(This article appears in the November/December 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Many APWU members ask, “What do I do once I retire?” It is, of course, a personal choice. However, I have a suggestion: Become a union activist. Many of our members understand the importance of staying involved with the union and keeping up with important issues that affect retirees, our families, our former co-workers, and the American people.
That’s what activism is all about, and it keeps you pretty busy. The Retirees Department works to keep you up-to-date on important issues hoping that you will get involved. I proudly boast that, based on reports from our retiree chapters, many of our members are active organizers in the union and their communities. But there is room to increase our involvement.
There are many ways to get involved. A retiree chapter can provide you with information about legislation, boycotts, protests, events, and campaigns. If you do not have a chapter in your area, contact the Retirees Department to learn how to start one. You can also keep up with the latest news by visiting our website, www.apwu.org. Below are a few issues you can get involved in.
The Postal Service belongs to the American people. The fight against privatization is our fight.
As former postal employees, we are not surprised that the USPS is consistently rated one of the most trusted public institutions in the country. Yet the Postmaster General’s partnership with Staples is compromising service, jeopardizing the security of the mail, and privatizing the workforce.
We remember the background checks the USPS did when we were hired and the intense training and the oath of office we were required to take. That has all gone out the window with the Staples deal.
Call your nearest APWU local to ask how you can get involved to save jobs and service.
Supporting Walmart Workers
Union members and customers are joining Walmart workers across the country as they demand a living wage and the right to organize a union.
Most Walmart employees earn minimum wage with little to no benefits, taking home an average of only $15,500 a year. Even though they have full-time jobs, many Walmart workers rely on public assistance to support themselves and their families.
Their organizing campaigns have been met with vicious and sometimes illegal anti-union tactics. If you see a protest outside your local Walmart, the workers would appreciate it if you stopped and offered your support.
Subminimum Wage Workers
Most tipped workers, including servers, bartenders, bussers, and others are paid a sub-minimum wage of only $2.13 an hour. Most have no vacation time, paid sick days, or job security. As former union workers, we can support them by leaving better tips and by joining their battle for what’s right.
A Fair COLA
Retirees’ cost-of-living increases are based on the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W). If there is a COLA increase for 2015, it will begin with January 2015 annuities. The release of any cost of living adjustment will be announced on Oct. 22, after this magazine’s print date. We will post an update on the union’s website, www.apwu.org, as soon as possible. (FERS COLAs are not provided until age 62.)
Some members of Congress have introduced budget proposals that would cut retirees’ COLAs. We are constantly fighting to increase – not decrease – your COLAs. We want to change COLA calculations so they are based on the CPI-E, which would give us higher cost-of-living increases every year. It’s essential that we keep up with this crucial legislation. We must join with our union brothers and sisters as a united voice to protect our benefits.
In 2015, let’s all get more involved in shaping the nation. Be proud of your work as a union activist. I am.