(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017
issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Research & Education Director Joyce Robinson
International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8, in honor of women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. International Women’s Day was first celebrated in North America and Europe in the early 1900s. Since those years, the movement has been strengthened by United Nations’ (UN) women’s conferences designed to build support for women’s rights and equality.
The History of International Women’s Day
1908 - In New York City, 15,000 female garment workers protested for better hours, higher pay, the right to vote and safe working conditions.
1909 - The first National Woman’s Day was observed in the U.S. on Feb. 28. The Socialist Party of America designated this day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York.
1910 - The Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen established an International Women’s Day to honor the women’s rights movement and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was approved unanimously by over 100 women from 17 countries.
1911 - International Women’s Day was first held on March 19, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. More than one million women and men rallied that day, demanding women be given rights to work, vote, hold public office and receive vocational training.
On March 25, the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York kills nearly 150 working women. This disastrous event led to significant legislation to improve safety standards across the United States.
1912 - Provoked by a wage cut, the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, MA, shocked the country as more than 23,000 women, men and children demonstrated.
1917 -In protest of World War I, Russian women marched for “Bread and Peace” on March 8. Four days later, the Czar granted women the right to vote.
1920 - On August 18, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote.
1975 - The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8.
1977 - The General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by the Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
1995 - The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was signed by 189 governments. It focused on supporting women’s rights to participate in politics, get an education, have an income and live in societies free from violence and discrimination.
1996 - The UN started adopting an annual theme for the holiday. The first theme was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future.”
2014 - The 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women addressed critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights.
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create internationally strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.
Women of every race, class and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the world and continue to play a critical role in the workforce. As we honor these accomplishments, let us never forget that while progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true equality!
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017
issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
From time-to-time, the American Postal Worker interviews union leaders to learn why they got involved in the American Postal Workers Union. In this issue, we talk with Quanisha Mcneal, a 25-year-old member of the New York Metro Area Local. She started working at the post office in November 2014 as a clerk, and was appointed last year to be a part of the Young Workers Committee. As a Postal Support Employee (PSE) her experience represents over a quarter of the employees the APWU represents.
Q: What made you want to get involved in the APWU?
“The supervisors in my station were just being unfair. I felt like certain things that they were doing weren’t right. Then when I joined the union, I got the contract and I started reading it. [I saw that] what they were doing was wrong.”
Q: What was the process like to join?
“[New York Metro Area Local Clerk Craft Director] Diane Erlanger would come to my station every week and she would say, ‘Oh, you need to join the union, you need to join the union. We need young activists. We need you to stick up for your rights. Join it, I am telling you, join it.’ At first I was skeptical, because I am shy, but she pushed me to do it. So, I just gave it a try.”
Q: How did you feel after joining?
“I felt good about myself. Even though I was skeptical, I thought about it, I did it and I got people on my side…I am not alone. If I need help, I can go to someone in my union office or go to other people that I met at the convention to help me.”
Q: How did you find out about the Young Members Committee?
“I found out about it when I came to convention in August. I went to the [young worker] caucuses where they were talking... I sat down with [fellow Young Members Committee member] Courtney [Jenkins] and he started explaining it and I became interested and I liked what they stood for. It just went from there.”
Q: What’s it like to be the voice for PSEs on the Young Members Committee?
“It feels good because although some members are converted and some are officers, they can hear it from my side because I’m still a PSE, and I can let them know what’s going on with the PSEs.”
Q: What’s next for the Young Workers Committee?
“We are working hard and we’re still looking for anyone who is willing to step up in their union offices… We can speak to [other young members who want to get involved] more on how to start a young workers committee in their local.”
Q: Any advice you would like to share with someone hesitant to get involved?
“I was in their shoes before. Only thing I can say [to them] is, I know you’re hesitant and you’re a little scared because it’s something new, but once you get the knowledge and information and you meet everybody around you who is willing to help you, it’s a good feeling.
The union is a good thing. It’s good to have people by your side who believe in the same things you believe in.”
Working Together to Reduce the Arbitration Backlog
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell
Presently, there is an arbitration backlog and the reason is simple. The grievances appealed to arbitration are usually caused by management, resulting in the issues and problems being grieved by the union. With this system, management generally does not care if arbitration cases are heard and unless there is specific language to require the arbitration cases are heard, as per the negotiated time limits, there will continue to be a backlog.
