APWU Young Members Begin Inaugural Conference

October 2, 2023

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Sept. 29, 2023 marked the beginning of the inaugural APWU Young Members Conference. It was the first conference organized and directed by the Young Members Committee (YMC), which APWU members established in 2016.

Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell gave greetings, welcoming the Young Members Committee, conference participants, officer liaisons Omar Gonzalez, Anna Smith, and President Dimondstein. “We have 35,000 members that are under 35 years of age,” she began. “You all are the future of the APWU.”

Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez and Organization Director Anna Smith gave greetings and well wishes before the podium was opened to the YMC. After a roll call by Che Magwood (New York Metro), attendees received a refresher on the mission of the YMC by Angela McDonald (alternate, Miami Area Local), followed by the purpose of the conference by Courtney Agee (Birmingham Area Local). “The Young Members Conference is a valuable opportunity for young members to connect with each other, learn from experienced leaders, and make a positive impact on their union,” Agee said.

President Dimondstein addressed the delegates on the past, present and promising future of the APWU. He thanked the YMC for helping move the union’s agenda forward. He highlighted union victories such as the COLAs, pay raises, step increases, preserving 6-day delivery, passage of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, as well as the new challenges ahead. “You are the members that give us the power at the negotiation table,” said President Dimondstein. “Without you and people like you all over the country, there would not be an American Postal Workers Union.” The afternoon session brought a panel of young workers together who discussed the challenges they faced while trying to organize in the workplace, and how confidence is the key to APWU's future.

The Past, Present, and Future of APWU Depends on Young Members

On day two of the Young Members Conference, delegates got down to business. They discussed the struggles of the past, APWU victories, and solutions going forward for the future of the union.

Delegates looked at the background and success of the U.S. Mail Not for Sale campaign, and the role of young members in preserving the public postal service.

The role of young members continued into the next exercise, as they broke out into round tables to debate ways to strengthen the APWU. After an hour of deliberation, young members at each table relayed their answers to the collective body.  

How the APWU could be more appealing to young and seasoned members:

Suggestions included dispatching local union representatives to visit job sites in rural areas, or enticing a member with an event that is mutually beneficial, such as a lunch and learn. “You’ve got to give them something.” - Amirah Wright (Raleigh Cosmopolitan Local).

What would interest you in becoming a shop steward or participating in your union:

“I decided to become a shop steward to stand with my brothers and sisters and support our workforce to continue to make a difference for all postal employees nationwide.” – Dara Juarez (California Area Local)

How can you help non-members and members understand the work APWU does:

Become a mentor, give grace to non-members. “You can see how strong [APWU] can be when we physically come together.” – Allison Foster (Bend Iowa Area Local)

Voting Rights, Working-Class Politics, and the Importance of Fighting for Justice

Later that afternoon, Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard and her staff gave a presentation on voting rights, working-class politics, and the importance of fighting for justice. This included a brief history of young workers who have fought for justice, such as Martin Luther King Jr., who organized for social issues at the age of 25, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who in 1840, joined the abolitionist movement and the fight for women’s suffrage by the age of 25.

Young members then received a virtual address from Representative Maxwell Frost (FL-10), the first Gen-Z member elected to the House of Representatives.

The presentation continued with a section titled, “How Politics Affect You,” which discussed how elections in the past few decades have been decided by razor-thin margins, such as the 2000 elections where 537 votes in Florida decided the National Presidential Election, and how Republicans in the current House of Representatives have only a five-seat majority, all of which were decided by a combined margin of 6,000 votes.

The panel discussed legislative wins in 117th Congress, such as: the largest government investment in climate change, the covid stimulus and paid time off during the pandemic, the passage of the Postal Service Reform Act, and investments in electric postal vehicles. They also discussed current fights in the Federal Government, and recent wins at the state level.

Young members then participated in an interactive, real-time quiz show with questions regarding voting and legislative statistics.

The presentation concluded with how Young Members can help in the fight for voting rights and working-class politics by supporting and donating to the Committee on Political Action (COPA), leading by example by voting, and joining the Release Staff Program, where APWU National pays postal workers who take leave from the Postal Service to canvas and engage local communities during elections.

Party with a Purpose

Young members participated in a social gathering themed “Party with a Purpose” where they texted more than 42,000 fellow members using the peer-to-peer platform Hustle, to urge postal workers to register to vote and check their registration if already registered.

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