Resolution Opposing Privatization of the Postal Service Introduced in Congress
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07/19/2018 - On July 16, a leading group of Congressional representatives took action to help combat a proposal to privatize the Postal Service. The proposal, put forward by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget in their report Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century, would “restructure the U.S. Postal Service” and “prepare it for future conversion from a government agency into a privately-held corporation.” ?
APWU thanks the bipartisan group of representatives for introducing House Resolution 993 in response to this attack. The resolution calls on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the United States Postal Service remains an independent establishment of the Federal Government and not be subject to privatization.
The resolution was introduced by Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and co-sponsored by Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Paul Cook (R-CA), Brian Mast (R-FL), Don Young (R-AK), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).
“We will fight back against any attempt to privatize the Postal Service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “This is yet another attempt by corporate interests to pad their pockets and rob the public of affordable and universal mail delivery.”
Members of Congress will be starting their summer recess in August. “We urge all APWU members to meet with your representative and express the urgency of them becoming a co-sponsor of this resolution and oppose the privatization of the Postal Service,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard.
You can reach your Congressional representative by dialing 1-844-402-1001.
Privatizers – those who want to sell the public postal service to private corporations – are hard at work. Together we can stop them in their tracks.
Get ready to hit the streets with our sister postal unions, family, friends, and community allies to Save Our Service. Rallies will take place at many Congressional offices throughout the country. Check with your local and state leaders for more details and for the exact time and location in your area.
Applications for Holiday Temp Jobs Due Sept. 24
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08/29/2018 - Time is running short for APWU retirees who are interested in applying for temporary positions as Holiday Clerk Assistants: Applications are due Sept. 24.
09/10/2018 - September 20, 2018 marks the expiration of our Collective Bargaining Agreement between the APWU and the USPS. There is much at stake for members of the American Postal Workers Union as your negotiating committee is fighting to protect job security, win fair wage increases, maintain our COLA, expand rights of PTFs and PSEs alike, seek to end the divisive multi-tier wage structure and expand postal services.
We can all help show management that we, the workers, are united in demanding a fair and decent contract. Show solidarity and stand together united with the National Negotiations Committee these next two weeks of concentrated negotiations and beyond!
This Thursday, Sept. 13 and Thursday, Sept. 20 are the last two Union Gear Thursdays before our contract expires.
Make sure to ‘Gear Up!’ Coast-to-coast – Hawaii to Maine, Florida to Alaska – as we show the Postal Service that we are one, we are strong, we are united.
Put on your buttons, wristbands, stickers, shirts, hats and other union gear!
On day 3 of the 24th Biennial National Convention, the delegates heard from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)leaders about the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. Many delegates found inspiration from the integral link between our past and present struggles, and from the crucial connection between the civil rights and labor movements.
Rev. Cleophus Smith, Memphis sanitation striker and current activist who mentors up-and-coming working-class leaders, reflected on how difficult the years were before the strike, and shined a light on the atrocities faced by the poor black working-class. “In 1967, when I went to work for the sanitation department, my job was so tedious… It was cold that year,” he said. “We’re out there working with no sufficient gloves, no sufficient clothes, no sufficient shoes… there was a steel voice in me that just kept telling me to hold on.”
“I held on and in 1968 when we went on strike we were out for 65 long days,” he continued. “Many of us had wives and children… There were many days that I went home and just had enough food for my children to eat.”
William “Bill” Lucy, former Secretary-Treasurer of AFSCME, founder of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and member of the APWU Cleveland Area Local, shared his experiences as a leading AFSCME staffer in the historic strike. “The Sanitation Strike of 1968 is one of the great struggles of working people in general and black workers in particular,” he said. “Equally important, this struggle occurred at a time when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was attempting to put a face on poverty for our entire nation to see. And while these two things are separate, they are tied together by a common thread – the plight of the working poor.”
