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THE APWU PICNIC IS TOMORROW
COME SHARE IN THE FUN!!!
The details are as follows:
Place: Coonskin Park – Columbia Shelter
Date: Sunday, August 28, 2022
Time: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Bowles Boyz BBQ will be catering the food
Pool passes will be available
ALL MEMBERS ARE WELCOME
APWU Convention, Day 4: Completing Resolutions, Union History and International Solidarity
August 18, 2022
DELEGATES COMPLETE THEIR WORK ON RESOLUTIONS
On the fourth and final day of convention, delegates resumed voting on the remaining committees’ resolutions, beginning with the Formal Resolutions Committee. Issues such as supporting the Green New Deal, calling for the resignation or firing of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and backing postal banking, statehood for Washington, DC, and the APWU’s recognition of November 27 as “Public Post Office Day” were brought forth and supported by the body.
The National Executive Board (NEB) Committee continued the day, where delegates voted on matters relating to negotiated service contracts, addressing sexual harassment in the USPS, membership rights for full dues paying members, and re-establishing a full-time, trained, Safety and Health position at APWU Headquarters.
Several additional resolutions were introduced throughout the day. The Labor Management Committee recommended improvements to the holiday pecking order, while the Legislative Committee sought to make election day a paid holiday. Both resolutions were supported and passed by the convention body.
Resolutions were finalized with reports from the Clerk, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle Services, and Support Services Division’s committees reporting to the body. Motions were made in each instance to pass the resolutions “in toto” according to the will of the respective craft and division conference bodies, and as reflected in the respective committee recommendations. The motion to accept “in toto” passed for each of the committees.
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY UNITES THE CONTINENTS
International solidarity was the order of the day, as the Convention received fraternal greetings from British and Spanish trade union leaders Pepe Sayagués (Unión General del Trabajadores - UGT) and Dave Ward (Communication Workers Union – CWU).
General Secretary Ward offered delegates his “solidarity and fraternal greetings” in a video address. Ward was unable to attend in person, due to his ongoing involvement in a wave of industrial strikes and disputes involving postal workers, telecommunications workers, railway workers, and bus workers, who are all at the center of what the overseas media is calling the “summer of discontent.”
However, Ward said that “I think people have finally realized, from across the whole of the world… that if trade unions don’t come together, then it’s always going to be working people that pay the price…people are actually saying ‘enough is enough.’”
Ward then referenced a new “Enough is Enough” organizing campaign which, in just two days, had more than 250,000 people signed up in support of trade unions, building collectivism, fighting for members inside and outside the workplace to “deliver a new deal for working people.”
“We shape the change,” Ward continued. “There is a future for our postal services. We and our members make a great contribution to local and national economies, and we also add tremendous social value.” He finished by telling delegates, “Keep on rocking in the free world!”
DELEGATES CELEBRATE THE GREAT POSTAL STRIKE
The last day of convention also included a video tribute to the 50th anniversary of Great Postal Strike of 1970.
The video was originally slated to be shown at the 25th biennial convention, which was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. It honored the workers and legacy of the historic wildcat strike and the formation of the American Postal Workers Union.
It described the events that led up to the strike, which, within days of the first walk-outs in New York City, had spread to 200,000 postal workers in over 30 states.
When an anchor for CBS News challenged Chicago postal worker Greg Boyles for breaking the law, he said “I don’t care. I know it is against the law…if they want to put me in jail, put me in jail, but they haven’t got a big enough jail to put all of us in.”
President Nixon activated the National Guard, which proved inept at delivering for the people. TIME magazine reported that “after just a few days of stoppage, the effects of the shutdown appeared to be little short of devastating,” as the movement of letters, business mail, financial transactions, and government documents ground to a halt.
When the Postmaster finally agreed to return to the bargaining table, postal workers won a retroactive 6 percent wage increase, and combined with Congressional action, on August 12, 1970 the Postal Reorganization Act was signed into law, giving workers an additional 8 percent wage increase and the right to bargain collectively over wages, benefits, working conditions and instituted a binding arbitration process.
