APWU National Negotiations Committee Holds Virtual Town Hall Calls Ahead of Contract Negotiations

July 9, 2021

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

On June 15, the APWU National Negotiations Committee (NNC) hosted three separate virtual town halls for members ahead of the contract negotiation Opening Day on June 22. The town halls, held as Zoom meetings that were also livestreamed on Facebook, Youtube, and apwu.org, allowed members to hear important information relating to the upcoming negotiations, including the timelines of events, negotiation goals, and the ways members can get involved on the work room floor during the contract campaign for APWU – Our Union, Our Contract, Our Future.

Emceed by Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell, the events kicked off with an introduction of the NNC: President and Lead Negotiator Mark Dimondstein, Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy, Secretary Treasurer Powell, Industrial Relations Director and Chief Spokesperson Vance Zimmerman, Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks, Maintenance Craft Director Idowu Balogun, MVS Craft Director Michael Foster and Support Services Director Steve Brooks. Secretary-Treasurer Powell also introduced the regional coordinators: Eastern Region Coordinator AJ Jones, Northeast Region Coordinator Tiffany Foster, Central Region Coordinator Sharyn Stone, Southern Region Coordinator Kennith Beasley and Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez.

In his opening remarks, President Dimondstein reminded members that the overarching goal of negotiations is to improve working conditions and better the lives of postal workers, while management may come to the table with opposite goals. Negotiations, President APWU National Negotiations Committee Holds Virtual Town Hall Calls Ahead of Contract Negotiations Dimondstein said, come down to “power and leverage” built by members on the work room floor.

“Management is not meeting with [the National Negotiations Committee] because we have fancy titles or put on nice clothes. They’re meeting with us because you as members have sustained and helped this union grow, and that’s where our power is,” President Dimondstein said. “And during contract time, we really have to build that power.”

“What We Want to Achieve is a Darn Good Contract” During the Town Hall that took place at 6pm EST, the first question submitted asked what the NNC’s goals were for the new contract going into negotiations.

“What we want to achieve is a darn good contract,” President Dimondstein said, before outlining two broad goals. The first is protecting our hard-won gains over 50 years of struggle, including the no lay-off clause, 50-mile limits on excessing, cost-of-living adjustments, seniority in bidding and grievance procedures.

The second goal is enhancing and expanding, through bridging the gap between the two-tier pay scales, annual general wage increases, improved scheduling, pay and benefits for PTFs and PSEs, and stronger service for the people of the country. President Dimondstein also outlined the APWU’s goal of eliminating harassment and hostile workplaces through bargaining.

Industrial Relations Director Zimmerman reminded viewers that APWU members can help accomplish these goals by showing union pride and solidarity on the work room floor. “We need you to be part of our negotiations. We need your participation – wear your union t-shirts and your stickers,” he said.

In each Town Hall, Directors Lamont Brooks, Idowu Balogun, Michael Foster and Steve Brooks outlined the goals for each craft in negotiations, and answered questions from viewers. A Town Hall is available to view on youtube.com/apwucommunications, and on the APWU’s Facebook page.

Registration is now open for the Town Hall events on August 24. Join us and hear updates on negotiations. Questions will be taken directly from the Zoom event, so register today! apwu.org/townhall.

Last APWU Live with the President

On June 1, President Dimondstein held his regular “APWU Live with the President” event. During the event, President Dimondstein discussed the new bipartisan postal reform legislation and more on the 10-Year Plan and our fight to stop the delays. He was joined by Secretary-Treasurer Powell to talk about the Contract Campaign Kick Off Rally on June 21.

Both officers took questions from members on organizing non-members in the USPS, EFEL leave, proposals for retiree health care under the Postal Service Reform Act and the current threats to small post offices.

The full event is available to view on apwu.org/live and on youtube.com/apwucommunications. You can sign up on the webpage to receive updates and reminders to participate in the next Live.

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