Building on Our Success

Mark Dimondstein

January 26, 2021

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

2020 was a tough year – on our health, our families and the economy. While the rich have ridden the pandemic to get even richer, unemployment, poverty and hunger have drastically increased. Our own federal government failed to properly protect us during this terrible pandemic. Completely unfounded claims of election fraud and the refusal to accept the election results are inciting violence and deeply threaten our democratic rights.

But the year ended with two major “postal” accomplishments, underscoring that struggle brings progress – and encourages us for the New Year!

$10 Billion in COVID-19 Emergency Relief

After many months of activism, $10 billion of emergency postal COVID-19 relief was included in the “stimulus” signed into law on December 27, 2020.

While the $10 billion is not sufficient for the long run, it is a solid “down payment” to help address the increase in COVID-related expenses as well as COVID-related lost revenue. APWU members should be extremely proud of this accomplishment. With petitions, car caravans, phone calls and rallies, united with the people of this country, the message was sent that the fight for a strong and vibrant public Postal Service cannot be ignored. Congratulations!

5,500 New Career Positions in Mail Processing

In a ground breaking agreement, the APWU and postal management increased the career clerk staffing in Function 1 (mail processing) by 12 percent!

The Agreement will create 5,524 new full-time career clerk positions that will lead to the conversion of the same number of PSEs, a union-won life changing event. The staffing will also help take undue pressure off the current, and largely exhausted, workforce. It will help provide better service to the people. Thanks to the union shining a light on the problem of chronic understaffing, management has gotten the message that they must begin to fix it.

Pursuant to the Agreement, the USPS determined where the new jobs were needed and the results varied greatly by local and regions. Undoubtedly, the fight for proper staffing will continue. But in the big picture, this is a significant step forward, and I am proud to have led this accomplishment.

Looking Forward

As we did last year, I am confident that APWU members will meet the challenges of 2021. Major events will include: New union contract: Our contract expires September 20, 2021. Negotiation preparations are already underway. Official negotiations will open in June. The success of negotiations comes down to power and leverage, so be ready to exercise your union muscles!

COVID-19: Even with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, science suggests this will still be a dangerous year. We have extended all the COVID-19 related agreements, including the liberal leave policy, until the end of March. The APWU and postal workers will remain ever vigilant in the fight for health and safety!

Defending & Expanding Postal Services: We welcome the advent of a new U.S. President who is supportive of unions and postal workers. But the political fight to save the public Postal Service from the privatization drive of Wall Street will continue. We must stay united with the people of our country to defend good public postal services and jobs, and to halt any destructive policies of PMG DeJoy. We have new opportunities to win expanded postal services, including financial services.

Legislative/Political: Our agenda includes additional COVID-19 financial relief for the Postal Service, eliminating the absurd pre-funding mandate of future retiree health insurance costs, and positive postal reform. In solidarity with all workers and unions, we support all efforts to raise wages, expand workers’ rights, provide health care as a human right, COVID-19 emergency funding for local and state governments and rebuild the country’s infrastructure with millions of new “green” union jobs.

Hello 2021! This is the 50th anniversary year of the founding of our fine union, when five postal unions merged in June 1971 into one more powerful force.


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