impacts them at retirement) going through the 2020-2022 Congress currently and why is that?


Thomas Benson - The repeal of the unfair provisions of WEP and GPO that rob teachers, police, firefighters, and postal employee retirees of their Social Security benefits should be a priority for the APWU. I have seen talking points from the current APWU legislative and political director on this matter, but I have not seen a call to action. The APWU retirees deserve better than just talking points. On July 15th, 2022, 291 Congress members signed on as cosponsors of HR 82. This will be the first time in history that a floor vote will be taken on any bill to repeal or modify WEP/GPO. The vote will hopefully be in September of this year. If I were the current APWU Legislative and Political Director, I would be using all the resources at my disposal to push a call for action. The passing of this bill will help so many APWU retirees who currently live on a limited budget and suffer stiff penalties against social security benefits. I believe it is up to us (current members) to be the stewards of the retirees, as they were to their predecessors. I believe we also welcome them in the fight with information and important dates to act when and where needed.  


As APWU Legislative and Political Director, I will battle to win a living wage for workers; protect Social Security and Medicare; pursue cost-of-living adjustments that keep pace with inflation; defend affordable, premium healthcare, and laws that protect our ill, injured, and those caring for family. I am dedicated to procuring paid Family Medical Leave, safer working conditions, and retirement benefits that sustain us through our golden years – working diligently to equalize FERS cost-of-living adjustments to CSRS while working tirelessly to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision if HR 82 is not made law.


Judy Beard – A number of our current retirees are adversely affected by the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset. There are several pieces of legislation APWU has been fighting for that would repeal these unfair laws and grant those under CSRS, who paid into Social Security, what was promised to them. 


For current and future retirees, we continue to fight for Cost of living increases to be calculated based on a formula known as the CPIE. This consumer price index for the elderly would better reflect the spending habits and living costs of retirees and would provide more money to them if legislation is passed to include this.


The Federal Retirement Fairness Act would ensure that over 100,000 postal workers who started as PSEs or casuals and converted to full-time employees would be granted the ability to make catch-up retirement contributions that would enable them to retire sooner with full benefits.


3. Tell the members something positive about your opponent.


Judy Beard – When each of us steps up and voluntarily chooses to be a dues paying union member, we are making a commitment to helping APWU fight for better wages and benefits.


Thomas Benson - Judy Beard was interviewed by the Smithsonian Postal Museum. Her views and statement of her experience in the Postal Service will be there for future generations to hear and read.  Judy Beard is a pioneer for all women and the African American community of women in the Post Office and beyond through her many years of service. She is a staunch supporter of our APWU.  


4. What legislation do you feel is most important for our members to get passed in the soon to be elected 2022-2024 Congress, what is the strategy to do so and why is it most important?


Thomas Benson - I believe in stopping the PMG’s 10-year plan.  It’s obvious that the PMG is not invested in our future. Under Dejoy, we are seeing a slow yet steady approach to privatization. I will build strong relationships and will work to push Congress to get involved to prevent the complete 10-year plan from happening. I’m simply appalled that our APWU leaders are silent about the 10-year plan. This plan will negatively affect a huge portion of our membership. In the early 2000’s I was directly affected by Article 12 impacts, and I was a PTF for nearly 13 years. Consolidations of plants will bring Article 12 impacts back. I understand what adverse effect this 10-year plan will have on the membership. In the past we, the APWU members, fought the USPS when their ideas had adverse effects on its members. I plan on protecting your best interests, as I do when I travel on my dime and time currently to conventions, meetings, and rally’s here and abroad, and have been for years to ensure your benefits and contractual rights are kept sacred. I will align myself only with people who have this same commitment to our welfare. What happens to you, happens to me. 


Judy Beard – Voting rights legislation is urgently needed.  Our democracy depends on every eligible voter being able to exercise their right to cast a ballot. We will join other unions and organizations leading this fight and organize our members nationwide to continue to advocate to their lawmakers at the local, state, and federal level for the advancement of voting rights. Our strategy includes educating our members that we have power in numbers. We will provide the tools and resources so they can effectively carry this message from their communities to the ballot box.  Additionally, we will continue with our current practice of organizing national call-in days of action to put pressure on lawmakers.


5. Evaluate in detail the recently passed Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, specifically its impact on our members and retirees going forward.


