Organizers Share Experiences
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Stop Staples activists from New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Northern California shared their experiences – and what inspires them – in a series of videos recorded at the union’s National Convention in August. You can find the videos at facebook.com/APWUnational. Excerpts are below.
“The thing is to really educate people about what’s going on in this country. You can do it all through the Staples fight. It’s all about privatization. It’s all about the corporate greed. It’s all about… busting the unions. It’s all in there, so it’s really a great thing to go out and organize the people.” – June Cohen, Philadelphia Area Local Retiree
“Every time I give out the leaflet, every time a customer turns around and decides that ‘we will not shop there,’ then that’s a win-win for us and I take great pride and joy in that.” – Cindy Heyward, Philadelphia Local
“We’re having a very good effect in western Pennsylvania. We go over the entire geographical area of our jurisdiction, which really is hundreds of square miles. We reached out to the mayor of Pittsburgh, to the Allegheny County executive... They’ve issued proclamations in support of us and they produced folks on to our demonstration lines.” – John Richards, Pittsburgh Metro Area Local Retiree
“The students from Cambridge come on board and help us leaflet. It’s called SLAM, Student Labor Activist Movement… And we attend their meetings during the school year every Monday night. There’s also other local solidarity meetings and committees that we go to with other unions that we have helping us out when they can.” – Bill Thomas, Boston Metro Area Local
“The real intent of the Postal Service with this dirty deal with Staples is to replace good-paying, middle-class jobs with benefits, with cheap, unskilled labor… I think that resonates with the people... They shake their head and go, ‘It’s more of the same.’” – Ray Bell, Boston Metro
“We’re here not just to protect ourselves, but we’re here for the future and the future generations because we know what our jobs have meant to us. And we want to be able to continue that for the next generation.” – Karen Wing, San Francisco Bay Area Local Retiree
“My father was a Teamster; my mother was a cotton mill worker in North Carolina. I made a promise to both of them that I would, in my lifetime, try to make sure conditions do not go back to the way they were in the 1920s.” – Juanita Boles, San Francisco Local Retiree
“We’ve had a lot of people to turn around and not go to Staples. And we’re in some pretty rural places… Sometimes we get hearts and, you know, sometimes we get other things that we won’t talk about.” [Laughter] – Pamela White, Atlanta Metro Area Local Retiree
“When we are out there, some of the customers do turn around and don’t go into the Staples stores. In fact, one lady last week stopped and she got a couple of our leaflets because her husband had told her to go to Staples to buy school supplies. And she took the leaflets and she was going to take it home to him to tell him why she did not go to Staples.” – Pat Gunn, Atlanta Metro Retiree
“If you want the Postal Service you’re gonna have to fight for it now… If Staples does this and succeeds, then they reduce the hours at the local post office, they reduce the workforce. Eventually going to start selling those post offices off.” – Dennis O’Neil, New York Metro Area Local Retiree.
“A lot of unions… cancelled their contract with Staples and let them know why they cancelled it. The Teachers Union, Transit… And we were on the picket line with Verizon and they were out there with us.” – Carol Thomas, New York Metro Retiree.