On June 22, contract negotiations began with opening statements from Industrial Relations Director and chief spokesperson Vance Zimmerman, Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy, Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth 'Liz' Powell, and President and lead negotiator Mark Dimondstein. Postmaster General DeJoy also delivered remarks during the opening session. Members across the country tuned into the virtual broadcast over Zoom, and ‘Geared Up’ wearing stickers, wristbands and union shirts on the work room floor.
In his remarks, Industrial Relations Director Zimmerman emphasized the sacrifices APWU members made on the front lines of a global pandemic. He stressed that the APWU’s priority is delivering a good contract that rewards this hard work. “The people we represent were declared ‘essential employees’ during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Industrial Relations Director Zimmerman said. “Through it all, employees moved the mail, brought vital goods including medicine, paychecks, Social Security payments, birthday gifts, cards, letters, and even the stimulus payments to the American people.
“We want to see the employees we represent rewarded for their hard work, dedication and sacrifices to their home, health and their families,” Industrial Relations Director Zimmerman continued.
Vice President Szeredy then introduced the union’s core bargaining committee. In addition to the President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer and Industrial Relations Director, the core committee includes Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks, Maintenance Craft Director Idowu Balogun, MVS Craft Director Michael Foster and Support Services Director Steve Brooks. Secretary-Treasurer Powell read statements from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, and actor and activist Danny Glover.
President Dimondstein then delivered his Opening Day remarks, outlining the APWU’s goals in negotiations and emphasizing the negotiating team’s commitment to APWU – Our Union, Our Contract, Our Future.
“As postal workers pour our lifeblood into the institution and its mission, we should be justly compensated for our hard work and enjoy an ever-improving standard of living,” President Dimondstein said. “We should be provided a safe workplace, free from hostile work environments and sexual harassment, and after concluding our careers, enjoy a secure and dignified retirement.
“The key to the Postal Service’s bright future is the hard work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of postal workers – from those who sell postage and accept packages, to those who sort medicine and catalogues, to those who transport the mail and repair the vehicles, to those who maintain the equipment and facilities, to those who deliver the mail,” President Dimondstein continued.
President Dimondstein’s full remarks are available to read here.