“We are celebrating this 50th anniversary not as a one-day issue,” Lucy said. “This is an ongoing struggle we should all be engaged in…We have to raise this nation up to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
Rising up is precisely what current AFSCME President Lee Saunders encouraged when he spoke to the delegation. “The civil rights and the labor movements had – and still have – common values, as well as common enemies,” he said. “Dr. King understood all this and he understood we couldn’t have racial justice without economic justice.”
“We are in a movement moment. A movement moment that builds on the legacy of the Memphis Sanitation Workers,” Saunders said.
After the speakers, Ohio Delegate and Greater Cincinnati Area Local President Michael Smith called for a moment of commemoration in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, to which the floor erupted in cheers and applause.
Delegates Complete Work on Constitution, Labor-Management, Legislative Resolutions
Delegates spent most of the convention’s third day discussing, debating and voting on resolutions on behalf of the APWU members they are representing at the convention.
Resuming its report from day two, the Constitution Committee reported on a resolution that called for modifying the procedure for distribution of campaign articles of candidates running for national APWU office. Previously, a candidate had the opportunity to submit a campaign statement of up to 300 words that was published in The American Postal Worker magazine.
Constitutional language adopted by delegates now provides for up to 1,000 word candidate statements to be published in an election issue of The American Postal Worker and included in the same envelope as the ballot for the national election of officers.
The delegates voted down a resolution that would have changed the frequency of national conventions from two to three years. After a lengthy debate that resulted in a teller count, a resolution calling for the All Craft Conference to be extended by two additional days fell 32 votes short of the required two-thirds majority required for adoption.
Returning to the Labor-Management Committee report, delegates acted upon a number of resolutions primarily concerning proposals for future contract negotiations; such as: annual and sick leave, PSE health care, clothing/uniform allowance, workplace harassment/sexual harassment, representation, PSE maximization, and seniority.
Delegates also adopted a resolution calling for a light duty/pregnancy policy in the workplace that would assist employees before, during and after childbirth based on the Pregnancy Discrimination Law of 1978. Included in this law are anti-discrimination provisions, workplace accommodations and job protections.
After conclusion of the Labor-Management Committee report, the Legislative/Political Committee presented eight resolutions for the delegates’ consideration; including: retirement, voter registration, PSE contributions to Thrift Savings Plan, civic engagement and healthcare justice.
Delegates unanimously adopted a resolution opposing privatization of Veterans Administration health care.
The resolution said:
The American Postal Workers Union opposes the continued diversion of public funds appropriated for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) into the private sector. We support full funding of existing VHA programs, funding for more VHA staff and adequate federal support for VHA programs…the APWU opposes the ongoing privatization of veteran’s health care as an attack on an effective and necessary public program and believes that privatization is not consistent with this nation’s responsibility to provide health care for those who have put themselves in harm’s way on their country’s behalf.
The convention also adopted a resolution calling for the APWU and its local and state organizations to start an active community involvement program locally, regionally and nationally. The resolution urges the APWU, its local and state organizations to:
Build relationships and foster mutual accountability among those with common interests, respecting the power of dissent and sharing and honoring the gifts of all, so non-activists can go from being observers to activists that will help lead robust community-led engagement…
This program will work to create an engagement environment that links neighborhood concerns to larger regional, state, and national issues and will allow voters to realize their fullest potential to change their circumstances on a larger scale.
Message from the NAACP: Let’s Focus on Action!
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Derrick Johnson, brought greetings and solidarity to the convention floor.
“For many years we perceived these two movements as separate, when in fact, they’re the same movements,” he said. “There would have never been a civil rights movement, if people were not being exploited for free labor. We called that slavery. There would have never been a civil rights movement, if people were not being exploited for cheap labor, under a system of segregation.”
He continued to discuss how there’s only one movement, a movement “focused on always respecting the dignity of a fair day’s work.”
“Race is a social construct, created to divide people and distract so those in power maintain power. In the movement that we call the labor movement, we cannot be distracted by the questions of race,” he explained.
He called for all to take action this November to shift power towards “a political landscape that will focus on the needs and interests of those of us in this room.”
“I’ll leave here, sending a message to my members, asking them to call their representative to support House Resolution 993 to send a strong message that the Postal Service should not be privatized.”
