Honored to be Serving as Northeast Coordinator
(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Northeast Region Coordinator Ron Suslak
On Jan. 16, President Dimondstein appointed me to the vacant Northeast Regional Coordinator position with confirmation by the National Executive Board, following John Dirzius’s retirement from the role on Dec. 31, 2018. John is a personal friend of mine, an outstanding Regional Coordinator, and an energetic labor leader. Our union is better for his many years of hard work and dedication, and I know I will have large shoes to fill in the upcoming months.
It was an honor to be asked, and I promise to represent the Northeast membership to the best of my ability. For members who may not know me, let me provide a brief history of my union involvement. I’ve been a steward and officer of the Queens Area Local for 36 years, serving as President for 30 years. I have also been an elected APWU New York State Officer for 30 years, including 10 years as Executive Vice President.
Additionally, I served as APWU RI-399 Northeast Area Regional Dispute Resolution Committee (RDRC) Representative for 20 years, and in 2014, President Dimondstein asked me to represent the APWU on the RI-399 National Dispute Resolution Committee (NDRC).
As Regional Coordinator, I look forward to working with our Northeast National Business Agents. They have been very welcoming and supportive as I become familiar with the issues they face at the regional level.
I recently met with the Northeast Area Labor Relations Manager to express my dissatisfaction with several problems, including the nonresponsive and dismissive attitude that some USPS districts have concerning local union issues. Unfortunately, communication has become so hostile in some districts that nothing is getting accomplished. The membership’s needs must be addressed in a timely, professional and expeditious manner.
Additionally, to speed up the process and adjudicate grievances prior to arbitration, I’ve had preliminary discussions with the Northeast Labor Relations Manager, in an effort to begin grievance reviews between his Labor Representatives and our National Business Agents. Several of these meetings were highly successful in the past, achieving prompt resolution of grievances for our members.
Only We Can Stop Postal Privatization
The recent Task Force on the Postal Service and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommendations towards the privatization of the USPS must now cause us to remain vigilant against all efforts to sell off the Postal Service. We must stand behind our union and participate in informational pickets and rallies, call our local politicians, and engage in a grassroots movement to protect the USPS against privatization.
Only collectively can the APWU and our allies succeed in fighting back against attacks by the right-wing of Congress and the privateers of the Wall Street community seeking to turn the people’s Postal Service over to profit seeking corporate entities.
Let us get out from under the apathetic cloud and stand with each other. In the years to come, when we look back, my fellow Regional Coordinators – Mike Gallagher, Omar Gonzalez, Sharyn Stone, Kennith Beasley, and I – want to discuss how the APWU, collectively, not only saved a treasured public institution for the American people, but also preserved hundreds of thousands of working-class, living-wage jobs.
As we move forward, I am confident that by standing and working together, we can achieve better working conditions for our members, a stronger united front against the injustices in the workplace and most importantly, stop the evolution to privatization.