The Power of Organizing

Anna Smith

August 27, 2021

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

I often hear some members asking why it matters that we keep emphasizing the importance of organizing. With 200,000 members, some say, why does it matter that we keep talking to non-members and growing our union? Our National Negotiations Committee (NNC) is bargaining for us either way, so who cares how many non-members we have? The answer to these questions is very simple: power. Organizing builds our power and strength, from the workroom floor to the bargaining table, from the post office out into the community, and in our government.

The late, great farm worker organizer Cesar Chavez told us: “Talk is cheap…It is the way we organize and use our lives every day that tells what we believe in.” Our national officers can go to the bargaining table, but it is all of our responsibility to build a powerful, united and strong union that will hold management accountable to negotiate and deliver a good contract for all of us. Without a truly organized union, there is no power behind them. We have to continue speaking to our non-member co-workers, bring them into the APWU, and grow our union to truly build that strength. And we have to continue showing this power on the workroom floor by joining CATs and participating in Union Gear Days.

The power of organizing goes beyond this contract, too. Organizing was central to the historic worker legislative victories throughout our history – in winning a minimum wage, the two-day weekend and ending child labor. A stronger postal union will build power in our fight to pass urgent, needed postal reform in Congress, and is central to the fight of winning universal paid sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, protecting our voting rights and other important pro-worker policies. Organizing now builds power for more organization later as well: we can use our union power to help pass the PRO Act and make it easier for other workers across the country to join a union and advocate for better working conditions.

The material benefits from building power through organizing are clear to see. After organizing a union at their workplace, workers see better wages and benefits across the board, even in occupations with a history of low wages. Union workers are far more likely to have employer-based health coverage, with union employers contributing more to their workers coverage than non-union employers. And organizing one workplace helps build power for the community as well: higher ‘union density’ in a city or state means a much stronger likelihood of guaranteed paid sick days, paid family leave, and a higher minimum wage (click here to read more).

If we looked around at our fellow co-workers, union and non-union, and remained satisfied with our past gains, the important victories so close to our grasp would remain out of reach and what we have accomplished will be in jeopardy. As a union, we believe in good pay, good benefits, and dignity on the job for everyone. As Chavez said, if we really do believe those things, it is all of our responsibility to continue organizing to build power to achieve them.

Organizing Materials and Booklets Available Now – Don’t Wait to Order!

With peak hiring season around the corner, now is the time to order organizing materials and booklets for orientation!

Do not wait for October before ordering; printing and shipping delays because of COVID are still expected. Order now to be ready for the new postal workers coming to the work room floor this fall and winter! Email to order materials.

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