APWU Retirees Still Fighting for Justice

Nancy Olumekor

July 1, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

This summer marks several anniversaries for us as union and community activists.

The U.S. postal system was created by the 2nd Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. In August 1935 Social Security was created, then in July 1965, Medicare became law. Many of our retirees were postal workers during the Great Postal Strike of March 1970 that resulted in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, establishing the USPS. On July 1, 1971, the APWU was founded after the merger of five postal unions. In August 1963, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the People’s March for Jobs and Freedom – 57 years later, we’re still marching for jobs, justice and freedom.

Social Security and Medicare are under attack by the White House and Trump’s allies in Congress. The White House is refusing to support the U.S. Postal Service, possibly so that the USPS can be privatized and sold to Trump’s friends.

Retirees have seen many successful changes and failures in this country during their lifetime; some of our members are in their nineties and a few are over 100 years old. Change has been the common denominator – change brought about by action and inaction, by protest and unrest. As we look back over the history of this country and our lives, when we see the work that has been done in the areas of human rights, labor rights and civil rights, we should be asking ourselves, “What in the world happened to all of our good work?”

Here we are in 2020, we still have work to do. This is the summer of our discontent. America is speaking out to protect what we have earned and to secure jobs and economic benefits for everyone. America is speaking out – young people and old people from sea to shining sea. Retirees know how to speak up and speak out by calling, emailing and writing Congress to tell them “Don’t Cut Social Security and Medicare” and “Fund the USPS, Don’t Privatize.” APWU Retirees know that Vote by Mail should be the law of the land in every jurisdiction.

Retirees know how to engage and inform elected officials at the local and state levels about issues that are important to us. We know that it is our responsibility to make sure that we elect local, state and national officials who are going to do the right thing. We all know in this 21st century what the right thing looks like in America.

The right thing does not look like a city police officer with his knee to the neck of a citizen pressing down until there is no life left in him, witnessed by fellow police officers. The right thing does not look like almost three million Americans infected with over 125,000 known deaths in a global pandemic without a vaccine in sight; and the right thing does not look like a White House still placing blame instead of working to protect Americans who are at risk.

How did we get here when just 12 short years ago we were filled with “Hope” and in the grips of “Change we could believe in?” The answer came in 2016, when too many people decided not to vote.

In 2020, as union and community activists, as people of goodwill who have worked long and hard to build this country, we must do everything within our powers to make sure our families, our neighbors, our friends and our coworkers vote by mail or in person in November 2020 for Joe Biden and those other candidates who support, retirees, working families and our issues!

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