PRESIDENT DIMONDSTEIN State of the Union


When the union’s inspiration through the
workers blood shall run, there can be no power greater anywhere beneath the Sun. Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one. For the Union
makes us strong. Solidarity greetings APWU delegates greetings to all of you
fighters for justice. I salute your passion and dedication to
the cause of workers rights and labor dignity. Your day in and day out fight to
improve the lives of postal workers and to build a more just society for all
working men and working women. I welcome you to this convention and look
forward to your participation in this grand four day union meeting. And it is
indeed an honor to stand before you again to present the state of our union
message. And since we are part of a broad working class and abroad working class
struggle, we cannot analyze the state of our union in isolation. Brothers and
sisters, we are working, living, and struggling in a time where there is an
all-out war on workers, our families, our communities, our standards of living, our
rights, and our organizations. And for the moment, and I emphasize for the moment,
corporate America is having far too much say and sway over the working class. Make no mistake about it: it’s Them
versus Us, Main street versus Wall street its capital vs labor. And in part due to
intense union-busting over the years- union membership is now at its lowest
level in a hundred years and unionized and
non-unionized workers alike are paying a heavy price. Our precious right
to vote is under severe attack in the post citizens united period, elections are
increasingly and openly bought and sold Corporate lobbyists and politicians
revamped the tax structure shifting the burden from the wealthy to the working. And government policies abound that enrich the three complexes: the private
medical industrial complex putting big farmers profit over single-payer
medicare-for-all, the private military industrial complex, with endless wars for
profit while our infrastructure collapses and our pensions disappear at
home. And the private prison industrial complex which promotes jail over
education. And by design we have a winner-take-all election system that
perpetuates the choice between the lesser of two evils and this political
system largely answers to Wall Street rather than Main Street, stacks the deck
against the development of a needed union based political party. And in
our rigged economy the Wall Street crooks, sisters and brothers, are doing
just fine are they not bailed out from the economic crisis that they caused,
while the ninety-nine percent of us are still suffering from the layoffs, and the
underemployment, and a home foreclosures, and the wage freezes in the austerity,
and declining standards of living. And income inequality is at historic levels. Just listen to this one half of one percent of the U.S. population has the
combined wealth of the bottom ninety percent. And CEOs of fast food chains
like Starbucks make nine thousand dollars. Not a month. Not a week. Not a day, but an hour. While
they resist the workers demands for 15 dollars an hour and a union. And
the federal minimum wage remains through Republican and Democratic Party
administration’s alike at a criminal 7.25 an hour. And in the public sector where
we proudly work the public good is being undermined. Public services that enrich
people’s lives: public libraries, parks, hospitals, transportation, utilities,
schools, and yes, public postal services are under extreme attack aimed at
privatization. To understand the efforts of postal privatization sisters and
brothers it’s pretty simple, just follow the money and the 68 billion dollars or
so of annual revenue. No tax dollars revenue generated by the users of the
postal service that the corporate powers and behemoths like DHL and Fedex and UPS want
their greedy hands on. But since the people trust the post office and trust
all of you and our co postal workers. Outright privatization is not so easy. Instead the privatizers seek to degrade
as a means to their end. Keep the lines long, hours short, delay the mail, deliver
late into the night. This is the aim of the recent rollback
of postal rates and the bipartisan 2006 postal accountability enhancement act,
which created the congressionally manufactured financial crisis being used
to choke the postal service today. All this is part of our reality but sisters
and brothers there’s another truth as well. Workers are standing up and fighting
back. A message so powerfully delivered by the hundreds thousands of courageous Wisconsin
workers who sparked the new period of Labor activism. Fast food and retail workers
are leading the charge for living wages and making real gains. Our unionized
brother and sister autoworkers stood firm in recent contract negotiations
and largely eliminated the device of two-tier wage systems at the big three
auto companies. 40,000 unionized workers took on the greedy and huge
multinational Verizon company in a 46 days strike and brothers and sisters
they won. The entire labor movement entire labor movement stand united
against the trans-pacific partnership and other rotten trade deals that enrich
multinationals at the expense of workers everywhere. And the APWU all of you
sisters and brothers and the APWU are actively in the midst of this good fight
in the two years since our last national convention they have been challenging
and excited as we work to transform our union into a fighting and activist
organization and together we’ve made many advances in many of these you’ve
seen in the video that preceded me but front and center has been the fight for
new collective bargaining agreement with the United States Postal Service
covering two hundred thousand workers. Which by the way follow the successful
