“Union Strong, All Day Long!”
(This article first appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
I was proud to give the keynote “State of the Union” speech, excerpted below, at the just completed APWU national convention:
“I am honored to come before you to share our work over the last four years.
Together, we are marching forward and building an activist, winning union.
“In June 2018 former President Trump advocated for the complete privatization of the Post Office, selling it to corporations for private profit.
We built an impressive national fightback campaign. We educated, we took it to the streets, we took it to Capitol Hill, we took it to the airwaves. A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service proved instrumental in the fightback. We have defeated these plans for now.
“This year, APWU members ratified a new outstanding main collective bargaining agreement, with an overwhelming 94% “yes” vote. The new contract secured annual wage increases, full COLAs, new work guarantees for PTFs, new career conversion opportunities for PSEs, enhanced our job security no-lay provisions and generally uplifted postal workers of all crafts.
With high inflation, our COLA takes center stage. The second career COLA under our new contract amounts to a whopping $1.18/hour. This is in addition to the first COLA of sixty-three cents/hour in January. Be proud that the APWU is the only postal union that has maintained full COLA.
“We achieved historic postal legislation with the passage of the Postal Service Reform Act. This law eliminates the devastating pre-funding retiree health benefit mandate of 2006, provides future health care savings to individuals and the Postal Service with Medicare integration, while ensuring that all our health care coverage for active employees and retirees remain part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit system.
The APWU negotiated a series of COVID MOUs and the liberal leave policy that enabled our members to take care of themselves and their families and make the workplace as safe as possible.”
“We led a campaign that mobilized millions to achieve $10 billion in Congressional COVID relief for the USPS. We secured postal worker coverage under the Emergency Federal Employee Leave. We successfully advocated for better appointments to the Postal Board of Governors.
Through the determined efforts of local and state officers and stewards, we have aggressively carried out the hard and needed work of enforcing the contract. We encourage new and young workers to step up as future activists and leaders; We strengthened the work of the Retirees Department and improved cooperation among the four postal unions; We campaigned for expanded services including postal banking… We published the first ever “Guide to Veteran Rights and Benefits.” We improved communications with the members. We engaged in solidarity with other unions and workers.”
“We rallied the country to ensure the USPS treated mail ballots with the priority they deserve and ensured 65 million voters had secure access to the ballot box during a pandemic. Congratulations to all for delivering democracy!”
“We just completed our building union power organizing campaign with 5000-plus new members! Over 200 workers at HRSSC organized with the APWU in 2019.”
“While we have taken pro-active steps including in negotiations, to address the entrenched hostile work environment…we must ensure that all workers are treated with respect and dignity.”
“…and no matter who sits in the White House, Wall Street is still Wall Street and the threat of privatization will continue. We must remain ever vigilant in the defense of our union, good postal jobs and our national treasure.
“… let us continue to gain courage and take heart from our forefathers and mothers of the great postal strike, our victorious “Stop Staples” fight, our historic mobilizations of 2020, the dynamite new union contract and historic legislation, and the new militant uprisings of workers in many industries.”
“Union Strong, All Day Long” as the struggle for justice continues!