In an impassioned speech before more than 1,000 union members, the newly-elected president of the American Postal Workers Union, Mark Dimondstein, issued a call for a “grand alliance” to save the USPS as a public postal service and to protect postal jobs. “Writing to Congress is important,” he declared, “but it is not enough. Lobbying for legislation is important, but it is not enough.” To succeed, postal workers must build a movement, he said.
“When the Flint sit-down strikers occupied a General Motors plant in the 1930s, labor law reform was won. When women took to the streets to demand the right to vote, they won. When courageous civil rights workers fought segregation with sit-ins and boycotts, the 1964 Civil Rights Act followed,” Dimondstein said.
“History shows that movements move Congress. Movements create legislative victories, not the other way around,” he said.
“We must build a grand alliance between the people of this country and postal workers,” he proclaimed. “We must mobilize our allies and their organizations, including seniors, retirees, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, the labor movement, community and faith-based organizations, the Occupy movement, and business groups in defense of America’s right to vibrant public postal services,” he said.
The labor movement is in dire straits, Dimondstein acknowledged. “Anything that stands for the public good — public libraries, public education, public utilities, public transportation and public postal services — is under severe attack, as are public workers and our unions.”
But postal workers are not alone, he said. Public workers in Wisconsin stood up and fought back, he noted. “Wal-Mart workers are stirring. Fast food workers are demanding a living wage.”
“A revitalized labor movement is indeed possible,” he declared, as he urged union members to join together to defend a public Postal Service and good union jobs.
Eighty APWU national officers were sworn in on Nov. 7. Their three-year terms begin Nov. 12.
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