By: John L. Marcotte, APWU National Legislative & Political Department Director
(This article appeared in the January-February 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
As the newly elected director of the Legislative and Political Department, I want to thank you for your support. Your support gives our union a mandate to make things happen, keep postal workers in the middle class, and protect our hard-won benefits. I accept the mandate and ask that you join with me to educate our friends and neighbors, participate in rallies and other activities, and organize for sweeping change.
We will win job security by mobilizing our members to fight anti-postal measures and by using political action to expand our reach and gain political allies.
“Keeping it Local” is a new program launched by the Legislative and Political Department to engage and train our active members at the local and state level in political action. Training will allow for a more coordinated and sustained effort to support local union involvement in events, pickets and rallies on a broad range of worker issues. Simply put, we will ramp up local involvement to better direct, communicate, and coordinate our activities across the country.
“Keeping It Local” means we protect our constitutional right to a vibrant Postal Service by building broad support among our allies and their organizations. As President Dimondstein has said, this includes seniors, retirees, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, the labor movement, community groups, faith-based organizations, the Occupy movement, and even some business groups.
Strengthening COPA 3-6-9
As a part of our “Keeping It Local” effort, we will strengthen our COPA framework by offering the option for contributors to participate in COPA 3-6-9, a forthcoming initiative designed to support and empower our interests in our neighborhoods and nationwide.
With the COPA 3-6-9 initiative you can be sure that your COPA contributions will have a real impact on your community. Through COPA 3-6-9, we will ask you to give $3, $6, or $9 per pay period. We intend – as far as is practical – to give the first third of these COPA contributions to support local allies and initiatives in your home state; to give the second third of your COPA contribution to support candidates in federal races in your state, and to give the final third of your COPA contribution to the general COPA fund. COPA 3-6-9 will allow you to put your money to work at the local and federal level, so keep your eyes peeled for its rollout.
For COPA 3-6-9 to work, every APWU member must have skin in the game. COPA disbursements at the local and state level give us an opportunity to secure legislative wins and build relationships between APWU locals and elected officials early in their careers. We have to give to get.
The APWU represents more than 220,000 postal workers and retirees, and nearly 2,000 private-sector mail workers. Yet COPA has less money now than at the start of both the 2010 and 2012 campaign seasons. We need to do better and we will. Clearly, the bigger the COPA team, the stronger we are.
Why do we need to “keep it local,” train more APWU members in political activism, and give more to COPA? We need greater resources to fight for the dignity of middle-class postal jobs, stop facility closures, save overnight delivery standards, keep our healthcare plan in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), pursue innovation at the USPS, and work to increase the opportunities to vote by mail.
On the legislative front, the department has been educating members of Congress about the devastating cuts to the mail processing network and the delays they are causing. News stories about late mail are surfacing across the country and we are hearing from members of Congress and their staff that late bills and payments are impacting their constituents’ credit and resulting in late fees.
In identifying new potential allies who share our concern about slowed mail, we want to hear directly from APWU members about postal customers who are suffering through the mail slowdown created by closures and consolidations. Please provide us with specific information, such as the nature of the delay, its impact, the individual or organization’s name, location and contact information.
The dictionary defines “activism” as “vigorous and sometimes aggressive action in pursuing a political or social end.”
Political activism means that we will unleash our union membership in every congressional district to achieve the mandate you have given us. We will be focused, successful, and relentless. Be assured no matter what “crisis” is generating headlines in Washington DC, your Legislative and Political Department will be aggressively working every day on your behalf.
Brothers and sisters, we are pursuing a more perfect union and a local action network. United in solidarity we will score victory.