What Has the Union Done for You?
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Organization Director Anna Smith
Have you ever found yourself saying, “I haven’t ever used the union,” or “that [craft, tour, post office/station, or co-worker] got something I didn’t get?” How about, “I pay my dues, but the union hasn’t represented me or didn’t do anything for me?” Let’s take a moment to address your concerns.
First and foremost, it can never be said enough, YOU ARE THE UNION. If you ever find yourself thinking that the union did not do something for you, ask yourself what you can do. If you want to see change, let it begin with you.
Having a local union representative does not take away the responsibility that comes with being a member.
Ask local officers how you can help, attend union meetings, participate in a union gear day. Be active in your communities and help increase community support in protecting our jobs.
If you currently have an APWU-represented duty assignment, or have retired from one, you my friend can thank the labor movement. Any workplace benefits and livable wages you receive(d) are because
of what union postal workers fought for – what we achieved by standing together.
“Using the union” should not be defined as whether or not you have ever requested steward time or asked that a grievance be filed on your behalf. If you have ever taken a day of annual or sick leave, if you have ever received overtime, and if your seniority ever came into consideration for conversion to career, vacation sign-up, job bidding, or holiday work – you my friend can thank the union. I could go on and on. Let’s be clear, we have all benefited from being in a union.
Strength Comes from Standing Together
My point is simple: Our strength will only come from us standing together, being on the same team. We all will go through times when we are tested, when a force attempts to divide us. Some may be led to believe they are better standing alone, or on the outside. If we allow others to divide us, we will not succeed.
Management never gave us anything. Union members take steps and fight, benefit by benefit, dollar by dollar, to bring everyone up to a viable standard of living. We do this for ourselves, and as those before us did. We do it for the future of our friends, families, and co-workers.
Our union will only be as strong as we make it.