(This article was first published in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of The American Postal Worker)
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! I want to thank all of you for once again being the “elves” that brought millions of smiles to people around the world! I say world because residents of the United States rely on our services to send gifts to family and friends around the world. Those family and friends could be in the military, stationed in other countries, or just family around the world. As a teenager, I lived in Japan for two holiday seasons. It was from your work that I received a box of gifts from my family each year that made me feel at home. Never underestimate the work you do; you are the real elves and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus!
As 2023 begins, I am excited for what it brings the APWU. Soon, we will know the results of the changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is based upon. Each career employee could receive an increase. Remember that the COLA is the proverbial “double edged sword.” If we get a large COLA, that means items like food, eggs, clothes, gas, and rent are costing us more and eating up more of our wages. If it is a smaller COLA, that means inflation has slowed. Slowing inflation is better for the workers of America and means you are keeping more of your wages. When the numbers are announced in February, keep that in mind.
In November 2023, we will see our final general wage increase of the 2021-2024 National Agreement. Career employees will receive an additional 1.3 percent while Postal Support Employees (PSEs) will receive a 2.3 percent general increase (PSEs do not receive COLA). I look back at my nearly 27-year career with the Postal Service and am thankful I had a union contract that gave me raises every year and step increases as a career employee. I never had to beg or ask for a raise. I knew they were coming no matter what.
Many of you have worked for non-union companies in the past. I think about what it meant to me to work for a non-union company. Back in 1993, before I started at the Postal Service, I worked for a company that was non-union. Each year we went through “performance reviews.” This is where your supervisor gave you a review and told you what your increase would be. At this particular company, we were rated 1-5, and I received a five in all five categories. I thought I was going to get a great raise! After my review, I was informed that I would receive the largest raise anyone would get! I was so excited, but then immediately angered by what I was told. I would be getting a raise of 7 cents an hour! That ended up being an 0.008 percent annual raise. What an insult! From that day on I did the absolute minimum of what was required!
Working in a union environment is amazing and something we all should be proud of being a part of! In fact, American workers are unionizing faster than they have since 1965! Union favorability ratings are the highest they have been in decades. Workers from Starbucks, Amazon, and Delta Airlines Flight Attendants are all fighting to have what we have.
I challenge all of you to be get out there and support those trying to organize! My family would not be where they are today without good union wages and benefits. Every American worker deserves it! Remember, America is better when we say UNION YES!