Contract Negotiations Begin: At Opening Session, APWU Breaks with Tradition

02/19/2015Contract negotiations between the American Postal Workers Union and the U.S. Postal Service got underway on Feb. 19 with a dramatic break with tradition. Joining the APWU at the opening session were actor-activist Danny Glover and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who made brief remarks following a statement by APWU President Mark Dimondstein. National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando joined APWU negotiators at the bargaining table as well..

At the bargaining table

Their presence was designed to send a message: The U.S. Postal Service belongs to the people, and the people have a stake in the union’s fight to protect and strengthen a great national treasure.

Also observing the session were Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC); Jim Hightower commentator and editor of the Hightower Lowdown; Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America; J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees; Matt Myers representing AFSCME President Lee Saunders; Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Rev. Terry Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

“The APWU is passionate in our support for the crucial mission of the public Postal Service, which is outlined in the 1971 Postal Reorganization Act. But today, and it’s no secret, we believe that this mission is in jeopardy,” Dimondstein said. “It’s threatened by a congressionally-manufactured financial crisis, by those on Wall Street that would like to get their hands on the Postal Service’s $65 billion in annual revenue, and by ideologues who oppose the very concept of the  public good.. [Click here for video]

“While we truly and sincerely welcome the appointment of Postmaster General Megan Brennan and the opportunity for change, it must be said from our side that the policies and practices of the Board of Governors and too many postal executives over the last few years have led to severely degraded services, delaying of the mail, too much subcontracting, and partial privatization,” he added.

“I am here today as a relatively new president of the APWU because our members are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and they are looking for and expect change,” Dimondstein said.  “Our members want an end of what we call a three-tiered structure that pays workers significantly different amounts for performing the same work.

Pres. Dimondstein’s opening statement

“We want an end to the situation where new hires can barely make a living wage and where full-time career workers are replaced. We strive for dignity and respect on the job,” he stated. “We believe that postal workers should be justly compensated for our service and our work be provided a safe workplace and after our careers have concluded, enjoy a dignified retirement.”

“We look at these negotiations as not only an opportunity to not only justly reward postal workers but an opportunity to promote a vision of a postal service vibrant for generations to come. We will be putting forth proposals for maintaining overnight delivery standards, halting plant closings, expanding hours of service and staffing for better customer convenience and service and financial services and postal banking.”

Glover  – the son of postal workers – said that he has lived in the same zip code since he was 11 and that these negotiations would have an impact on his community. [Click here for video]

“I am here on behalf of all the workers that provide an extraordinary service to the community, extraordinary leadership in the community and are redefining and enhancing the whole idea of community. This is an unfamiliar state, but an important state for me,” Glover said.

“But I hope, with all due respect for these workers and all due respect to this public institution, that we sit here and honor this moment,” he added. “We owe it not only in our relationships to the customers, but to the citizens of this great country.”

Glover’s opening statement

Trumka stated that he was at the bargaining table at “an unusual capacity,” speaking on behalf of 12.5 million workers. [Click here for video]

“These bargaining sessions and negotiations are important to the United States and to working families everywhere,” he said. “For decades the USPS has been a source of good jobs and reliable service. Postal Services have been a cornerstone for all the communities in our great nation. That’s what the flag means. That’s what the emblem on the side of post offices and on delivery trucks everywhere means.”

“The income gap between wealthiest and the rest of us is wider than any time in the last century and this brutal fact threatens to drag down our entire national economy,” Trumka remarked. “Yet, right here, workers are sitting across the table from the management in a process that can truly reverse that devastating tale. What happens right here will send a message and a powerful signal  – your work together can show America that the way toward raising wages, point toward progress with mutual respect and collective action.

Trumka’s opening statement

“The eyes of American workers are focused on these negotiations and we are anxious to see if you can climb back up the economic ladder to the middle class or lead a slide further down the economy,” he concluded.  “Only time and these negotiations will tell. I am here to lend full support. In the end, we all want success for the Postal Service.”

16 thoughts on “Contract Negotiations Begin: At Opening Session, APWU Breaks with Tradition

  1. Thank God that the officers of this local aren’t involved with negotiations.
    We would be up the river without any paddle OR a boat.


  3. The apwu will not get crushed, only the craft workers they are supposed to represent! I worked for the po for 32 years, been retired 10 years, i have said for all these years that union leaders salary should be based on what the crafts make. limit the union president to say twice that of the average clerks wage and then the union president will be talking about his own raise and will not be so quick to give in, and it would not be a bad idea to require all union leaders to work the same split day or every weekend schedules the rest are working and see how quick that would change too!

