Maintenance Division Gains Additional NBA for Western Region
Historic Action Places Private-Sector Workers in APWU Structure
APWU history was made on the third day of the union's 15th Biennial National Convention. After debating for nearly two-and-a-half hours, delegates voted to amend the APWU Constitution and Bylaws in several ways to incorporate, for the first time ever, private-sector members into the structure of the union.
Constitution Committee Chairperson Ken Kelble of the Manchester, NH Area Local gave the report, beginning with the Private-sector resolution. The measure, which passed with several amendments, changes the wording in the preamble and in Articles 2, 3, 10, 11, and 16, adds a new section to Article 9, and adds a new Article 23.
Much discussion took place on the portion of the resolution adding a new Article 9, Section 4, which places APWU members employed in the private sector into the Support Services Division. This portion of Constitutional Resolution 1 was amended by the body to strike language that would have created the office of Support Services Division Director. The deleted language also would have made the division director a member of the APWU National Executive Board.
Constitutional Resolution 1 also added Article 23, Strike Sanction, to the union constitution. It defines the procedure locals must follow whenever they contemplate a strike, including making a written request to the national union for strike sanction.
Seeking support for the resolution, North Carolina Mail Haulers and Postal Labor Local President Joe Price explained the struggles faced by the private-sector members he represents. "Jobs have been lost in our struggle," he said. "We spent two years getting to this point. The only thing we want is a place in the structure of the union."
The delegates responded by overwhelmingly approving the amended resolution.
Delegates Increase Number of NBAs
Delegates then considered the report of the National Business Agent Committee, which had been mandated by the 1998 national convention. Delegates overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments adding elected NBAs, including a long-sought second Maintenance Division NBA to cover the 11 states in the Western Region. The Maintenance Division also gained an additional NBA in the Central Region; five NBAs were added to the Clerk Division, and the Motor Vehicle Division gained a new NBA in the Southern Region.
The resolution also restructured portions of the Maintenance and MVS divisions to place NBAs in specific geographic areas. Nearly all the new NBA positions replace existing special assistants, and will be established with the 2001 national election of officers.
Other Constitutional Action
Delegates spent the major portion of the day acting on resolutions in the Constitution Committee report, adopting Constitutional Resolution 28 to require that return envelopes used in contract ratification votes be designed so that the nature of the vote within it cannot be discerned.
Two resolutions dealing with retired union members caused considerable debate. Delegates voted down amendments to the constitution that would have given members of the Retirees Department voting rights in general officer elections, and would have made Retirees Department Director an elected office.
Delegates overwhelmingly defeated a resolution to expand the National Executive Board to include all national resident officers. They also defeated a number of resolutions dealing with national officer positions.
Other defeated constitutional resolutions dealt with: a dues increase to fund scholarships, changing the union's name, joining the AFL-CIO Union Privilege program, convention speakers, and financial reports.
Secretary-Treasurer Tunstall Reports to Convention
Finance Committee Notes Progress, Warns of Future Costs
Finance Committee Chairperson Dave Pyzewski of the Norfolk, VA Local presented the committee's report on Wednesday, July 26, 2000. The committee reviewed and verified the audit of the books and accounts of the union. It found the books of the national APWU to be in order, in balance and in compliance with all mandates and regulations governing the union.
The committee's report highlighted the increase in union revenues since the previous convention, and savings measures implemented by the national union. It also noted the national union's high level of compliance with the committee's recommendations presented at the 1998 convention.
Despite the measures taken by the national office, the committee expressed concern about the future financial strength of the APWU, calling attention to the problem of dwindling membership, which has resulted in a loss of approximately $1 million annually. The report also noted that the union faces several very large expenditures within a 15-month period: the national convention ($2 million), contract negotiations ($1-$1.5 million), possible interest arbitration ($1 million), and officer elections ($1.2 million).
The Finance Committee also warned that, in order to be able to effectively protect the membership, the union must be prepared financially for unexpected situations.
