APWU Meets With Federal Task Force Considering Changes to USPS

Web News Article #:

55-2018

06/08/2018

On Tuesday, June 6, APWU President Mark Dimondstein, joined by Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard, Manager of Negotiation Support and Special Projects Phil Tabbita, along with other APWU representatives, met with the White House Task Force on the Postal Service. The task force was presented with a series of union recommendations and supporting materials on how the USPS could improve services, become more financially stable, and continue to remain a treasured public institution offering universal service to all citizens, regardless of where they live or work.

President Trump created the task force In April, as APWU reported at that time. It is being led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Jeff Pons and and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney. The President’s executive order charged the task force with evaluating and reporting on the operations and finances of the United States Postal Service, such as pricing, policies and the costs of the workforce. Its report, which is to contain legislative and executive proposals, is due by August 10.

The executive order is modeled after one President George W. Bush issued in 2002 and came after President Trump released a series of tweets critical of the U.S. Postal Service’s relationship with Amazon. Even more controversial than the Bush-era executive order, Trump said the task force should examine the obligation to provide universal service “in light of changes in technology, e-commerce, marketing practices and customer needs.”

“In our discussions with the task force we spoke some plain truths about what the U.S. Postal Service needs and what it doesn’t,” said Beard. “We also shared materials that we had developed in coordination with other postal unions.”

Among those plain truths:

  • The U.S. Postal Service’s unparalleled national network fulfills the Founders’ directive to bind the nation together, providing affordable, universal service unlike any private entity.
  • The U.S. Postal Service’s workforce represents the nation’s largest civilian employment of veterans, and our work enables a $1.4 trillion dollar mailing industry employing 7.5 million American workers.
  • The U.S. Postal Service operates without a dime of taxpayer money, but Washington’s political malpractice has put it in a financial bind – crushed by a scheme to pre-fund years of retiree healthcare benefits, a burden that no other agency or company must bear.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has already undergone dramatic restructuring since the Great Recession. The U.S. Postal Service has eliminated 200,000 career positions, closed or consolidated hundreds of mail processing facilities, dramatically slowed the mail with lowered service standards, and reduced the hours of operations at 13,000 primarily rural post offices (some as few as two hours a day). APWU emphasized to the task force that USPS managers have cut to the bone and the U.S. Postal Service and its workforce should not be cut further. APWU’s representatives called for a full restoration of service standards that were diminished in 2012.
  • The U.S. Postal Service cannot cut its way to profitability. However, by addressing the congressionally-manufactured prefunding crisis, setting appropriate postage rates, and properly accounting and investing postal funds, USPS can generate the necessary capital to fulfill its obligations, replace its aging vehicle fleet, and provide quality service to the American people.

APWU has joined with other postal unions in developing briefing materials and policy recommendations to present to the task force. While each postal union is meeting with the task force independently, collectively the American Postal Workers Union, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association represent more than half a million postal employees who are dedicated to providing affordable service to all Americans, no matter where they live.

As President Dimondstein stated in a recent guest commentary in The Boston Globe,  “Postal workers and millions and millions of customers certainly hope that the task force created by the executive order has as its starting point a sincere commitment to helping the Postal Service thrive. However, if the task force proves to be a smokescreen to promote the postal privatization agenda of the likes of the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute and their billionaire benefactors’ efforts to turn the common good over to private profiteers, then postal workers will be on the front lines fighting back, united with our communities and the people of this country, to ensure a vibrant public postal service for many generations to come.”

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Remembering President Emeritus William Burrus (APWU)

In Memoriam

December 13, 1936 – May 19, 2018

Web News Article #:

50-2018

05/21/2018Former APWU National President Emeritus William Burrus passed away on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the age of eighty-one.

William Burrus served as elected National President of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO from 2001-2010. He was the first African-American to be elected president of any national union in direct balloting by the membership.

Prior to his assuming the presidency, William Burrus served as APWU Executive Vice-President for 21 years, from 1980 to 2001, working alongside APWU President Moe Biller.

As a top national APWU officer, Brother Burrus helped negotiate substantial gains for the members with improved wages, and benefits, rightfully earning his reputation as a skilled negotiator and powerful advocate for postal workers. He led the union negotiations of four Collective Bargaining Agreements between the APWU and the USPS, and was also directly involved with every national negotiations between 1980 and 2006. Over his decades of union leadership, he was responsible for countless Arbitration settlements and Memorandums of Understanding with postal management which greatly enhanced workplace benefits, rights and safety of APWU represented employees.

