Starting Strong, Looking Ahead

Mark Dimondstein

January 23, 2020

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

Happy New Year! It was a great way to end last year when 250 non-supervisory postal workers at the Human Resource Shared Services Center in NC overwhelmingly voted to join the APWU. Welcome to our union family!

Challenging and exciting times lie ahead for postal workers and our union. Some highlights:

We soon expect the “Interest Arbitration” Award setting the terms of the new union contract covering 194,000 workers. We cannot predict the outcome. Yet, based on our strong and well-prepared case, terrific witnesses and the rank & file contract campaign, I am cautiously optimistic that the award will include retroactive pay raises and COLAs and that we will prevail in our collective quest for a good contract. Important local negotiations will follow the issuing of the Award.

The overriding challenge and opportunity this year (and beyond) is the intensifying battle to save our public Postal Service, our jobs and our union. The forces of privatization are powerful, serious and organized. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has called for selling the public Post Office to private financial interests. The President’s Postal Task Force proposes an end our collective bargaining rights and a reduction in universal mail services to everyone.

With a new PMG on the horizon, we may well have a postal leader hostile to its very mission. The recent APWU-initiated petition to the Board of Governors from “A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service” advocating for the appointment of a PMG dedicated to its public mission is right on time.

Our vital legislative efforts to repeal the onerous prefunding mandate of future retiree health care costs are gaining strength in the new year. We expect bipartisan supported H.R. 2382, with over 300 House cosponsors, to pass and a companion bill is now moving through the Senate (S. 2965).

We have before us the crucial 2020 presidential and other important federal and state elections. While it is important to elect pro-postal, pro-worker candidates, I am a firm believer that the “lesser of two evil” politics of our corporate dominated two-party system is rigged in favor of Wall Street sharks and the billionaires. Just look at the fact that Amazon and FedEx paid no income taxes while the minimum wage stands at $7.25/ hour. While we are fully engaged in electoral politics, we should also be building political parties of our own, so our political representatives are truly accountable to the workers and the 99%.

As mail habits and customs change, we must continue the fight to expand financial and other services, including vote by mail. Our very future depends on it.

At all levels of the union, the fight against the boss will continue to rage in our daily struggles to enforce our contract and rights, and force management to provide safe working conditions and end harassment.

2020 will include three major APWU events: Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Great Postal Strike when those before us courageously engaged in an unlawful strike and won, laying the basis for the decent life many postal workers have today; celebrating the upcoming 50th year founding of our fine union; and the 25th Biennial National Convention where thousands of union delegates will chart our course for the future.

Let’s enter the New Year with renewed optimism. Take heart from the growing worker rebellions and victories of the last few years in education, auto, retail, communications, hotel, etc. Our Stop Staples fight proved when determined and united, we win. The strength of the union depends on all of us. When we are involved and united with each other – from the workroom floor to the halls of Congress and the streets, among our APWU crafts, with other postal unions, with the labor movement, with the people, our many allies and those facing similar struggles around the world – we can and will win!

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