Unfortunately, each one of the cases appealed directly affects an employee and justice delayed is justice denied. The backlog also gives management an excuse to not resolve blatantly unfair discharges, discipline cases or important contract issues which are clearly in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (the law which created the current USPS and permitted postal unions to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions) did not require the negotiation of a grievance arbitration procedure, but the parties were free to agree to such a system. The parties did adopt grievance arbitration language in the first contract.
Arbitration is the use of an impartial third party to resolve a dispute. In U.S. history, labor arbitration was used to settle industrial disputes between labor unions and employers. Primarily promoted by the government during World War II, arbitration was seen as a way to resolve labor disputes without having to contend with strikes that could possibly interrupt war production. Arbitration clauses were then regularly negotiated in future labor contracts to limit work stoppages by disgruntled, abused or exploited employees. In postal arbitration, the parties agreed to be bound by the decision of an independent third party who renders a final decision on their disputes involving discipline as well as contract interpretation and application.
In an effort to make the negotiated grievance arbitration language work more effectively, the APWU and the USPS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding Grievance Reviews and Arbitration Scheduling Procedures (see box below).
The memo requires a review of all cases appealed to arbitration and Step 3 (the last grievance step before arbitration) to determine if the discipline or contract issues can be resolved. Since the implementation of this MOU began in December, 177 Letters of Warnings were rescinded and purged as per the 2015 contractual MOU, hundreds of cases have been settled/resolved and 212 discipline cases, including removals, were scheduled for hearings in the month of January and February, in addition to several contractual issues.
All cases unresolved during the review process will be scheduled for arbitration under the revised scheduling and hearing procedures in addition to the arbitration scheduling done by the APWU Industrial Relations Department.
The APWU will continue to monitor the progress to determine if there is a substantial impact on the arbitration caseload and reports will be made known to local and regional officials.
Normally, I report on the administrative function of handling union funds, but we as union officials must always remember the core duties of this union which are enforcement of the collective bargaining agreement as well as promoting the interests of postal workers by building and maintaining a strong, functioning union. In enforcing the collective bargaining agreement, national and local officers are charged with holding management accountable for the contract language, memorandums and letters of intent signed by the parties.
During my tenure as Northeast Regional Coordinator, one of my primary responsibilities was to oversee arbitration scheduling for that region by working with the National Business Agents and locals, to insure their cases were heard in a timely manner. A few months ago, I was assigned by President Dimondstein to be the lead officer at the National Level for implementation and enforcement of a new MOU concerning grievances and arbitration of disputes between the USPS and the American Postal Workers Union.
I welcome this new assignment, and would encourage other officers to not limit their work with their local or state union to just their elected positions and duties. As important as the finances of the union are, we must assure that our primary mission to represent our members is accomplished.
The union always needs capable activists to assist in the enforcement of the contract and to help build the union. Union officials who have the knowledge and talent should not hesitate to work or be assigned to assist in other areas of union work. So when you can, and where you can, work for your union in every way that you can.
Grievance Review and Arbitration Scheduling MOU
Below are key provisions of the Grievance Review and Arbitration Scheduling MOU:
Representatives will be assigned by the parties on the national and regional level to monitor compliance with the MOU.
All arbitration appeals and Step 3 grievances will be reviewed.
Cases that can be heard without witnesses will be identified.
APWU and USPS will jointly determine arbitration dates and locations prior to soliciting arbitration dates.
There will be time limits for scheduling letters, identifying advocates and pre-discussion of cases.
When time permits, multiple cases will be heard on each hearing date.
Advance approval will be required to refer an expedited case to regular arbitration.
Arbitration awards and settlements shall be complied within a timely manner.
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By Vice President Debby Szeredy
In 1970, members on the workroom floor walked off the job and took a stand to fight back, risking it all for a better career. Are workers today willing to walk off the job and to stand up and fight back?
We are heading into difficult times that call for strategic actions. How important is it to you to keep your wages, rights and benefits? Are you willing to forfeit all the gains previous postal workers fought for? We need to prepare now for the attacks various local, state and the federal government bodies are planning to launch on the working class.
