Postal Unions Form Historic Alliance

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(This article appears in the May-June  2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Mark Dimondstein, President

Our survival as postal workers depends on our ability to build a genuine bond between the four postal unions. We share the same goals – a vibrant, public Postal Service, good pay and benefits, a safe work environment, and dignity and respect on the job.  And we face the same adversaries: Top-level postal officials who are determined to dismantle the United States Postal Service, politicians who seek to privatize our great national treasure, pundits who demonize public workers, and managers who often snub the contract and disrespect the people who move the mail.

As postal employees, we all have far more in common than the issues that divide us.

But for decades the four postal unions have been divided. We have pursued different agendas, supported different legislation, and negotiated our contracts without any common strategy or coordination.

This has given management many opportunities to divide and conquer the workforce – to “whipsaw” the short-run interests of one group of employees against the others.

In the long run, to most effectively deal with postal management, we indeed must become one postal union.

Short of that goal, we must build unity among the unions to beat the ever-increasing attacks on our rights and benefits, and on the Postal Service itself.

Core Commitment

One of my core commitments when I campaigned for the presidency of the APWU was to forge a cooperative spirit among the four postal unions – the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and National Rural Letter Carriers Association.

Thus, I am extremely pleased and proud that the four postal unions have formed a “Postal Union Alliance.” With this historic alliance, we pledge to work together to oppose subcontracting; stop plant consolidations and office closings; protect service standards and six-day delivery; fight for genuine postal reform, and build an alliance with the people of the country to save our public Postal Service. We also encourage our members to work together at the local level.

A proclamation signed by the presidents of the four unions spells out our commitment. It sends a powerful message to the Postmaster General and his underlings that we are now a united force to be reckoned with. It tells Congress that “postal reform” that addresses the needs of one or two unions while undermining the others is a “no go.” (For the full text of the proclamation, click here)

This new unity gives us the ability to build a Grand Alliance with the people of the country to save our public Postal Service. As long as the postal unions were pulling in different directions, there was little hope of forging a united front with other potential allies – seniors, veterans, civil rights organizations, residents of underserved rural areas and neglected urban neighborhoods.

The Postal Union Alliance is a great start. But to have real meaning, it must be more than signatures on a piece of paper. It is now up to all of us to bring it to life – in the halls of Congress, in the streets and on the workroom floor.

Bearing Fruit

I am pleased to report that our unity is already bearing fruit. The four unions are working together to oppose Senate Bill 1486, which would allow devastating cuts to service and to workers’ rights, and we are supporting a postal reform proposal that will deal with the pre-funding obligation without added attacks on workers or service.

Our three sister unions have pledged their full support for our campaign to Stop Staples. And the APWU has pledged our full support for the fight to protect six-day mail delivery. We are strategizing with the Mail Handlers to defeat the “pilot” program that subcontracts non-machineable outside parcels to United Parcel Service. We are opposing the USPS “load leveling” plan, which will further delay the mail and make it easier for the USPS to eliminate Saturday delivery. And we are exploring ways to work together to make postal banking a reality.

In another sign of our developing cooperation, while attending the AFL-CIO Executive Council Meeting in Houston, I was invited by NALC President Fred Rolando to attend an NALC regional “Rap Session,” where he addressed 400 activists. It was an honor to be given the opportunity to bring brief greetings of solidarity to the conference. Not surprisingly, when I shared my belief that the fight to protect six-day delivery is indeed the fight of the APWU, I got an exuberant response from our NALC brothers and sisters in attendance.

But I also shared that there is another side to that equation: The fight to protect service standards, stop plant consolidations, and protect retail jobs from privatization schemes like the Staples deal must also be the fight of the NALC. That message also got an enthusiastic response.

Of course, differences remain. Jurisdictional disputes (over which employees work should be assigned to) are one example. Another is excessing into crafts represented by other unions. These will not be easily or quickly overcome. But the key is to rally around our common interests and join a common fight on behalf of all postal workers and our communities.

Truly, “An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.” The Postal Union Alliance is an important step forward for us all.


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