Joining Our Allies In the Labor Movement

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Elizabeth Powell, Secretary-Treasurer

The AFL-CIO’s state federations and local labor councils are where workers share our stories and struggles — not as they are interpreted in two-minute television news reports, but in our own words, as we understand them. More than 30,000 local unions make up the state federations and central labor councils of the AFL-CIO in 50 states and Puerto Rico. This is where we share our passion and drive to make sure we win fairness in the workplace.

Affiliating with the AFL-CIO at the state and local level gives APWU members an opportunity to establish relationships with our allies in the labor movement. And affiliating is an absolute necessity if we are going to win the fight to preserve a public Postal Service and protect our jobs. Every successful campaign to stop plant consolidation or post office closures has been the result of postal workers and our allies marching, protesting, petitioning legislators, writing letters, and making phone calls.

The APWU National Executive Board (NEB) has shown support for affiliation with the AFL-CIO by fully participating at the national level and by encouraging our locals and state organizations to get involved as well. But affiliating costs money: Member unions at the national, state and local level must pay dues to support the AFL-CIO’s activities.

To ease the financial burden of affiliating, the NEB unanimously adopted a resolution at the union’s 18th Biennial National Convention that says the national APWU will refund 50 percent of the cost of affiliation to state organizations that participate.

Unfortunately, some locals have expressed concern about the cost of affiliation and say they intend to drop out. But in our fight to stop postal consolidations, the support of our brothers and sisters in other unions has been vital. Affiliation is essential to building the solidarity that motivates workers to be there for each other. Dropping affiliation with the AFL-CIO at this crucial time would be counterproductive.

And simply paying dues to the AFL-CIO state federations and central labor councils is not enough. APWU state and local unions must recruit members to participate in meetings and other activities. Locals and state organizations should elect or appoint delegates who will make sure that our union allies hear our message and bring the messages of other unions to our members.

Other Allies

Another important ally in the fight to protect the Postal Service is Jobs with Justice, a national network of local coalitions that bring together labor unions, faith groups, community organizations and student activists to fight for working people. Their members are in the streets in 46 cities in 24 states across the country.

Jobs with Justice asks members to take a pledge:

“...Standing up for our rights as working people to a decent standard of living

“...Supporting the right of all workers to organize and bargain collectively

“...Fighting for secure family-wage jobs in the face of corporate attacks on working people and our communities

“...Organizing the unorganized to take aggressive action to secure a better economic future for all of us

“...Mobilizing those already organized to join the fight for jobs with justice.

“During the next year, I will be there at least five times for someone else’s fight, as well as my own.

The mission of Jobs with Justice is to build long-term, formal coalitions of organizations and individuals. These lasting relationships help build the power needed to win real changes in the lives of working families and our communities. As a national network of local coalitions, Jobs with Justice is ideally situated to run national campaigns that are based in the grassroots. Jobs with Justice engages in strategic fights that build power for working people and address the root causes of the problems we face. Jobs with Justice coalitions work on a range of issues from labor law reform to healthcare, from union organizing campaigns to immigrant rights.

Members of Jobs with Justice have worked alongside postal workers in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, Texas and more. Last year, 15 local JwJ coalitions joined the fight against Postal Service consolidations and cutbacks by bringing together community, student, and faith leaders to stand in solidarity with postal workers.

Their efforts included rallies and other actions at mail processing centers, town hall meetings and gatherings of community leaders, congressional outreach, and much more. Together with local postal workers, they helped mobilize community support for our struggle, highlight deteriorating working conditions, demonstrate the cost of cutbacks in service to the community, and educate the public on the truth behind proposed legislation and danger of postal privatization.

These are the kind of allies we need to save the USPS. The Jobs with Justice coalitions provide local and state leaders with the opportunity to establish the, “I’ll be there for you — You be there for me” relationship that we need to win. When we can meet with community, student, labor and senior activists who have already committed to be there for your fight, working people can win.

Every local and state organization should participate in AFL-CIO central labor councils and state federations, and coalitions like Jobs with Justice.


For more information and to become a member of your state federation or central labor council, call the AFL-CIO Office of State and Local Affiliates at 202-637-5280, or complete an Application for Affiliation and submit it to your state federation or central labor council. For information about a local Jobs with Justice chapter, call the JwJ National Office at 202-393-1044, or write to: 1616 P Street NW, Suite 150, Washington DC 20036.

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