Right to Work for Less
Before President Trump took office, our rights were under attack by state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. Right now, states are passing so called “Right-to-Work” (RTW) laws that will in reality cause workers in these states to work for less.
With the weakening of unions, workers in RTW states earn significantly less than workers in non-RTW states (over $1,500 a year, on average). The anti-worker legislation also weakens safety standards and job security. As wages remain low around us, it will be harder to negotiate raises in any union contract. All workers are together in this fight against the “race to the bottom.”
Most workers today do not have a contract. Others have a contract, but lost their pensions or health care benefits. Without a contract, non-union workers do not have a protected voice or rights in their workplace.
In our country, just 11 percent of jobs have any form of union representation. As unionized postal workers, we have a lot to be grateful for. APWU activists and leaders continue to work to maintain our benefits, but we need more members to become activists.
The struggle to keep good paying jobs with benefits and good services is still ongoing. Not only are we constantly fighting, but our postal sisters and brothers in the United Kingdom and Canada are as well. Postal workers in Britain were forced to go on strike during the 2016 Christmas Season in order to stand up and fight back.
Over the next four years, we need to empower our APWU members and build community movement to assist in the struggle to retain everything we have fought for and gain the improvements we still need to preserve our good union jobs.
Making a Difference on the Workroom Floor
Our locals can create a strategy to accomplish APWU’s goals to work with union members on the floor for a better work environment. Together, union workers will become a powerful machine to fight the attacks from rich corporations and politicians who want to privatize the USPS.
Union stewards and officers need all APWU members to participate. If you truly want to win more, you must be active in your local and state union.
Sometimes, it is hard for a member to really understand what “getting involved” means. When you look at the local union’s paper, under officers and stewards, you will see that there are often positions open in the local, some on the executive board and others out at stations and associate offices. Many times, interested members do not step up because they do not know what the vacant position does and whether they may be able to help.
Many members do not mind helping in small ways and would jump at the opportunity if asked, especially if they knew they will receive training for the position they are interested in. The majority of officers and stewards we have on board today were asked by a union officer in the local to step up.
Communication from local officers and stewards to members interested in getting involved must be one-on-one. That only happens when you set a strategy plan for your local to inspire volunteers in each section and/or office, to help educate and motivate members to take part in what goes on.
The APWU has been through many campaigns over the years. We must focus more on organizing our members on the workroom floor into a network of activists. It is up to all of us to reach out to other APWU sisters and brothers in order to build coalitions that give our community strength to save our national treasure.
In-plant and in-office direct actions by the workers will make a difference. It will build confidence that working together we can turn our workplace around. It happens with one small win at a time.
Answer the Call
The following are examples of important activities and actions APWU members can participate in with their union officers and stewards:
Union worker committees in each section,
Representing and educating each other about issues concerning workers and USPS customers,
Filing 1767’s on safety violations instead of letting unsafe work environments continue,
Meeting with the Manager of Distribution Operations (MDO) or the postmaster to work together against a discriminatory or hostile supervisor, end mandatory overtime and engage in activities to get more staffing,
Fighting to keep plants open and reverse the first-class mail being worked in other locations,
Backing up workers who are harassed and unfairly disciplined,
Fighting retaliation against a sister or brother for union activity, participating in rallies, attending town-hall meetings, communicating with state and federal legislative members, protesting in front of elected officials’ offices and creating petitions.
This call is to all our members and their locals to work together on a strategy to build strength in their own local as well as in their community. It is time to empower APWU members and our communities to take ownership of the public Postal Service. It is time to support the union’s goals to protect our rights and enhance our services.
The APWU’s goals for 2017 include building strength in our local unions. We need to start utilizing deep internal and external organizing programs to build an activist network in every local. There are no shortcuts. We must start organizing. The 2017 Women’s March is just an example of what can be done when people organize.
If you are ready to get started, contact my office for assistance (202-842-4250). We are in this movement together.
02/22/2017 - The 2017 APWU Deaf/Hard of Hearing Conference will be held in Washington, DC at Kellogg Conference Center at Gallaudet University on May 2, 2017. This one-day conference will address the unique problems and concerns in the workplace, union, and society that deaf and hard of hearing members face. The goal is to open doors for better communication, better representation, better training, a better workplace, a better union, and building friendship.
