Delivering Democracy: Election Mail Committees are a Major Success

November 17, 2020

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

During the 2020 General Election cycle, the APWU joined a Postal Service national level task force to help guarantee that election mail was given the necessary priority to ensure that tens of millions of voters had access to the ballot box through the Postal Service – and that their vote counted. The national labor-management committee consisted of all four postal unions, management associations and top-level postal managers. The joint committee was largely a product of a public outcry regarding Postmaster General DeJoy’s polices delaying mail in general and the potential negative impact on mail ballots and the election.

The committee delved into the background of what policies and procedures postal management had already put in place, including with state election officials, mail service providers and other stakeholders. Proper training for and necessary communication to all levels of the organization were addressed, including establishing procedures to quickly address any problems that arose in the field.

The most significant contribution of the APWU leadership to the national task force was suggesting, pressing for and achieving a union-management agreement that established joint local election task force committees at post offices throughout the country. The national union leaders understood that members on the frontlines know best how to process the mail and would do so expeditiously, and on a non-partisan basis. It also provided another level of transparency, resulting in reports being filed daily. Meetings took place at the local level and it gave our members a direct channel of communication to APWU National headquarters, to report any issues that they could not resolve at the local level, allowing for quick resolutions.

At every level, postal workers took processing election mail seriously and gave every single ballot first-class treatment. Postal employees worked tirelessly to make sure ballots got where they needed to go and were delivered on time. The USPS processed a record 65.5 million ballots.

“The joint committees at the national and local levels gave the APWU an opportunity to use our voices to ensure that election mail was handled securely and timely,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard. “It also allowed us to fight back against efforts to cast doubt on the security of voting-by-mail and our ability to process ballots.”

“We are immensely proud of the work done by both the national and local election mail task forces and dedicated postal workers,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “The task forces were a major success and integral to securing every person’s democratic right to vote by mail in this election. Postal workers delivered. Going forward, let's continue the struggle to ensure that the people receive top notch service for all their mailing needs.”

The Members Speak Testimonials from the Workroom Floor

Editor’s Note: Below are testimonials from members of the local election task force committees about what they experienced.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve on the Task Force . . . All of our ballots went out on time, all verifications were completed and our numbers were checked daily and matched. As an employee of USPS, it has been extremely important to me to ensure that the Postal Service redeems itself, and I hope that our facility has helped to accomplish this. I believe all elections are important, and consideration should be given to continuing this task force practice.” Wendy Breeden, Puget Sound Area Local

“As part of the Election Task Force this year, I was able to walk the floor at the Sacramento P&DC processing plant daily, making sure all election mail got processed correctly. I believe having this task force helped make the election more successful and strongly believe this should be a part of the process in future elections!” Grace Cota, Sacramento Area Local (CA)

“We have many new hires, PSEs and young workers that have never taken part in this process, along with an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots… I think the work we did as ballot monitors made a difference. It was wonderful to send on an issue and see it being addressed the next day. We all know management tends to care more about the big picture, and we were there to cover the small details.” Debora Larson, Member, Albany Local

“I spent hours going through the mail, in the manual area, pulling ballots…working at the plant, part of my daily route is performing a mail search on the AFCS and the 010. After my search, I would go through the mail I located in addition to the tubs of raw mail that arrived after midnight, to assure that ballots did not sit at the plant.” Terri Steele, Member, Birmingham Area Local (AL)

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