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Labor News and History

The Labor Movement from Industrial Revolution to Now



The origin of labor unions dates back to the eighteenth century and the industrial revolution in Europe. During this time there was a huge surge of new workers into the workplace that needed representation.  In the United States history of unions, early workers and trade unions played an important part in the role for independence.


   American Federation of Labor (AFL), founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers. The AFL had approximately 1.4 million members. The AFL is credited with successfully negotiating wage increases for its members and enhancing workplace safety for all workers.  The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) under John L. Lewis and the larger AFL federation underwent a huge expansion during World War II. The AFL-CIO merger occurred in 1955.    A labor or trade union is an organization of workers dedicated to protecting members' interests and improving wages, hours and working conditions for all.  APWU is a member of AFL-CIO.


No matter what you do for a living, there's a union with members who do the same thing. Unions represent: teachers, factory workers, mechanics, office workers, pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and many workers.


Did you know there are over 60 national/international unions that represent millions of workers across America and Canada?   What do Labor Unions Want? Increasing wages; raising the standard of living for the working class; Ensuring safe working conditions and Increasing benefits for both workers and their families.  Employers are trying to shed responsibility for providing health insurance, good pension coverage, reasonable work hours and job safety protections. Additionally, companies are making workers' jobs and incomes less secure through downsizing, part-timing, contracting out, and sending jobs off-shore.


The Benefits of being a Union




America's working families need the representation, collective power, PRIDE in work and fair treatment in the workplace that we ALL deserve.


The APWU is in the process of negotiating a new contract this year.  Please support APWU as we support you.    REQUEST a steward, when you see management performing bargaining work such as; moving mail, loading machines with mail, clearing jams, fixing DB’s. FSS, FSM, SPSS Barney, remember to use the lock out tag out when preforming repairs, transporting the mail to a station(s) and the correct level mechanic and area office is performing building maintenance functions. Remember the motor vehicle mechanics; they tow the trucks into USPS shop, diagnosis and repair.  


Diane Richardson, IRD


My articles are from Internet:      


   A brief History of Union (AFL-CIO)




                                                               COPA  is from APWU National website




  The Numbers Prove It: 
It Pays to Belong

APWU Web News Article #017-14, Jan. 28, 2014

A Jan. 24 Department of Labor report demonstrates the value of union membership, says APWU Organizing Director Anna Smith.“The report shows that unionized full-time wage earners receive higher pay than workers who are not represented by unions,” she said.

The median weekly earnings of union members for 2013 were $950, compared to $750 for nonunion workers.
The report also shows that union members have greater access to benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave and holidays.
Commenting on the report, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said, "Workers' ability to form unions and engage in collective bargaining has been a cornerstone of a strong middle class.

The decline in union membership over the last few decades has contributed to more working families struggling to get by. When workers have a seat at the table, they are better able to bargain for their fair share of the value they helped create; and that leads to greater economic security and economic mobility for everyone.

As our economy continues to recover and we work to create good jobs, we need to ensure workers can lift their voices to raise wages, reduce inequality and help more people climb ladders of opportunity."
Woefully, data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that only 11.3 percent of America’s workers belong to unions, and just a meager 6.7 percent of all private-sector employees are union members.

“We are fortunate to have a union and everyone who enjoys it benefits needs to support it,” Smith said.
“APWU-represented employees have a distinct advantage over unrepresented employees in the postal workforce, thanks to the support of dues paying members,” she said. “You only have to look back to the pay and benefits casuals received to see what the USPS would pay us if it weren’t for the union.

Casuals received far less pay, had no job security, no benefits and no protection against unfair treatment,” Smith added.
“In today’s postal climate, with the Postmaster General contracting out our work and consolidating facilities, there is no excuse not to belong to the APWU,” Smith declared.

“We are not in a position to tolerate non-members taking a free ride. They reap the benefits and must be held accountable to pay their share. We don’t pay their gas bill and we shouldn’t be expected to pay their union bill.

We need everyone’s support if we are going to thrive in the future.”
Members are encouraged to join forces to persuade non-members to join the APWU.
The enrollment form (Form 1187)  is available to download online, or can be obtained by contacting your local union representative or the Organizing Department at 202-842-4227

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A Retirees View                            

By Paul H (by author’s request)
The Ohio Postal Worker

I wrote this today so that maybe you could share with the Union naysayers what it is like outside the walls of the Post Office. 

The job market is tough and if you are lucky enough to get a job this is pretty much what you are facing.  I apologize to you and all of the dues paying members that I am working a non-union job but that is a sign of the disappearing good paying union supported jobs of the past.

So you think your union is not doing anything for you.  You ask yourself why should I pay union dues and support the union, they don’t help me.  How bad could it be if there was no union? 

I retired from the Postal Service in June 2011 after 32 years. 26 of those years were spent as a dues paying and supporter of the American Postal Workers Union while in the clerk craft.  My last six years were spent in management.  While in management I still made every attempt to work with the union and respect the rights and beliefs of the union members which is probably why I did not go very high on the managerial ladder. 