Texas Postal Workers Union delegate, Aulby Gillett, spoke in favor of a resolution calling for the use of Certified Deaf Interpreters in lieu of Video Remote Interpreing (VRI) during engagements between Deaf/Hard of Hearing workers and management.
Signing with an interpreter translating, Brother Gillet said, “I represent the APWU Deaf/Hard of Hearing Task Force Committee.”
He explained the internet is unreliable and VRI provides no privacy, as interpreters are remote and the security and privacy of their premises is unreliable. As further evidence, he said there have been incidents when “VRI may ask the Deaf / Hard of Hearing’s spouse or friend to join in to help…in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
John Zamudio, a hearing delegate from Missouri, rose in support of the resolution. “Brothers and Sisters, we should support our Deaf/Hard of Hearing employees. It’s a disgrace what [management] do[es] to them on the workroom floor. If they go into a job discussion, it should be in private.”
In a resounding sign of solidarity, convention delegates unanimously adopted this resolution.
Opinion-Editorial Workshop Draws Large Crowd
In a room filled to near capacity, APWU Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard welcomed postal workers to the workshop, Opinion-Editorial Writing: Combine Your Story with Facts to Defend the Postal Service.
Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies taught members techniques for covering the basics of opinion-editorial writing and how to combine personal experiences with facts to make a persuasive case against privatization. She also covered an alternative to opinion-editorials, which is a letter-to-the-editor.
During a brainstorming session, participants shared personal postal-related experiences they thought could be used to develop their own opinion-editorial pieces.
In current and future attempts to privatize the Postal Service public support will be needed in order to stop it. Defending the USPS through the opinion-editorial or letter-to-the-editor column is an effective way to educate the public about this important issue and generate support.
As presented by Co-Chairperson Alice Lee of the Richmond Virginia Area Local the report for the APWU Credentials Committee for Wednesday, August 22 is as follows:
The 24th Biennial Convention’s 2,119 delegates represent 313 locals, 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance, 77 national officers and five retiree delegates.
08/21/2018 - On Tuesday afternoon, the highest governing body of the American Postal Workers Union hit the streets to protest against the possible sale of the U.S. Postal Service.
“This White House, the Heritage Foundation, and their billionaire backers, the Wall Street investors, they want their greedy hands on the public till and the public good – but they’ve started something that they’re not going to be able to stop,” said President Dimondstein. “They think this is their time…We’re going to show them this is truly our time.”
Vance Zimmerman, Director of Industrial Relations, rallied the crowd stating, “They picked on the wrong family, the APWU Family!... And after we save the Post Office, we are taking this country back for working people!”
Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard led a chant of Whose Post Office? / The People’s Post Office. “That’s the message we are going to send across the United States of America and the U.S. territories,” she continued. “They will not sell our Post Office!”
“The Postal Service is the most popular agency of the United States government, by far. I can tell you, people love you guys,” said Congressman Conor Lamb (D-PA-18). “The seniors in my district, they need you to get their medication on time. The young people who are trying to start businesses [across my district], they need you.”
“This is one of the most electrifying crowds I’ve ever been a part of,” remarked Summer Lee, candidate for Pennsylvania State Assembly from Pittsburgh.
“We must oppose a corporate takeover of the Postal Service,” said Nina Turner, Our Revolution President. “It’s not just selling you out…but they are selling out our grandmothers and our grandfathers and our children.”
True union solidarity was at the forefront, with leaders and members from several unions, both public and private sector.
Bobby McAuliffe, United Steelworkers District 10 Director said to the crowd, “I’m here to tell you that our union is proud to stand with the American Postal Workers…so you can continue to deliver those efficient and reliable services to the American people.”
Philip Glover, National Vice-President, AFGE District 3, thanked APWU for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the AFGE. “318,000 members of American Federation of Government Employees stand with you against privatization!”
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America General President Peter Knowlton livened up the crowd with a new chant, “Who are we? UE! Who are You? APWU!”
