Union Democracy Sets the Agenda

Steve Brooks

September 10, 2022

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We just completed our 26th Biennial National Convention, which was held in National Harbor, MD. The delegates engaged in meaningful and spirited debate over the resolutions put before them.

The APWU arguably has the most democratic process of any of the unions I am aware of for determining the items to bring forward in contract negotiations. Local and state organizations across the country have a time frame in which to submit proposed resolutions to the National for consideration at the National Convention.   

The National provides a template format for the organizations to follow when developing a resolution. A screening committee is appointed, consisting of APWU officers from different areas of the country. They review the resolutions and determine which committee the resolution should be directed to for review.

The committees are the: Labor-Management, Clerk Division, Maintenance Division, Motor Vehicle Division, Support Services Division, Formal Resolutions, Legislative, and Constitution Committee.

If a committee feels that the resolution belongs elsewhere, they will refer it to the appropriate committee. Otherwise, they will review the proposed resolution and determine: 1) whether or not the resolution was adopted at a previous convention; 2) whether or not they concur with the resolution. The committee chair reports whether they concur or not concur to the delegation at the convention. This is where the debate on the resolution begins.

Each delegate at the convention has the opportunity to go to a microphone and express their opinion on the resolution and state whether they are for or against the resolution. They may also offer an amendment to the original resolution. If they offer an amendment the terms of that amendment are voted on by the delegates as either accepting or declining the amended resolution.

After all is said and done, the body of the delegation has the final say on whether or not a resolution is passed. If a resolution concurred with, its terms will need to be negotiated in the next round of contract negotiations.

At this convention the Support Services Division had a couple of Constitutional resolutions that were submitted. Both were concurred at the Convention. One resolution was to change the language under Article 21 (a) Succession of Officers and Vacancies. The current language in the Constitution states that the President, with the majority approval of the National Executive Board, will appoint a Director of Support Services should the position become vacant mid-term. The convention resolved that that the Support Services National Business Agent will automatically take over as the Director of the Division. This language matches that of the Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Divisions, in that it specifically identifies who will assume the Director position.

Another concurred resolution was in Article 12 Section 2 (b), which eliminated the language that stated that a local president or secretary must sign a nomination petition in order for a member to be eligible to run for the offices of director or national business agent in the Support Services Division. Several of the Support Services locals do not have an official Secretary position. Now that we have eliminated that restriction, the President and any one other officer of the local can sign a petition.

As Support Services members know, there is currently an election for the NBA and Director positions and I felt that the language in the Constitution should be changed to provide clarity in the election process.

IT/AS Contract Approved by Members

Another truly democratic process followed by the APWU is that of the contract ratification process. When tentative terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are reached between the Negotiating Committee and the USPS, those terms are sent to the APWU members covered under that CBA for review and vote. The voting process is called a ratification process.

While we were at the convention a ratification process was taking place. On Wednesday August 17, 2022 we received word that the terms for a 36-month CBA were ratified by vote of the membership. Not only were the terms agreed to, they were overwhelmingly agreed to with a 96% “yes” vote. At this time the new contract is being signed and will be effective upon signature of the parties.

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