We Were Built for Times Like This

Tiffany Foster

November 17, 2020

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

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the postal heroes who are working on the front lines daily, continuing to provide much-needed service to the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 has been a rough year for everyone.

Only three months into the new year, COVID-19 forced us to change how we went about our daily lives. It made us alter how we interact with one another. As I write this article, the Northeast Region has suffered a loss of thirty-three (33) sisters and brothers to the coronavirus. Please pray for their families and the families of everyone who lost a loved one to this deadly disease.

Think of others. Please wear your mask, social distance and wash your hands regularly. We are relying on each other to stop the spread of this virus.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, during this historic 2020 election cycle, people doubted our ability to process the enormous amount of ballots the Postal Service would receive, but we did it. Postal workers take pride in their work. The people chose leaders who care about the Postal Service, democracy, civil and human rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic made the American people see us and hear us. Our role and importance in this country is front and center, as our vital service that people rely on is put in jeopardy. Every voice from within our union made the world recognize the excellent and essential work we do in binding this country together.

The Northeast Region was hit hard by COVID-19, not just within the Postal Service. I want to give a special shoutout to the local and state leaders, National Business Agents, Stewards, Regional Safety and Health Committee, P.O.W.E.R Sisters, and retirees in the Northeast Region for not missing a beat when you were called to action. You made sure employees had Personal Protective Equipment. You made certain work locations were properly cleaned when a positive COVID-19 case was reported. You organized rallies. You spoke to the news media. You called your senators. You wrote articles in the newspapers. You paid for radio ads. You did it all. I am proud to be part of the Northeast Region.

The Future

As essential workers with a solid union, we were not faced with the same fate as our family members and friends during the pandemic. We still had a job and health insurance. We even had additional rights negotiated for us outside of contract negotiations.

As I said in my first American Postal Worker article, you have to know where you come from to know where you are going. The APWU has a video on YouTube in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of The Great Postal Strike. Everyone should take a look at it. You can view it here.

I say all this to say, the future of the APWU rests with those of us that are too young to retire. Where would we be if no one stood up to be a union representative? Where would we be if those union sisters and brothers fifty years ago didn’t say ‘enough is enough’ and went on strike?

Have you ever thought about what the APWU will look like in the future? Who is the future? Will the APWU have the same standing amongst other unions? Will the APWU continue to be a powerful force in the labor movement? Where do you see our organization in the next five years, ten years or twenty years?

We all need to start thinking about these things. I do all the time, and I know my fellow Coordinators Sharyn Stone, Central Region; AJ Jones, Eastern Region; Omar Gonzalez, Western Region; and Ken Beasley, Southern Region do as well.

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