Millions of workers have since reaped the benefits from the historic actions of the postal workers who joined in solidarity to fight for their collective rights.
APWU Convention Day 3: Democracy in Action: Spirited Debate and Successful Resolutions
August 18, 2022
APWU 26TH BIENNIAL CONVENTION. DAY 3
Delegates continued to make progress on the important union business before the convention, considering, debating, amending and voting on several resolutions throughout the day. The Constitution Committee work led off the day’s debate, followed by the conclusion of the Labor-Management Committee report, with delegates beginning to hear from the Formal Resolutions Committee as the day’s proceedings came to a close.
Resolutions before the Constitution Committee, co-chaired by Keith Combs, Detroit District Area Local, and Kim Miller, Keystone Area Local, addressed issues pertaining to retired members, the work locations of national officers, and the procedures governing the election of officers, among other issues. Changes to the APWU Constitution require a two-thirds vote to pass.
Perhaps the most spirited discussion of the convention thus far was on the matter of retired members’ representation at convention. Delegates presented impassioned arguments on all sides of the issue before the final vote was called. With the support and encouragement of President Dimondstein, Retirees Director Nancy Olumekor, and other national officers, delegates settled upon a compromise resolution that both addressed the desire of retired members to be better represented at the convention, while recognizing the equity concerns raised by other delegates. Ultimately, the convention passed an amendment to Article 6 of the APWU Constitution, which entitles each local retirees chapter and each state retirees chapter one credentialed delegate to convention.
Olumekor thanked the convention for the spirited debate and the recognition of retired members’ contributions to the union. “This year, the APWU Retirees Department celebrates its 30th anniversary,” she said. “We thank you for your love and support.”
Another robust debate during the Constitutional Committee’s work was on the matter of restoring the second Clerk Craft National Business Agent position in the Wichita Region. The convention supported the resolution submitted by the Nebraska Postal Workers Union.
Convention also made a change to the Constitution regarding the succession of the Support Services Director in the event the position falls vacant. The resolution provides that the Division’s National Business Agent shall assume the Director’s position in the case of a vacancy.
The Labor-Management Committee concluded its report in the early afternoon, after delegates acted on resolutions addressing hazard pay, the USPS mystery shopper program, wage increase demands and other bargaining matters.
After guest speakers from organizing Amazon and Starbucks workers addressed the convention, the Formal Resolutions Committee came to the podium and began its report in the final half hour of the day’s session. The Formal Resolutions Committee, co-chaired by David Yao, Greater Seattle Area Local, and Teresa Oller, Portland Oregon Area Local, will continue its report early Thursday morning.
As they did on Tuesday, delegates engaged seriously with the resolutions before them, debated with a shared passion for improving the union and the lives of APWU members, and filled the hall with energy throughout the day’s proceedings. It was, once again, a tremendous display of trade union democracy in action!
YOUNG WORKERS, UNION POWER & CLIMATE JUSTICE
Young workers gathered Wednesday for a discussion on climate justice. APWU Portland Area Local and Young Worker Committee members Teresa Oller and Travis Epes sat on a panel with Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) President Joe Uehlein and Maria Brescia-Weiler, LNS Project Manager for the Just Transition Listening Project.
They discussed how to organize young workers on union power and climate justice. Teresa Oller welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers.
LNS President Uehlein, former Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department, explained how his experience in representing mine workers, steel workers and chemical plant workers inspired him to form LNS to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future.
He urged members to “take our core bedrock principle of worker solidarity, and elevate that into a principle of human solidarity.”
In the townhall format, Maria Brescia-Weiler explained the concept of Just Transition, a labor plan for climate protection that moves away from fossil fuels to cleaner renewable energy, while also protecting the wellbeing of workers whose jobs may be affected. In her research, she realized that young workers’ voices weren’t being heard.