William Burrus began his employment with the Post Office in Cleveland, OH in 1958, first as a distribution clerk and then as a Maintenance employee. He was a participant in the Great Postal Strike of 1970. From 1974 to 1980, he served as President of the Cleveland APWU Local. He was a founder and the first President of the APWU National Presidents Conference (NPC). William Burrus was always proud of the fact that as local president, he, along with others, protected the economic well-being of generations of postal workers by leading the successful fight to reject a proposed 1978 Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have capped COLA increases.

William Burrus was born in Wheeling, WV. After graduating with honors from Lincoln High School, he attended West Virginia State College. He served in the 101st Airborne Division and the 4th Armored Tank Division of the United States Army between 1954-1957.

William Burrus was a Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. Multiple times he was named by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans. He earned great respect from representatives on Capitol Hill as a champion of the public postal service.

“The APWU family is greatly saddened by the death of Brother Burrus,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife Ethelda and his entire family who generously shared brother Burrus with us over many decades. We, as postal workers, including our families and our communities, have greatly benefited from the impassioned and determined life’s work and leadership of William Burrus.”

 

 

 

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Fight for Working Class Unity, APWU

(This article first appeared in the November-December 2017 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

By President Mark Dimondstein

“In Our Unity, Lies Our Strength!” “An Injury to One is an Injury to All!” These are crucial union principles for building a better life for postal, and all, workers.

The corporate rulers know it. They counter our unity and solidarity path with their strategy of “divide and conquer.” As Wall Street strives for maximum profits, there are many fault lines they exploit such as dividing native from foreign born, men from women, white from black, private from public sector, career from non-career and workers here from workers around the world. When they succeed in dividing us – they laugh all the way to the bank!

For unions, a worker, is a worker, is a worker. We are all equal assets to society and to our unions. Workers all want and deserve decent wages and benefits, safe working conditions, respect and dignity, quality and affordable healthcare, dignified retirements and a bright future for coming generations. We have far more in common than we have differences.

Dangerous to workers is the divisiveness, bigotry, intimidation, and race and religious hatred of the KKK, neo-nazis/neo-fascists and the so-called “alt-right.” APWU members and those of good will across the political spectrum are rightly disturbed and outraged by the rising presence and violence of these groups in Charlottesville and elsewhere – and the green light given by the White House.

As history marches on, many younger folks may not be fully aware of the devastation fascism inflicted on the people of the world. The dictionary defines fascism as: “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism… and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” Fascism is most notably associated with Hitler-led Nazi Germany. Hitler took power in 1933 promising to “Make Germany Great Again” and rallying the people behind theories of the superiority of the “Aryan Master Race.”

One of Hitler’s first acts was to ban trade unions and persecute, jail and kill unionists. Hitler’s Germany invaded one country after another, leaving tens of millions murdered by the Nazis’ brutal iron heel which crushed those who did not think, talk or look like them.

It took World War II to defeat Nazism and world fascism, but not before Hitler exterminated six million Jewish people in concentration camps (including most of my family) and worked to death millions of slave laborers while German industrialists gained immense profits. 400,000 U.S. soldiers died. Great Britain was relentlessly bombed and lost 500,000 civilians/soldiers. Our other main ally, the Soviet Union, suffered the unfathomable loss of 30 million citizens.

My father, a highly decorated World War II Veteran flying 64 combat missions, was one of many millions who volunteered to defeat world fascism. Following Hitler’s defeat, after incredible suffering and sacrifice, the conventional wisdom was that the horrors of fascism could never happen in the USA. I was raised differently. Growing up, my dad’s words of warning and wisdom were that fascism indeed could happen here.

The recent events in Charlottesville, the emboldened white supremacists and their spewing of race hatred toward African-Americans, Jewish people and immigrants indicate that my dad was right. If we are not vigilant, we can wake up in Nazi America. The 40,000 in Boston who rallied for equality and against the hatemongers certainly give us hope for the future.

What does all this have to do with the APWU? Everything! Fascists are bitter enemies of workers and our unions. Their race and religious bigotry, intimidation and violence are a direct threat to our unity and ability to “stand up and fight back” to save the public Postal Service, win good contracts, gain better working condi- tions, enjoy a better life and live in a more just society. “In Our Unity, Lies Our Strength!”

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