Arizona and Colorado education workers are following the lead of their brothers and sisters in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky and have taken to the streets demanding justice for workers and students. These workers, among the lowest paid teachers and school workers in the country, see the results of tax cuts and incentives for corporations and the wealthy in their dailyworking lives, not merely in their take-home pay and benefits, but also in dilapidated facilities, cuts to arts programs, outdated textbooks, shortened school days, expanded class sizes and limited resources for students.
“We have classrooms where students sit on counter tops because there aren’t enough desks or seats in the room,” said Jonathan Perrone, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teacher in Arizona.
On Thursday, April 26; Friday, April 27; and Monday, April 30, both Arizona and Colorado education workers wore #RedforEd and stormed their State Capitol buildings (in Phoenix and Denver respectively) to demand funding for a quality public education. On Thursday, there were over 50,000 teachers in Phoenix alone.
In Arizona, the Governor Doug Ducey (R) offered a proposal that included a 20% pay increase for teachers by 2020 and some increase in school funding. However, just like in West Virginia, the education workers in Arizona are planning to continue to fight until a bill is actually passed by the state legislature. "To ask us just to trust is hard because when you look at history, it's hard to trust," said third grade teacher Gwen Cordiak. "To ask us to go back to the classroom, when most people haven't even seen the bill... we're not going [back] on blind faith."
In Colorado, not much progress has been made as of yet. Governor John Hickenlooper (D) acknowledged that the workers are underpaid, but he has not put up a school spending proposal that meets the protestors’ demands. Also, since Colorado legislators do not have the power to raise taxes, the educators are working to support a ballot initiative to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations (a similar ballot initiative is being proposed in Arizona).
In both states, workers have refused to back down – even as threats loom of recently introduced anti-worker legislation aimed at punishing the teachers. The proposed laws include penalties like decertification, fines, and, in some cases, jail time for striking. While educators are on strike in Arizona, in Colorado, teachers have officially been taking vacation and sick leave to remain out of the classrooms and protesting. State Senator Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) introduced legislation that would make it illegal for the teachers to strike. If the bill had passed, each striker would have faced a fine or up to six months in jail. However, after strong blowback from teachers and other state legislators (including some in his own party) Sen. Gardner announced on Tuesday, May 1 that he was pulling the bill.
As of Tuesday, May 1, educators are still out protesting in the streets. In Arizona, the state legislature is hearing legislation that would fund a 10 percent raise for teachers and an additional $200 million toward restoring the $400 million cut from schools.
The APWU National officers encourage all members in Arizona and Colorado and in locals around the country to support the workers however they can. If any APWU member participates in a solidarity action, please email pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
05/04/2018 - The APWU National officers are asking members to actively support the 26th Annual National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 12.
Last year, carriers collected more than 71 million pounds of food. Donations were collected in over 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Postal customers across the country are asked to put non-perishable food donations in a sturdy bag and place the bag near their mailbox prior to their regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 12. Letter carriers will collect the donations as they deliver mail. Many USPS worksites also set out containers to collect contributions.
Volunteers can: organize donations as they come in; help transport contributions to local pantries; place posters and flyers about the food drive in public places; make sure family and friends know about the drive and how easy it is to donate, and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Contact your local or state union representative for more information.
Teachers and public service workers in Oklahoma, inspired by their colleagues in West Virginia, went on strike April 2 to take a stand for themselves and their students.
Over the last decade, education funding in the state decreased by 30%. This reduction has led to deplorable conditions in schools, a severe cut in classes offered, a shortage of textbooks and other materials, and teachers not receiving a pay increase for ten years (their salaries ranked 49th in the country). Thousands of teachers and education workers rallied in front of the State Capitol in Oklahoma City during the strike. As in West Virginia, students and parents were firmly behind the workers in their fight for the future of education in their state.
APWU Oklahoma Postal Worker Union (OPWU) members joined the strikers outside the State Capitol in Oklahoma City on April 10. At a tent set up outside the State Capitol building, APWU members distributed 600 bottles of water, 400 granola bars, 60 boxes of pizza and over 2,500 stickers to teachers and their allies.
