APWU & Supporters Participate in Virtual Rally to Kick Off Negotiations

June 24, 2024

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On June 24, thousands of APWU members andsupporters joined a Virtual Kickoff Rally before the Opening Day of negotiations for a new union contract. The rally was emceed by Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell. After opening the rally with the inspiring video about the Great Postal Strike of 1970, Secretary-Treasurer Powell remarked that “The end of that video says it very clear. The struggle indeed does continue.”

Secretary-Treasurer Powell introduced AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler who, on behalf of 12 and a half million affiliated union members, offered the energizing message: “If we stand together and we stand strong, there is nothing that can stop us. We have your back; we can’t wait to see you win a contract that secures a bright future for every postal worker in this country.”

The next speaker, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders,thanked APWU members for the “great and important work you do for the American people every single day.” Sen. Sanders then demanded that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sign a fair and just union contract with the APWU. Sen. Sanders added, “Together, we will do everything that we can to save, protect, to strengthen, and to expand the U. S. Postal Service.”

NALC President Brian Renfroe highlighted the common goals the postal unions have and assured members “that NALC will be there to not only stand in solidarity, but actively… support your efforts because our fights are not only similar, our fights in many ways are the same.”

President Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation offered her support and solidarity and spoke to members about the long-standing fights for dignity and respect going back to 1968 when Dr. King demanded justice for the Memphis sanitation workers killed on the job.

Joining from the UK, Communication Workers Union General Secretary Dave Ward sent solidarity and fraternal greetings from across the Atlantic. Speaking about the challenges postal workers of the world face, he said “Don’t believe the people who think that postal services are finished… They need to understand that despite the fact that we’re in a rapidly changing world of communications, the Postal Service and the people that deliver it are critical to the infrastructure of America and countries across the world.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Flight Attendants union, addressed our fight to end the two-tier wage scale in negotiations. “You’re lifting up calls from the entire APWU & Supporters Participate in Virtual working class to make sure that we are not allowing the corporate elite to divide us by having different tiers of employment at any of our work. When we do the same work, we need to be paid the same,” said Nelson.

Next up was AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond who said postal workers “Deserve a contract with family sustaining wages, good benefits, [and] strong protections.”

UMWA President Cecil Roberts delivered an inspiring speech. Talking about the battles that mine workers have fought with the support of APWU members, he offered reciprocal support. “You’ve been beside us. You’ve lifted us up in these difficult times we have faced. Now it’s time for coal miners and retirees to lift you up and stand with you.”

A. Philip Randolph Institute President Clayola Brown provided words of encouragement and support, because “Respect is at stake. Fighting for dignity and saving jobs and getting rid of that devilish two-tier system for wages… makes this kind of a struggle necessary.  Good luck, we’re right there with you,” she assured members.

Chairperson of Our Revolution and former CWA President Larry Cohen, then spoke about the many threats to postal workers, including the Staples attempts at privatization and Trump-era efforts to stymie Vote-by-Mail, fights that the APWU won through grassroots organizing. “If we don’t have working class families organized, who’s going to be there in our fights?” he asked. “I can say that personally, I’ll be there, my union will be there, [and] Our Revolution will be there.”

President of the 1.7 million member AFT, Randi Weingarten offered her support and encouragement to APWU members. 

Speaking about the Great Postal Strike, RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum reminded rally-goers that, “The [Great Postal] Strike ended only after the workers negotiated their best contract in history because they stood together.” Speaking about his father, who was a striking postal clerk, he continued “I was able to see within my own family the tangible difference that the contract made for us. When workers stand together, we have power. We [can] make demands [and must] be taken seriously.”

APWU Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard introduced House Representative Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and House Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01). They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting postal workers during negotiations and through legislation.

Speaking about the power of “we,” AFGE President Everett Kelly said “I’ve seen firsthand the determination and spirit of APWU members... We at AFGE, along with union members all across the labor movement, are ready to stand with you as you demand what is rightfully yours:safe, well-paid jobs where you’re treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.”

In his remarks, APWU Industrial Relations Director Charlie Cash energized participants, calling upon members to “Let management know that we are union proud, and it is time for a good contract. Union Proud, Say It Loud – let’s get a good contract now!”

Rank-and-File Bargaining Committee Co-chairs Wanda Harris (Miami Local President) and Kim Miller (Keystone Area Local President) thanked members for the opportunity to negotiate on their behalf and offered inspiring remarks ahead of Opening Day.

Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs with Justice, provided words of support too. To wrap up the evening, CLUW President Elise Bryant inspired viewers with song and chants before APWU President Mark Dimondstein capped off the evening with his remarks.

“It’s all  about postal workers,” said President Dimondstein. “It’s all about the working class and our responsibility as leaders to do our part to uplift and to build working class power.” he said. “And when we go to the bargaining table, let’s remember this. We’re not just bargaining for postal workers. We’re bargaining for the public good, the public commons, and the good of the people of this country, and to protect, enhance, and expand this wonderful national treasure that belongs to all the people.” Dimondstein concluded his remarks with a word of encouragement, “Carry on, everybody. Solidarity forever!”

Watch the 2024 Contract Kick Off Rally Here

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