Convention Delegates Act on Tough Issues
Deliberations Continue on Constitutional Resolutions
07/25/2014 - Acting on the first resolution reported by the Constitution Committee during Wednesday’s session, as a cost-savings measure, delegates amended the APWU Constitution, shortening the time frame for National Conventions from five to four days. The change also adds one-hour to each of the four days the convention is in session.
Changing the order in which resolutions were considered, the convention then directed its attention to a resolution regarding a dues increase. After extensive debate, the resolution was voted down.
At the 2010 National Convention, delegates instructed the union’s National Executive Council, which includes all national officers, to develop a plan for restructuring.
As a result, delegates to the 2012 National Convention overwhelmingly approved a resolution enabling the union to adjust the organization’s structure and reduce the number of national officers. The resolution required that vacant officers’ positions could only be permanently eliminated by a vote of delegates.
Since the last convention, seven national officer positions became vacant. The question of whether to keep or permanently eliminate the vacant positions was put before the delegates for consideration beginning during Wednesday’s session and continuing on Thursday.
After a lengthy, passionate and sometimes contentious debate in the tradition of APWU democracy, the delegation voted to abolish the positions of Maintenance National Representative-at-Large, Assistant Legislative/Political Director, Assistant Clerk Director A, Wichita Area National Business Agent “A,” Clerk Division, Cincinnati National Business Agent “A,” Clerk Division; while voting down resolutions that would have eliminated the Pacific Area National Business Agent and National Business Agent, Clerk Division, Chicago Region.
Delegates also took action on two resolutions dealing with appointments that will result in a cost-savings to the union. A provision requiring the president to appoint fifteen educational representatives was deleted from the constitution and a requirement to appoint representatives to handle OWCP and EEO cases was made optional.
A resolution calling for the establishment of a Retiree Department Technician also failed to gain the required two-thirds vote for adoption.
Delegates voted concurrence on three other constitutional resolutions: clarifying eligibility for retirees to vote in national union elections, requiring subordinate bodies to send their Constitution and Bylaws to the office of secretary-treasurer to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations and defining membership status for voter eligibility.
The Constitution Committee will complete its report during Friday’s session.
Ed Schultz, Rev. William Barber: Together, We Will Win!
Convention delegates were inspired by rousing speeches from two great supporters of working people.
Ed Schultz, host of The Ed Show on MSNBC addressed the delegates on day 4 of the National Convention.
Schultz first became associated with the APWU when he attended the 2011 APWU National Postal Press Association Conference. At that meeting he pledged his continued support for postal workers. “We have to tell your story, over and over again,” he said. True to his word, over the past three years, he has repeatedly reported on postal worker issues; especially the manufactured postal service financial crisis and most recently the Stop Staples Campaign.
In his remarks to delegates, Schultz focused on what he called the attack on workers.
“The postal service is being attacked unfairly,” he said, while promising to do everything he can to help save the postal service.
Schultz said he believes that working together people can force change. “They can’t beat us collectively,” he said. “If we stick together, fight hard and stay focused, we can’t lose.”
Reverend William Barber, a leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina told delegates that the time is right for a new coalition in America.
In an impassioned speech, Reverend Barber echoed APWU President Mark Dimondstein’s call for a Grand Alliance.
Reverend Barber said our country is in the middle of a moral crisis, and that low-wage workers are longing for justice.
“How do we come together to deal with this crisis,” he asked. “Labor and civil rights are one and the same.
All of us have to fight together.”
To a convention room full of cheers and standing ovations, Reveverend Barber pleaded with delegates to work together.
The convention delegates responded to Reverend Barber’s plea by adopting a resolution in support of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement.
Moral Monday, a broad coalition of activists under the leadership of Reverend Barber, began protests in 2013.
Activists meet at the state capitol to protest actions of the North Carolina state legislature by engaging in civil disobedience.
Forward Together Moral Monday has shown that coalitions of citizens uniting peacefully around common issues and goals can capture the imagination of the whole nation.
“When we all get together – labor and civil rights - when we all get together,” he said, “What a day! What a day! What a day it will be!”
Young Activists Watch and Learn
Union members age 35 and under said their first convention gave them insight to the inner workings of the APWU.
William Emmons, a member of the Northern VT Area Local, said observing the debates and engaging in discussions with others helped him become a more informed delegate.
“It’s helpful to learn how the process works,” Emmons said. “I’m able to understand what I’m voting for and able to vote correctly based on the knowledge.”
Many young members said the convention’s theme of Standing Up, Fighting Back mirrored their beliefs of what the future of the APWU holds.
Warren Mee, of the Southern Oregon Area Local said, “I think we have a strong future – a lot of young people are getting active.
“In the past, young people weren’t involved in labor activisim, but now we’re seeing the need for it,” added Arrion Brown, member of the Nation’s Capitol Southern Maryland Area Local.
Christina Halbert, member of the Billings (MT) Area Local, said she is excited to share what she learned when she gets back home. “The workshops were awesome,” she said. “I like information that I can use and I am going to get together with all of the other union representatives to brainstorm and figure out what’s best for our local.”
Jha-Kari Selver, member of the Miami (FL) Area Local, was happy to see the delegates spend so much time working on issues affecting Postal Support Employees (PSEs).
“As a younger worker, I often hear people say that I shouldn’t expect to have a job for very long because the Postal Service is dwindling,” she said. “But, coming here and seeing the union fight for PSEs is inspiring.”
While embracing the fact that workers like her are the future of the APWU, Taryn Thorn, member of Norfolk (VA) Local 262 admitted she is feeling the pressure of representing her coworkers as well as the older union representatives in her local.
“I’m the youngest shop steward in my plant and after coming to the convention, people are going to expect me to have the answers,” she said.
But, any nervousness has been relieved by the veteran delegates.
“It’s been really powerful and I feel completely welcome,” she said.
Thorn also said locals can help young workers get more involved in future conventions.
“I think if more were encouraged by their locals, they would jump at the chance to be here.”