Teresa Oller expressed exasperation towards politicians who blamed labor for their lack of progress on addressing climate change. “Stop talking for us,” she exclaimed. “We want to work towards something that ensures, for the rest of our lives, we have work that allows us to live and feed our families.”
After providing tips on how to engage coworkers on these issues, Travis Epes opened the floor.
When asked about pushback from rural areas, Oller stated, “sustainability is still a dirty word. But the young people, they want to organize.” While some older workers may feel their livelihood is threatened, younger workers want to break the stigma and provide a sustainable future for their families.
Panelists passed out a climate survey for locals to identify the union’s needs on climate change.
STARBUCKS ORGANIZERS DESCRIBE RUNAWAY SUCCESS TO DELEGATES
On Wednesday afternoon, President Dimondstein introduced Starbucks Workers United organizers Jasmine Leli and Jaz Brisack, who spoke to delegates about their hard-fought organizing campaign, which is spreading like wildfire across the country.
Since March of this year, more than 400 Starbucks locations have either petitioned for or won union elections. In what Dimondstein said has led to “one of the fastest organizing campaigns in the country right now,” workers are seeking better safety provisions, pay, and health benefits.
While it hasn’t been an easy campaign, Brisack said, “We’d been going through four months of unbelievable union-busting from Starbucks corporate. The day after we filed our union petitions at the first three stores, all of Starbucks corporate got on a plane to Buffalo and stayed there for four months.”
Additionally, Brisack said that “Starbucks hired countless people that they thought were going to break the union that they sent into our stores, hoping that they would vote no, that they would, you know, fall victim to the support manager’s lies.”
In the case of Jasmine Leli, then a newly-hired worker at the soon-to-be second unionized Starbucks, this took the form of multiple managers descending on her store from corporate headquarters to constantly watch over partners. They offered a stream of criticism but no actual help on the work floor. “They would just sit and they would just watch us ... short-staffed, trying to keep everything together,” she said.
Brisack reiterated one of the major themes of the week – the importance of solidarity among working people: “It’s going to take pickets and a lot of community support to bring Starbucks to the bargaining table. We’re counting on you all,” she said.
STRIKING COAL MINERS “ONE DAY LONGER, ONE DAY STRONGER!”
Dedrick Gardner, a member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and striking Warrior Met Coal worker, addressed delegates on Wednesday morning.
Warrior Met operates two mines in Central Alabama. When the mines’ previous owners were facing bankruptcy, Gardner and his fellow workers made numerous sacrifices to their pay and working conditions.
Gardner, whose father was a member of the APWU, is one of approximately 850 UMWA-represented employees who have been on strike in protest at the long hours, hostile environments, and deteriorating working conditions endured during the company’s financial woes.
The now-profitable company has refused to repay the workers’ sacrifice, refusing to pay a livable, dignified wage or address the numerous threats to the miners’ safety.
Gardner signaled the Warrior Met miners’ determination to hold the line until an agreement and dignified working conditions are met. “You must fight and you must stand strong,” he said. Gardner and his UMWA union family are in the 503rd day of their strike. “One day longer, one day stronger!”
AMAZON WORKERS FIRE UP DELEGATES AS APWU COMMITS TO MULTI-UNION ORGANIZING CAMPAIGN
The fight to organize a union at Amazon made a splash at the APWU convention, as workers from the retail giant’s plants in New York and Bessemer, AL joined the proceedings to tell their stories.
Jennifer Bates, who spearheaded the organizing drive at her facility in Alabama, spoke first, flanked by her co-workers Isaiah Thomas and Ken Carter.
She described her motivation for organizing as being for more than her, but for her co-workers and those beyond the walls of Amazon. “This is not just for me, we are paving the way for the ones coming behind us and we will not stop until we get it done.”
Amazon workers have faced a brutal union-busting campaign from management. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) threw out the first, tainted election, after the company went so far as to have the USPS install a mailbox in front of the facility to allow bosses to conduct surveillance as people cast their mail-in union ballots.
