We Will Settle for Nothing Less than the Respect All Workers Deserve!
May 23, 2023
- Wearing union pins lead to many good conversations. I often wear a button that says “Workers Deserve Respect.” Workers I meet, whether at the grocery store, pharmacy, airport, or restaurants, often comment on their support for the pro-worker message.
When asked, “where can I get one,” I give them mine, as I keep a regular supply.
The button came from our local Greensboro, NC committee for the “Accountability Day” actions of 1993, when the APWU launched a campaign to halt workplace harassment.
Many more attempts to improve the working conditions have been made over the years, including the “Work Environment Improvement” memorandum negotiated in the 2018 contract. Despite the decades of efforts, we are still fighting the same battles. And by all accounts, the management-created toxic work environment is getting worse, not better. While we have seen some success in dealing with individual problem managers, at times getting them removed, that does not fix the overall problem.
Hence the need to raise this crucial struggle to a new level with our recent National Day of Action on Workers Memorial Day, April 28. Workers Memorial Day, the anniversary of the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has been identified by the AFL-CIO as a day to re-commit ourselves to the fight for safe workplaces. A hostile workplace creates unsafe working conditions.
Members around the country filled out union surveys, wore stickers, and joined with the public at events demanding proper staffing. We sent the powerful message that “enough is enough,” and we are not going to take it anymore.
It is an outrage that workers are harassed and bullied. While there are plenty of decent managers, there are far too many who rule by intimidation and discrimination.
Sexual harassment is on the rise. Degrading workers is on the rise. Bullying tactics are on the rise. We have reports of workers being harangued and jeered by management for not getting enough work done in understaffed post offices. We have proof from posts on social media of managers threatening to physically assault workers. We have postmasters calling the police on union representatives. We have verified instances of supervisors cursing at our members. We have more and more stress on the job due to short staffing, upset customers, and management refusing to abide by our union contract.
Management claims that part of their “network modernization plan” is to “improve” working conditions with better and cleaner buildings. I have put Postmaster General (PMG) DeJoy on notice – unless respect for postal workers becomes a top management priority, workplace safety will suffer, low morale will persist, stress will be high, and massive turnover will continue.
It is within the power of the PMG and upper management to fix this. They can start by establishing a “zero tolerance” policy regarding abusive management. They must stop the “shuffle” where abusive managers are moved from one facility to another. Abusive managers must be fired. Period. That would send the needed message to all managers.
APWU members, through our unity and solidarity, have an important role to play. Members can organize to fill out Form 1767s (Report of Unsafe Conditions), petition management, march on the boss, and when appropriate, take it to the streets. When we witness a co-worker being harassed, speak up together. We must use the many ways available to remove the abusers from the postal system.
The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass precisely observed that “power concedes nothing without a demand.” The Workers Memorial Day of Action is a beginning, not an end, in our ongoing demand for workplace fairness and justice. We move the mail. We carry out the postal mission. We serve the people. We will settle for nothing less than the respect all workers deserve!