One Year In: Looking Back, Looking Forward

October 14, 2014

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(This article appears in the November/December 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

It has been an exciting first year as your president. I am as honored today as I was the day I took office. I appreciate the help, insight and activism of so many members, local and state leaders, and national officers across the country. Together, we have made real advances in very difficult times.

We have forged a strong postal union alliance with our sister postal unions and we are supporting each other’s struggles. The APWU has joined the fight to protect six-day mail delivery, and the Letter Carriers, Mail Handlers and Rural Letter Carriers have enthusiastically backed our campaign to Stop Staples!

Together, we have sent a message to postal management, Staples and every other retailer in the country that the “U.S. Mail is Not for Sale.”

In March, we negotiated a multi-craft agreement with postal management that led to career conversions for thousands of Postal Support Employees, and the expansion of transfer rights for part-time flexibles.

In September, we secured a terrific win that will create more than 9,000 new jobs in small offices affected by the POStPlan, where hours of operation have been cut.

We have refused to sit back while 82 mail processing plants are threatened with closure: We are organizing a coordinated national response to the newest round of consolidations.

We also have helped build labor solidarity. Many unions are supporting our ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign, and the APWU is equally committed to supporting our brothers and sisters in struggle, from Walmart employees to fast-food workers demanding a $15 per hour “living wage” and a union.

We have met with many labor and community organizations to win support for the “Grand Alliance” we must build to protect the public Postal Service.

Looking Ahead

Looking forward, we continue to face immense challenges as we work to defend our great national treasure, the U.S. Postal Service, as well as our union and our good union jobs.

Negotiations with the Postal Service for a new contract will begin in February and we expect them to be contentious. We also must stop plant closures and further diminishment of service standards; win postal legislation that will protect workers and service; bring the Staples fight to victory; take on the scourge of Village Post Offices; halt management’s moves to subcontract all of our drivers’ work, and build a movement to establish postal banking.

The APWU is working diligently on these campaigns and the four postal unions are working together – bringing greater strength and greater prospects for success.

The Enemy Within

In all of these struggles, we have a common obstacle: Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.

  • Throughout his reign, he has weakened the USPS – closing plants, slowing mail delivery, and dismantling service.
  • He promotes privatization through the deal with Staples, the ever-increasing Village Post Offices and other programs.
  • He continues to push for an end to six-day delivery and legislation that would damage and degrade the USPS.
  • He refuses to allow the USPS to offer new financial services, ignoring a report by the USPS Inspector General that says these services could generate $8.9 billion in annual revenue for the USPS – and that we could offer them now, without any new legislation.

For all these reasons, delegates to the APWU National Convention in July voted unanimously to demand: “Donahoe Has Got to Go!” Postal workers and the public deserve a Postmaster General who will champion the public institution he or she is entrusted to lead.

Activism Taking Hold

I am extremely pleased to see growing activism throughout our ranks.

When Donahoe showed up in Salt Lake City to address a conference of business mailers, the local organized a protest against his cuts in service and plans to close the Provo, UT, processing plant.

When word leaked out that he was planning to visit the City of Industry (CA) mail processing plant, which is also slated for closure, postal workers rallied in opposition. Donahoe never showed up!

When the Deputy PMG addressed a mailers’ convention in Vancouver, WA, he was met by protesters from the Community and Postal Workers United, including leaders of the Portland Oregon Local and Oregon APWU.

In Westchester County, NY, when the Chief Operating Officer, the third highest officer of the USPS, addressed a National Postal Customer Council meeting, she was greeted by 150 protesters.

Around the country, from Lansing, MI, to Florence, SC, to Roanoke, VA, and Tucson, AZ, protests against proposed plant closings are growing.

Hats off to all these local and state organizations for stepping it up! It is vital that these protests continue. The highest-ranking representatives of the USPS must not go unchallenged as they travel the country promoting their devastating policies.

Standing Up, Fighting Back!

So I urge you, whether you are active or retired, career or non-career, to join the fight. Attend a protest against plant closures and to protect overnight service! Keep the heat on Staples! Get involved in the campaign for a decent contract! Ask your senators and representatives to support a moratorium on plant closings! Stand up for postal banking and new and expanded services!

Join hands with other unions in the fight for living wages, against privatization and for workers’ rights! Talk to your co-workers, families, neighbors and friends about the magnificent national treasure that is the public United States Postal Service and what they can do to keep it vibrant for generations to come.

Whatever challenges come our way, together we will be Standing Up, Fighting Back! 

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