'A Woman's Place is in Her Union'
02/26/2007 - The APWU has unveiled an ambitious union organizing campaign directed at women, scheduled to begin in March, Women’s History Month. The campaign will urge women officers and activists to reach out to female non-members and ask them to join the APWU. The campaign is being coordinated by a committee composed of the women national officers of the APWU, in conjunction with the Organization Department and APWU President William Burrus.
At a teleconference held Feb. 12 to map out the campaign, Northeast Region Coordinator Liz Powell noted that although women make up 48 percent of the postal workforce, more than half of the non-members are women. “We are ready to go into the trenches to organize,” she said. “APWU sisters will be on the front line in this effort, and we know that our APWU brothers will have our back.”
The campaign will focus on the unique concerns of women workers, and attempt to demonstrate how the union has contributed to workplace benefits that ease their burden. “Women are still predominantly the head of single-parent households,” said Clerk Craft Assistant Director Patricia Williams, “and as workers have many family-related concerns. We must show how benefits the union has won — such as leave provisions for dependent care — have helped address these problems.”
Burrus called the campaign “a historic effort” and encouraged leaders at every level of the organization to support it. Noting that an invitation to join the union in order to vote on the Collective Bargaining Agreement netted approximately 800 new members, he challenged the organizers of the women’s campaign to surpass that result.
Human Relations Director Sue Carney observed that the postal workforce is culturally and ethnically diverse, but noted that there is “a strong sense of community and shared values within our many subgroups.” We must take advantage of these common threads, she said, to encourage women to join the APWU.
Local leaders participating in the teleconference expressed great enthusiasm for the campaign. Angela Thurman, of the Fort Worth (TX) Area Local said, “Often, I wonder what we can do as representatives, and soon we will face the challenge. … Thank you for rocking the boat!”
The committee will pair national officers with locals that are interested in the campaign. Pilot sites will be selected in each region, with the national and local officers working together to plan the organizing drive.
Local activists will receive organizing toolkits designed to make a splash in swing rooms, cafeterias, and other places postal workers congregate; the kits will include balloons, buttons, and stickers sporting the campaign’s slogan “A Woman’s Place Is in Her Union, Join Now!” Local organizers also will be provided with lists of non-members.
Organization Director Frank A. Romero said he was thrilled with the concept. “This is the kind of commitment it will take to persuade non-members to join our ranks. We must say to non-members, ‘Help us help you. Join the APWU today.’”
The union’s National Executive Board unanimously approved the campaign at its Feb. 13 meeting, issuing a proclamation [PDF] that calls upon “union officers, activists, and members to engage in appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities to accomplish this great undertaking.”
For more information about the campaign, contact Northeast Region Coordinator Liz Powell (212-563-6379), Organization Director Frank A. Romero (202-842-4227), or APWU Staff Employee Judy Beard (202-842-4215).