Members are encouraged to make their reservations as soon as possible at the Kellogg Conference Center at Gallaudet University. The group rate is $199 plus tax per night. Click here to make reservations online.
The registration fee from the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Conference is $45 before March 17, 2017. A late registration fee of $50 will be incurred after this date until Friday, April 21, 2017. No registrations will be accepted after Friday, April 21, 2017. Members may register and pay online by clicking here.
If you should have any questions regarding the events listed above, please contact Hannah Lively, Executive Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer at email@example.com.
On February 14, Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Powell was awarded the 2016 World Peace Prize, “Roving Ambassador for Peace,” presented by the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (WPPAC), headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. Secretary-Treasurer Powell was honored alongside former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney at the award ceremony at the AFL-CIO Headquarter building in Washington, D.C.
Secretary-Treasurer Powell received the award because she “personifies the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Fr. Sean Mc Manus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus and chief judge of the WPPAC. “She blazes the trail for justice, equality and peace, thereby building up the ‘Beloved Community’ – the term Dr. King made famous.”
“I once read that social justice is the belief that every individual and group is entitled to fair and equal rights and participation in social, education and economic advantages,” said Secretary-Treasurer Powell in her acceptance speech. “I am a huge believer in giving back and helping out in the community and the world because I believe that the measure of a person’s life is the affect they have on others.”
“As Dr. King would say, the time is always right to do what is right,” she continued. “Therefore I would ask that each of you reach out and take somebody’s hand, keeping in mind that it is not necessary to put out anyone else’s light in order for yours to shine. The more light we have, the brighter and clearer the path for us all.”
Reverend Dr. Han Min Su, a Presbyterian Minister, started The World Peace Prize in 1989. Su has given his life to promoting world peace through uniting the East and West.
02/15/2017 - Career employees represented by the APWU will receive a 16 cent per hour cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) effective March 4, in accordance with the 2015-2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement (Postal Support Employees are not eligible for cost-of-living increases, but they receive five general wage increases under the 2015-2018 contract). The increase is the result of an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The increase will appear in paychecks dated March 24 (Pay Period 06-2017), and will total $333.00 per year.
This is the second cost-of-living increase under the 2015-2018 contract.
APWU COLA benefits “underscore the importance of collective bargaining rights,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “It is because APWU members have joined together in a union, and negotiate together, that the contract includes COLA raises based on the CPI.”
The next COLA increase will be based on the July 2017 CPI-W and will be effective in September 2017. Additional COLAs will be based on the January 2018 and July 2018 CPI-W.
The cost-of-living adjustments are in addition to general wage increases.
02/01/2017 - The U.S. Offices of Personnel Management (OPM) and Management & Budget (OMB) published a joint memorandum on Tuesday, January 31 providing guidance regarding the Federal Employee hiring freeze on January 23, 2017.
The hiring freeze does not include the U.S. Postal Service.
On Jan. 28, the APWU and community volunteers joined the Veterans Administration (VA) to give a helping hand to veterans in need at the 23rd annual Winterhaven Stand Down. This was the thirteenth consecutive year that the APWU participated in the event – providing assistance to more than 700 homeless and underserved veterans from the DC Metropolitan area.
Veterans were transported from neighborhood shelters and off the streets in order to receive useful resources and a variety of beneficial services. When they arrived to the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center they were greeted with smiles and handshakes thanking them for their service. All of the veterans were afforded hot meals, and given care packages, toiletries, blankets, insulated work boots, winter coats and other necessities to help sustain them. Health and vision assessments, HIV testing, dental exams, employment and educational services, legal aid, financial planning, substance abuse and rehabilitative counseling, and one-on-one sessions with mental health professionals were also made available.
This year several officers, staff and friends of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) came together to distribute an assortment of items that were purchased through APWU local and member donations. Backpacks filled with survival gear, hygiene kits, warm clothing and fast food gift cards and other supplies were given to the men and women taking refuge in shelters and trying to manage on the street in nature’s harsh elements. Veterans living in VA transitional facilities and those that have been placed in permanent housing were given one of our APWU “Welcome Home” packages to help them settle into their new place. The giveaways included fleece blankets, dish sets and utensils, cotton towels or sheets. Veterans were permitted to make their selections based on their personal preferences and individual needs.
