(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Vice President Debby Szeredy
Power is in the vote. We need each and every one of our postal workers to register to vote in every state, city and town in our country. We have over 153,000 members in the APWU. We would be more powerful if everyone registers and votes for issues and candidates that can save the public Postal Service.
In 2019, APWU locals and members can mobilize other members to register to vote, and non-members to join APWU and register to vote at the same time. Multiple states around the country have purged voters from their registrars, so you should make sure you’re still on the rolls and re-register if necessary. People died for us to have the right to vote; we must use it to vote for representatives that will support our working interests. Voting can save our livelihood and can make the difference in stopping the destruction of the public Postal Service.
Privatization destroys our good wage jobs, cost of living adjustments (COLAs), health benefits, pensions, no-layoff rights, rights to secure and safe working conditions, and the right to have collective bargaining. We have to vote for the right representatives in Congress that will protect the Postal Service from a takeover or sale by a private corporation, and we need voters across the country to help us win the majority vote when our issues are being debated on the congressional floor.
Winning our fights in Congress requires a strategy plan that includes all postal workers, their family members, and their community. First, we must register to vote, and utilize absentee and vote-by-mail ballots when we can. Then, we need to help get voting rights legislation in our states to include vote-by-mail ballots and ease access to absentee ballots without requiring an excuse. Michigan passed such legislation in 2018.
Advocate for Vote-by-Mail and Absentee Systems
Now is the time to consider registering for and utilizing vote-by-mail best practices. All postal workers can help protect their job by supporting the right to request an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot without a required excuse. Using vote-by-mail ballots helps ensure the public Postal Service as a necessity, through the method of a paper election process, delivered by a public service that can’t be hacked.
Another important activity is getting involved in passing initiatives on the ballot that protect voting rights and make voting easier, including vote-by-mail and Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) referendums. Washington, Oregon, and Colorado have full vote-by-mail systems, proving their trust in the public Postal Service to make sure everyone’s vote counts. These three states ranked among the top six states in the 2018 mid-term elections in voter turnout. In vote-by-mail states, you can also track your ballot from the time it is mailed to you through when it is received by election officials.
Did You Know?
Did you know that in the Employee Labor Relations Manual (ELM section 519.32), the Postal Service states that they encourage employees to exercise their voting rights? In certain circumstances, they will even excuse and pay administrative leave to vote or register to vote in elections when certain conditions are met (except for temporary workers).