Can We Have a Happy Workplace?

Debby Szeredy

September 10, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Some thoughts we may be having about our current work situation:

  • I hate this job and the people I work with – especially management.
  • I don’t really care about my job – I just want a decent paycheck.
  • There are parts of the job I love and some good people here.
  • I know this job can be better, and that’s why I’m involved in our local union.

Sometimes the vision of the national/local officers and stewards does not reach the member on the workroom floor.

Our union’s vision, to be effective, calls on everyone to play a part and get involved with something they care about. Goals must be set and everyone needs to do their part.

What would make a happy workplace?

A clean and brightly designed workplace; an ergonomically safe environment in all work sections; supervisors and managers that do not discriminate and do not discipline, but provide assistance; supervisors and managers that have positive attitudes and provide support.

Happy workplaces have warm and energized workers interacting with customers, businesses/community organizations and with each other – working as a family. They are a place where everyone is treated with dignity, respect and all of us have the right to participate and share in working together. Workers should have time to laugh and keep each other’s spirits high while taking work responsibilities seriously and accomplishing goals.

We need our employer to provide great wages and benefits, adequate staffing and training, and a great contract, with trust, support and camaraderie. We must support our retirees and provide a part for them, because after all, they have helped to keep the Postal Service around for us. It should be a place where the work culture supports innovation, and expansion of services. A place where we work together to build a strong future to keep the Postal Service a public community treasure.

Will you help APWU achieve our vision?

Every one of our members should experience a sense of belonging. We see unions today getting better contracts, with better working conditions. Union worker power can start with our local union and in our communities. Two recent examples of power; the people of Puerto Rico (see next page) and union power with the teachers. We need to know that each task we win together will help us get closer to our goal, that “happy, safe workplace.”

Take the first step

Go to a local union meeting and offer your services to help make the workroom floor better. Provide your ideas and suggestions. If members can’t make it to the meeting, utilize online tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom. Locals can communicate by tele-texting, town halls, special weekly news bulletins, specialized meetings on campaigns.

You don’t have to be a steward to help. Thank your steward for the work that goes into filing grievances and resolving work issues, but remember they are not an island alone. They need your help to document, form a committee, become educated in your contract rights, and help get others in your work section to work with the union to take the steps necessary to get that “happy workplace.”

Build union worker power through small wins each day. You don’t have to be radical – you just have to work on campaigns together. I want to give a shout out to the Western Colorado Area Local, who have held union meetings on “GoToMeeting” for over a year, so that members from associate offices 2-4 hours away, like Aspen and Durango, get to participate and have a voice.

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