The leaders and members of an organization have the right to various types of information. We call that principle “transparency”. In my opinion, this principle applies to the officers, stewards, and members of the American Postal Workers Union. I believe we as members have the right to any information that does not impact the overall wellbeing of the union as a whole. I would now like to illustrate how I would have handled issues during the last three years differently than the current President.In order to learn anything about our union, you have to talk to a lot of people and read a lot of information. You will not find a local or state APWU official who can just flat out give you a solid policy statement on most things. We have to call an NBA or the National. That’s because we just don’t like to share information with our members. I have been fortunate to develop some contacts here and some there so I can usually gain a consensus on most things fairly quickly but I am highly confident the average member does not have that luxury. I believe communication is a two-way street. The national seems very good at dictating what they want their people to do but just don’t listen very well. You will find I am a very good listener.
From almost day one of the current administration our President has pushed his “Stop Staples” agenda on all members of the APWU. While this is far from a bad project and it makes us feel good to bully someone who is weak when they are down we have to seriously consider the costs. We have to ask ourselves what is the endgame and what has it cost us? If you are like me and most APWU members, you honestly don’t know. Under my leadership, we would definitely move faster and be much more open about the risks and rewards. What did we spend on the “Stop Staples” campaign? Did these costs impact funds spent in our Industrial Relations Department? We don’t know. Because there is a lack of transparency. If the endgame was known and what resources have been expended, we could honestly judge many other factors about the administration as well. I often question if enough resources were used during the most recent round of plant closures. I will never know and you will never know because we don’t have an honest accounting of what the “Stop Staples” campaign has cost us. We need to be more transparent.
We have to consider what is the situation with moving multiple elected officials of our union in April 2016 out of their elected offices. We have not been told. A highly experienced long term Retiree Director and an up and coming Legislative/Political Director. What is the motivation behind this and how does the membership benefit from this action? We don’t know. Another example of a lack of transparency.
The most current action is probably the one that bothers me the most. There is a year-old NLRB action pending against the APWU which involves withholding $1 million dollars from a grievance settlement. I am deeply saddened there would even be a hint of wrongdoing with union funds at the national level. We have to wonder how could the union have withheld this information from anyone in the APWU for over a year. I personally hope this is an isolated incident. We don’t have transparency. I want to know how actions like these were in the best interests of the members first and how they help establish member’s unity.
I sincerely believe once again it is time to move in a new direction. I started out late on this journey and I was not my first pick to run against Mark Dimondstein. I would have loved to seen John Marcotte take on that challenge but it wasn’t in the cards. You can trust I don’t have problems with being open or transparent. Transparency is a major pet peeve of mine and I think we can do much better in this area.
In an effort to show openness myself. I am going to share a couple of my thoughts on how I would run the APWU and who would be involved. As I wrote in my 1000-word statement for apwu.org I am not a fan of executive appointments. However, it is important to realize there are certain areas that will need additional help to improve the level of service to our members. At this point, I am not sure I even need Special Assistants for me a wiser move might be an extra person in the Communications Department. The APWU has an executive secretary. I trust she is competent to edit my written work and keep what would be my schedule. The second area would be an extra person in the Legislative/Political Department. I want to seriously beef up the Industrial Relations Department. It is the hub of protecting our workroom floor, promoting health and safety, and developing our next contract.
I will not name’s at this point however it is safe to assume my first choices are those who you already familiar with. Many of the people running for office now have already shown the interest in working in Washington, D.C. and taken the unitive to show their specials skills and talents They would be the first to be considered for any of these jobs. There are other people who have caught my eye. People many of you already know who operate websites like this one or operate blogs. I want to fill NBA jobs that are open in one form or another. We have to have the ability to provide the membership with what their dues pay for. My perception is we can do better. Maybe in order to do these things we have to make cuts in other areas. I will have no idea until I get there, however, I have to prepare in case it is meant to be and no one will truly know what is going to happen in this election until the last ballot is cast. In the words of Charles Smith, “we can do better!” In my words “I can help!’
First Name: Jerry
Last Name: Stidman
Union/Local: Terre Haute Area Local
Office held if any: 2016 Candidate for APWU National President