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May 22, 2018

In Memoriam

Remembering President Emeritus William Burrus

December 13, 1936 - May 19, 2018

05/21/2018 - Former APWU National President Emeritus William Burrus passed away on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the age of eighty-one.

William Burrus served as elected National President of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO from 2001-2010. He was the first African-American to be elected president of any national union in direct balloting by the membership.
Prior to his assuming the presidency, William Burrus served as APWU Executive Vice-President for 21 years, from 1980 to 2001working alongside APWU President Moe Biller.

As a top national APWU officer, Brother Burrus helped negotiate substantial gains for the members with improved wages, and benefits, rightfully earning his reputation as a skilled negotiator and powerful advocate for postal workers. He led the union negotiations of four Collective Bargaining Agreements between the APWU and the USPS, and was also directly involved with every national negotiations between 1980 and 2006. Over his decades of union leadership, he was responsible for countless Arbitration settlements and Memorandums of Understanding with postal management which greatly enhanced workplace benefits, rights and safety of APWU represented employees.

William Burrus began his employment with the Post Office in Cleveland, OH in 1958, first as a distribution clerk and then as a Maintenance employee. He was a participant in the Great Postal Strike of 1970. From 1974 to 1980, he served as President of the Cleveland APWU Local. He was a founder and the first President of the APWU National Presidents Conference (NPC). William Burrus was always proud of the fact that as local president, he, along with others, protected the economic well-being of generations of postal workers by leading the successful fight to reject a proposed 1978 Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have capped COLA increases.

William Burrus was born in Wheeling, WV. After graduating with honors from Lincoln High School, he attended West Virginia State College. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and the 4th Armored Tank Division of the United States Army between 1954-1957.

William Burrus was a Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. Multiple times he was named by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans. He earned great respect from representatives on Capitol Hill as a champion of the public postal service.

“The APWU family is greatly saddened by the death of Brother Burrus,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife Ethelda and his entire family who generously shared brother Burrus with us over many decades. We, as postal workers, including our families and our communities, have greatly benefited from the impassioned and determined life’s work and leadership of William Burrus.”

May 22, 2018

President Dimondstein: "Let's Deliver Mail, not Myths"


05/11/2018 - APWU President Mark Dimondstein busts myths and sets the record straight on the Postal Service, "a national treasure belonging to all the people of the United States." Click here to read the entire column as it appears in the Boston Globe.

May 22, 2018

Power to the Workers – New Bill to Strengthen Unions


05/10/2018 -

On Wednesday, May 9, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Workplace Democracy Act, with Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) introducing the companion bill in the House of Representatives.

This Act would protect the rights of the working class to form a union and collectively bargain for fair wages, benefits, and safe working conditions.  “It is no secret that stagnant wages and the growing economic injustice in the United States has been the direct result of the all-out assault on working families and our unions over the past few decades,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director, Judy Beard. 

The Workplace Democracy Act would:

  • Allow for Unions to organize through a majority sign-up process
  • Would require employers to begin negotiating within 10 days of receiving a request to form a new union
  • Eliminate deceptively named Right-to-Work (for less) laws
  • Eliminates loopholes which allow employers to classify employees as independent contractors/supervisors in order to prevent organizing
  • Allows for secondary boycotts or pickets
  • Require companies to disclose anti-union information they disseminate to workers

“The deck is stacked against workers,” said APWU President, Mark Dimondstein. “We welcome the introduction of pro-worker legislation which will put more power back in the hands of the people.”

The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The House bill is cosponsored Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). 

A summary of the bill can be read here.

May 22, 2018

Washington’s Latest Attempt to Slash our Pay & Benefits


05/10/2018 - On May 4th, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sent a series of legislative proposals to House Speaker Paul Ryan. In line with the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget attacks released earlier this year, the ongoing fight to slash the pay and benefits of postal and federal workers continues. OPM proposes:

  • Increasing employee FERS contributions 1% a year up to 7.25%;
  • Eliminating FERS Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and reducing CSRS COLAs by 0.5%;
  • Eliminating the FERS Social Security retirement supplement;
  • Reducing retirement benefits by using a “high five” salary average formula, rather than the current “high three” average;

“Such changes would mean thousands of dollars taken out of active workers’ paychecks and thousands more in reduced benefits for retirees,” said APWU Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard. Taken together, the proposals outlined by OPM would take a staggering $144 billion out of the pockets of dedicated civil servants over the next ten years.

This move by OPM was received by many on Capitol Hill as a prelude to inserting the proposals in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is being considered this week. The NDAA sets military spending levels and is considered by lawmakers as one of the annual “must pass” pieces of legislation.

APWU worked in concert with our sisters and brothers in the Federal-Postal Coalition and with supportive lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle to oppose inclusion of the OPM legislative proposals in the NDAA. When the House Armed Services Committee passed its annual NDAA bill on May 9th, we were successful in excluding any of the above-mentioned threats to our members’ livelihoods.

“This wasn’t the first attempted legislative attack on our pay and benefits, and it won’t be the last,” said APWU President Dimondstein, “Our adversaries will use any opportunity to target public servants, and we must stay vigilant to defend against the very real dangers we face in Washington.”  As we await full floor consideration of the NDAA we will monitor the amendment process and be ready if there is an attempt to add this to the measure before final passage in the House.

Last year, similar proposals to slash postal and federal pension benefits and take-home pay were included in the House budget, but Congress ultimately rejected the cuts and adopted the Senate budget instead.  

The full OPM letter to Speaker Ryan can be found here.

Apr 17, 2018

President Issues Executive Order on USPS


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.

Page Last Updated: May 22, 2018 (06:11:00)
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