APWU Celebrates 50th Anniversary

July 9, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

On July 1, the APWU held a 50th Anniversary/Birthday Celebration livestream event, commemorating a half century of struggle, solidarity and victory. Emceed by Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell, the event opened with a joyous “Happy Birthday” song to the APWU, followed by a slide show presentation of the union’s long history, beginning all the way back in 1864, through the Great Postal Strike of 1970 and the merger that created the American Postal Workers Union on July 1, 1971.

The event featured 15 speakers, including APWU national and local officers and retirees, who shared personal stories about their time working at the post office. The event featured a series of videos on the APWU’s history, including on the strike and merger. Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks, MVS Director Michael Foster, Maintenance Craft Director Idowu Balogun and Support Services Director Steve Brooks each spoke about the gains won in their craft over the last 50 years.

Multiple speakers shared their experiences with the working conditions before the Great Postal Strike, and how the formation of the APWU and collective bargaining helped improve their lives. Before the strike, “eleven hours a day, seven days a week was the norm,” said Chicago Local Retiree Chapter Vice President Alvin Randolph. During the strike, Randolph said, “To my amazement, we stuck together, we hung in the fight, and we won…I am very grateful for what the APWU has done for me and my family.”

Western Regional Coordinator Omar Gonzalez praised the union’s values built over the 50 years of struggle since the formation of the APWU. “Our union is a fighting union. Our union is a progressive union. Our union is a very democratic union,” he said. “It’s in our blood, it’s in our history, it’s in our nature. Happy anniversary and happy birthday APWU!”

Secretary-Treasurer Powell reminded the members watching the event – from national and local officers to rank-and-file members – that they “have played an important part in APWU being the APWU,” and encouraged members to “remember the struggles that we have been in, the fights that we have had, to get to the place where we are today.

“We hope that you take an opportunity to be active in your union, and we hope that you continue to support your union,” Secretary Treasurer Powell continued. President Dimondstein reminded members of the reasons why we look back at our history: “…to honor those who came before us, who paved the way and plowed the fields, on whose shoulders we stand; to learn the lessons of our history, of our past as the struggle continues into the future. And to gain inspiration.”

In closing the event, President Dimondstein asked members to join him in a toast to all of those who came before us over the union’s 50 years of struggle. “Let’s toast our courageous forefathers and foremothers who stormed the heavens in a historic 1970 strike. Let’s toast those leaders that fought for the common good and merged into one, more powerful postal union,” President Dimondstein said. “Let’s toast everyone, known and unknown, who engaged in this struggle on the front lines, and built a better life not just for themselves and their families, but for those of us who followed, and those who will follow us.” The full event is available to view here.

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