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Department & Division News

John Dirzius Retires

(This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 


John Dirzius

Northeast Region Coordinator John H. Dirzius retired on Dec. 31, 2018. During a labor union career spanning more than four decades, he was a tireless organizer, held multiple leadership roles and worked to build a strong union movement.
 
Brother Dirzius began his postal career shortly after the great Postal Strike of 1970. His union activism was sparked when his local Postmaster issued him a removal because of his long hair. After filing a complaint over the removal, Brother Dirzius was reinstated. He started taking a more active role in the union, primarily to improve representation for small post offices.
 
Brother Dirzius served in important roles in the APWU and the AFL-CIO, including over two decades as the President of the Greater Connecticut Area Local, on the APWU National Rank and File Bargaining Advisory Committee three times, as the Chairman for the APWU’s National Presidents’ Conference for two terms (he served as Vice-Chair for three terms), and as an AFL-CIO Vice-President for both the State Federation and the Greater New Haven Connecticut Labor Council. In 2009, Brother Dirzius was appointed Northeast Regional Coordinator, an APWU National Executive Board position.
 
“I had the opportunity to witness and play a role in the development and growth of the American Postal Workers… a union that has never lost its vision of representing its members at the bargaining table, the workroom floor, and the streets when required,” Dirzius said. “The task of empowering our members, educating our members, and developing new leaders must be a priority for all of us.”
“John served this union with passion and commitment for over 40 years, and has set a wonderful example of activism and leadership that is now passed on to the next generations of APWU leaders,” said President Dimondstein. “We wish him the healthiest and happiest of retirements but I suspect we won’t find him far from the cause of justice everywhere.”

Tom Sullivan, APWU Member/Activist, Headed to the Colorado General Assembly


Sullivan

As a 30-year postal worker, APWU member and long-term local union leader, Tom Sullivan gained plenty of experience fighting for workers’ rights and good union jobs. After the tragic and senseless murder of his son Alex during the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass shooting, he chose to become a politician to work for needed change.

Channeling his anguish into action, Sullivan became a victims’ rights and anti-gun violence activist. Shortly after volunteering, he realized he needed to do more. “It wasn’t enough to just be an advocate on the outside. I decided I had to be a [political] candidate and get myself on the inside,” Sullivan said.

In 2016, Sullivan ran for, and lost, a Colorado state senate seat. Not one to be discouraged, he combined his skills gained from years of union organizing and the lessons learned from the 2016 campaign. He applied them to the 2018 state elections where he challenged the Republican incumbent for the 37th District seat in the Colorado General Assembly, running on a program of good jobs, rebuilding the infrastructure and gun control. This time, he won.

Grassroots Victory

The campaign took on big-money and corporate politics, using grassroots, community support tactics and what Sullivan calls “retail politics” to flip the seat.

“It’s knocking on doors, it’s making the phone calls, it’s doing the work. The work I was taught to do with my involvement with the postal workers,” Sullivan explained. “I’ve been honored to work alongside Tom since 1998,” said Aurora Local President Shelly Lucido. “When he puts his mind to something, he sticks to it and accomplishes his goals. His constituents are lucky to have him in the State House.”

Editor’s Note: During his long career as an active APWU member, Sullivan served in a number of union leadership roles, including as a shop steward and as Secretary-Treasurer of the Aurora Local.