Judy Beard – The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 was a huge victory. Over 15 years in the making, this legislation provides financial relief by eliminating the pre-funding mandate, provides postal oversight, Medicare Integration, and codifies six-day delivery into law.  The repeal of the pre-funding mandate will help to free up funds for improvements and innovation.  For years, this absurd mandate pushed the USPS to slow service and shutter facilities.  The codification of six-day delivery was a huge accomplishment Up until this point, six-day delivery had to be introduced and passed in Congress each year.  This legislation will also allow the USPS to work with State, Local, and Tribal governments to negotiate the sale of non-postal products and provide public services which will generate more revenue.  The creation of a public dashboard, as mandated by this legislation, will allow the public to monitor any service failures and identify mail slowdowns.  This will be an extremely useful tool in our fight for increased service standards.  Finally, Medicare Integration which is fair to both active and retired postal workers. As of today, the eligibility for Medicare Part B remains at age 65.  To quote one of the answers from the extensive Q and A we released on Postal Reform, “With Medicare Integration, Medicare becomes the primary provider, FEBHP becomes the secondary provider. FEHBP picks up what Medicare does not cover, and thus eliminates out of pocket expenses such as co-pays and deductibles. In addition, with Medicare as the primary provider, the FEHBP plans save money which in turn helps to mitigate future costs of the FEHBP plans. For these reasons approximately 80% of APWU postal retirees voluntarily join Medicare B, finding it beneficial to health and personal finances.”  This legislation does not require current retirees who did not enroll in Medicare Part B to now enroll. However, if they choose to enroll there will be a special enrollment period for those who wish to enroll and penalties will be waived. I encourage all of our members who have questions on this legislation to visit the APWU Legislative webpage for the full Q and A.


Thomas Benson - The Postal Reform Act of 2022 eliminated a 2006 mandate from Congress to pre-fund retiree health benefits. This has been a huge burden on the USPS. The elimination of this 2006 mandate was the best part of the bill for the members. 


The Postal Service Reform Act failed to guarantee our service standards (which I feel is imperative) while the NALC and carriers achieved theirs. The Postal Service Reform Act gave away the rights of future postal retirees to make their own decision about Medicare B which comes at a significant additional expense; offers unattainable savings for most when weighed against the month-to-month costs and mandates their federal health benefits become secondary. Their shortsightedness will place us into a postal only health benefit program that weakens our bargaining strength for affordable premiums, deteriorates benefits, and diminishes access to preferred providers. 


Medicare Part A (helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care) is running out of money and could become insolvent by 2026. This is very worrisome as now we have no choice but to take Medicare at age 65. Prior to the Postal Reform Act of 2022, postal employees could opt out of Medicare if they chose to. This was a guaranteed benefit for federal employees. The current APWU legislative director and APWU President used our benefits as a bargaining chip to get legislation passed. The pre-funding mandate was a product of Congress in 2006. This was not the fault of the retirees or current employees, and yet we are forced to give up a vital benefit to fix what Congress created. 

I’ve been to several APWU conferences and heard top officers say that only 20% of postal retirees do not sign up for Medicare, but 80% do sign up. This was the APWU’s justification for giving away a benefit. It only affects 20% of the retirees. I’m a firm believer of “AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL”. The APWU should ensure fair wages, benefits and safe working conditions for the members and retirees. The union shouldn’t be giving away benefits. This has opened Pandora’s box and I feel will be an issue in the future. I will make this promise to you, I will never use your benefits as a bargaining chip. I remember when it was unheard of for National Officers to make deals without the trust of the membership that transparency brings. I will be coming to work as Legislative Director with a big spotlight.  


6. As Legislative and Political Director, what group(s) would you become active in to assist the APWU in creating and passing legislation beneficial to postal workers. Please explain your activities in these groups in detail. 


Thomas Benson - As APWU Legislative and Political Director I will be active with the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, NARFE. I believe we must stand up and fight for the retirees and protect their rights and benefits. The APWU would not exist if it wasn’t for those who came before us and laid the groundwork for what we have today. 

I will be active with many Veteran organizations such as DAV, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. I will work with these organizations and lawmakers to enforce Veterans’ preference legislation; improve medical services and benefits; expedite access, and fight to restore postal hiring registers to rebuild our rapidly dwindling Veteran workforce – down 30% since 2020 under the watch of our existing director and president. Veterans and members of the armed forces sacrificed to serve our country; they deserve knowledgeable leaders who are willing to fight for them. 


