Q & A with Quanisha Mcneal

March 1, 2017

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(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

From time-to-time, the American Postal Worker interviews union leaders to learn why they got involved in the American Postal Workers Union. In this issue, we talk with Quanisha Mcneal, a 25-year-old member of the New York Metro Area Local. She started working at the post office in November 2014 as a clerk, and was appointed last year to be a part of the Young Workers Committee. As a Postal Support Employee (PSE) her experience represents over a quarter of the employees the APWU represents.

Q: What made you want to get involved in the APWU? 

“The supervisors in my station were just being unfair. I felt like certain things that they were doing weren’t right. Then when I joined the union, I got the contract and I started reading it. [I saw that] what they were doing was wrong.”

Q: What was the process like to join?

“[New York Metro Area Local Clerk Craft Director] Diane Erlanger would come to my station every week and she would say, ‘Oh, you need to join the union, you need to join the union. We need young activists. We need you to stick up for your rights. Join it, I am telling you, join it.’ At first I was skeptical, because I am shy, but she pushed me to do it. So, I just gave it a try.”

Q: How did you feel after joining?

“I felt good about myself. Even though I was skeptical, I thought about it, I did it and I got people on my side…I am not alone. If I need help, I can go to someone in my union office or go to other people that I met at the convention to help me.”

Q: How did you find out about the Young Members Committee?

“I found out about it when I came to convention in August. I went to the [young worker] caucuses where they were talking... I sat down with [fellow Young Members Committee member] Courtney [Jenkins] and he started explaining it and I became interested and I liked what they stood for. It just went from there.”

Q: What’s it like to be the voice for PSEs on the Young Members Committee?

“It feels good because although some members are converted and some are officers, they can hear it from my side because I’m still a PSE, and I can let them know what’s going on with the PSEs.”

Q: What’s next for the Young Workers Committee?

“We are working hard and we’re still looking for anyone who is willing to step up in their union offices… We can speak to [other young members who want to get involved] more on how to start a young workers committee in their local.”

Q: Any advice you would like to share with someone hesitant to get involved?

“I was in their shoes before. Only thing I can say [to them] is, I know you’re hesitant and you’re a little scared because it’s something new, but once you get the knowledge and information and you meet everybody around you who is willing to help you, it’s a good feeling.

The union is a good thing. It’s good to have people by your side who believe in the same things you believe in.”

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