completion of the long-delayed negotiation in our support services
division. And with your support and the guidance of the delegates at the 2014
National Convention. This leadership refused, refused to engage in another round
of concessionary bargaining. I was honored to be your lead negotiator and proud
that we made progress on most of our major goals. Securing real wage increases,
strengthening job security, defending the cost of living and no layoffs
protections, and enhancing the career and full-time workforce. But as union leaders,
you played a crucial role by being part of and embracing our nationwide contract
campaign. Your contract action teams educated your co-workers, educated the
public. You organized the buttons, the stickers, the union gear. You got
hundreds of thousands of postcards signed and delivered to the Postmaster General
of the United States: “I stand with postal workers”. You sent a powerful message and help get good
tentative agreements brothers and sisters good tentative
agreements with management that found their way into the final arbitration
award. You build solidarity and unity which carries forward and carries
forward to strengthen out everyday battles for workplace justice. I
congratulate all of you on the successful contract battle for good
service good jobs and a good contract. Congratulations sisters and brothers. While we focus immense time and
collectively, this was a collective battle, with many people making
contributions at the headquarters level. We focused immense time and resources
and preparation, negotiations, mediation, and interest arbitration in this
victorious fight. But we also made advances throughout the two years on
many other important fronts. Our union leadership of all of our divisions won
major arbitration cases and reached significant settlement with management
that improved job security. Examples include getting thousands of
jobs with POStplan. 56 million in back pay while defending bargaining unit work
and protection against violations of subcontracting and Maintenance and our
Motor Vehicle Divisions. Building on the outstanding settlement on the filling of
residual vacancies. The union has succeeded in converting 33,000 non
career PSEs career since the last convention sisters and brothers. What a
what a wonderful life changing union won event and I’m sure there are people in
this room that have lifted what a wonderful life changing union won event
thanks in part to so much of the work you all have done to enforce the
contract to protect residual vacancies and so on. And remember, this is also a
great opportunity to bring new members and new activists into the wonderful
Union cause. Last convention I spoke of the need for to build a grand alliance
to save our public postal service it’s now a reality and consists of a
hundred forty organizations including 80 national labor, faith-based, community,
environmental, and civil rights organizations. Actor/activist Danny
Glover is featured in a terrific Alliance video. And he spoke on behalf of the Alliance on the opening day of contract
negotiations. The Alliance has brought their concerns directly to the
Postmaster-Genera,l has a social media presence, and recently concluded five
regional field hearings on the importance of the public Postal Service
to our communities. The public Postal Service, sisters and brothers, will only
survive and thrive with the support of the people of this country and their
fight to protect it and keeping it. APWU has also spearheaded the Campaign for
Postal Banking. There’s been a lot of talk already this morning about that on how
important. The legal loan-sharking predatory payday lending check-cashing
industry preys on tens of millions of the working poor. And the Postal Service
with its highly trained and dedicated workforce right in this room and beyond
and its presence in every community is so well positioned to provide a
check-cashing and other basic financial services performed by post offices
commonly performed by post offices all over the world. Winning this fight will
strengthen our public Postal Service and protect postal jobs. And what about the
Staples fight sisters and brothers? What about it? Since we took to the
streets of Chicago in the last convention and proclaim what we proclaim
the US mail, let’s hear it, the US mail and it’s still not for sale. And since the last convention Staple’s
stock has dropped fifty percent, they’re shuttering stores, its merger with Office Depot went down
the tubes and was rejected by the courts thanks to the efforts of the APWU. By the
way Staples had to pay Office Depot a small sum of 250 million dollars for
that deal going down. And Staples CEO Ron Sergeant has been forced out. The Staples
movement is still going strong. Leafleting at Staple stores is constantly
turning away customers. Some of have told me those stories since I’ve seen
you here. And we’ve won significant victories as the video talked about at
the National Labor Relations Board. And we have the ongoing support of our
sister unions and many allies. Brothers and sisters this is not just a fight
around Staples. Plain and simple this is a campaign disrupt and stop management’s plans
to privatize retail jobs throughout this country and you saw the
great news in the video where postmaster-general former Postmaster
General Patrick Donahoe you remember him admitted, you saw the tape, that now it’s
tougher for the post office to find retail partners and brothers and sisters
that means we’re winning. Are you in for finishing this job until
Staples gets out of the postal business? Two years ago an alliance with the four
postal unions was brand-new and since then the relationship has grown stronger. Challenges remain and always will over jurisdictional issue. But look at
