New Policies are an Organizing Opportunity

Anna Smith

September 16, 2020

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

As concerned postal workers, we have been hearing a lot about delaying-mail policies, reduction in hours, gutting automation and the end of postal operations as we know it. It feels like in a matter of weeks everything changed.

The new outsider Postmaster General (PMG) issued policy changes directing employees not hold postal trucks one minute past their schedule; to leave mail that could have been processed and delivered that day to be worked and/or delivered the next day. The PMG has cancelled most overtime and management has gutted postal automation units. All of this significantly changes whether we are able to move the mail effectively and timely.

This affects not just postal workers, but all the people of this country who rely on prompt, reliable, cost-effective mail services.

Turn Frustration into Work Floor Activism

Postal workers are frustrated and angry at this violation of our core purpose. As the APWU educates with the media and fights back in the streets, you can speak about the policies with your coworkers and use the opportunity to organize. The pandemic has limited our ability to gather in our churches, community centers, union halls, etc. However, the one place where we, because of our ‘essential worker’ status, do gather (albeit at a distance) is at work at the post office.

Article 23 of the CBA allows us to engage in official union duties related to collective bargaining. Collective bargaining includes the issues of wages, hours and working conditions, which the new policies are already affecting. Breakrooms, cafeterias, lunch rooms and outside patios are excellent places to set up Union Information Centers. They are common areas we can use for a common purpose that can also allow for the required social distancing.

The effective use of these areas actually allows us to be proactive at work without being on the work floor. If a manager tries to challenge the use of these areas for our common purpose, be sure to point them to ELM 911.1 that allows you to participate in union activities without fear of penalty or reprisal. In fact, postal policies (ELM 924.32) allow us to organize in these non-work areas.

Information and Activities, We Can Advocate

Set up your tables. Make it presentable – maybe add some candy or goodies. Be sure to include some of the following materials on your table:

  • APWU Pocket Folder with Welcome Booklet that includes a wide array of information about the APWU, including a brief history, our structure, and some of the many benefits available to union members
  • PSE Brochure, and Career Craft fliers
  • Lanyards, retractables and badge holders
  • Local t-shirts or APWU merchandise
  • ABA, VBP, AFLAC, Union Privilege benefit packets
  • Save Our Service information
  • Congressional contact information

If you need assistance obtaining some of the above materials be sure to reach out to the Organization Department, or 202-842-4227. If we do not have it, we can help get you pointed in the right direction.

We have to have conversations with our coworkers – members and non-members. We have to encourage our members to get involved in the fight to protect our jobs, and stressing with non-members the importance of being on the same side.

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