Maintaining a Financially Sound Local

November 2, 2018

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

By Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell

One of the overwhelming responsibilities of all officers, shop stewards and representatives of the union is to ensure it holds its money and property solely for the benefit of the union and its members. When union officials express an interest in leadership positions, they inherit the responsibilities entrusted to them, which includes maintaining a financially sound local.

First and foremost, officers pledge to uphold the Constitution and Bylaws of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO and of the state and local affiliate to which they belong. The national Constitution and Bylaws provides affiliates with language when your state and local constitution does not. State and local constitutions cannot contain any language that is in conflict with the national Constitution and Bylaws. Adhering to these provisions is one aspect of what union officials take on when they fulfill leadership positions.

Secondly, when members express an interest in leadership positions they often do so without any knowledge of the rules and regulations labor union affiliates must abide by. Union officials should have a working knowledge of the Labor Management Reporting Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the national APWU constitution and the local union’s constitution. Collectively, these provisions will assist in ensuring all officers manage, invest and expend union funds accordingly.

The Secretary-Treasurer’s department is committed to providing tools and resources for officers in leadership positions to fulfill their responsibilities and stay in compliance with applicable regulations and laws. In addition to providing Secretary-Treasurer conferences, various webinars specific to what the needs of the local are can be provided upon request. I strongly advise beginning with Fiduciary Responsibilities of Union Officers or New Officers Training & Responsibilities.

These two trainings provide officers in leadership positions a foundation to build upon, with additional training opportunities. Training in budgeting, and Department of Labor (DOL) & Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements and audits, is also the key to maintaining a financially sound and efficient local.

Whether you are a new officer or have been in a leadership position for some time, there is always something to gain from continuing to hone fiduciary responsibilities to better serve as leaders for your local membership.

Lastly, educating your membership works hand in hand with knowledgeable local leaders. Oftentimes your membership may not understand why it is not in the best financial interest of the local to take on or sustain specific endeavors – whether or not full-time officers can be sustained, purchasing or renting a union hall, or potentially whether or not a dues increase or decrease is appropriate. These are examples of decisions officers in leadership positions should discuss with their membership to determine what is in the best interest of the local. They should ask if the outcome of these decisions will maintain and keep the local financially sound.

Make sure you mark your calendar for any of the 2019 national training seminars the Secretary-Treasurer's department will be scheduling. In addition to the scheduled training opportunities, local unions can also schedule training webinars.

Please contact Annette August-Taylor, Executive Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer, at 202-842-4215 or via email to

APWU Scholarships

The 2019 scholarship deadline for the E.C. Hallbeck Memorial Scholarship, Vocational Scholarship, and Best Essay Award is March 31, 2019. Every year the union selects deserving students to receive scholarships for the college or vocational institution of their choosing.

The APWU Scholarship Program is one of the great benefits of being a member of the union. The E.C. Hallbeck Memorial Scholarship awards 10 recipients $2,000 annually for four years to use toward an undergraduate program. Five Vocational Scholarship winners receive up to $3,000 to be used for three years of study in a specific trade, technical, industrial, or vocational school. One “Best Essay” winner is selected from the applicant pool to receive a one-time $2,000 award for his or her four-year college tuition.

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