A Vote of Confidence
Moving Forward In a New Term
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
I am deeply honored to be re-elected national union president by the members of the APWU. I greatly appreciate and am humbled by the overwhelming support!
I congratulate all the candidates who have been elected and re-elected. I also salute all the candidates who stepped up and were willing to serve. Now is the time for unity as we fight a hostile Congress, corporate privatizers, Wall Street greed and a postal management that includes some who are bent on destroying the Postal Service – through piece-by-piece postal privatization and by degrading mail service.
The election results are a strong mandate to continue the union path of “Standing Up and Fighting Back,” more rank-and-file participation and activism, creating alliances to save the public Postal Service, and promoting solidarity with all workers.
My first three-year term was certainly challenging, exciting, at times frustrating, but overall, I am proud to say, a period of success and progress for our members.
The victorious two-year contract struggle, which included a nationwide contract campaign; the ongoing “Stop Staples” fight; the building of A Grand Alliance to Save Our Postal Service; the conversion of 40,000 Postal Support Employees to career; important negotiated settlements that protect jobs; the encouragement for young workers to step up; the growing cooperation among the four postal unions; the campaign for postal banking, and increased APWU membership for the first time in many years, are all testament to the fact that the last three years have not only been extremely busy, but we are indeed on the march!
And we are on the march in solidarity with others – walking the picket line with our union brothers and sisters when they were on strike at Verizon; mobilizing to get corporate money out of politics; defending voting rights; fighting to stop rotten “trade” deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and actively engaging in the 2016 election.
But while we are proud of our new fighting spirit of activism and our many advances, we cannot rest. The next three years will continue to be intensely challenging because the postal privatizers and anti-union forces never stop.
Looking forward: The national union leadership will soon start preparations for the 2018 contract negotiations with postal management. There is much unfinished work to do to improve everyday working conditions and to hold abusive managers accountable.
We will continue to seek postal reform legislation that solves the pre-funding crisis and strengthens the public Postal Service, and we will continue to work to achieve a “pro-postal” USPS Board of Governors.
Collectively, we will have to vigorously fight the ever-increasing efforts of UPS and Fed-Ex – along with the “think tank” proponents of privatization, such as the Cato Institute and Brookings Institution – to kill the public Postal Service.
We will be working hard to expand postal operations to include basic financial services.
And the national APWU will bring to fruition a recent settlement to speed up the grievance procedure so your workroom floor issues are addressed in a more timely matter. Union education programs will be developed to encourage and train new union activists and leaders. Hopefully, the “Stand Up for Safe Jobs” campaign will take root in every office, large and small. And we will revive our efforts to “organize the unorganized” in the largely non-unionized private mail/package/delivery postal sector as we strive to bring up the living standards of all workers throughout our industry.
As we take on these many challenges, I commit to you that I will always be honest with you. I will listen well, realize that no single person has all the answers, welcome new ideas, and work extremely hard for the common good with all elected officers and local leaders.
There will be difficult decisions to make. I will be guided by the wise words of Martin Luther King Jr., spoken in 1967 when he took a stand against the war in Vietnam: “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when a person must take the position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but must take it because it is right.”
I am humbled that you have shown the confidence in me to be leading the fight forward. And I have great confidence in you, the foundation of our union, to make a valuable contribution to the good fight.
I applaud the many local and state union activists who voluntarily give their time and effort on the frontlines in the fight for workplace justice and to build our union. For those who are not union active, I encourage and challenge you to step up and dedicate some of your many talents to your union, the APWU, as we work to build postal worker power.
Delores Huerta, famed union leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, challenged folks to come off the sidewalks and “Walk the street with us into history.” And history we can make – securing safe and decent working conditions; protecting good living wages and benefits and a dignified retirement for all postal workers; rebuilding our floundering labor movement; guaranteeing a vibrant, public Postal Service for generations to come, and winning a workplace, society and world of justice.
The APWU belongs to you, the member, and ultimately our success and progress rests with you. So attend a union meeting! Volunteer to serve on a union committee! Write an article for your local union newsletter! Join the safety campaign! Encourage your family and friends to boycott Staples! Urge your members of Congress to Stop the TPP! Sign up a non-member! Stand in solidarity in the fight for $15 per hour minimum wage! Wear your union gear with pride!
I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season. Let’s begin the New Year with an ever greater resolve to build our power and our victories!