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APWU News Bulletins

APWU Endorses Barack Obama

08/22/2012 - Delegates to the APWU’s 21st Biennial Convention voted unanimously on Wednesday to endorse President Barack Obama for a second term.

In these difficult times for postal workers and for all working people, delegates expressed their clear belief that President Obama stands on the side of workers, while his opponent this November threatens the very existence of the labor movement.

In his State of the Union address earlier in the week, President Guffey told the assembled delegates that “If there’s a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican president [in January], it won’t be a matter of years — it will be a matter of days before we lose our right to collective bargaining.”

Delegates watched a recorded message from President Obama shortly before the vote. 

“We want to build an economy that lasts,” the President said, “and that’s why we’re pushing back against the assault on unions, because the values you stand for — hard work, responsibility, looking out for one another — aren’t just union values.  They’re American values.

“That’s why we’re fighting to make sure that the United States Postal Service keeps delivering for the American people.”

The delegates made clear their approval of this message.


Delegates Approve 
Changes to APWU Constitution

In voting on Aug. 22, delegates to the 21st APWU National Convention overwhelmingly approved a resolution that will enable the union to adjust the organization’s structure and reduce the number of national officers. The resolution allows officers who have the authority to fill vacant union positions to combine officers’ duties; but elected officers’ positions can only be permanently eliminated by a vote of delegates to a subsequent National Convention.

The resolution is the culmination of debate over many years about how to adjust the organization’s structure.

Locals and states have tried to identify specific positions for elimination over 20 years, said Fran Friel, president of Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, but the proposals were repeatedly shot down. “Today is the day to take action,” he said, in proposing a compromise resolution.


2012 APWU Convention 
Highlight Videos

 

 Video 5 
 Video 4 
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 Video 1 


Delegates Approve 
Changes to APWU Constitution

In voting on Aug. 22, delegates to the 21st APWU National Convention overwhelmingly approved a resolution that will enable the union to adjust the organization’s structure and reduce the number of national officers. The resolution allows officers who have the authority to fill vacant union positions to combine officers’ duties; but elected officers’ positions can only be permanently eliminated by a vote of delegates to a subsequent National Convention.

The resolution is the culmination of debate over many years about how to adjust the organization’s structure.

Locals and states have tried to identify specific positions for elimination over 20 years, said Fran Friel, president of Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, but the proposals were repeatedly shot down. “Today is the day to take action,” he said, in proposing a compromise resolution.

Chuck Pugar, chairman of the Constitution Committee, said overwhelming support for what was expected to be a controversial proposal emerged because of open and collaborative nature of the process. At the 2010 National Convention, delegates instructed the National Executive Council, which includes all national officers, to develop a plan for restructuring.  “The NEC’s proposal was tweaked by the National Presidents’ Conference,” a committee of local and state presidents. “It was very transparent,” he said.

“We’ve made history for this organization,” APWU President Cliff Guffey declared at the conclusion of voting on constitutional changes. “It’s terrific that we’ve done something on our restructuring.”

The resolution also ends the practice of setting aside money for the union’s private-sector organizing efforts; however, it keeps money that is currently in the fund intact for that purpose.

In other voting, delegates voted to allow members of the APWU Retirees Department to vote for seven  general officers: the president, vice president, secretary-treasurer, legislative and political director and assistant director, human relations director, and health plan director. Members of the department currently vote for the Retirees Department director and for five regional retiree representatives.

 “I just want to thank all of you people that supported us,” said Byron Denton, the retiree delegate for the Western Region. “We’re going to give you the 100% that we’ve always given you... I’m 84 years old I wanted to see this happen before I die,” he said to cheers and whistles. “Thank you, I love you and God bless you.”


Reps. Judy Chu, Brad Sherman
Address APWU Convention

On Aug. 20, two members of Congress from the Los Angeles area, Reps. Judy Chu (D) and Brad Sherman, also addressed the convention.

In a fiery speech, Chu recalled how she and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) have worked with the union and community leaders to stop consolidations in Pasadena and City of Industry, which would harm service and displace hundreds of workers. “We are not going to let it happen without a fight,” she promised.

Faulting House GOP leaders for failing to act save the USPS, she said “they are apparently just fine with letting the Postal Service wither on the vine.”

We can’t let them get away” with passing H.R. 2309, she said, which “would destroy the Postal Service, requiring the Postal Service to implement $3 billion dollars worth of cuts, and appointing a board that could reject labor contracts.”

“But most insultingly, it guts your rights — the right to collectively bargain in good faith, by prohibiting postal unions from negotiating with the USPS for protections against layoffs. That is something we cannot let happen,” Chu added. “We know there are better solutions out there than turning workers into scapegoats.”

Congress must act responsibly, she said, and lawmakers should “use S. 1789 as a starting point, and work to improve it and not turn our back on workers and give up on the Postal Service.

“Let’s fight back,” Chu concluded. “Are you with me?”

Sherman Speaks to Delegates

Like Davis and Chu, Rep. Sherman offered no apologies for standing up for labor. “I have stood with you for my 16 years in Congress, with a 100 percent AFL-CIO voting record.”

In the 1960s, he recalled, “America had this tremendous optimism. Unions were strong, and the American Dream was alive and well,” he recalled.'

“Now we are told that the Dream only belongs to the top one percent, and that American unions should be hobbled. Brothers and sisters, the American Dream belongs to all Americans, and the way we get it is with strong unions.”