Despite similar high-pressure tactics from management in the re-run election, the outcome is so close that, five months on, the result has still not been certified.
The second Amazon story came from New York’s Christian Smalls, whose upstart Amazon Labor Union in the JFK8 plant on Staten Island, NY defied the odds to organize the plant’s approximately 7,500 workers into a union, the first Amazon organizing win in the U.S.
Smalls described how he worked day-by-day on the organizing campaign, flyering at the bus stop outside the plant while his fellow workers ignored him at first. “I got cursed out a couple of times,” he said, but the campaign built on the fiAPWU Convention Delegates Step into the Fightrst days of one or two signatures a day until he was gathering 200 signature a day.
Workers at the plant won their fight to form a union on April 1st of this year. He recounted that the compassion that the organizing Amazon workers showed each other was what brought about a famous victory. “People want to know how we defeated Amazon. It’s simple - we loved each other, and we showed our workers.”
APWU Convention Delegates Step into the Fight
APWU members, local and national officers have already provided support for the Amazon organizing efforts in Alabama, New York and beyond.
On concluding the Amazon worker speeches, David Yao, Greater Seattle Area Local, Formal Resolutions Committee Co-Chair, moved formal resolution 141 to commit the APWU to a “multi-union” campaign to spread the organizing efforts and victories at Amazon facilities and help provide support to the new ALU to win a first contract.
As presented by Co-Chairs Cindy Foster of the Charlotte Area Local and Lorraine Sawyer of the Massachusetts Postal Workers Union, the preliminary report for the APWU Credentials Committee for Wednesday, Aug. 17, is as follows:
The 26th Biennial Convention’s 2,030 delegates represent 297 locals, 33 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance were 69 national officers and four Retiree National Convention Delegates.
APWU National Convention: Delegates Make Progress on Convention Business
August 17, 2022
Among the adopted resolutions were several dealing with demands for additional types of paid leave. One such resolution, Resolution 30, calls on the APWU to bargain for a sick leave donation program similar to the system for donating annual leave. A pair of resolutions, 33 and 34, were adopted, calling on the union to bargain for paid maternity leave and paid parental leave for postal workers.
Resolutions that dealt with postal workers’ clothing allowance, Resolutions 62 and 70, which were both adopted by the convention. Resolution 62 calls for the union to bargain for an increase in the clothing allowance for outdoor work in cold weather regions, whereas Resolution 70 calls for the APWU to bargain for a VMF cold weather clothing allowance consistent with NALC’s allowance.
Another successful resolution, Resolution 43, called for the elimination of Article 12.1.A language regarding probation, and for the union to represent employees from day one in regard to separation from service. Other successful resolutions addressed bereavement leave and ensuring union notification of the reason for separation of a PSE.
The Labor-Management committee’s report will continue on Wednesday with several more important resolutions on tap. If Tuesday’s deliberations are any indication, delegates should anticipate another day of spirited debate as the convention displays trade union democracy at its finest.
LOUD AND CLEAR: ‘PROTECT THE RIGHT TO VOTE!’
Delegates gathered Tuesday for a rally drawing attention to attacks on vote-by-mail and the nationwide wave of other voter suppression laws.
Holding signs with messages such as “Vote by Mail Works!” and “Hands Off Voting Rights,” attendees enthusiastically listened as a number of speakers described attempts to subvert democracy through voter suppression and the critical importance of vote-by-mail.
APWU Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell opened the rally saying, “There is no power like postal worker’s power…Are you ready to fight for democracy and vote-by-mail?”
The Democracy Initiative’s Charly Carter called postal workers heroes, saying, “Because of you everyone had those votes counted, demonstrating that vote-by-mail works.”
Throughout the rally, speakers commended postal workers for the work they perform, especially during the pandemic. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond said, “You were the glue that kept us together during the worst health crisis we’ve seen in our country.”