  4. I think Dimondstein has grit. He’s gathered some forces together to make their plea and he is passionate about it. Yes, the NALC and Mailhandlers union will benefit from these negotiations as APWU does set the precedent for all to follow. I honestly think Dimondsteins efforts have gained momentum and he has focus for a good fight. Unlike Cliff Guffy, the previous APWU president who sold out swift & soft. Whose only rallying came from the APWU website encouraging members to write their congressman. That was it. That was all we heard from him. He allowed the use of PSE, CCA MHA, lower wage employees to supplement the workforce in every capacity, and it WASNT right! They are just glorified casuals who bust their butts, given the run around from management because no one really understood their rights, so they were stepped on constantly. If the USPS needs a workforce, then hire these supplemental full time, full wages. I’ve been a FTR clerk for years, I was embarrassed for these new associates. Dimondstein is correct, there is no need for 3 tiers. Many career clerks just felt we were being pressured to retiring to let the lower waged clerks fill our shoes. (postal demise and years of union work) only to revert back to the 1980’s. What kind of environment is that conducive to moral? Yes, Guffy was useless and lazy. The middle class is in the spotlight now. The economy is dependent on sustainable wages. Even McDonald’s & Walmart employees are screaming foul. Wall Street and its 99%ers who are left out. Dimonstein knows this is a critical moment and I do believe he will emphasize it. He is by all means not a “Guffy” and I do not believe he will walk away from these negotiations worn and beaten. He’s had to many rallies, talk shows, union meetings, editorials to walk away easily.

  5. Postal management will kill time with empty babble until the case goes to arbitration. the Postal Service only is willing to go back in time, not forward. My dad was an RPO clerk. In the 50’s he was paid .86 cents per hour. President Esenheimer,as my dad called him, vetoed 6 pay bills. Now, . 86 cents per hour is something the Postal Service can live with. At the same time, they can never make enough for themselves. Fight the big time operators. The meek will inherit nothing!

  6. Craft workers will never be entitled to “dignity and respect” so long as they have to follow the direct order of a sociopathic supervisor or manager. Further, the union(s) should be insisting on representation in promotion boards and on the Postal Board of Governers. Having to essentially beg for humane treatment is already so undignified.

  7. It’s good to see a real fighting spirit. It’s bad to see the back of a management representative’s head knowing that every syllable uttered is stopped cold in his thick skull. We’ll see what happens, and maybe, just maybe, management will bow to public pressure and sign off on a halfway reasonable agreement.
    I expect the moon to explode and send fragments crashing into Postal Headquarters first, however.

  8. These next three months until the contract expires will be nothing but a dog and pony show and mangement will not seriously negotiate with the unions.Get ready for arbitration,Mr. Dimondstein,and this time don’t waste time extending the “negotiations” as the unions did last time,just move on to the arbitration process.

  9. The unions will not bargain together since the NALC was sold out by the APWU quite a few contracts ago. They used to bargain together but the APWU was only concerned about the clerks well being, and that is all the APWU is concerned about. They do not care about the MVS and Maintenance employees. The clerks are their bread and butter.
    Plus, the USPS uses the APWU contract against all the other unions. After the last contract was voted for and approved by the membership, the USPS used that contract’s lower pay scale in their bargaining with the NALC and Mailhandlers.

  10. What is the Vegas line on when all the union proceed to arbitration? These “so-called” negotiations are a joke.
    Management will always roll the dice at arbitration hoping to catch a break. I hope the unions present the bonus money management gave themselves and ask management how Donahue walked away with a $4 million dollar golden parachute after the previous PM walked with a $5 million dollar golden parachute.

  11. The APWU will get crushed again. If the unionms were really United , they would all attempt to open up negotiation now and bargain with the APWU. The USPS could refuse but at least the “grand alliance ” tried

  12. This is really good to see. The alliances of all Unions at the beginning of a contract negotiation but I must say there are not a lot of politicians here in attendance. Unfortunately for us the Postal network is worth a whole lot of money and the people really do not matter. This does not take away from the fine effort and alliance Mr. Dimondstein is creating and I applaud the effort to bring about activists from every corner possible. It’s time to pay for more commercials from Glover and put them out there for the public eye. Maybe bring Gibson back and team up for the lethal weapon approach…just a joke. As long as our Union leaders are thinking outside the box is all I mean. ROCK ON!

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