Have a Conversation

November 5, 2018

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Organization Director Anna Smith

Having a conversation with a non-member coworker can be downright intimidating. It is because of this intimidation some find it frightening and daunting to ask them to stand with us. It is important to move past our concerns and approach them.

The fact is these non-members are working against our best interest. Some non-members are loud and confrontational with anti-union rhetoric. They let everyone know why they are not a member. While we all realize the harm done by the boisterous one, understand that the silent non-member is as destructive, if not more. They are silently working against everything we fight to achieve. They are not on the same side.

Make no mistake, it is personal. Our fight for a livable wage, health care for our families, and the benefits we enjoy – it is with them just as it is with postal management. If they are not standing with you, they are standing against you. There is not a neutral line. It is time to stop assuming everyone is a member and to remind the non-members they are working in a union environment, with pay and benefits that are only achieved from union solidarity. There is no harm in asking your coworker next to you if they stand with you as a union member, you share a common ground from that point forward. Not asking hurts us.

It cannot be said enough that organizing is everyone’s responsibility. With approximately 840 state and local organizations in our union, only 36 of them have an “Organizing Director” position. Perhaps some local constitutions lack any language to elect or appoint a person to this position. If you have the language, it needs to be filled as much as any other position. If the local or state constitution is lacking the language, there are other avenues available such as appointing a committee and/or a lead organizer. If your local or state is not actively organizing, let it begin with you.

Even when our union is 100% organized, we’ll keep up the organizing efforts. Member engagement is as essential as bringing new members in. I challenge you all to look at organizing as a duty assignment in which the tasks never go away. It is a duty assignment that can’t be abolished or reverted. We make arguments to this effect in grievances every day, in every corner of the country. We find it unacceptable when the Postal Service makes the decision to not post and fill a duty assignment. Apply that same theory to the need for organizers. The work is not going away, somebody needs to do it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

When local and state organizations aggressively organize, union involvement increases. Thank you to those who are setting goals, working to achieve those goals, and actively organizing for our future. Organizing our coworkers can be some of the most rewarding work you do. As 2018 comes to a close, let’s work together to make organizing in 2019 a top priority! Happy Holidays to you and yours!


During our peak season do not delay sending in membership applications (1187s). In order for membership to be automatically reinstated when a PSE is rehired within 180-days after the conclusion of their current term of employment, the original application must be submitted and entered. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Organization Department at 202-842-4227.

National Convention Organizing Drive

Congratulations to the two names drawn for the National Convention Organizing Drive! The winners are Robert L. Helmig (Denver Metro Area Local) and Vontresa P. Brown (Northeast Florida Area Local). Thank you to everyone who participated.

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