“The teachers also enjoyed the more than 300 PayDay candy bars we handed out and hope they will soon see a ‘PayDay’ for themselves, their students, and our education system,” OPWU President Ashley Cargill said. “It was an amazing experience and it was heartwarming to be able to support our teachers, as well as show our solidarity and encourage them through this difficult time,” she added. “We will not give up in this fight and we will continue to be there for them however we can.”
At the end of the nine-day strike, teachers walked away with their heads held high. Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that increased revenue for education by $450 million, funded by the first major tax hike in the state in nearly 30 years. It also secured a pay raise of $6,100 on average for teachers and $1,250 for school professionals. Education workers plan to continue their fight at the polls, to secure the additional $150 million for education the strikers wanted.
04/23/2018 - Each year on Workers Memorial Day (April 28), working people throughout the worldremember those who were hurt or killed on the job and recommit to the struggle for a safe workplace.
Virtually every safety and health protection on the books today exists because union workers fought together to win them, the most notable being the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
On April 28, 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Act became effective and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was formed. Since the law was passed, significantly fewer workers have been killed on the job each year; however, there is still a long way to go. Right now, the federal government is reversing safety regulations and slashing resources for safety enforcement.
The Post Office is a dangerous place to work. In Fiscal Year 2017 alone, 12 postal employees died on the job and 42,594 injury claims were approved.
This Workers Memorial Day, we call for an end to the unnecessary injuries and deaths of our brothers and sisters. We push for action by – and increased protections for – all workers. Report safety hazards in the workplace and let’s hold management accountable to fix them.
Things You Can Do during this Workers Memorial Day Weekend (Friday, April 27-Sunday, April 29):
Wear a sticker! (Contact your local leadership for more information)
Be alert for safety issues – not only on Workers Memorial Day but every day – and submit a PS Form 1767Report of Hazard or Unsafe Working Condition Form when you see something. Speak up and stay on it until the hazard is abated.
“Red tag” broken and damaged equipment, and ensure that Form 1767s and Red Tags are available in your work areas.
Hold a moment of silence with your co-workers when you all clock-in to honor all those injured or who have lost their lives at work.
Join a local union safety committee.
The APWU National encourages you to speak with your local union officers about becoming involved in the union’s safety campaign. The life or limb you save may be your own!
04/13/2018 - President Trump has issued an Executive Order to form a “task force” to evaluate the finances of the United States Postal Service. Such evaluation will include pricing, policies and the costs of the workforce.
The Task Force will be chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, and comprised of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management as well as other department and agency heads the chair may designate.
The Executive Order calls for a full report within 120 days to provide a “thorough evaluation of the operations and finance” of the USPS to include:
the expansion and pricing of package delivery
the USPS role in competitive markets
the decline in mail volume and implications of USPS financing
the USPS monopoly over letter delivery and mail boxes
the USPS business model, workforce, operations, costs and pricing.
The task force will potentially develop recommendations on administrative and legislative reforms regarding the U.S. Postal Service.
The primary reason for the financial challenges facing the Postal Service is the 2006 Congressional mandate forcing the USPS to “pre-fund” retiree health benefits 75 years into the future. This crushing burden is faced by no other company or agency and is being used by those who wish to destroy the postal service.
“The APWU looks forward to working with anyone truly interested in maintaining a vibrant public Postal Service for generations to come. If given the opportunity to meet with the task force, we will forthrightly tell the truth, share our views and promote the protection of the rights and benefits of postal employees,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “One step toward USPS financial stability is to fix the pre-funding debacle by passing the bi-partisan postal reform legislation currently stalled in both the House and the Senate.”
The new Executive Order is of real concern to the APWU and we will continue to keep all members informed and up to date.
04/09/2018 - As tax day approaches, it is a good time to remind everyone about the important fact that the Postal Service receives zero taxpayer dollars. Get the word out! Download this flyer to print and share. Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter on tax day for other ways to spread the word.