President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Yanira Merino talked about the forces at work who oppose democracy as well as worker rights. “We have to show we are united,” she said. “We have to show that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Our Revolution’s Paco Fabian provided an antidote to voter suppression, saying we need to make sure working-class voters participate in our democracy and vote-by-mail is a key element.”
APWU Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy encouraged APWU members to bring their activism back to their communities, saying “When you get home, form a committee to get out the vote so we can win in November.”
Rev. Graylan Hagler pumped up the rally, saying “Democracy is about access - access to vote, access to speak, access to stand up, access to be heard, access to make demands. We don’t intend to do anything less.”
Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants President, expressed her support for vote-by-mail, emphasizing how it provides everyone access to the ballot box.
Marcus Batchelor from People for the American Way praised postal workers for their service. “We know that you not only help our country run, but in 2020 you demonstrated in a very real way how you help our democracy run, how you help some of the most isolated and marginalized people in our community.”
“The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is disappearing,” said APWU Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. “They’re stealing our voting rights. And we’re going to stand up and fight back!”
Concluding the rally, APWU President Mark Dimondstein said “We have a message for the people of our country. Postal workers have your back. We’ve got the back of the people in the country when it comes to exercising your right to vote.”
MAIL HANDLERS’ PRESIDENT SPEAKS UP FOR UNITY
National Postal Mail Handlers Union President, Paul Hogrogian, addressed the convention with a message of unity.
“The relationship between our organizations is stronger now than it has been for some time. I was proud to sit with your delegation at the opening of your contract negotiations some time ago. It sends a message to the postal service management that we are united.”
NAACP’S RUSSELL MAKES CASE FOR PARTNERSHIP
Leon Russell, Chair of the NAACP Board of Directors spoke on Tuesday about how we must deepen the partnerships that we have built through the years, including A Grand Alliance and the Save Our Public Postal Service campaigns.
“That partnership, that grand alliance, is an effort joined by labor organizations and civil rights organizations. We understand that together we have the power to make a change in public policy, make the changes that we seek,” he said.
That alliance is vital because our communities are in danger, a danger that comes from “policy makers who encourage us to see ourselves in an “us versus them” context. Instead, he implored, we must seek solutions that benefit society as a whole.
“So I invite you to join us as we organize our communities to save this democracy,” said Russell. With a civic program active in 22 states, the NAACP is looking for 270,000 volunteers across the country. “We’re not telling anybody how to vote, but are telling them that if they recognize their power, if they use their power, if they use their vote, they can make a difference.”
As he finished his remarks, the NAACP Board Chair reiterated that we are stronger together. “Power to the American Postal Workers Union. Power to the people. Thank you. And remember. Partnership. Partnership. Partnership.”
POWER AWARDS OUTSTANDING WOMEN OF APWU
At the Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER) Caucus held August 15, the following awards were presented by Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell to notable women:
Elizabeth “Liz” Powell Executive Award – Tiffany Foster
Joyce B. Robinson Leadership Award – Lynn Pallas-Barber
Nilda Chock Pioneer Award – Bettye Maddox
“I’VE GOT YOUR BACK” SAYS SARA NELSON
In an impassioned speech, Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, commended APWU members, stating that “...this union gives me so much hope…this union knows how to fight the union busters.” She referenced the important role that postal workers play in maintaining a universal Postal Service to retain our democracy and standing up to those who would destroy it.
She continued by highlighting the APWU’s resolve in never giving up the fight to overturn 2006 legislation designed to destroy the USPS financially and cited the wildcat strike of 1970, stating “there are no illegal strikes, only unsuccessful ones.”
Nelson spoke about the billionaire-class’s attacks on freedom, equality and democracy, addressing their divisive attacks on women and people of color.
Nelson went on to say that, in a time when women and people of color are under attack, we must recognize that capitalists are responsible and she emphasized that these actions have nothing to do with morality: “It has to do with whether or not we are going to recognize each other as equal so that we can bargain with the power of that equality together.”