Paul Rizzo, from the Pennsylvania State Association of Letter Carriers, NALC affirmed that the “union works best when union stands together and the letter carriers stand with APWU!”
Guillermo Perez, President of the Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) said, “Your fight is all of organized labor’s fight.”
Union leaders who previously addressed the delegation during the convention – Sara Nelson (AFA-CWA), Paul Hogrogian (NPMHU), Cornelia Broos (UNI), and Mike Palecek (CUPW) – also spoke in the rally.
Delegates Act on Constitutional, Labor-Management Resolutions
Delegates spent much of the convention’s second day considering resolutions submitted to the Constitution Committee, chaired by Minneapolis Area Local President Peggy Whitney.
Two changes to the union’s constitution were approved: an adjustment in the Support Services Director’s salary to make it equal to the compensation received by other craft directors and strengthening language preventing Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS) non-supervisory employees from running for union office.
During often passionate debate, delegates considered seven resolutions involving retirees: including retiree dues, representation at conventions and voting in national union elections. All failed to achieve the two-thirds vote required for adoption.
In other convention business, delegates continued their work on consideration of Labor-Management resolutions. The convention adopted resolutions concerning work hours, Postal Support Employee (PSE) and Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) conversions, overtime and seniority.
Facing the Battles Ahead Through Postal Union Solidarity
National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) President Paul Hogrogian addressed the vital importance of postal union solidarity and a united effort in facing the battles ahead.
He reminded the delegation that postal unions must put our differences aside and lead the fight to save the USPS and fight for union-friendly legislators.
Hogrogian continued to speak about how together the postal unions must all fight, “to enactmeaningful postal legislation that is fair for all postal workers, fair for the Postal Service and fair for the American public.”
He said that working together, the postal unions can ensure, “that worker-friendly, union-friendly, postal-friendly candidates, regardless of political affiliation, are elected to Congress,” and can also, “elect a worker-friendly, union-friendly candidate to the White House.”
Lessons Learned From the Canadian Door Delivery Fight
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) President, Mike Palecek, made fiery remarks illuminating the CUPW’s strategy to fight against parasitic privatizers in Canada and discussed how it can be applied to the APWU’s fight.
“Like you, we were facing a manufactured crisis that could be solved in an instant, but they have an interest in destroying the services we provide. They needed that crisis to justify their agenda,” he said.
Through a strong organization, mobilization and action, the CUPW was successful in restoring door-to-door delivery. He explained that they built a “tent of allies,” mobilizing anyone with a stake in public postal services for door delivery: including the elderly, those with disabilities, and people in rural communities. Their allies joined them in solidarity to fight back cuts that would hurt their community.
“I believe in the power of the APWU,” he exclaimed. “I know that you can mobilize this country to defend this Postal Service!”
Struggles in the ‘Friendly Skies’ and Beyond
Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, was the first speaker on day two of the convention. She began her remarks by addressing the fact that attacks on federal workers and our unions are really about making services not work. “We’ve got work to do, APWU. You have clear objectives...stop the White House plan to sell the USPS to the highest bidder.”
Nelson went on to talk about a fight waged in 2005 to save the pensions of flight attendants at United Airlines, which had filed for bankruptcy. The union fought in the courts, streets and the halls of Congress. They lost the battle to save their pensions, but because they fought, the amount United was willing to pay for a pension replacement plan was doubled and health care for retirees was saved.
Channeling Mother Jones, President Nelson said, “We will fight and win, we will fight and lose, but above all we must fight!”
“Sometimes we fight by rallying, sometimes we fight by marching, sometimes we fight by voting, sometimes we fight by singing, sometimes we fight by striking,” she declared. “But above all when we fight, we fight together.”
“Corporate executives don’t turn on us with guns, clubs and bombs today. They let their supporters in Congress and the state houses across the country do their dirty work,” she continued. “They use their lawyers to try to strip us of our rights, and as long as we believe that our issues are unique and that social issues are not economic issues, they will get away with it. Pitting people against each other is the specialty of people with money.”