Tunstall Pledges Continued Financial Improvement
Having previously addressed the financial situation of the union to convention delegates, Secretary-Treasurer Robert Tunstall gave a brief report following that of the Finance Committee. He stated that the union had a good year, and reiterated his cautions about the union's financial outlook. His remarks regarding upcoming large expenses paralleled those of the Finance Committee. He stated that he would continue to work to reduce union expenditures by implementing efficiencies and said, AI pledge to you that I will come back here in two years with a better report of revenues over expenses.
Delegates Vote Their Conscience on Issues
Formal Resolutions Committee Finishes Convention Business
The Formal Resolutions Committee, chaired by Frank Resetarits of the Buffalo, NY Area Local, began its report on the first day of the convention. Delegates unanimously approved two resolutions that would, upon his retirement, honor President Moe Biller with the title, President Emeritus, and name the APWU national headquarters building after him. The convention also adopted resolutions to support Cesar Chavez federal holiday legislation, women's rights and fair trade; back the AFL-CIO's campaign to protect immigrant workers' rights; and uphold the NAACP's boycott of the confederate flag, which is displayed on South Carolina's state capitol grounds, by withholding planning of regional and national conferences in the state.
The committee wrapped up its report on day two. After some intense debate, delegates adopted a resolution that calls on APWU to support a new, fair trial for activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was accused of murder; and defeated another which would have requested APWU to invite presidential candidate Ralph Nader to the 2000 APWU convention.
Research & Education, Human Relations Programs Are a Success
Delegates Learn, Prepare to Mobilize at Pre-Convention Activities
In the four days leading up to the commencement of the 15th Biennial National Convention, APWU delegates showed up in large crowds to participate in pre-convention activities sponsored by both the Research & Education and Human Relations departments.
Research & Education Pre-convention Workshops
APWU Research and Education Department Director Joyce Robinson reported that more than 1,300 members took part in the department's pre-convention workshops. Members had over 30 educational workshops to choose from, covering virtually every issue pertaining to local and state union leaders. Workshops included arbitration advocacy, local negotiations, organizing, retirement, OSHA, safety and health and POWER committees, local publications, political training, and how to conduct an election, among others.
Among the many workshops offered, said Robinson, Understanding the Family & Medical Leave Act; Staffing in Stations, Branches & Smaller Offices; Advanced Steward's Training; and The Fundamentals of Labor Law workshops had the highest attendance.
Human Relations Conference
Over 150 participants attended the four-day APWU Human Relations Conference organized by Human Relations Department Director Sidney Brooks. The conference opened with a plenary session centering around EEO issues, labor and employment, duty of fair representation and sexual harassment. The session was followed by beginning and advanced OWCP training and a workshop signifying the conference theme, "Mobilize the Membership in the Year 2000." Human relations specialists and the APWU Legislative Department conducted the workshop.
The Human Relations Department and the City of Anaheim co-sponsored "Youth Community Activity Day" on Saturday, July 22. Families from the Anaheim area and conference participants alike enjoyed dance performances, played games, visited information booths, and ate lunch. The department raised over $2,000 on behalf of APWU for the community. The conference also featured an awards banquet and a memorial service.
Broward County, FL Area Local Boosts APWU Political Fund With
Convention Delegates Prepare for November Elections by Giving to COPA
Convention delegates readily responded to the APWU Committee On Political Action's 2000 campaign, "Your Voice, Your Choice," by raising thousands of dollars for APWU's political action fund. The delegates from Florida's Broward County Area Local turned in a whopping $20,000--the largest COPA contribution during the convention so far. Texas Postal Workers Union delegates contributed $8,812.39 to COPA.
The following local and state contributions were collected by APWU COPA during the first three days of the convention:
Broward County, FL Area Local
480-481 (MI) Area Local
Texas Postal Workers Union
Mississippi Postal Workers Union
Colorado Springs, CO Area Local
Binghamton, NY Area Local
New York Metro Area Local
Rapid City, IA Area Local
Honolulu, HI Local
Toledo, OH Local
South Shore Mass Area Local
McAllen, TX Local Auxiliary
Cincinnati, OH Area Local
Denver-Northwest Region Hospitality
Credentials Committee Report