There's More to Being a Member than Just Paying Dues
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Northeast Region Coordinator John Dirzius
As I proudly travel the Northeast Region and speak with workers, I always ask if there are any new members, newly hired Postal Support Employees (PSEs) or recently converted PSEs. I ask those questions knowing that 25 percent of postal workers have been hired since 2011 and over 54 percent are eligible to retire.
A few hands always go up and that’s great. However, collectively we need to make certain that each time that question is asked, more and more hands proudly go up in a “fist pump” of union pride and solidarity, as our future is in the collective hands of our new members. We need to see more new members at our training sessions, more activists attending union meetings, more new delegates at state and national conventions, and everyone participating in our rallies and demonstrations. Your involvement will determine our future.
The task of empowering our members, educating our members and developing new leaders must be a priority for all of us if we are to maintain our status of an outstanding labor union. The strength of any labor union is measured by the active involvement of its members. The days of letting someone else “do it” were never acceptable and with today’s serious challenges, this attitude can no longer be tolerated.
Being a good union member is more than just paying dues and asking others to resolve your grievance, negotiate your contract, protect your standard of living and fight to keep America’s postal services strong. Your involvement is absolutely required.
The journey to become a union activist is as simple as attending your next union meeting. Organize your meeting by spreading the word among your co-workers and ask them to get their co-workers to attend, as well. Social media is a great tool to get our message out.
As we mobilize around a new contract, work with your local Contract Action Team (CAT) and get everyone to wear a union T- shirt or contract campaign button on a scheduled day every week. That small gesture sends a strong and important message to management: We are union strong and united. Take a picture and share it on social media to show your solidarity.
Organizing any non-members in your local is one of the most important roles anyone can play. Tell them: The APWU has negotiated a strong contract that protects our members with a good living wage, health benefits, job security and a pension once we retire. There is absolutely no reason why any postal employee should be a non-member.
If you are ready, the next step is to become a union steward or run for an elected position in your local. Don’t worry, there are all kinds of trainings available to hone your skills and knowledge. Taking that next step is what is important and vital to our continued success.
To put it in sports terms, we must fill the APWU’s “bench” and the first step is your involvement. I can assure you, if you ask my fellow Regional Coordinators, Sharyn Stone, Omar Gonzalez, Mike Gallagher and Kennith Beasley, their response would be the same. Get involved today!
Gracias a Nuestra Familia en Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Area Local President Juan Carlos González-Del Valle, Northeast Region Coordinator John Dirzius, Puerto Rico Area Local Human Relations Director David Pabon and President Mark Dimondstein in Puerto Rico. The award (pictured) was presented to Coordinator Dirzius during the APWU’s recent visit to the Caribbean. It was a recognition and appreciation from the Puerto Rico Area Local’s leadership and membership for the APWU’s efforts, our immediate support and active involvement when Hurricane Maria devastated our members’ homes, their lives and their work sites.