She shared how the power of solidarity can win struggles. “Solidarity is everything. It is unconditional power, hope, family and it can break through every struggle. It is a force stronger than gravity and solidarity will win.”
“Tell everyone you know that you love your union. Tell them to join unions, start unions, and become leaders of unions. Share your story. Tell others what our unions do so that we can continue the fight.”
In a dazzling display of silver and blue, the APWU Committee On Political Action (COPA) Night afforded an evening of respite away from the convention debate.
The COPA Divas entertained attendees with their biennial dance routine. This year, APWU’s female leaders wore shirts reminding attendees that come November, we all have to flex our APWU STRONG VOTE!
08/20/2018 - On Monday, Aug. 20, APWU National President Mark Dimondstein delivered the “State of the Union” address to the 2,038 delegates to the 24th Biennial National Convention. President Dimondstein addressed the successes of the past and struggles for the future. “I look forward to a spirited and productive week and am confident we will leave more united, inspired and dedicated to the cause of labor rights and dignity.”
President Dimondstein inspired delegates with stories of recent labor victories, including the education workers’ strike in West Virginia that sparked similar actions across the country. He stated how recent worker actions were reminiscent of the historic Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike and APWU’s own Great Postal Strike of 1970. “One in five people have joined street protests in the last two years…the needed culture of resistance spreads as we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.”
The speech discussed the struggles facing the union, both with postal management and legislators.
Contrasting negotiation goals of the union with management’s desires, he laid out the fight ahead in securing a good contract. He also spoke about how many of the problems the labor movement currently finds itself in is due to a history of injustices heaped on workers, made worse by the White House.
President Dimondstein discussed how income inequality is widening and public services and vital social programs are being attacked – including the public Postal Service. He spoke of the serious threat to all postal workers from the Office of Management and Budget’s report and the impending White House task force report. “Sisters and brothers, privatization threats are not new. But we have never faced outright plans to sell the entire Post Office… we are facing the battles of our lifetime.”
However, APWU members can draw strength from our many victories of the past two years – like stopping Staples in Jan. 2017. “We are building unity, enthusiasm, union pride and community support that will help strengthen our everyday battles for workplace justice and defense of the public Postal Service.”
“The fat cats always underestimate the power of the 99%,” President Dimondstein continued. “Their attacks present an opportunity to educate and unite with the people, defend the wonderful national treasure and DEFEAT our enemies.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders Vows to Continue the Fight for the Public Good
“There is something fundamentally wrong in an economy in which the rich get much richer while the middle class shrinks and 30 million people live in poverty,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) exclaimed to a crowd of delegates on the opening day of the 24th National Biennial Convention.
Senator Sanders addressed the many injustices faced by today’s working-class society, and future fights for an economy that works for all people.
“We have got to end the international embarrassment of our country alone being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a right!” Notably, he mentioned, 60% of Americans support Medicare-For-All.
He also rededicated himself to fighting against corrupt politicians, backed by the likes of the Koch Brothers, which seek to privatize public services – including the Postal Service – to line their pockets.
“For helping to lead the fight to create a government and an economy that works for everybody and not just wealthy campaign contributors, thank you all,” he concluded.
Convention Delegates Honor Burrus
In the afternoon, delegates honored William “Bill” Burrus during the convention’s general session.
Local officers and members of the Cleveland Area Local lead the session in a tribute to the former APWU President, followed by a memorial video, a standing ovation, and the veterans in the delegation presented arms.
“The best way we can honor Bill’s life is by giving our best and continuing this just and noble struggle,” said President Dimondstein.
Steelworkers Vice President Fred Redmond Rouses Convention
Fred Redmond, International Vice President of the United Steelworkers, brought delegates to their feet with his rousing greetings to Pittsburgh on behave of the USW. “We embrace each other as sisters and brothers in the labor movement, and your union has been out front as a shining example of solidarity that unites working people.”
“We in the Steelworkers are prepared to stand with you and fight with this union to ensure that the U.S. Postal Service continues to be the most effective organization in providing vital services to the public.”
