08/31/2016 - APWU retirees no longer work in the post office, but they are still a fighting force in the union and their communities. Delegates from around the country who attended the Retiree Conference held in conjunction with the 23rd Biennial APWU National Convention made that crystal clear.
Western Region Delegate Byron Denton noted that at the first APWU National Convention in 1971, there were only five retiree delegates. "We have grown so much," he said. "We are going to fight like heck for what’s ours!"
The 88-year-old member of the Sacramento Area Local was one of two delegates given special recognition. Denton, who has been a delegate for his region since the position’s inception, said that this would be his last convention serving in this capacity.
"I am very deeply honored. I felt I wouldn’t make it here, but I did," Denton said. "I love all of you and depend on you to keep up the good work!"
David Bernstein, president of the Florida Postal Workers Retiree Chapter, was given a special video tribute to his 60 years of union activism.
Like active members, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was on everyone’s mind. "So many of you have emailed me asking, ‘What’s in the contract for us?’" Retiree Director Nancy Olumekor said. "The CBA is generally negotiated for active members working every day. ... But the union has taken steps forward to expand its ability to negotiate benefits for retirees."
Some of those benefits include the Peak Holiday Season Memorandum of Understanding, which allows annuitants to work up to six weeks as Holiday Clerk Assistants without affecting their retiree benefits.
Retirees are still mobilizing and organizing. President Mark Dimondstein saluted their "tremendous spirit of activism," especially in the Stop Staples campaign.
"By the way, we are winning. We haven’t won yet, but we are on the road," Dimondstein said of the campaign to drive Staples out of the postal business. Retirees are also busy fighting on behalf of the Campaign for Postal Banking, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, donating money to COPA, and working to turn out the vote this November.