“It’s about dignity and respect for all veterans” Carney told The Andrews Gazette in reference to providing relief options, employment opportunities and expediting VA benefits if we are going to succeed in our ongoing commitment to end veteran homelessness.
“Anyone can end up on the receiving end of this situation,” added APWU Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Powell. “It can happen to any one of us at any time.”
Only 8% of America’s population can claim veteran status but veterans more than double that figure in our homeless population. According to the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) and other credible resources, veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans due to unemployment, underemployment, service-connected disabilities, delays in disability ratings, a lack of support networks, and social isolation after discharge. Approximately 500,000 veterans become homeless each year. On any given night 50,000 can be found sleeping on the streets and another 1.5 million are living below the poverty line and paying more than 50% of household income on rent - placing them at eminent risk for homelessness. The DVNF reports that the VA only reaches 20% of the veterans in need, leaving more than 400,000 veterans without supportive services.
For more information about veteran homelessness or to learn how you can how you can support veterans in your community visit www.va.gov/Homeless/ or contact a veteran organization in your area.
The APWU Human Relations Department has numerous ongoing programs that benefit U.S. Service members, veterans and their families. If you would like to contribute to these worthy causes, make donations payable to the APWU Support Programs and mail them to:
American Postal Workers Union
Attn: Human Relations Department
1300 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Any questions about our Support Programs should be directed to Sue Carney, Human Relations Director by calling (202) 842-4270.
02/07/2017 - On Feb. 7, a hearing was held before the full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756). The legislation, introduced on Jan. 31, is sponsored by the Oversight Committee’s Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as well as Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA). H.R.756 is very similar, but an improved version, to the postal reform legislation passed out of the committee in May 2016.
The bill addresses two serious key issues of concern: the pre-funding mandate and increasing postage revenue. Judging by the criteria that this bill will move the Postal Service towards solid financial footing, and should not place any undue burden on active members and retirees, the APWU joins its sister postal unions in encouraging the adoption of H.R. 756.
“This legislation is a necessary step to solving the disastrous pre-funding mandate that is dragging down the Postal Service,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Postal reform has been a great concern to postal workers, the four postal unions, the USPS, commercial mailers and the American people for a long time. We are encouraged by the bipartisan effort to fix the financial problems currently facing the USPS while preserving good union jobs and public postal services.”
H.R. 756 addresses the pre-funding mandate through “Medicare integration” within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB). It would place Medicare-eligible postal workers in Medicare Parts A, B and D. At this time, approximately 80 percent of Medicare-eligible postal workers and retirees are voluntarily enrolled into Medicare A and B. Many APWU members say that having a FEHB plan and Medicare saves them money in the long run. In addition to expanding Medicare’s role as a primary payer, FEHB plans would be given access to discounted prescription drugs through an Employer Group Waiver Plan with Medicare Part D.
The bill achieves the following goals of the union:
The program remains part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program;
Medicare integration is part of the comprehensive reform bill, not a stand-alone measure;
Medicare Part D results in no additional costs to employees and retirees;
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act’s (PAEA) required payments to pre-fund future postal retiree health care will be virtually eliminated by Medicare integration because it will create a huge reduction in the current unfunded liability costs.
Whether or not they enrolled, postal employees have long subsidized Medicare, paying over $30 billion in Medicare taxes since 1983. Postal employees, retirees and the Postal Service can realize the benefit of those contributions through Medicare integration. The APWU believes, although not perfect, this bill provides a workable route to achieve a robust future for America’s Postal Service.
Postal Rate Increases
The bill restores and makes permanent half of the exigent rate increase (postal rate increase) which expired in April 2016. This would result in increased postal revenue of approximately $1 billion annually. The APWU firmly supports a responsible rate increase to adequately cover costs and support the postal network.
Legislation in House Committee
During the hearing, National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando testified on behalf of the four postal unions (the APWU, with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and Nation Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, contributed with full input to the offered testimony).
