Delegates to the August, 2022 APWU Biennial National Convention easily reached the two-thirds vote threshold necessary to amend the APWU National Constitution to allow each APWU Retiree Chapter one delegate to future APWU Conventions. After some backroom manipulations and parliamentary procedure twist and turns, members of the APWU Retirees Department gained an increase in their voice and vote determining the future of their Union. Retiree representation on the Convention floor will go from the current one delegate from each of five regions to also include one delegate from each of the 74 Retiree Chapters. It was a modest victory but nonetheless a show of respect and acknowledgement from over 1,500 Convention delegates of the contributions retirees have made in the past and still continue to make in their communities and political activities.
Convention delegates from the Michigan Postal Workers Union and the MPWU Retirees Chapter worked tirelessly from 7:30 a.m. caucuses to the evening APWU sponsored dinners lobbying for the amendment. It was a measure that had been in the works since the late Brother Al LaBrecque and myself originally authored a resolution calling for more retiree voice and vote at the 2016 APWU National Convention. Such resolutions were defeated in 2016 and again in 2018 but with the continued clamoring from APWU retirees at countless Zoom meetings during the pandemic and the rousing vocal support of retirees during the 2019 and 2022 National APWU Retirees Conferences, APWU leadership finally bowed to the pressure and did not oppose retirees this time around.
Following the tradition of Brother LaBrecque, Michigan’s own Mr. Union and one of the founders of the APWU Retirees Department, Flint Michigan Area Chapter President and Michigan State Retiree Chapter Trustee Deb Gorney spoke forcefully at a Convention microphone in favor of the resolution. Many other Michigan delegates were lined up to speak at Convention microphones in favor of the resolution but weren’t necessary as a vote was called for after one delegate after another spoke overwhelming in favor of the resolution. There’s a long list of Union activist members to thank for the recognition of retirees, none more so than my own mentor Brother LaBrecque. But I have to name a few besides Sister Gorney-Jane Duggan, Joanna Atkinson, Teresa Williams, Yvonne Tatum, Mike Mize, Darren Joyce, Joe Gordon, Roscoe Woods, and all the members of the Michigan Postal Workers Union.
And I can’t forget our own APWU Retirees Department Director Nancy Olumekor who has championed retirees from Day 1 of her initial Director appointment in 2016 and subsequent elections to the position. Also, current APWU Health Plan Director Sarah Rodriguez and former National APWU Officer Sue Carney as well as Michigan’s own John Marcotte who has always had retirees’ backs whether in his former positions as APWU Legislative Director or the APWU Health Plan Director. On behalf of Brother LaBrecque and all APWU retirees, I again say thank you and award you my most fervent gratitude.