how much the four unions have in common and so all four unions are part of the
Grand Alliance to Save the Public Postal Service all four postal unions are part
of the Campaign for Postal Banking without regard of what craft is going to
end up doing the work. All four unions have worked together and united in joint
legislative efforts and in the fight to stop delaying America’s mail. Our sister
postal unions continue to support the Staples boycott and NALC president and
our good brother Fred Rolando joined us in solidarity and the opening day of
negotiations and sat with us right at the table to send management a unified
message. I’m a firm believer and always have been and always will be in one
postal union. Short of that, short of that, we must
unite wherever we can in our common fight for as the old union saying goes: “United we stand divided we fall”. On the
legislative front let’s face it difficult and hostile times. I’m not
telling you anything you don’t know. Congress has refused to address the
pre-funding financial crisis they created and White House nominees to the Board of
Governors include the king of privatizers James Miller and payday loan lobbyist
Mickey Barnett. We have worked with our sister postal unions and even postal
management. To gain legislative relief that’s good for the Postal Service and
good for postal workers.And we have begun to build new relationships that
did not previously previously exist with Republican members of Congress from
rural states as part of our fight to restore and protect good postal services. Two new bills as you know have been recently introduced in Congress one in
the house side and one of the Senate side. And they are far from perfect. Easy
path for us as leadership would just reject them say no way. But that sisters
and brothers will definitely leave empty-handed. So this leadership will
stay deeply involved in the debate over how to improve the bills so that we can
support them if possible and when postal reform that fixes and addresses the
pre-funding crisis and other crucial issues facing the postal service. As part
of our general fight for justice we participate in the Democracy Initiative
to get corporate money to drive corporate money out of politics and we
defend with every ounce that we have the cherished right to vote. We stand with
the people of Flint and Ferguson in the fight for civil rights and social
justice. We have been in the streets the halls of Congress opposing the TPP
and we unite with workers everywhere in the fight for fifteen dollars an hour
and a union. We did join many of you were out there. We did join with our 39,000
CWA and IBEW unionists during their victorious Verizon Strike and APWU is
proud to be part of the house of labor and the AFL-CIO and UNI, the union network
international. For this is truly an international struggle as well. Let me
share a few comments because we’re going to have discussion later in a week for
sure and the important 2016 U.S. presidential election and all the other
elections involved. I believe that 2016 that the presidential primary was truly
historic. In that millions millions particularly young people proclaimed that
they were dissatisfied with our country’s rigged political system. Millions
millions responded to Senator Sanders call for a political revolution with its
bold pro working-class message of living wages, free college tuition,
medicare-for-all, defending the public good, and taking on Wall Street greed. Did they not sisters and brothers? And I would submit to you that even many
of the votes for Donald Trump for the anti-union anti-worker race and religious
baiting Donald Trump reflect a legitimate disgust with politics as
usual. And I fully respect that every individual’s choice at the ballot box is
a personal one, personal decision and that includes me as well. You know that
the APWU National Executive Board was on the cutting edge of history when we
endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders Who was an outstanding and is an outstanding
friend and supporter of post workers. And so many of you so many of our
activists around the country were indeed enthusiastically ‘feeling the Bern’. In
light of the results of the presidential primary and given the stark choices the
National Executive Board has now endorsed Democratic Party nominee
Hillary Clinton and it will be up it will now be up to this convention to
decide the best way forward for the APWU in this 2016 election. But remember and
keep in mind that elections come and go but the struggle continues and whoever
sits in the White House the main challenge going forward will be how to
build and the building of a powerful movement for social and economic justice. And this brothers and sisters would be the same case even if Bernie Sanders had
been elected President of the United States and we should as postal workers
work hard to elect pro-worker candidates no matter which party they are from. And
despite the fact that it’s my belief and I think many of our members believe, that
both major political parties have largely failed to working class we do know we
have numerous terrific friends and allies in Congress and throughout state
houses and state senates. I believe the APWU should also be involved in
promoting issue-based ballot initiatives at election time such as living wage
provisions and uplift workers and our families and communities and many of you
are and I salute all of you. But while we engage in the 2016 election I appeal to
all of you and I hope that we will find a way out as we go forward of the lesser
of two evils choices we are continually offered at election time and
find our way to build an independent political movement where we are not
taken for granted by politicians, where elections are not bought and sold, and
