OCTOBER 2005 EDITORIAL

Welcome Back! The summer just flew by and fall is fast approaching. I had a great summer although it was exhausting working for the post office. Prime time vacations took its toll on my fellow workers and myself because it seemed like no one was ever replaced. We always worked short-handed and were expected to assume multiple positions. Management's answer was that they just didn't have any "bodies" to replace these positions and that we were to "suck it up." My answer was that we needed to hire more PTF's. Oh, how the two sides shall never meet!

Anyway, I ended my summer with a trip to Reno, Nevada for the 2005 Postal Press Association Conference. It was quite an experience for me. Having never flown before I was excited and scared to death all at the same time. Four plane flights later, two up and two back, I realized it is just something you have to do to get anywhere in this world. Needless to say, I don't like flying but the beautiful scenery was worth the pain in my stomach!

When my husband and I arrived in Reno the temperature was hot (95 degrees) but with very low humidity. It was a pleasant change to weather we were experiencing at home. We went to the hotel and when I registered I found out that over 150 editors and associate editors from all over the country attended the conference. Over the next four days I attended four different workshops that included labor history, news and feature writing, photojournalism, and legalities on publishing. Since it was the first time I've ever attended the Editors Conference I was amazed by the amount of information we received. The talented instructors made the classes interesting and renewed my enthusiasm for writing the newsletter. One highlight of the conference was the our APWU National President Bill Burrus gave a speech. He spoke about the contract extension and how he felt that it was in the best interest of the membership to accept it. He said basically that it was a "no-brainer" because if he had negotiated, the outcome might not have been as satisfactory. As a result of this agreement, fourteen positions were upgraded and our benefits didn't change. When asked if he will guarantee contract negotiations to take place next year, he said that he has every intent to do so, but if management offers something big he would seriously consider it due to the postal reform changes coming in 2006. Postal reform wants to lower labor costs (wages), consolidate plants, give discounts to advertising giants and contract out our jobs. Burrus said that the discounts these corporate giants get for putting a single barcode on mail, anywhere from $.07 to $.09 apiece, the Postal Service can do for $.01 a letter. The American public who pay $.37 for a single piece of mail, therefore wind up footing the bill. He promised the APWU would fight hard to attack these discounts and support universal rates. President Burrus ended his speech by saying we should appreciate what we have in these hard economic times. We still have great salaries and a no-layoff protection clause, and he feels an obligation to protect what we fought long and hard for in the past.

After classes were finished for the day, I had plenty of time to speak to some of the other editors. Having spoken with them I now realize that we all share the same concerns and have the same problems in our locals.

In every issue, we try to communicate loyalty and cohesiveness within our unions, but we still get lukewarm responses from the membership. In spite of all this, we continue in our struggle to provide information to you, our readers, because we know that our newsletters are the only connection some of you will ever have with the union. In a "perfect" postal union all the members would realize how instrumental the union is and was in providing us with all the benefits we have now working for the USPS. It would be clear to everyone that more involvement is needed and that badmouthing the union is unacceptable. Members would donate money to COPA and support other labor struggles freely without complaint. Non-members would be ashamed at their free ride and sign up. Finally, in a "perfect" union we would always stick together and stop backstabbing our fellow members. We would start moving forward as one unit rather than individuals seeking what's best for themselves. The Tri County Report will do its best to update you, the membership, on events that directly affect your employment. We also hope to educate adn motivate you to become more involved. What you do with the information is up to you but remember the union is only as strong as its members. Thanks to all the membership for allowing me the opportunity to attend the Editors Conference and in my mind it was money well spent.

EDITOR'S THOUGHTS
  • The USPS/APWU contract extension was ratified although only approximately 80,000 people voted. What happened to the other 200,000 members? They couldn't find the time to send one letter back when it involves their jobs? (Tri County had 111 members vote - way to go!)
  • Contributions are needed to aid our fellow postal workers in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Katrina. Please send anything you can to help with this disaster. Send donations to: PERF, PO Box 34422, Washington DC 20043-4422.
  • Congratulations to Southeastern P&DC for settling a 2001 "Casuals-In-Lieu-Of" grievance for $16 MILLION dollars. This is the largest one time settlement ever received for a single facility concerning this issue. Our National Business Agent Mike Gallagher did an excellent job of representing the employees and all his hard work finally paid off. Union Members...it can happen to you!
  • Thanks to the APWU for our biggest COLA raise in 25 years. The raise of $728/year or $28/pay was reflected in our September 23 paycheck. Also there are two more COLA raises in March and September, 2006, and an annual raise on March 18, 2006. I'm sure management would have given us these raises because of all the hard work we do. (Yeah right!)
  • I tried to mail surveys to seven offices (you know who you are) for contributions to the newsletter. I didn't even get a joke back? Hmmmm....
  • Hey You! Hey You! Calling all members! Please try and make it to a union meeting! Two hours out of an entire month is not asking too much. You can air your complaints about conditions at the USPS and someone will actually listen to you!
  • Have a great Hallowe'en and the Children's Holiday Party will be held on December 11, 2005. Hope to see you there! (More details will follow).
  • All incumbent Officers for the Tri County Area Local were unopposed in the 2005 elections. They will continue in their current positions until 2008.

To All Officers: Thanks for doing an outstanding job.

In Union Solidarity,

Lindamarie Peabody
Director of Industrial Relations/Editor