She continued by saying “until all of us are free, none of us are free… We have to love our country, love our families, love our communities, love our neighbors by loving our union.” She finished with a rallying cry: “I’ve got your back!”
As presented by Co-Chair Cindy Foster of the Charlotte Area Local, the preliminary report for the APWU Credentials Committee for Tuesday, Aug. 16, is as follows:
The 26th Biennial Convention’s 2,026 delegates represent 297 locals, 43 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance 69 national officers and four Retiree National Convention Delegates.
REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE ‘WE KEPT IT MOVING’
After a warm welcome from Legislative & Political Director and fellow Michigander Judy Beard, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence brought the convention to its feet with a stirring address. Rep. Lawrence reflected on her 30-year postal career and how it prepared her for work in Congress. “I was trained as a public servant in the United States Postal Service,” she said. “And I know how to fight.”
Lawrence applauded postal workers for their service to the people of the country, particularly during the pandemic. “During COVID, the Postal Service showed the world how important and critical we were when it came to our democracy, when it came to our health, prescription drugs, the COVID test kits,” she said. “When it came to ensuring that we were moving the economy when everybody else at home, we kept it moving.”
Following her address, the convention showed their appreciation of the congresswoman in a special way. A delegate from Michigan, noting that the Congresswoman began her postal career as an APWU member, moved that the convention name her an honorary member of the APWU. The hall burst into applause as the motion carried and the union gained yet another member.
CLUW PRESIDENT: ELISE BRYANT SINGS OF POWER
Sister Elise Bryant, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, rounded out the day’s proceedings with an uplifting address. “There is no other force in the United States of America,” said Bryant, “that tells capital how to spend its money except the union movement.”
“I don’t have to preach to you, you are the choir,” Bryant fittingly added as she, in her inimitable style, led the convention in song throughout her remarks. She sent delegates forth to the voting rights rally with a stirring rendition of our labor anthem “Solidarity Forever.”
BIDEN TO POSTAL WORKERS: YOU ARE ESSENTIAL
President Joe Biden sent a video greeting to delegates. The 46th US President lauded our history and our work as essential to the country.
“It’s simple,” he said, “They believe in you. The American people believe in you. The congress believes in you. The women and men of our postal service are essential to our health, our economy and our democracy.”
COPA NIGHT GOES WEST
Tuesday, the APWU COPA (Committee on Political Action) Night party was hosted by Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. Members who contributed $200 or more to COPA since July 2020 put on their best Western gear to celebrate their achievements.
President Dimondstein, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell and Legislative Director Beard presented awards to the three highest COPA contributors during the 2020-2022 COPA cycle. They were:
Shirley Taylor, NBA San Francisco (Burlingame)
Ricardo Barreto, Sacramento Area Local
Hector Baez, NBA Denver (Mesa)
A special award, the 2022 COPA Leadership Award, was presented to Diane Erlanger (New York Metro) for signing up the most APWU members to COPA.
APWU National Convention: Dimondstein Delivers State of the Union
August 16, 2022
DAY 1: CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS
On Monday, APWU President Mark Dimondstein delivered the ‘State of the Union.’ He highlighted our successes and struggles and gave an outlook for a bright, while challenging, future.
Reflecting on the moment, Dimondstein said, “the pandemic has made it crystal clear what we always knew – it is we, the workers, who make the world go around.”
Dimondstein condemned the current wave of voter suppression and the former U.S. president’s attempt to hold onto power in a coup. He said “we must never accept as normal the rising white supremacist torrent of race hatred and bigotry that divides workers and led to the despicable racist massacres in Charleston, Pittsburgh, El Paso and Buffalo – all reflecting a dangerous drive toward fascism.”
On the condition of the APWU, Dimondstein said, “together we are marching forward and building an activist, winning union. I submit to you that the state of our union is indeed ‘Union Strong, All Day Long!’”
Dimondstein applauded the success of the ‘U.S. Mail, Not for Sale’ campaign and the defeat of the 2018 Presidential Task Force recommendations, which attacked collective bargaining rights.