where our representatives are truly accounted to the people sisters and
brothers. So even would a lot of solid progress between our two conventions we
have a very challenging road ahead. There are powerful and organized forces that
work against us and work against the public good unions and workers rights. And together we will continue the fight to improve working conditions and
implement the national level settlement we negotiated in June to speed up the
grievance procedure. Together we will continue to resist the
slash-and-burn policies a former PMG Donahoe that are put into place to
undermine and degrade good service to the people of his country and with it
our job security and we will continue to build the fight for enhanced and an
expanded services including financial services and vote by mail. We will continue the fight for needed
postal reform and to promote pro postal nominees to the postal Board of
Governors and the Postal Regulatory Commission and will continue to build up
the campaign Stand Up for Safe Jobs in every corner of every post office. Brothers and sisters it’s unacceptable to everybody in this room and every
postal worker it comes to work that 42,000 of our brothers and sister postal
workers were injured last year. We certainly have a lot of work to do. We
we will continue the good fight to stop and slow down the plant
consolidations and closings and to return to overnight service standards. And we will continue the strides we’ve made in developing more and better
communication with our members such as teletown halls and an
ever greater greater presence in the national news media to spread the
message in defense of the public good in the public postal service. We will
reignite our efforts to organize the entire postal industry and with your
guidance with your guidance we will soon begin serious preparations for the next
round of collective bargaining. While we build more power and leverage which will
then manifest itself in ever greater improvements in our collective
bargaining agreements. And with all of you we will continue to build an
activist fighting union and continue to encourage educate and learn from our new
generation of APWU activists. Yes sisters and brothers, we have powerful and
organized adversaries but I got a question for you. Are there more of us than them? You bet there is. And when we learn to
better unite and fight and defeat all those divide-and-conquer schemes that divide us
from black-and-white, and native-born from immigrant, men from womem, public sector
from private sector, craft from craft workers at home from workers, abroad we
will realize their power and we will win/ Brothers and sisters will everybody
under 35 years of age please stand up. You have to tell the truth. That’s the future of our union stand up
if you had stay standing up now you can’t sit down can sit down you guys
stay standing up because we’re not done. Are there any participants in the room
in the great 1970 Postal Strike, stand up. Stand up all national officers stand up
local and state president’s stand-up executive board members from your local
and states stand up all shops stewards. yeah how about the editors in the room stand
up. Stand up first time delegates. Alright. Stand-up retirees who ploughed the fields
ahead of us. Stand up all delegates and proud APWU members. Now shake hands with
the person to the right of you and shake hands that a person to the left of you. Look across the table and get them a fist-bump. What do you see sisters and brothers
what do you see? You see somebody just like you and me am i right? We may come, we may come in
all different sizes, shapes, colors, we arrived on these shores with different
histories of different stories. we come from different religions, ethnic
background gender, sexual orientation. We have
varying political beliefs from tea party to socialist and everything in between. But our blood flows in the same
direction, sisters and brothers, in the direction of justice. Our hearts beat in
unity in the fight for more worker power and do we not share the passion
for better life for ourselves and our families? And are ready to pass that on
to the young workers and future leaders are following us. We are the activist
core and the firm foundation of the American Postal Workers Union. We believe
in a vibrant vibrant public postal service for generations to come. We are fighters for justice are we not? So give your give yourselves and each other a standing ovation sisters and
brothers. From the workplaces, from the
workplaces to the streets. From our neighborhoods to the halls of Congress
it is time to ever more seriously educate, organize, mobilize, and galvanize. We will not be able to solely elect and litigate or hope and grieve our way out
of these difficult and dangerous time sisters and brothers. We will have
to fight our way out with a movement of millions using all the tools at our
disposal. So we must build a crusade to organize the unorganized. We must
continue to organize a crusade to save the public postal
service. We must be part of a crusade to save our unions. We must be part of a
crusade for social and economic justice. Let’s continue to stand up and fight
back hand in hand with each other. All postal unions, all labor, the public, and
our many community allies so let’s have a great convention sisters and brothers. And as the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, and he was right, without
struggle there can be no progress. And power concedes nothing without a demand. Our last two years shows us the truth in those statements. Mobilized and united
fighting for justice we have made real progress we can forge ahead build our
power and win. Carry on and solidarity forever sisters and brothers.

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