2018 Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By President Mark Dimondstein
Happy New Year! 2018 will be extremely challenging and busy as the fight continues to protect our jobs from the outrageous management onslaught of reversions, abolishments and threatened excessing. The 2018 elections, including issue-based ballot initiatives, are important to our future. The ongoing Stand Up for Safe Jobs campaign has the potential to reduce tens of thousands of workplace injuries. The APWU Biennial National Convention, the union’s highest authority, will help set the course for the coming years. Critical postal reform will need serious attention to be achieved.
Front and center will be negotiations for a new union contract covering wages, hours and working conditions for 200,000 postal workers. Our current contract expires Sept. 20, 2018. Preparations are well underway. Negotiations will open June 26.
Everyone has a role to play in building power and leverage to win a good contract. The “contract campaign” is in the works. Local Contract Action Teams (CATs) are forming and are “fired up and ready to go!”
We started the contract campaign with our slogan contest. Impressively, over 1,500 members participated. The winning slogan, Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow, helps point the way forward.
First, it recognizes that contract negotiations will be a fight. Postal workers want and deserve good wages that respect our work, preserve job security, limit subcontracting, protect and expand career work, and enhance services all while also providing decent health care and a dignified retirement. Abusive managers must be held accountable. We strive to end the divisive multi-tiered wage structure. On the other hand, management aims to increase non-career workers, freeze and/or lower wages and benefits, eliminate the COLA, limit workers’ rights to union representation, and increase management “flexibility” by expanding sub-contracting, eliminating “no lay-off” protections, and ending excessing limitations. The battle lines are drawn!
Second, the slogan underscores that negotiations are both about the immediate and important needs of “today,” such as the next pay raise and “making it” to retirement, while simultaneously fighting for “tomorrow” – as we stand for future generations of workers, for our families and communities, and for a vibrant public Postal Service.
My comments before the Interest Arbitration Panel two years ago, during the final stage of the 2015 contract negotiations, spoke to this issue:
“When I began working at the Post Office, in 1983, my life rapidly changed for the better. I had three young children at the time. Literally overnight I was making good union wages and secured good benefits. I had union-negotiated job security… My postal career began 13 years after a massive shift that resulted from the 1970 postal strike. Those postal workers who stormed the heavens did not know if they would still have jobs after an unlawful job action. But their legitimate frustrations and anger left them no other path. They did it to take care of themselves and their families and in so doing took care of me and other postal workers who followed. I now believe it is not only our turn to take care of ourselves in these negotiations, but to reach out to the new workers, the younger workers, and those who aren’t here yet, to make sure we’re passing on decent sustaining wages, good benefits, secure retirements – where workers are not living to work, but working to live, and live decently.”
Postal workers of all crafts, career and non-career, full- time and part-time, long-term and short-term, In Our Unity Lies Our Strength as together we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow!