It Pays to Be Union

Anna Smith

March 1, 2021

Share this article

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

On January 22, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its annual Union Membership Report. These figures are not based upon unionized postal employees alone, but rather unions as a whole including other federal, state and local government employees as well as a large variety of occupations and industries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported unionized full-time wage earners receive more pay than workers not represented by unions. The median weekly earnings of union members was $1,144 compared to $958 for non-union workers. In addition to higher wages, statistics also showed union members have greater access to benefits, like health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave and holidays.

According to the report, while the union membership percentage rate rose by 0.5 percent to 10.8 percent in 2020, the total number of unionized workers declined by 2.2 percent. Hawaii and New York continue to have the highest union membership rates (23.7 and 22 percent respectively) in country. To help put these two states’ figures into perspective, the unionized workforce in the nine lowest states is below five percent.

While the labor movement simply is not what it was 20 years ago, I know as we can do better and we can do more. We are fortunate to have a union, and everyone who enjoys the benefits of our being a unionized workforce should be contributing to the effort to not only maintain what we have, but to build the labor movement back up. Our struggle for better wages and working conditions is directly tied to the rise of the non-union workforce.

In today’s postal climate, there is no justifiable excuse not to belong to the APWU. We are not in a position to tolerate non-members taking a free ride. They reap the benefits and must be held accountable. We need everyone’s support if we are going to thrive in the future. APWU-represented employees have a distinct advantage over unrepresented employees in the postal workforce thanks to the support of dues paying members.

Members are encouraged to join forces in asking our non-member co-workers to stand with us. The Organizing Department is constantly working to improve the process for non-members to join online. Co-workers who have been on the rolls for a few weeks, and in our database, are able to join online within minutes via our online join process.

This year, we will be rolling out a process so that those who have yet to populate our database have a method to joining the APWU as well. The Organizing Department will be sending out information on navigating through the new process.

The Organization Department is continuing to reach out to all of our non-members via mail asking them to stand with us. While we continue to be successful in bringing a lot of new members in using this method, speaking with non-members about joining at every opportunity is essential.

If you are in need of the updated organizing material to help you in your efforts, do not hesitate to email the department at ■

Sign up for News

Stay in touch with your union

Subscribe to receive important information from your union.