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Department & Division News

The Five Ds

(This article first appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

By President Mark Dimondstein 

I was honored to have led the just concluded APWU’s 24th Biennial National Convention – the grand union meeting that sets our union's future direction. It was inspirational with dynamic speakers, democratic with much lively debate and votes taken, included a spirited rally to save the service, and helped prepare us for the challenges ahead. Some excerpts from my keynote address follow:

On this 50th anniversary of the historic 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike when 1,300 courageous African-American workers in the segregated south took on city hall and won, we gain courage and inspiration. Fifty years later the education workers’ rebellions uplift us…

These uprisings remind us of our militant history of the 1970 Great Postal Strike. Those before us stormed the heavens, engaged in an unlawful strike and won collective bargaining rights and a much better life – not just for themselves but for those who followed…

But make no mistake about it – with Wall Street’s constant march for ever greater profit, the war on the workers continues unabated…

Let’s be honest. Our problems did not start with the Trump administration, nor will they end with it. But our problems are intensifying… So-called “tax reform” has shifted trillions to corporations already reaping record profits… Income inequality is staggering… The Supreme Court continues to choke voting and workers’ rights… The White House has unleashed a “divide and conquer” torrent of race and religious hatred and immigrant bashing…

The White House Budget proposes to cut federal and postal workers’ retirement benefits by $143 billion. Executive orders establish a Postal Service “task force” aimed at destroying the public Postal Service and our rights to collective bargaining. In June, the White House Office of Management and Budget dropped the bombshell, proposing to totally sell-off and privatize the public Postal Service…those in power mean business and think their time is now to seize the $70 billion of postal public revenue! …

With our current union contract with the Postal Service ending Sept. 20, the fight for a decent contract is front and center. Our aim is a negotiated contract to be voted on by our members. But if management insists on pressing insulting and concessionary demands, we will be forced into interest arbitration…

Vital to the success of negotiations is building power and leverage. The National Contract Campaign is well underway. We are building unity, enthusiasm, union pride and community support that will help strengthen our everyday battles for workplace justice and defense of the public Postal Service far beyond this round of bargaining…

Now we are facing the battle of our lifetimes… Outright plans to sell the entire Post Office, destroying the democratic right of the people to universal service, reasonable rates, and aimed at annihilating our union and decent postal jobs. Postal privatization is about the profits of a few at the expense of the many – period!...

But since the people need and trust the public Postal Service and its workers, the path for the privatizers is through the “Four Ds:”

• First, Defund with the pre-funding debacle and the artificial postal price cap.

• Next, Degrade – close post offices, cut hours, shutter processing plants, slow down service.

• Then, Demonize workers for the failures.

• Lastly, Dismantle with privatization.

But the “fat cats” always underestimate the power of the 99%. Their attacks present a great opportunity to educate and unite with the people, defend this wonderful national treasure and Defeat our enemies…

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglas said: “Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand, it Never Did and Never Will.” Let’s demand like we have never demanded before, organize and mobilize a crusade to save the public Postal Service and build workers’ power.

** Editors Note: You can help defend the People's Post Office from fat cats by joining us on Oct. 8 for our National Day of Action! Click here for more details. **