“Elections have consequences” is the now cliche we are hearing repeatedly as of late. And when it comes to elections, I stand with my brothers and sisters of the Michigan Postal Workers Union. As the Central Region Retiree APWU National Convention Delegate, I listened to my fellow Michigan delegates in voting at the 2018 Convention in Pittsburgh on contractual issues and they listened to me on Retiree issues. We may not have always agreed, but we had the opportunity to listen. That’s what its all about at Conventions. Unfortunately, the mutual respect in Michigan is not observed everywhere let alone on the Convention floor.
I was asked in Pittsburgh why I should care about what happens to a Level 4 Custodian. My reply was the same reason I care about Climate Change. We’re all in this together. Anything that is detrimental to the welfare of human beings is something I care about no matter where it happens. I believe if we detach ourselves from issues, merely because they have no immediate affect on us, is shortsighted and also selfish. What goes around, comes around is the old truism.
As a retired APWU member, I pay attention to Union and political issues and work to be a positive influence in what matters. I cut my chops in 32 years on the workroom floor and served as a Moe Biller appointed Arbitration Advocate, a State Union Officer, a Local President, and steward (the most important Union job of all). I learned and know quite a bit. Why shouldn’t I and other retirees be able to contribute our thoughts, words, and knowledge fully in our Union? Retirees built the APWU with hundreds of millions of dollars in their dues money and sweat equity. We have earned respect through our countless years on the workroom floor. Its time we were recognized as full fledged APWU members at National Conventions.
To those who fear retirees will somehow hijack issues at Conventions, I say nonsense. Retiree Chapters simply don’t have the funds to send delegates in numbers remotely close to that of full dues paying Locals and there are “only” 40,000 Retirees out of the 220,000 total APWU members.
We have seen two Convention Retiree Representation resolutions fail at the last two National Conventions-the first for a proportionate 1 to 100 membership vote and the second for a 1 to 25 membership vote. (Full Disclosure: I co-authored with Al LaBrecque, a Founding Father of the APWU Retirees Department, the 1 to 100 resolution.) The passage of either of these resolutions would not practically affect the number of Retiree Delegates on the Convention floor for the above cited finanical reason but it would finally give APWU Retirees the respect we earned and deserve.
First Name: Paul
Last Name: Browning
Union/Local: APWU – Michigan State Retiree Chapter
Office held if any: President-Central Region Retiree Delegate APWU National Convention