‘Join Together! Fight Together! Win Together!’
Call to Action at the AFL-CIO Convention
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
The APWU was one of 55 unions who participated in the AFL-CIO’s 28th Constitutional Conven- tion in St. Louis, MO, from Oct. 22-25. The convention is held every four years, during which officers are elected and resolutions are passed that guide the largest vol- untary federation of national and international labor unions.
APWU delegates to the convention included President Mark Dimondstein, Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy, Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth “Liz” Powell, Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman, Clerk Division Director Clint Burelson, Western Regional Coordinator Omar M. Gonzalez, and Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard.
At the convention, the current AFL-CIO officers were re-elected – President Richard Trumka, Execu- tive Vice President Tefere Gebre and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler. President Dimondstein was elected as a vice president of the federation.
During the first day of the convention, President Dimondstein expressed from the floor APWU’s appreciation to the many unions who supported the Stop Staples campaign. “All of you rallied to the boycott in this just fight!”
During the convention, all the APWU delegates attended a variety of seminars and training workshops.
This year, 56 resolutions were passed at the convention. The APWU drafted and/or co-introduced seven convention resolutions on important issues including health care for all, voting rights, postal banking, new directions in electoral politics, and a foreign policy independent of Wall Street’s interests.
President Dimondstein spoke from the floor about electoral politics, foreign policy, international solidarity and against the rising tide of fascism.
On the resolution dealing with electoral politics, President Dimondstein stood to address the delegates, “I think everybody agrees that the political system is rigged and the ‘lesser of two evils’ politics is not working for working people.
“In the last election, we literally saw a rebellion of much of the working class against the status quo, against business as usual,” he explained. He continued that the labor movement should focus on “expanding our core issues through referenda, initiatives, and propositions.”
Director Beard spoke from the floor about the importance of expanding postal services. “Sixty-eight million-plus people in America don’t have bank accounts or have limited access bank services,” she said.
“The Postal Service is well-suited to provide [financial services] … [and] will promote an economy that serves the public, not Wall Street.”
Director Burelson spoke about the everyday discrimination people of color face, including access to health care, in the justice system and when trying to get a mortgage, “we need to educate our brothers and sisters about this, so we have a better understanding of the atrocities that accompany this racism and fight as a union to eliminate it.”
The Workers’ Bill of Rights, that unanimously passed the convention, calls for all workers to have good jobs with fair wages, quality health care, workplace safety and financial security in retirement, all issues that are long standing goals of the APWU.
“We are proud to be part of the house of labor,” President Dimondstein said after the event. “The labor movement has a long road ahead to rebuild its fighting capacity and all workers across the country need to come together and work together in order to be successful.” He encourages all APWU members to be involved in their local labor councils and state AFL- CIO federations.