Female Speakers Rock the House
Groundbreaking women shined a bright light on the future during the opening day of the APWU’s 24th Biennial National Convention.
In addition to the dynamic female national officers, including National Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell, who constantly work to improve the lives of postal workers, the delegates heard from women who are making a difference for workers across world.
Christine Campbell, West Virginia American Federation of Teachers President, spoke on her experience with the teacher strike revolution. “We have to meet people where they are,” she explained, “not where we expect them to be.”
“Unions are the backbone of our society…in West Virginia public education, we don’t have collective bargaining. Our members can add and drop any given day – and they do. We had 1,200 people join just during the strike in West Virginia. They’re joining the union! They see value in organized collective action!”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) encouraged APWU members to be active in shaping a better society. “It is easy to point fingers at others and bemoan about the state of affairs, but it’s important that we ask ourselves how we can be part of the solution,” she said.
Cornelia Broos, Head of UNI Global Union Post & Logistics, shared a global perspective. “I can tell you from my international experience, that privatization of the post was never, ever successful…Our 2.5 million postal workers around the world will work together, fight together and we will win together.”
In a continuation of woman empowerment, over 400 attendees packed the room for the Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER) Caucus.
“My sisters we have a lot to do,” keynote speaker Elise Bryant, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) said.
“It is time for us to put all our power together and get women elected. A woman’s place is in her union. A woman’s place in the House of Representatives. A woman’s place is in the Senate. A woman’s place is in the White House,” she exclaimed to rousing applause.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka Addresses the Delegation
In a fiery speech to convention delegates, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka attacked the threats to destroy the public Postal Service and postal workers’ jobs.
“They want to reduce mail delivery, they want to reduce your pension, they want to slash your pay they want to destroy your union,” he exclaimed.
“Brothers and sisters we say loudly and we say clearly not just no, but we say hell no. We are going to fight those attacks,” he continued. “We are going to fight for the postal service. We are going to defend our unions.”
Trumka went on to talk about what he sees as the resurgence of labor in America. “There were 262,000 new union members last year and 75 percent of them were under 35,” he said.
Trumka also emphasized the importance of solidarity, saying that a union is people doing things together they can’t do alone. “Solidarity got us here and solidarity is going to take us forward. We refuse to be walked over. We are the American labor movement and we will not be denied.”
He also had a message for every politician – democrat, republican or independent – who wants to delay or derail the labor movement’s progress.
“Our message is this,” he said. “Get on board or get the hell out of the way because the union train is coming through!”
Delegates to the 24th Biennial Convention got to work on the convention’s first day.
After adoption of convention rules, the delegates moved on to other business. The Finance Committee presented a report on the union’s finances over the last two years. “The administration should be commended for its continued belt tightening …” the committee wrote in its report.
The committee’s report as adopted by convention delegates emphasized the need to redouble efforts to organize the unorganized within APWU bargaining units in order to help keep the APWU on firm financial footing.
Attendees also began work on resolutions presented by the Labor-Management Committee that primarily focused on proposals for future contract negotiations.
As presented by Co-Chairperson Alice Lee of the Richmond Virginia Area Local the preliminary report for the APWU Credentials Committee for Monday, August 20 is as
The 24th Biennial Convention’s 2,038 delegates represent 307 locals, 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance, 77 national officers and five retiree delegates.
On Aug. 19 and 20, APWU craft divisions – Clerk, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle Service, Support Services – and retirees held conferences. The ongoing contract negotiations was a topic on everyone’s mind.
Each craft conference had a common theme, contract preservation and job protection. They opened with reports from their respective directors and assistant directors on the union’s past two years.
National Business Agents presented their remarks on recent grievance cases affecting their jurisdictional areas. Resolutions were then presented for consideration by conference attendees.
Over 1,000 Members Participated in Pre-Convention Workshops
Over 1,000 members took part in workshops and trainings held on Friday, Aug. 17. Twenty-nine different classes, organized by the Research and Education Department and its director, Joyce Robinson.
This year’s workshops included contract administration, veterans’ benefits, labor law, retirementplanning, union communications, family and medical leave, labor history and empowering young workers.
Members left their workshops with new tools to strengthen the union – from the shop floor to the streets – and left participants Fired Up and Ready to Go.
Young Members Are Fired Up and Ready to Go!
On Aug. 18, the Young Members Committee (YMC) held their first official convention caucus.
“We, as millennials, have a unique set of economic issues that we are being impacted by and our union has recognized that, which is why the committee was formed after the resolution passed at the last convention,” said Courtney “C.J.” Jenkins member of the Baltimore “Stu Filbey” Area Local and a representative of the Young Members Committee. “It’s a good thing to see that this type of program, this type of committee started with the American Postal Workers Union…We are setting a pace here.”
President Dimondstein’s remarks described how intimidating his first convention was in 1984 and encouraged young members, regardless of their fear, to stand at the microphone and speak up. “If you’ve got something to say, it needs to be heard.” He explained that new ideas and new activism is the futureof the labor movement.
Representatives from each region addressed the caucus. Sabrina Larsen presented the introduction of the YMC report. Joshua Gray gave an account on youth activism in today’s society, from environmental fights to gun violence and the difficult legislative battles ahead for a vibrant public post office. Courtney Agee provided remarks on how to get young members involved in union activities. Luis Ramos concluded with statistics and data on mobilizing, organizing and growing activists on postal issues, labor issues and issues impacting the 99%.
The Young Members Meeting closed with a motion by Bindu Sancho, Cleveland Area Local Event Coordinator, to name the meeting, “The William Burrus Young Members Committee Meeting,” which received several seconds and rousing approval and applause.
Parade of States: Solidarity in Action
Delegates display their state pride as they proudly march into the convention hall for the traditional Parade of States.
This long-standing event brings delegates from the 50 states and U.S. territories together in an impressive display of solidarity.
Panel Explores Development of A Workers’ Agenda
On Aug. 19, the Legislative & Political Department hosted a first-of-its-kind panel, Political Strategies to Win a Progressive Agenda. The panel discussed how to build a broad movement toward a worker political agenda.
“What happens to us in our communities, to our friends and to our neighbors has an impact on all of us,” explained President Dimondstein.
“We have to fight back,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. She went on to explain capitalists, “are taking back everything that we have fought for and won over the years.”
Panelists Jan Simpson, Richard Koritz, Ajamu Dillahunt, Bill Thompson, Angieliz Coloncres, and Chuck Zlatkin each gave testimony on their experience fighting for better communities, better jobs, an enriched society and an economy that works for all people, not just big business oligarchs.
“We’re going to stand with you shoulder-to-shoulder” said speaker Jan Simpson, First National Vice President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). “We are going to be there for you because we know when we needed you, you were there for us.”
“Whether you are black or brown, immigrant or native-born, gay, straight or transgender; all workers deserve a living wage… and a voice on the job,” stated panelist Bill Thompson, fast-food worker and Fight for $15 activist.
Ajamu Dillahunt, Raleigh Area Local labor educator and activist, invoked the contributions of labor and social justice leader Tony Mazzocchi. He explained that “safety and security of human kind is a working-class issue,” and urged that we must all, “join the fight for a better world!”
Angieliz Coloncres, Puerto Rico Area Local member and activist, spoke about the disenfranchisement of Puerto Rico. “We are talking about poverty, quality of life. We should be respected. We have to use our voice. We have to use our vote. But Puerto Rico doesn’t have it.” The labor movement and workers united, have to stand together and fight together.
Chuck Zlatkin, Director of Communications for New York Metro Area Local, spoke on joint local and community engagement, enhancing the cause of postal banking.
Richard Koritz, APWU Solidarity Representative and retired letter carrier, spoke about the Memphis Sanitation Strike and its effect on history. The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike marked a moment when black workers, stood up and demanded power. “Each panelist understands that workers need power,” Koritz explained. “To have power, we need allies and this is what this panel discussion is about.”
