Delegates Slam Retirees at APWU Convention

Via John P. Richards, President – Pittsburgh Area Retiree Chapter of the APWU:

In a stunning turn of events at the recent APWU Convention, the delegates voted in alarming numbers that retiree involvement in support by retirees for active members in opposing threats of privatization and other dangerous initiatives is not needed or wanted. This became crystal clear during a spirited debate about retiree representation at conventions. Leading the attack on retirees was Eastern Region Coordinator Gallagher. Gallagher is remembered as a supporter and promoter of a return to the hated temp category of PSEs. One of the other anti’s even referred to retirees as “those people”! On the supportive side of the question, a large number of speakers in support of retirees pointed out that retirees were the backbone of the recent Staples boycott and other Union projects that saw very limited involvement by active members. One speaker stated that the Union not only wanted that support, but needed it to be successful. Those arguments did not sway the majority who obviously came to the convention with retirees in the cross hairs. Every retiree proposal was summarily rejected by the majority. For the record, the PA State APWU and Metro Local President Pugar voted against us. It was a sad day for the Union as the uninformed neophyte reactionary forces turned the clock back, nearly taking back previous retiree modest gains.

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8 thoughts on “Delegates Slam Retirees at APWU Convention

  1. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - San Francisco Local 2
    I am a retiree paying full dues. For those who claim that that is too heavy a burden I want to remind them that they, and I, have heard the same hogwash from past co-workers, claiming they just couldn’t afford the Union. Working Union members have their burdens as well, mortgages, kids in school (with college coming up), and, yeah, saving for retirement! But they come up with the dues and carry those who don’t. Now some retirees want to add themselves to the non-member burden carried by working Union members.

  2. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Oakland Local Retiree Chapter
    Office held, if any
    Please stay tuned, there’s food on this line and we must serve it heated. The retirees have our own conference, thats where we should do all our business then report Bi-Annually to the APWU body. All we do is follow the guidelines laid down or change what will work for us. I want to support our younger members not hinder nor vote with and definitely not against the workers. Our conference should be to conduct our retiree personal business and then the 5 delegates make accurate accounting for our actions at the National Convention. Why are many top APWU leaders retired and pimping the members for bigg money. Retirees should be where retirees belong away from our working force except to support when we’re needed by them. I support APWU but no other business structure is comparable. How can 5 delegates out vote favorably, 2,000 , no way, and we shouldn’t be there except for WHAT ? I need that question answered, thanks

  3. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU Oakland Ca
    Office held, if any
    Retiree Legislative Director
    As a retiree I feel this generational divide needs to be bridged. We have much to learn from each other. I’m hoping by next year we will see President Dimondstein enter our conference with Retirees on one arm and Young Members on the other.

  4. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Michigan State Retiree Chapter
    Office held, if any
    President, Central Region Retiree National Convention Delegate
    Well, I guess if you follow Brother Bertolone’s line of reasoning the only people who would be able to vote on local school millage would be those who have children in school. Or maybe the only people who could vote on the Civil Rights Act would have been people of color. I have a vested interest in my APWU brothers and sisters getting a fair deal just as they should have the same interest with retirees. Anything that screws with one group is going to screw everybody eventually. We’re all in it together. “One for All and All for One”. And it seems ridiculous to imply that any criticism by “senior citizens” is without merit merely because of age.

  5. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Rochester, NY Area Local 215
    Office held, if any
    Past President / Retired
    Well Brother Richards,
    Refresh my memory. It was many years ago but I believe we were both there . The way I remember it was there were restrictions on full dues retiree members. It was the DOL, NLRB that ruled a full dues paying Retiree , even though not under the collective bargaining agreement, had to be given the right to run for delegate to the convention, as well as run for union office. Thus that change was forced on the delegates.

    Personally, I don’t believe it’s money or service, it’s the concerted action under the law for the purposes of collective bargaining. And mandatory Collective bargaining, in good faith, under the law, is and has been historically the only way workers have had a vehicle for any measure of economic justice on wages, benefits, and working conditions.

    The fact remains that in our system, the retirees are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement. There is one exception I can recall in recent years, bargained for at the request of retirees, is when the USPS engaged in the despicable practice of sending a new retire a Letter of Demand. The Union can now grieve such a letter of demand.
    I continue to picket and the rest also, because fighting for economic justice, which includes fighting ALL forms of privatization, is the right thing to do for economic justice. I know you feel the same way.

    Maybe necessity is the mother of invention. Maybe if we hung back a couple of times, more current employees and Local officers would have to get off their ass and fight. Sadly, I had some pickets that were solely due to attacks on APWU jobs, and there were more letter carriers, as well as other unions on the picket line, than I had APWU members show up for their own jobs. I hope that is changing with the high union approval ratings I see of young people, women, and people of color.

  6. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Pittsburgh Area Retiree Chapter
    Office held, if any
    Hogwash! That argument fails when retirees who pay full dues are eligible to participate at conventions and have full voting rights there as elected delegates. What is it, money or service that is the deciding factor of who should participate in the conventions in a very limited way? In this area we are appalled that the active officers prefer to sit it out when participation is called for by the Union or to assist sister Unions when support is needed or for political activity. To reiterate, if the retirees had not stepped into the breech, there would have been zero Staples boycott activity here.

  7. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    Rochester , NY Area Local 215
    Office held, if any
    Past President / Retired
    I did not see anything in Gallagher’s remarks, thanking retirees for their efforts, that was anti-retiree. The fact remains unions are vehicles for economic justice, which by law is via collective bargaining, and retirees are not covered by collective bargaining agreements, period. As such they should not even be allowed to vote for principle officers whose main duty is to collectively bargain and enforce the bargained agreement. This could result in retirees being the difference in electing a candidate that those under the collective bargaining agreement voted against.
    Retirees lobbying, supporting pickets, mentoring, even doing home visits to sign up non-members and register members to vote are great and help build the union.
    I have made myself available to my Local for many of these activities including advice when asked. However, with the caveat that it is OK to modify or reject that advice if they wish . They are elected by those under the collective bargaining agreement and accountable, not me.
    As a proud APWU retiree member who retired as Local President 4/1/17, we should support the union and labor movement because it is the right thing to do for economic and social and social justice and NOT because we think we should have more rights as past bargaining unit employees to run the union.
    I believe, though it’s sometimes hard to accept in the winter of our lives, we are there to mentor, help and support where we can, while knowing every generation is replaced by the next.
    I also understand as a senior citizen that complaining, especially about the next generations, is part of being old. I too am guilty there.
    But keep it in perspective. Claiming the efforts of retirees are not appreciated in my view is just not true. Our reward is we are still standing for justice for workers.
    Jim Bertolone
    Proud Retiree Member
    Past President, Rochester, NY Area Local 215
    President Emeritus
    Rochester & Genesee Valley Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

  8. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU - Philadelphia, PA Area Local Retiree Chapter
    Office held, if any
    Retiree Activist
    This “attitude” became quite evident from APWU HQ when they decided to push for changes to Retiree Health benefits (forced Medicare) in pending postal reform legislation. I truly believe the success of the Stop Staples campaign was overwhelmingly due to APWU Retiree activists. And for that and everything else we do, APWU is setting dangerous precedents in advocating for FERS benefits changes and muzzling voices among retirees – of course, until they are needed again to protect clerk jobs. And lets not forget the enormous amount of COPA funds that retirees contribute…… Something at APWU HQ has got to change. Many of the delegates at convention are going to retire one day and probably sooner than later.
    “Ye reap what ye sow”

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