Judy Beard – I am already involved in a number of groups who have been critical in our fights. We are stronger when we fight together and it is critical that we show up for our allies like they show up for us. During my time as Retiree Director I formed relationships with the Alliance for Retired Americans as a former member of their executive board, Social Security Works, and the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations. I continue to work with these groups to repeal the WEP and GPO. As a lifetime member of the NAACP, I will continue to ensure APWU remains a strong ally. The NAACP played a significant role in the last election cycle with their lawsuits against the USPS. I also work with the six constituency groups of the AFL-CIO, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Development, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Pride at Work, A. Philip Randolph, and the Union Veterans Council.  They have come to our aid in our campaigns to stop the privatization of the postal service and are also strongly committed to voting rights and I will work with them to push for legislation. For these groups and many others not listed, I attend meetings on a regular basis to speak on the actions of the APWU and to update them on our legislative priorities.


7. What is your long-term legislative priorities for the APWU going forward that may take more than one Congress for them to become law?  


Judy Beard – During my tenure as Legislative Director I have always fought for improved service standards. We have succeeded in multiple Congresses with service standards language being included in the House-passed appropriations. Most recently, we were able to secure language directing the Postal Regulatory Commission to conduct a study. Unfortunately, even if language is passed in the Appropriations process, that language is only good for a short period of time. Until the passage of Postal Reform, six-day delivery had to be reintroduced and passed each year. Permanent Service Standards would need to be advocated for in separate legislation to avoid having to be reauthorized each year.


Thomas Benson - I have clear pictures in my head of me working with Congress on protecting the rural post office. 

The USPS operates 13,000 rural postal locations, representing 39% of all postal retail locations. Nearly 51 million rural Americans, which is roughly 16.5 % of the U.S. population utilize rural post offices. Rural communities have the largest share of people above the age of 65 and are less mobile and tech savvy than younger generations. My plan is to work with Congress to prevent the closures and cut in hours at these locations. This action will help better serve the communities and will save postal Union jobs. This will be an ongoing fight as we know every year the USPS cuts hours and continues to try to close these small rural offices. 

Every time, on my drive out, I am called to a Rural Post Office. I can’t help but think of how important it is that we continue to serve the Rural American Communities and have for 246 years.


8. Any additional statement that you would like to close your interview. (MAX 500 Words/numbers)


Thomas Benson

I believe everything rises and falls on leadership.

I believe how you do anything; is how you do everything.

I believe transparency equals trust.

I believe more service hours and plant operations will increase business.

I believe finding ways to speed up the mail, not slow standards down are the way to our future.

I believe in long term vision for legislation. 5, 10, even 20 years down the road should all make it on our map of today.

I believe that people working currently on the workroom floor have a distinct advantage in what is working and not working for our members. I continue to hear from the workroom floor the cries for help from our members not just with my ears, but with my eyes and heart.

I believe in uniting our members (including retirees) from Rural America, Suburban America, and Urban America to form a power voice demanding value driven policy.

I believe the APWU members, all of us -active and retired- have a responsibility to be politically active and work to elect politicians who will ensure that the USPS will be here for future generations. Fight for a strong educational system for our young people, fight for good-paying jobs for postal workers and a secure and dignified retirement for postal seniors.

I am humbly asking for your support and your vote in this year's APWU election. The time has come to make the Legislative Department, strong and respected again on Capitol Hill.

BECAUSE of YOU I am in the fight! 

In Closing, I will put it as frankly as I can. WE either get busy living and growing The Great American Postal Workers Union, and the USPS, or we will be busy dying. 

I choose growing through Changing of the Guard! It’s time!


Judy Beard –

It has been a great honor to serve as your Legislative and Political Director these past 6 years. Together we have fought for and won significant postal legislation and elected pro-worker candidates across the board. I made a commitment when I first accepted the position to work with any member of congress who was willing to fight for the public Postal Service and the dedicated members and retirees of the APWU.  The result of this has been a bipartisan coalition in Congress who I continue to build relationships with. I'm asking to be re-elected as Legislative and Political Director and promise, if re-elected, to continue to foster the relationships I’ve built, continue to fight to ensure the hard earned benefits of APWU members are protected, and advocate for legislation that benefits your families and communities.