Organizing for Action in 2017
(This article first appeared in the November-December 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Sisters and brothers, an important part of our fight to protect and secure our hard-earned benefits and to help to preserve the Postal Service includes the continued growth of the APWU Retirees Department. Our collective efforts will help us achieve our goals. Retiree Chapter members participate in social, political, legislative, and educational activities for the dual purposes of improving retirees’ quality of life and reaching out to help those less fortunate. Retiree Chapters also assist APWU local and state organizations. The members of Retiree Chapters have proven to be an asset to the union at every level – as mentors and a support system for our local unions.
Most APWU Retiree Department members are not in organized Retiree Chapters. We need to organize. Working collectively lightens the burden for all of us and we are much more effective. Imagine the reaction from our congressional representatives when we collectively reach out to them. I am sure many of you remember how packed the streets of Washington, DC, and the halls of Congress were when the labor movement banded together for legislative actions. Maybe we cannot all hit the streets, but we can certainly use many other methods to collectively contact our legislative representatives, including the mail. We must act! We must organize!
Organizing a local retiree chapter begins by contacting the Retiree Department. The local chapter must function consistent with the national and chapter constitutions, and with the cooperation of the local. The local, at its general membership meeting, should pass a motion to form a Retiree Chapter to be chartered by the national union. In accordance with Article 16.2(i) of the APWU national constitution, “Ten (10) or more Retiree Department members residing within a local or area local geographical jurisdiction may form a Local Retiree Chapter.” The members then move forward to formalize the Retiree Chapter with the assistance of the Retiree Department.
Getting formally organized into a Retiree Chapter is the first step. The next step is getting active and continuing to grow the chapter. Many of the old methods of organizing are still successful today; we just need to add a modern twist. For example, we have always used face-to-face, door-knocking, telephone, and mail to organize. The modern twist is that we can now add email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. We will continue to recruit new retirees, work within our locals, mentor young workers, and work within our communities to re-ignite the spirit of unionism. Retiree Chapters embrace the chapter members’ personal outreach interest issues and activities as a show of solidarity. “Just Do It!”
Each November we start by honoring and saying “Thank you for your service” to our veterans. We also give thanks and share our blessings in various other ways.
After six months as the APWU Retiree Department Director, I again say, “Thank you” to everyone at the union’s national office for making my transition smooth. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve the membership of the APWU. I thank my local, the Nation’s Capital Area Local; my state, Maryland-DC State APWU, and the Washington DC (WDC) Region for continuing to support me. I thank my colleagues Pam Richardson, Rachel Walthall and Lamont Brooks, and the staff of the WDC Region NBA office, Romanah Nestor and Tammy Hogan. Last but certainly not least, I thank you, the APWU Retirees Department members, for embracing me and supporting me in the true spirit of unionism. Thank you, APWU.
As this magazine was about to go to print, the government announced the cost-of-living increase for millions of postal and federal retirees and Social Security recipients would be just 0.3 percent in 2017. Please visit apwu.org for more information.