Posted by: President @ 6:05 pm
A NOTE FROM YOUR UNION PRESIDENT
A couple years ago, I picked up a letter from the Union post office box. It had no cancellation mark, no id tag, and no return address. The letter inside the envelope shocked me. Several postal employees I work around and see every day had signed a petition demanding up to date postal related information (weekly), also asking that members of the clerk craft accompany me to any management meetings involving the clerk craft.
At first, I became upset and very disappointed. I had given up much in the last four years of my life trying to bring representation back to offices that had none, as well as attempting to right the wrongs that were taking place in our system. Clerks were calling me every day from the associate offices; they were being forced to work off the clock, told to falsify documents or be fired, supervisors were doing untold amounts of clerk craft work, etc. It was overwhelming and exhausting. I couldn’t understand why these individuals that “see me” every day couldn’t express what was on their minds. Being puzzled on the matter, I started asking several of them why they signed the petition.
I found out that many were afraid to approach me. They thought that I was making decisions about the plant closing and that I was working with management to close the plant. They expressed that I had become a dictator, that I was untouchable. It was un-nerving to found out just how many people really didn’t know me, nor the work that I do. Perhaps irrelevant to some, and whether or not my physical/personal image reflects it, I’d like to say this and I want it to be known that I feel more than privileged, and am quite honored, not only to be employed (so many are not so fortunate), but to be employed by the United States Postal Service because without it there would be no APWU. I am serious about this. I perform my craft job, along with my Union elected position to the very best of my abilities. This can be exhausting to say the least. But this is what I get paid to do.
I started thinking about a solution that would inform the membership and allow them to have the most up to date information and have input without coming to Union meetings. A web site was the obvious solution to many of the issues. I found that every time I started on the design and programming of the site I became distracted. I was filing ten and even twenty step ones a week while traveling place to place racking up miles on my own vehicle. The plant closure and Post-Plan required my immediate attention daily. I became aware that the only way to accomplish the goal was to contract the job. I was then faced with the next challenge of finding the funds to develop the best product possible, and hopefully satisfy as many of the members needs as I could.
I addressed the membership this past spring with a constitutional change which basically moved the funds from the newsletter to the development and maintenance of the web site. At the meeting, several people spoke for and against the amendment. I personally was torn because I am old school. I like books and newspapers. I like physical informative objects that I can see, hold and read; but on the other hand we only have $24,000 a year to cover everything we want.
The web site will never be finished. It is designed in a way that it will constantly update with the most recent data while keeping the pertinent information in pdf format on the right hand side of each crafts tab so that members can download free adobe reader and not be required to buy any software. Future changes will include eReassign posts, clerk craft postings and awards and virtual union meetings. If you find anything that is wrong or would like to add to the content just call, write or e-mail. The last printed copy of the newsletter will be distributed within the next few weeks.
It may be easy to see why someone would see me as a dictator and tyrant. It appears that I came out of nowhere and took control of everything. When I ran for the office I knew there was more work than I myself could do. I also knew that the goals that I wanted to accomplish would take years and cooperation from the membership. In the early 2000s we would have 25 to 35 members come to the union meetings, so we divided the work by forming committees. We are lucky to have 10 or 12 members at our meetings today. Many of the tasks that were being assigned were either not getting done, or, the same 8 people were doing them. I just couldn’t ask these individuals to do any more, so I started taking on even more work, not by choice but out of necessity.
I was born in the Palmer TN Black Lung Clinic. My family made do with what we had. I rode the bus daily to and from Dunlap, and eventually I graduated from Sequatchie County High School. This is my home and I’m planning on dying here. I’ve worked the majority of my life in the US Air Force and current US Postal Service. I have experienced a male dominated maintenance field containing prejudice and discrimination in both. I have fought it with hard work, determination, and perseverance. I realize that my culture, “hillbilly” as some call it, is different from the majority of our membership. I may never overcome the prejudices associated with it. I live with that daily.
The point that I’m trying to make is that I realize that we are all different and come from various backgrounds. I appreciate every one of our members. However, everyone must understand that I don’t negotiate, represent or favor any one individual, or group more than another. I work every day to represent every member, regardless of craft, to the best of my ability. I feel that our greatest strength comes from our diversity. I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees but that doesn’t mean I let my pride, ego or ambition cost you your job. If I have to beg, steal or borrow to keep one desirable job or get someone converted, then that’s what I do. If I think someone is not willing to deal with a woman then I send a man if it benefits the membership. We as a union must not only come together but work together to build a better organization. This is “your” union, and I’m proud to be a part of it and do what I can to make it better. I hope that this web site will be a great step forward in that direction.