Sherman urged Congress to pass two bills he introduced. One “would eliminate so-called right-to-work laws,” which make it “virtually impossible to organize” in all 50 states. Another would suspend our trade agreements with China “until we get a balanced trade relationship,” he said.

“If we just had a balanced trade relationship, there would be a labor shortage in this country, and the Postal Service’s biggest problem would be recruiting more workers.

“The American Dream has always included a strong U.S. Postal Service, with middle class jobs, and the best mail delivery in the world.”

Sherman condemned House Republicans for “doing all they can to undermine the Postal Service.” The right solution he said, is to “pass H.R. 1351, to put the Postal Service on a strong financial footing.


Rep. Maxine Waters: 
Let’s Get Our Country Back on Track

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) delivered a rousing speech Aug. 20 at a caucus of Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER), where she urged APWU members to get involved to get the country back on track.

Congress wasn’t always polarized, she pointed out. “We elected our first black president. People all over the world started to look at us differently, but then the Tea Party came along and they’ve attempted to block everything the president has tried to do.”

The world is looking at us, she said.“We’ve got to step up and show the world what America really is about.”

Rep. Waters said the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, is being portrayed as something that will benefit everyday Americans. “What they don’t tell you is that it will end healthcare and cut funding for Medicare, Social Security and Pell grants.”

“These people are no friends of organized labor; they think you make too much money,” Waters warned.

“The Ryan budget protects the 1%. It does nothing for the middle class. Their focus is on Wall Street, and on the ‘too big to fail’ institutions.”

“We need legislators who are prepared to take this country back to where it should be, but we’ve got to get some people out of the way.”

Waters warned APWU delegates to take election 2012 very seriously. “You need to make sure that your family, your friends, your neighbors and everyone in your community votes.”

Waters said that extremists in the Republican Party seek to control America and to remake it in their own image. “They don’t talk about issues that matter to everyday people – like the economy, good wages and a better quality of life. They pull your heartstrings on personal issues like abortion.”

Waters warned delegates not to be fooled by their tactics. “Organized labor, don’t let me catch you voting for these people!”

Waters concluded, “The only thing standing between them and this country being what it should be is you and I.”


Trumka: Labor Will Not be Turned Aside

On the third day of the APWU National Convention, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told delegates that: “Dependable mail delivery is a core function of any national government.  The mail should not be political — not any more than highways or bridges or schools.”

“But somebody forgot to tell Rep. Darrell Issa and the Republican leadership,” he said.

“Issa doesn’t care that our Postal Service is part of the glue that holds our national community together. He doesn’t care that a post office can keep a small town alive. He doesn’t even care about the businesses — the pharmaceutical companies, the printers and magazine publishers — and so many others who rely on dependable mail delivery six days a week. And he sure doesn’t care about you!”

“America needs to understand — at the gut level — that the single most effective long-term American economic stimulus is a union contract. Collective bargaining can and will set regional and national standards for good wages, good benefits and secure retirements.

“If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the right-wing say we can’t pay for better schools and safe highways… if we can’t afford teachers and postal workers… if we can’t keep our promises to public workers… if we can’t afford six-day mail service — we sure as hell can’t afford more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

“But the Romney-Ryan budget would gut the post office; gut education, training, research and development, and everything else we need to grow; and it would end Medicare as we know it — all to give more tax breaks to the super-rich!

 “The last thing America needs is a self-serving, privatizing outsourcer like Mitt Romney who talks out of both sides of his mouth. He even outsources his bank accounts.

“This political season we have every reason to go the extra mile. We’re reaching past the walls of our union halls. We’re reaching out to non-union workers and community allies and building a grassroots movement like America hasn’t seen in generations.

 “United, we cannot and will not be turned aside.”


COPA Stars Walk the Red Carpet

“As we head toward the November elections, the union’s COPA fund is crucial,” said Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid. “The Committee on Political Action helps us elect lawmakers who will support our efforts to Save America’s Postal Service, protect jobs, and get our country back on track.

“On COPA Night we recognize the APWU members who contribute generously to our fundraising campaign,” he added. “The refreshments were delicious, the conversation was scintillating, the band was bumping… but the COPA Divas stole the show.”

Garnering top honors on Aug. 21 were:

  • Glenn Savage, of the Montgomery County [MD] Area Local, who contributed $7,050 since the 2010 National Convention
     
  • Shirley J. Taylor, Clerk Division National Business Agent for the San Francisco Region and member of the East Bay Area Local, who contributed $5,471 since the 2010 National Convention
     
  • Bernie Timmerman, Clerk Division National Business Agent for the New York Region and member of the Central New York Area Local, who gave $2,770 since the 2010 National Convention

Reid also acknowledged APWU POWER (Post Office Women for Equal Rights) for the organization’s ongoing fundraising prowess.

Winners of the Trip of a Lifetime contest will be drawn Thursday, Aug. 23, at 12 noon, so make sure to get tickets before then.


Credentials Committee Report 

Video Highlights

Videos of convention highlights are being broadcast each day in hotel rooms: 
 Westin Bonaventure (Channel 45)
 The Sheraton (Channel 39)
 JW Marriott (Channel 71).

As presented by Chairperson Geneva Greenlee of the Indiana APWU, the preliminary report of the APWU Credentials Committee for Wednesday, Aug. 22, is as follows: The 21st Biennial Convention’s 1,991 delegates represent 327 locals, 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance are 87 national officers and five Retirees Department delegates.