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Unions Trying to Save the U.S. Postal Service

Unions Trying to Save the U.S. Postal Service

In recent years, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been under attack from Republicans in Congress and elsewhere who are trying to privatize the constitutionally required service to benefit wealthy campaign donors with the support of anti-government extremists. The men and women who work at the USPS, and their unions, however, are fighting back. 

Activists at the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) are pursuing an aggressive agenda, writes David Morris in a recent article on AlterNet. He points to APWU President Mark Dimondstein's embrace of activism:

“We’re not afraid of the streets. We’re not in the streets enough. We need to picket, march, sit-in—not leave it to lobbying or one-on-one negotiations.” He often pointedly praises the actions of postal workers who 55 years ago this March took their future into their own hands by defying union leaders and staging an illegal strike against low pay and benefits and poor working conditions....

The strategy is a well-thought out one, says Morris.

One strategy is internal: instilling a renewed sense of individual activism in the APWU. Dimondstein envisions a “cultural shift from a service model to an organizing model of unionism.”...“We need to retool, to retrain people to see the union as themselves. We need to encourage workers to take their grievances directly to the boss, in groups, not just file paperwork and wait for union officials to service them. We need more of a movement, a sense of connection to the larger community, which will give postal workers hope and confidence.”

The other three strategies are external. One involves an active working partnership with the other three postal unions. (National Postal Mail Handlers Union, National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, National Association of Letter Carriers)....The second external strategy is to expand the partnership to non-postal unions....The third external strategy is to broaden the partnership to private as well as public unions and to build “a grand alliance between the people of this country and postal workers.”

The other related unions, such as the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), are also part of the fight, particularly with the new Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service

“This new alliance is a good complement to the one the NALC and the other postal unions have been working closely with over the past 18 months,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “a group made up of postal union and mailing industry stakeholders with a mission to advance in Congress a multi-point postal strategy that includes a comprehensive solution to pre-funding, freedom to offer new products, fair treatment on pension valuations, strengthened service standards and a moratorium on plant closings.”

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