Delegates Take to the Streets:
Save Saturday Service!
08/25/2010 - Thousands of APWU members, led by union president William Burrus and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, marched through the streets of downtown Detroit on Tuesday afternoon to Save Saturday Service and rally for good jobs.
Wearing blue APWU T-shirts and chanting “Five Day – No Way!” delegates shut down busy streets and assembled in Campus Martius Park to alert the public to the need to stop USPS plans to abolish Saturday mail delivery.
“Everywhere we go, the Postal Service is closing and consolidating post offices,” Rev. Jackson told the cheering crowd. “We are postal workers fighting back. It’s time to save our jobs and Save Our Service!”
Burrus said that members must “tell America that we’re not fooled” by the USPS plan to close the mailbox on Saturday, and we must let the public know that they shouldn’t be fooled either.
Christopher Ulmer, president of the Detroit District Area Local, said that the rally was crucial to make the public more aware of the dangers of the Postal Service’s proposal.
The demonstration showed that the APWU was a “force to be reckoned with,” Ulmer said.
Members of other labor unions pledged support for the fight.
“Over 200,000 working members of the Detroit AFL-CIO stand with you,” said Saundra Williams, president of the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council. “We will defeat this crazy notion of five-day delivery. We will not support diminishing services.”
Mark Gaffney, presid
ent of the Michigan State AFL-CIO asked rally participants: “You wanna know who’s on your side? Everyone with a mailbox.”
Albert Alson, Jr. of the Greater Connecticut Area Local said the public needs to know about the detrimental effects of the USPS proposal.
“The Postal Service needs to keep six-day delivery,” Alston said. “We provide a good service.”
Linda Peabody and Gail Ganiszewski, members of the Tri-County (PA) Area Local, said they hoped the rally motivated the people of Detroit to support
the union’s efforts.
“This city especially needs to see people working together, and here we are, thousands of people together, fighting for jobs,” Ganiszewski said.
Job Security Dominates Clerk Discussions
Clerk Division delegates discussed job security at their pre-convention conference on Aug. 21 and 22, debating resolutions and discussing officers’ reports about issues affecting the craft.
“It’s a tough time at the Postal Service this day in age,” said Jim McCarthy, Clerk Craft Director.
On Saturday, delegates discussed resolutions, many of which focused on excessing. The relocation of employees in the craft has been a major point of contention between the Postal Service and the APWU.
“There’s no question in my mind, the days of being comfortable in your job are over,” said Rob Strunk, Assistant Director of the Clerk Division.
Strunk said every clerk craft member is concerned about the future of their work, “whether it’s keeping a job, being excessed to another installation,” or changes to the no-layoff clause. “It’s a tough struggle,” he said.
Assistant Director Pat Williams said many clerks are being excessed because of the elimination of Tour 2 and new machinery. “Employees are being sent to other tours, other facilities, and other crafts,” such as mail handler and letter carrier positions.
Sunday’s session was an “open forum” at which delegates addressed topics that will be discussed in upcoming contract negotiations, including job postings and bidding, the no-layoff clause, and training and testing.
“The convention is a great opportunity for union negotiators to hear directly from the members who are directly affected by the contract,” said Assistant Director Mike Morris.
Fight Against Subcontracting Takes Center Stage at MVS Conference
Motor Vehicle Services Division delegates discussed several urgent topics at their pre-convention conference Aug. 21 and 22.
At the top of the agenda was discussion of the pilot program that established flexible work rules and flexible schedules as part of the union’s efforts to ward off subcontracting. “The Motor Vehicle Division is under attack,” said MVS Director Bob Pritchard, but the pilot program prevented 22 sites from being contracted out.
Early discussions with management about implementation of the program were “contentious, to say the least,” Pritchard remarked; however, once management realized that union input was essential to making the pilot work, progress was made.
MVS employees find some of the changes brought about by the program upsetting, he noted, especially the possibility that work days will extend beyond nine hours, but “in the big picture, the program has been very beneficial.”
Subcontracting will be a topic of discussion when contract negotiations get underway next month, and will affect both drivers and mechanics, Pritchard said. The union’s goal will be to keep work in-house.
“The Postal Service is refusing to hire,” he noted. “We have always maintained that we give them a better product for less.”
MVS delegates also discussed the importance of filing grievances to demand that management count Highway Contract Route drivers as casuals. If they are counted as casuals, the complement would exceed the number permitted under the terms of Collective Bargaining Agreement in most installations and would strengthen the union’s effort to limit subcontracting.
A presentation by Assistant Director Michael O. Foster demonstrated the size of the challenge: A review of the MVS officers’ reports to national conventions shows that subcontracting has been a major subject at every MVS conference since 1972.
2010 APWU Convention Highlight Videos
Videos of convention highlights are being broadcast each day in hotel rooms:
Courtyard by Marriott - Ch. 18
Greektown Hotel - Ch. 2
Hilton Garden - Ch. 38
MotorCity Hotel - Ch. 4
Marriott Ren. Ctr. - Ch. 76
The Westin Book - Ch. 76.
Assembly Honors Retiring Officers
A distinguished group of national officers who will retire at the end of their term in November were honored by convention delegates on Aug. 23. Together, they have given 179 years of service to the members of the APWU.
“I have a deep respect for each and every one of these officers,” APWU President William Burrus said. Noting that several of the retirees have been among his toughest critics — frequently challenging his rulings as convention chairman – Burrus praised them as “true leaders.”
“It’s been a blast. I’ve enjoyed every second of it,” he said.
The retirees are: Jim McCarthy, Director, Clerk Division; Bill Sullivan, Southern Region Coordinator; Frank A. Romero, Director, Organization Department; National Business Agents John Clark, Clerk Division, Wichita Region; Steve Zamanakos, Clerk Division, Denver Region; Dale “Leon” Tatum, Clerk Division, Wichita Region; Leonard Trujillo, Clerk Division, San Francisco Region; Woodrow Williams, Clerk Division, San Francisco Region; Don Foley, Maintenance Division, Central Region; Charlie Robbins, Maintenance Division, Southern Region, and Russell Knepp, Motor Vehicle Service Division, Eastern Region. Also honored was Richard Boutwell, the union’s Federal Employees Compensation Specialist.
National officers who will retire in November were recognized for their service to the APWU.
APWU veterans were recognized for their service at Tuesday’s rally. “I’d like the public to recognize the individuals wearing the camouflage hats,” Burrus told the crowd. “These are the American veterans, the individuals who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom,” he said.
As presented by Chairperson Geneva Greenlee of the Indiana APWU, the preliminary report of the APWU Credentials Committtee for Tuesday, Aug. 24, is as follows: The 20th Biennial Convention’s 2,356 delegates represent 355 locals, 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Also in attendance are 84 national officers and five Retirees Department delegates.