This year, members ratified a new main union contract with a 94 percent “yes” vote. “The new contract secured annual wage increases, full COLAs, new work guarantees for PTFs, new career conversion opportunities for PSEs, restored Level 8 to the high career pay scale, limits on subcontracting of existing PVS driver work, maintained and enhanced job security no lay-off provisions and generally uplifted postal workers of all crafts,” Dimondstein said. It also maintains the Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA). The new contract’s second COLA amounts to $1.18/hr; it follows the $0.63/hr COLA in January.
In Congress, after 16 years of organizing, the Postal Service Reform Act was passed. Among other provisions, this law eliminates the prefunding retiree health benefit mandate of 2006.
Other accomplishments included winning liberal leave and COVID safety memos; securing $10 billion in postal COVID aid; 100,000 PSE conversions; 10,000 new clerk jobs in mail processing; improved member communications; joining struggles for racial and social justice.
Dimondstein also lauded the recent organizing campaign, which brought on 5,000 new members, as well as private-sector organizing wins.
“Our approach to sticking to the issues and never shying away from a fight has served our members well,” Dimondstein said. “A solid new contract, historical postal legislation, improved staffing, a better path to career status and an openness to new and enhanced postal products. However, we must and will remain ever vigilant.”
He stressed that, while the privatizers have been kept at bay, “Wall Street is still Wall Street” and the threat of privatization continues to rear its ugly head.
“Yes, the dangers are great but so are the opportunities,” he said. “The weather will be stormy at times. But we have the good and sturdy ship called the APWU built with many hands over generations of struggle.”
DOCTOR’S ORDERS: MEDICARE FOR ALL!
Dr. Claudia Fegan, the Chief Medical Officer of Cook County Health and the national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, addressed the convention on Monday with a message about the urgent need for a single payer health care system in the U.S.
Dr. Fegan debunked myths about the affordability of a national health program, noting that the United States already spends more than $4 trillion a year on health care. “The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee universal access to health care,” she said. “We already spend enough money to guarantee access to everyone. Yet medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy.”
Introducing Dr. Fegan, Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy noted with pride that the APWU is a longtime supporter of Medicare for All.
“When we start putting profits before patients, we all suffer,” Fegan noted. “When our government starts to support corporate greed over personal freedom, we all suffer. We have to fight back.”
Dr. Fegan concluded, “No country has ever won universal health care without the support of labor. This is your fight! This is your fight!”
DELEGATES ADOPT CONVENTION RULES, FINANCE COMMITTEE REPORT PRESENTED, LABOR MANAGEMENT RESOLUTIONS
Delegates to the 26th Biennial Convention went right to work on the convention’s first day.
After adoption of the convention rules, the delegates moved on to other business. The Finance Committee, introduced by Secretary Treasurer Powell, presented a report on the union’s finances over the last four years, finding all relevant financial documents to be in order and the current revenues and assets of the union to be in great condition.
Attendees also began work on resolutions presented by the Labor-Management Committee that primarily focused on proposals for future contract negotiations.
CREDENTIALS COMMITEE, AUGUST 15, 2022
As presented by Co-Chair Lorraine Sawyer of the Massachusetts Postal Workers Union, the preliminary report for the APWU Credentials Committee for Monday, August 15, is as follows:
The 26th Biennial Convention’s
2,017 delegates represent 297 locals, 43 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance, 69 national officers and four Retiree National Convention Delegates.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ ADDRESSES APWU CONVENTION DELEGATES
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) addressed APWU delegates on Monday morning, highlighting the contribution of postal union members. “I can tell you, they are all out there, on the ground, putting in the work.”
The congresswoman thanked postal workers for the many contributions during the pandemic. “You saved our elections by processing millions of mail-in ballots in 2020, through today, despite impossibly hostile conditions. You did that. You saved our elections. You saved countless lives and livelihoods during a global pandemic with your work,” she remarked.
