APWU 2016 National Convention
from a Retiree’s Perspective
by Scott Morrow, DMAL Retiree Chapter President
The Denver Metro Retiree Chapter drafted me to attend the APWU Convention as an observer only, no voice and no votes. Our Chapter has a couple of full dues paying members out of around 200 who could run for delegate. Delegates have a voice and a vote.
Each Region provides for a single elected Retiree delegate elected to a three-year term by the retirees paying $36 each year in dues. We vote for the Western Region Retiree Delegate who is currently Byron Denton from Northern California. I met with Brother Denton, who has served the APWU membership for decades. At age 88, this will be his last convention.
ARTICLE 5 of the APWU Constitution outlines the convention procedures. My favorite part of this article is section 7:
SEC. 7. All delegates in attendance at national, regional, or state conventions shall be required to wear clothing and other articles insofar as possible, bearing the union label.
All my Union shirts are made in the USA by Union workers while my jeans, socks and jeans shorts were made in the USA. My New Balance union made in the USA shoes are too worn out for wearing as an observer for my Retiree Chapter.
Retiree Conference Saturday and Sunday
A complimentary breakfast from 5:30 AM to 6:45 AM Mountain time was available both Saturday and Sunday of the conference. The workers setting up the banquet were Union members! The first morning there was no fruit, so I mentioned it to one the Union Brothers and the next day we had lots of fruit. J
I touched base with Byron Denton (who received an award for over three decades as Western Area Retiree delegate), Bobby Donnelson, President of the Southwest CA Retiree Chapter, Dr. Pat Williams, Candidate for Byron’s spot, National Officers and Shirley Taylor, my clerk NBA when I was in Reno, NV.
Phil Gardner of OPM made the best presentation of the day. Most important, we can change our FEHB enrollment at any time if it is a decrease or from self and one or family to self only. I spent some time at the icebreaker getting his contact info and developing rapport in case we need issues resolved. OPM, like social security and Medicare, have had their budgets slashed by the Republican Majorities in Congress, over and again making it nearly impossible for them to meet demand. Therefore, OPM has given us complete access to our accounts at www.servicesonline.opm.gov.
Rich Fiesta, the author of the Alliance Reports I receive and repost on the Chapter Face Book page made a great presentation. He covered much of what Judy Beard did, immediately following his presentation as the Alliance is a legislative organization chartered by the AFL-CIO in 2001, who works closely with NARFE or the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.
Judy Beard covered both legislative issues and retiree chapter topics. The previous CBA included language to afford retirees the right to grieve any USPSBS collection demands and the latest CBA requires notice to retirees of this right. We also now have a contractual right to apply for temporary USPS work during the Christmas rush period and those hired receive $16.06 hourly with zero consequences for your retirement.
There was a social security presentation that couldn’t hold a candle to the one we had at our meeting on two occasions by John. The Health Plan Director was there and did a short presentation and answered questions.
I snatched up any/all available information to add to the small satchel of information provided at the beginning. Included were the resolutions , which we debated on Sunday.
Resolutions affecting you were prioritized by the five elected National Convention Retiree Delegates as follows:
1. Article 3 of the APWU Constitution, Resolution 4 would increase the associate health plan dues from $35 to $40. The conference adopted this resolution due to the impossible situation we face when the health plan puts APWU retires in as associate members in lieu of chapter members. We are losing hundreds of dollars in our budget every year due to this fiasco.
2. Article 11, Section 2 (1), Resolution 12: Require APWU to pay expenses for our five delegates to attend the conventions and retiree conferences. The conference adopted the resolution because President Burris had refused to pay their expenses.
3. Article 13, Section 1, Paragraph 4, Resolution 13 places the Retirees Director on the National Executive Board with voice and vote. The conference adopted, for obvious reasons. We built the Union and should have a voice on the highest governing body.
4. Article 6, Resolution 5 would require APWU to give delegate status to one Retiree Chapter delegate for each 100 members thereof. The conference adopted this because we need a voice and vote at conventions. Retiree membership is exponentially increasing while union membership of workers continues to decrease.
Most of these resolutions have been submitted at two or more previous conventions and have failed to pass. Tomorrow the convention starts on the Constitution and CBA resolution determination process.
The first two days of the convention started out with a Denver Region caucus at 6:00 AM Mountain Time. I was provided time Tuesday morning to go over the Retiree’s top four resolutions. For the most part the delegation was supportive. The biggest issue was that the entire delegation, except two of us, paid full dues and we pay $36 annually. My take on their position was that I needed to pay a poll tax of $648 annually (current Denver Metro Local Dues) to have a vote. Under the DMAL constitution that would also require me to run in an election for the general spot and win.
The convention always started at 7:30 AM Mountain Time with interesting speakers. My favorites were Nina Turner, Jim Hightower, Keith Ellison, Ed Schultz, DR Mona Hanna-Attish and the Presidents of the Carriers and Mail handlers. All but a handful of the resolutions discussed over the four days had zero bearing on my constituency. The Retiree Resolutions supported by the Denver Region Caucus and the Retiree Conference all went up in smoke except for one.
Article 11, Section 2 (1), Resolution 12 that required APWU to pay expenses for our five delegates to attend the conventions and retiree conferences obtained the two thirds majority necessary to pass!
I am recommending to any Retiree Chapter that until we achieve voting status on the convention floor, it is best to send a representative to the conference only and save all the other expenses. I must admit the DMAL was supportive in every way. President Kirby invited me to a great dinner that helped us bond, and it was really good and lots of fun.
The Denver Region was also supportive and gave me a voice at morning caucuses.
Being invited to the caucuses actually makes it worthwhile to hang around the first two days of the convention, if affordable. Rest assured, the Retiree Caucus will be bringing forth the resolutions yet again in 2018!