What Role Do You Play as a Union Member?
(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
By Organization Director Anna Smith
Every union member has a part to play in strengthening the APWU, not just officers and stewards. There is so much more to being a member than just paying dues. Consider for a moment what role you can play as a union member. You can assist with union activities and participate in them at every level of the APWU. There is a role for each of us – if you’re not sure where to start, some things to consider might be:
- Become an informed union member by attending your local union meetings, reading your union publications and/or visiting local, state and national websites. An informed union member is one of the best assets the APWU has when it comes to defending ourselves against management’s ignorance of our union contract.
- Assist in organizing efforts by welcoming new members in orientations or reaching out to those long-term non-members who you may be working next to on a daily basis.
- Participate in local rallies. This isn’t just inclusive to APWU rallies. Our brothers and sisters in other unions need our support as much as we need theirs. The labor movement takes all of us supporting one another.
- Join or form a local/state legislative committee if you are interested in politics. Make calls to your local, state and federal legislators when called upon to support legislation that benefits postal workers and encourage others to follow suit.
- Take action by being involved in your communities and talking with your neighbors, friends and family. Ask if you can count on their support in protecting your job and the labor movement.
- Help with transportation to local meetings, events and rallies.
Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow
In the spirit of May 1, International Workers’ Day, make the commitment to do the small task of asking one of your non-member co-workers to stand with you and join us in Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
All of us attended orientation when we started and many of us joined the APWU at that time, but orientations alone are not what is going to save our jobs and secure our futures. We all must be actively organizing. As we enter into our next round of contract negotiations, this is a great time to ask a non-member co-worker who has made the conscious decision to not join or has quit at some point, to stand with you now.
Even those who are content with the status quo need to understand that solidarity and involvement is necessary to preserve what we have. Benefits such as our wages, vacation and sick leave, seniority rights, overtime provisions, work hours, paid holidays and health insurance benefits are all on the table. The cold, hard truth is, without us being union and standing together, the Postal Service would not provide us with these benefits.
Through the growth of our union, our strength will become more imposing against management. Union power needs to be felt at every level of the USPS. Do not think for a moment that management does not look at whether the union membership is engaged and working together. They will take advantage of any dissension among us.
Take the time now to speak with your co-workers – members and non-members – about what is at stake. Make the commitment to be actively involved in protecting our jobs.