Welcome Sisters and Brothers,
This website was designed to provide APWU members information about myself as a candidate for Director of the Clerk Craft. You can check out my articles, grievance settlements, and resolutions authored. Moreover, I encourage you to look at the Members First website to see what we are saying as a group running for elected office.
Because it is the most important position, I am requesting that you vote for Mark Dimondstein for President of the APWU. Mark has the intelligence, heart, and courage to guide us to a better future than the one we are looking at right now. Mark is an experienced organizer and negotiator who listens to people and will be honest with them.
The individuals making up the Members First team have lots of work floor experience fighting for the union and as national officers will make our union stronger. We have been endorsed by former APWU President, Bill Burrus. We are running for a reason. There is a reason to vote. Tell your friends. For the good of the union, please vote the incumbents out and vote the Members First team in.
Members First Team
Why Change is Needed
By Clint Burelson
(Here is my 1,000 word article for the APWU website that explains why change is needed.)
In 1970, courageous postal workers participated in an illegal strike against the US government and won substantial increases in wages and benefits for postal workers nationwide. “Wildcat” postal workers defied even their national officers who were against the strike. In the years following the strike, APWU’s reputation for collective action won us additional improvements.
Many of us fought hard to protect and improve upon those gains. And yet in one tragic contract negotiation, we shamefully, gave much of those hard-earned gains away. Following the weakness demonstrated in negotiations, management accelerated consolidations. They are currently running rampant over the union and the public interest.
Seemingly invisible to the national officers, yet parked like a parasite at USPS headquarters, the large mailers are directing the USPS to dismantle itself, destroy family wage jobs, and turn a democratic institution into a corporate advertisers’ dream.
I am running for national office to correct these tragic losses and to rebuild our valuable union. To have a successful plan for action, we first need an accurate analysis. Here then, is my brief assessment of some important issues.
The USPS is part of a $900 billion dollar mailing industry. The large corporations in the industry are banks, insurance companies, media/communication corporations, and other Wall Street companies. The rich owners of these corporations pushed the crisis inducing 2006 PAEA legislation, consolidations, cutting service to the public and converting family wage jobs to lower wage jobs. Mailing and media industry corporations are not telling the public the truth of the financial situation at the Post Office.
We cannot afford illusions. Our current contract has the most substantial givebacks and concessions of any negotiated contract in the history of the APWU. For example, the union negotiated Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT) assignments, otherwise known as “Traditional Part-Time” assignments. The NTFT jobs can have as little as 30 hours per week. Previously, the USPS was limited to utilizing 2.5% of the total career workforce as part-time regulars. With the new contract, the USPS can convert existing full-time jobs to 30-hour NTFT assignments in up to 50% of all clerk jobs at the Plants and in 100% of all clerk jobs at the Stations. This massive concession was foolish and unnecessary.
Further, we agreed to drastically increase the proportion of non-career employees within a district from 6% for all crafts up to a 20% limit in the Clerk Craft alone.
In addition, hiring procedures were significantly impacted. Previously, individuals could start their postal career as full-time regulars. With the new contract, individuals, including veterans, must now work, possibly for years, as a non-career, part-time employee in order to secure a job as a regular.
Moreover, if hired as a career employee, pay will be approximately $5,000 less than the current salary, and much less if placed in a part-time NTFT job. These and other drastic concessions are devastating, unnecessary, and shameful. We had no right to give away the legacy of gains placed into our hands for future generations.
Misleadingly, national officers sold the worst contract in the history of the APWU as a “win-win” agreement. While it is a good thing that union members naturally trust their national officers, in this case, the national officers were not deserving of that trust. The membership is the heart of the union and they deserved to clearly hear the truth regarding the magnitude of concessions in the contract before voting. Shamefully, not one national officer spoke publicly against the tentative agreement.
The Rank and File Bargaining Committee is the union’s supposed check and balance to determine whether the contract is worthy of ratification. However, contrary to what the name implies, National Executive Board officers appoint the committee members. Therefore, a more accurate committee name could be the, “National Executive Board Officers’ Appointed Committee to Determine if the National Executive Board Officers Negotiated a Worthy Agreement.” The committee’s unanimous but predictable support contributed to the illusion that we had negotiated a good contract.
At this time, many people acknowledge that national officers mislead the membership on the agreement. However, some say that it was the best agreement we could get. It is obvious that the worst negotiated contract in the history of the APWU was not the best our powerful union could get.
The union’s position is that a false crisis exists because of the pre-funding requirement in the 2006 legislation. During contract negotiations, we had an opportunity to stand up and explain the false crisis, expose corporate influence undermining the USPS, mobilize the membership, and gather public support. Instead, national officers agreed to real concessions to help the USPS survive the false crisis. The almost 4 billion in losses from the APWU went directly to the pockets of the large mailers.
The contract concessions had a huge impact on the balance of power. Other postal unions and the public suffered as a result of our concessions. The USPS is now willfully ignoring the contract and blitzing the union with consolidations across the country.
In response, national officers urged individual and at best “collective begging” of Congress. Our national officers’ strategy is to beg members of Congress, most of who voted for the crisis inducing 2006 postal legislation and are in office mainly because of financial contributions from large corporations.
As a union, we must work to restore the hard fought gains given away in the last negotiations and prevent such disasters in the future. An increase in democracy is required to insure openness and fairness in APWU voting procedures. We should also advocate for a Postal Service that values the public interest and family wage jobs over the profit of the large mailers. Finally, we must remember who we are as a strong union and return to the proven, effective, and powerful strategies of collective action and mobilizing public support for our common concerns.