“Since 2012, [the USPS] has not been able to make the payments [for the pre-funding mandate] at all – though the expenses associated with the missed payments have continued to be recognized, driving the misleading impression that the Postal Service is failing operationally,” Rolando said. “All four postal unions urge the Committee to adopt this legislation as quickly as possible. We pledge to work with all of you and our broad coalition of mailing industry partners to make this legislation a reality.”
Also under consideration by the Oversight Committee is a postal companion bill (H.R. 760), introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch, allowing the Postal Service to invest retiree health funds. Investing a portion of the tens of billions of dollars in the Postal Service Retirement Health Benefits Fund in a Thrift Savings Plan-like vehicle can help the fund keep pace with growing health care costs.
Within the next few weeks, H.R. 756 is expected to be “marked up in committee,” where the bill can be amended and advanced to the full House of Representatives. As the legislation continues to be revised and works its way through Congress, the APWU will stay engaged in the process with lawmakers and staff to improve the bill every step of the way. As Congressman Connolly remarked at today’s postal hearing, “Until a bill has passed and been sent to the president for signature, it’s always a work in progress.”
“In these uncertain times and contentious political climate, we are heartened by the bipartisan support behind responsible postal reform,” said Legislative & Political Director Judy Beard.
The APWU continues discussions with congressional representatives on improvements to the bill. By doing so, we continue to keep the door open to possible allies and are growing bipartisan support for comprehensive postal reform. Stay informed about the progress of H.R. 756! Sign up for legislative updates and check the Legislative & Political Department’s webpage regularly.
02/13/2017 - The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the United States Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union has been sent to the printer and is available as a pdf. Hard copies of the CBA are available for purchase on the APWU store. The pdf is available under “Resources."
Missed opportunities to strengthen the APWU are happening every day. Each orientation for new hires, new career employees and PSE enrollment into Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB), is a chance for organizers and local union leaders to reach out to possible new members. Each of you can make a big impact by simply taking advantage of the language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). We must jump on these crucial minutes to provide education, outreach and empowerment.
The language in Article 17.6 states:
“During the course of any employment orientation program for new career or non-career employees… a representative of the Union representing the craft or occupational group…shall be provided ample opportunity to address such new employees.
“In addition, at the time non-career employees become eligible for health insurance, the APWU will be provided ample opportunities to address such employees on this subject…
“Health benefit enrollment information and forms will not be provided during orientation until such time as a representative of the Union has had an opportunity to address such new employees.”
The APWU and Postal Service reiterated and elaborated on the language in a recent Memorandum of Understanding. It is a waste of valuable opportunities to not speak to new career employees and PSEs at their orientations. They are a captive audience, wanting to know more about their new job. An APWU brother or sister can show how the union connects to the other aspects of the prospective members’ new job. It is easy to see how the CBA weaves into the pay scale, benefits and safety requirements for their position.
Resources Are Available
The national office does not expect you to do this on your own. We have numerous resources available for you to develop an orientation training program for prospective members.
The Welcome to the APWU book is geared to help guide you through the new employee orientation. Topics include the mission, structure, legislative efforts and history of the APWU. It also provides insight into the union’s safety standards and general benefits in the CBA. Information for all crafts and positions represented by the APWU is listed.
If you are presenting to PSEs, the recent PSE Brochure will guide you through the orientations. As the organizer, try to cover each bullet point in the brochure, but expand on the subject(s) that fit your local.
For organizers or local union leaders speaking to a group outside his/her own craft, see the Benefits At a Glance for Career Employees brochures. These pamphlets are craft specific.
All these materials are on the APWU website under the Organization Department, as part of the “Organizers’ Tool Kit,” www.apwu.org/organizers-tool-kit. If you want a print copy for the local or state organization, the order form is also available on the website.
Everyone Can Be An Organizer
Organizing is a daily responsibility. It is shared by everyone. There are moments in everyday activities where each of us has an opportunity to reach out and talk with prospective members about what it means to be union. We must put a face in others’ minds, so the words “the union” is made up of brothers and sisters, not a third party.
Let it start with you and others will follow. Consider the last time you stood up and clapped at an event. Were you the first person to stand, or did you follow suit? All it takes sometimes is one person standing up, and the whole room will join.