(This article first appeared in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By President Mark Dimondstein
There are many daunting challenges on the horizon that demand our attention and action as postal workers.
Management, with their slash and burn approach, has targeted 16,000 jobs for reversion, abolishment or excessing, which not only disrupts the lives of postal workers, but undermines service to the customers.
This fight is raging, but a successful fightback will have to include strong alliances with the public and taking it “to the streets.”
The 2018 National Collective Bargaining Agreement (union contract) negotiations with postal management will begin in nine months. Preparations are underway. Negotiations are never easy, and these may prove to be the most difficult to date. Building power and leverage through a rank-and-file “contract campaign” is vital.
The need for positive postal reform legislation is urgent. Even in this unpredictable and hostile political environment, success is possible. Our members represent the entire political spectrum. This is a source of strength, because it will take members from every viewpoint working together to get any legislation across the finish line.
The looming White House inspired and proposed House Budget Committee 2018 Federal Budget bill is an assault on and insult to every worker. It is a proposed budget, dubbed the “tanks and tax cut” budget, with massive tax breaks for the rich and billions added to an already bloated Pentagon budget, all while robbing from working families – including thousands of dollars a year from postal workers with proposed changes to retirement contributions and reduced benefits.
It might appear that the odds are overwhelming and that the Wall Street banksters and their bought and paid for politicians hold all the cards. Their message to us is that we are powerless, we cannot fight city hall and to struggle is futile.
Not so! History teaches us otherwise. Powerful labor struggles brought unions into being at a time when corporations were “all powerful.” Women’s suffrage once seemed an impossibility. The civil rights movement of the 1960s won human rights many thought unachievable. Postal strikers stormed the heavens in 1970, changing postal jobs into decent living-wage ones and replacing collective begging with collective bargaining. What all these struggles had in common was a powerful movement capable of wresting power from the robber barons.
Our recent Stop Staples campaign victory and the successful effort on the part of the union movement and many allies to stop the rotten Trans-Pacific Partnership, underscore when we are organized we can win!
We have the power because we do the work, create the wealth and provide the needed services, and there are far more of “us” than “them.” We hold the winning cards – our union, solidarity, unity, activism and community allies. The famous and well sung labor anthem Solidarity Forever puts it so well:
“In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold, greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand-fold, we can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old, for the union makes us strong!”