While many people, she noted, especially those in Congress, claim that progress is impossible, she pointed out that “what other people call impossible is another day on the job” for APWU members!
With growing support for labor unions, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said, “What was impossible a year or two ago is now possible today, and it is important that we recognize that, because far too many people use the word impossible to signify what is really just a lack of political will and political imagination.”
That is why we must continue to grow the movement. Winding up her speech, AOC urged us all to “Talk to your kids about why you’re in a union. It’s really incredibly important because there is power in a union. We all also are in the work of protecting our democracy. You all and your support for the For the People Act has been incredibly important in making sure that we build momentum in combating gerrymandering, ending the filibuster and expanding the right to vote.”
DENA BRISCOE WELCOMES DELEGATES & COLOR GUARD
Nation’s Capital Southern Maryland Area Local President, Dena Briscoe, opened the 26th Biennial National Convention with a welcome to APWU delegates from across the country. The morning’s ceremonies were kicked off with a presentation of colors by the United States Air Force Honor Guard, Air Force District of Washington. Fazia Deen of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center gave the invocation and the pledge of allegiance was led by Pam Richardson, Clerk Division National Business Agent.
POST OFFICE WOMEN FOR EQUAL RIGHTS (POWER) CAUCUS
Research & Education Director Joyce Robinson held a caucus to highlight POWER sisters. After an inspiring speech by CLUW President Elise Bryant, defending democracy and women’s rights.
An awards ceremony was held for notable POWER Delegates. Joyce Robinson received a COPA Award for POWER’s participation, presented by President Mark Dimondstein and Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell, reminding all, “you don’t have to dim another’s light for yours to shine.”
SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN WELCOMES DELEGATES TO THE OLD LINE STATE
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) welcomed delegates to National Harbor, MD. In a rousing speech, he highlighted our recent wins, including preventing the privatization of the USPS, promoting vote-by-mail, and in the passage of the Postal Service Reform Act.
“It really is because of all of you and your persistence and determination and advocacy over time,” Van Hollen said. “You never gave up, and you got that across the finish line.”
The senator supports key legislation, such as the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset, which affects Social Security benefits for certain workers and the restoration of the 2012 service standards.
The Maryland senator also encouraged members to hold our elected officials accountable and push for pro-postal legislation. He warned that, to get much of this passed, “We may also ultimately require getting rid of or amending the undemocratic [senate] filibuster, which has been an impediment to important progress in our country.”
AFL-CIO PRESIDENT SHULER: POSTAL WORKERS ON THE FRONT LINES OF DEMOCRACY
In a speech to convention delegates, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler praised the role that postal workers have played in preserving democracy and serving the American public. “You have taken on a growing role in our elections, truly serving on the front lines of democracy,” she said. “You are not only making sure that people get their ballots but also their letters, paychecks and subscription medications.”
Shuler talked about the importance of continuing to elect leaders who will fight for working people. Recent examples of beneficial legislation include passage of the Postal Service Reform Act strengthening the Postal Service and the Inflation Reduction Act that will help the middle class, protect the environment and reduce the cost of prescription costs and health care premiums.
The AFL-CIO president also emphasized the organizing power that unions can have when they join forces and work together, especially now with the increasing number of workers seeking union representation. To facilitate the effort of organizing, the AFL-CIO recently announced the formation of the Center for Transformational Organizing (CTO). “We need to rise up and capture the energy of this moment that is leading people to organize in all kinds of companies and in all kinds of industries,” she said. “There is so much opportunity for organizing around us.”
Among the reasons fueling the desire to organize is the fact that CEO pay continues to skyrocket while worker pay remains stagnant. According to the latest AFL-CIO pay watch study, CEO pay at the top 500 S & P companies is 324 times more than that of the average worker.
Concluding her remarks, Shuler said, “In this moment when we are facing so many challenges in our jobs, to our economy, to our democracy, to our freedoms, we have to face them together as a movement.”