Do Not Miss – ‘I AM A MAN’ Exhibit
Delegates and guests should be sure to spend some time with the impressive exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, known for the iconic slogan of the striking workers declaring their humanity – “I AM A MAN.”
The exhibit, which was originally created for the Walter P. Reuther Library, traces the origins of the sanitation workers’ struggle, the marches and police violence which marked the strike, Dr. King’s tragic assassination, and ultimately the workers’ victory and union recognition.
The exhibit includes more than 20 placards commemorating the strike. It can be found outside Hall A, of the main convention area.
APWU Arbitration Award Restores Rules for Employees Using Leave Without Pay to Campaign
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08/08/2018 - APWU members can continue to volunteer in political campaigns under the long-standing leave-without-pay rules in the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM). A national arbitrator rejected changes the Postal Service made to the Leave Without Pay (LWOP) rules for how employees request LWOP to participate in political activities organized by their unions.
In his award on August 6, 2018, the arbitrator upheld the APWU’s challenge to the Postal Service’s unilateral changes to the leave program that put the burden of managing LWOP requests on employees, rather than supervisors. The award protects employees’ right to request LWOP to volunteer through their union to participate in important political activities, like the upcoming November elections.
Postal employees have the legal right to campaign and participate in politics, subject to limits under the federal Hatch Act. The APWU challenged policy changes the Postal Service made that potentially restricted postal employees’ legal right to campaign on their own time away from work.
The Postal Service’s changes arose out of a complaint in 2016 about letter carriers participating in the AFL-CIO Labor 2016 program. The Office of Special Counsel found that postal managers mishandled valid employee leave requests, and the Postal Service reacted by unilaterally changing the leave rules to protect its managers, at the expense of employees being subject to discipline and prosecution for how they filled out leave request forms. The APWU immediately challenged the USPS changes, and the National Association of Letter Carriers and National Postal Mail Handlers Union both intervened and joined us in the dispute.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein commented that “this is what workers in a union do – make management respect their legal rights.” He went on to note that “process matters, and we earn process and have a real voice when we come together, both in bargaining and in politics.”
At the arbitration hearing, Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman testified that the Postal Service made the changes without contractually required notification or discussion with the APWU, in violation of the Postal Service’s commitments in the APWU National Agreement. The arbitrator sustained the union’s position and rejected the Postal Service’s claim that OSC’s allegations of managerial misconduct under the Hatch Act was a legal decision allowing the Postal Service to ignore its bargaining commitments to the APWU.
The arbitrator ordered the Postal Service to rescind the changes immediately and restore the previous leave rules unless it proposes changes that comply with the National Agreement.
08/03/2018 - On July 30, 2018, the Postal Service notified the APWU that there will be a special enrollment period for PSEs to enroll in the USPS Health Benefits Plan. The enrollment period will be open from August 20, 2018 through October 4, 2018. Coverage will become effective on October 13, 2018.
This special enrollment is being conducted in accordance with the settlement agreement, RE: Workforce Benefits Fund. The settlement calls for the Postal Service to make additional contributions to USPS Health Benefits Plan for self plus one and family enrollments for PSEs. With these changes, it is necessary for the Service to offer eligible PSEs the opportunity to enroll.
Each eligible PSE will be receiving a letter from the Postal Service giving enrollment deadlines, enrollment methods, and plan premiums. The letter will instruct the employees to go the https://liteblue.usps.gov/uspshbp to learn about the plan. Enrollment will be through PostalEASE via liteblue, self-service kiosks in some offices, or by calling the HRSSC at 1-877-477-3273.
This enrollment is for the USPS non-career health benefits plan and should not be confused with the APWU Consumer Driven Option (CDO) plan. Enrollment will not be open for the APWU CDO plan during this special enrollment.
PSEs are eligible for enrollment in the APWU CDO plan after completing their first 360-day appointment. PSEs may enroll in the APWU CDO plan within 60 days of being appointed to a second term as a PSE or during regular Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) open season held in November and December of each year after meeting eligibility requirements.