Bill Martin, Clerk Craft Director, Portland Oregon Area Local
I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Oregon Postal Workers Union convention as a delegate for our Portland Local. The convention was held last month in Salem, and included other stewards and officers from locals across the state. Also in attendance were Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez and National Business Agents from the Clerk, Motor Vehicle Services, and Maintenance Divisions. Omar Gonzalez spoke about the contract negotiations that are currently occurring in Washington, D.C. and the impact that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may have on U.S. jobs, including the USPS.
If you have not taken the time to contact your Congressperson, asking him or her to oppose the Fast Track authorization of the TPP, you need to do so – now. Senator Wyden has stated that he fought for protections for American workers and our environment during negotiations, but will not provide any specific details of what those protections might entail. We cannot sit idly by while multinational corporations are given the ability and authority to challenge any business that they feel infringes on their right to make a profit. If you somehow believe that these types of trade agreements will have no impact on you as a USPS employee, you are sadly mistaken. I imagine all of us have some family members or friends who are struggling in today’s job market, and there is little reassurance that the TPP will not cause Oregon and Washington to lose even more working-class jobs.
It is no small coincidence that we have witnessed the increased strength of corporations and their manipulation of our elections, our courts, and our legislature while their profits have continued to climb. They fight to weaken organized labor because we stand in defiance to their unbridled greed. We have witnessed their prosperity grow unchecked while the average American worker struggles with low-wage, low-benefit, part-time employment. We allow “talking heads” in the media to portray us as “lazy, greedy, and overpaid” because we demand to bargain for our wages, hours, and working conditions. We listen while pundits talk about “corrupt” union bosses and the need to “break” the union’s power. Corporations control the message, and sadly, sometimes we hear these twisted lies so much that we begin to repeat them or believe them. Please, do not.
Some of our elected politicians will tell us that we cannot afford good schools, strong infrastructure, health care for all citizens, or even the finest mail delivery in the world. All the time we are being told that we must learn to make do with less, these corporate entities reap profits for their shareholders at a pace previously unseen and collect subsidies from our tax dollars. Something is very wrong with this forced austerity, and I wonder how much longer the majority of our citizens will allow this to continue.
It is time for us to take action against these thieves. You need to get involved. You need to do something. Attend one Local Union meeting this year. Participate in a rally in your town to show support for our cause. Talk to your friends and family members about the importance of “good service and good jobs” at the USPS. Call your Senator or Congressperson. Write them a letter. Tell them you do not support bad trade agreements, and you do not want them to support bad trade agreements either. Tell them you do not want delayed mail. Tell them you want six-day delivery. Tell them you want them to stop closures and consolidations of mail processing facilities. Tell them you want them to support a worker’s right to organize and collectively bargain.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?