LABOR HISTORY---Part 2 THE STRIKE THAT STUNNED THE
NATION BIRTH OF A UNION:
APWU The year was 1970. Congress just increased its salary by 41%. Postal Workers were furious. Full-time Postal Workers were being hired in at $118.76 a week while those working 21 years could earn no more than $162.34 a week. These salaries qualified Postal Workers for food stamps!!!! Postal Workers were not permitted to engage in collective bargaining and felt that benefits were poor and working conditions were unhealthy and unsafe. Moe Biller, who became the first APWU president said at the time that: âÂÂ...post offices are like dungeons, dirty, stifling, too hot in the summer and too cold in winter.âÂÂ At the time, Postal Workers were separated into eight (8) craft unions with no right to bargain collectively over wages and were forbidden to strike. After years of debating but not acting, the Senate in March 1970 voted a 5.4% increase for Postal Workers which was less than the rate of inflation. But the House said it would delay action on the wage increase. Again, Postal Workers were furious! On March 17, Letter Carriers defied the law in New York City, took a vote and went on strike. Clerks and other Postal Workers refused to cross the picket lines. Then, like wildfire, wildcat strikes among Postal Workers spread across the country. Within a week, over 200,000 Postal Workers from New England to California walked off the job. President Nixon vowed to âÂÂcrushâÂÂ the Postal Workers and called 23,000 Armed Forces personnel to NYC to process the mail without training or success. Courts were issuing injunctions and imposing fines and threatening jail time and discipline for strikers and Union leaders. But the strike continued. This strike shut down New York's financial district, it kept 9000 young men from receiving draft notices to serve in the Vietnam War, delayed tax refunds and the census. The Postal Strike of 1970 disrupted communication in the United States. And the Postal Workers defied the President of the United States who said there would be no negotiations until Postal Workers returned to work. They didn't and the Secretary of Labor entered into negotiations that brought the strike to an end after two weeks. As a result of this strike, no Postal Worker was disciplined and the government agreed to a 6% wage increase retroactive to 1969 with an additional 8% with the enactment of the Postal Reorganization Act in April 1970. This Act allowed Postal Workers to reach the top of the pay scale in 8 years instead of 21 years. This Act gave Postal Workers' Unions full collective bargaining rights to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions and significantly for Postal Workers today binding arbitration over wages and other national collective bargaining issues was included in the Act in lieu of the right to strike. And in July 1971, with this new formation of the Postal Service, five distinct unions of postal clerks, mail processors, maintenance, special delivery and motor vehicle workers merged into a new AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION. The APWU, with the merger of these crafts along with the Carriers, Mail Handlers and Rural Letter Carriers was now able to provide one strong unified voice in matters of collective bargaining negotiations and the nations political agenda regarding workers' rights. QUESTION: So what do we think of these Postal Workers who defied defied the federal government and risked discipline, fines and imprisonment? ANSWER:
We can only say THANK YOU BROTHERS & SISTERS!!!!!!!!!!