During that whole period I took what I had for granted.  Good wages, vacation, benefits and someone to go before management on my behalf when I felt unfairly treated, were just a few of the things I could see on the surface.  State and national representation before Congress and the Senate were the things I knew were there, but never thought much about.  Was I happy with my union?  Not always but my dad told me unions have your back, I believed him or maybe I just didn’t want to see what happens when no one has your back.

Now that I am retired from the Postal Service I have taken a part time job at a big box store near my home. It is quite laid back compared to my last position mostly because I am collecting a pension (negotiated and protected by the union) and the money I earn at my new job, well I don’t really need it but it pays for a good meal out and gas in the tank.  But I have come to know many of the stories of my coworkers and they do need the money they make here.  They need it for daycare, school, utilities and the day to day support of their families.  Many of them need a set schedule but that doesn’t happen here either. 

One day may be 2 p.m. to 11 and the next 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., that’s called “clopening”, closing one day and opening the next.  I never heard that term in all my years in the union.  They have no union; in fact, when I went through orientation I had to watch a video on the evils of the union, how you cannot talk about or attempt to organize a union while employed here.

Most of the people in my department have been here longer than I have been yet I make more per hour than they do.  Two new guys were just hired with in background in the skills of our department yet they also make more money per hour than the guy (we will call him John) who has been here almost a year.  How do you get a raise here?  It certainly isn’t guaranteed by a union contract, it is evaluated by a sit down with a supervisor who in the case of John has only known him for 2 weeks.  Do you know how much of a raise John got?  John got 13 cents an hour. Before leaving the clerk craft for management my union negotiated contract allowed me to make more money every two days than John takes home in a 39 hour week.  This is a person that waits on customers, runs power equipment, never misses work, works while he is at work and needs money to pay for college to get a better (hopefully a union) job. 

Another employee (we will call him Bill) lost his raise altogether because he forgot to check a receipt of a customer that was leaving the store.  Bill was a hard worker, a good cashier and had over a year of service with the company.  One mistake resulted in no pay increase and because no union had his back, Bill quit.  Think about some of the supervisors you work for, would they fairly give you the raise you deserve?  Without union monitored bidding would they give you the good shifts or would those go to their favorites?  Would you be able to take a vacation without your union negotiated benefits?  John just got back from a week at Myrtle Beach; he didn’t get paid for a single hour of it because a non-union place like this doesn’t have a vacation plan like you do.

Why did I write this? Because I want everyone who reads it to see how good they have it in spite of the current struggles. You did not get what you have at the Post Office because some supervisor liked you; you got it because the union guaranteed that right for you. 

Yes there are some things like consolidations and closings that are a struggle right now but if my new employer closed down the facility that I work at a lot of good workers would be unemployed.  If the USPS shut down your facility would you be unemployed or inconvenienced? 

These are tough times for the economy and the Postal Service is doing whatever it takes to stay alive.  Why wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to guarantee that you are not working under conditions so many non-union employers demand of their employees? 

Join your union and support your union.


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Strength Through Unity 

A Special Message for Non-Members from APWU President Cliff Guffey

 If you are a USPS employee in the Clerk, Maintenance, Motor Vehicle, or Support Services crafts, the APWU already works for you. Chances are, a union steward or officer has already helped you with an on-the-job grievance. Or perhaps you have taken advantage of a union-negotiated benefit.  What you may not realize is that without the APWU, you would not have the good wages, benefits, and job security you enjoy today.

The union has fought hard for every benefit you receive, including Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA); healthcare and retirement benefits; annual leave, sick leave, and holidays; protection against layoffs; and dignity and respect in the workplace.

Unlike workers in many other industries, postal workers’ income has kept pace with inflation for the past 30 years, and our benefits have remained intact. Without our union and our collective bargaining power, we would have no contract and no workplace representation to enforce our rights. Without the APWU, we would not enjoy the stable career our families rely on. We would be disposable — subject to the whims of abusive supervisors and managers.

In short, our livelihood is protected because three out of four of your co-workers pay the modest union dues that make it possible for the APWU to function as an effective, professional organization that fights for your interests.Today, we face our most serious challenges ever.
The Postal Service is attempting consolidate mail processing facilities and “outsource” postal operations to private contractors.

In addition, corporate mailers are trying to further influence postal policy-making at the expense of workers and consumers through special USPS “advisory” panels. As a consequence, we need you — and you need us — now more than ever.
Membership in the APWU shows a commitment to working together for better pay and benefits, as well as for dignity and respect on the job. 

It represents our understanding of the principle of strength through unity, both in demanding our rights on the job and in speaking to our nation’s leaders about issues that are important to working people.
The APWU cannot effectively meet these challenges without your support.

Whatever your reason for not joining before, we ask that you reconsider the importance and many advantages of becoming an APWU member.
Please look closely at everything the union has to offer, and do your part by becoming a member today. 

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You Work Hard for Your Union

Let your Union Benefits Work Hard for You


As an APWU member, you and your family are automatically eligible to receive Union Plus benefits and discounted services.


Savings- Did you know that APWU members could save over $2,600 annually with the APWU Union Plus benefits? Here’s how you can start stretching your hard-earned paycheck:

        Flower and Gifts Discount Save 20% when you send flowers, 100% satisfaction guaranteed. Visit or call 1-888-667-7779.

        Car Rentals Save up to 25 percent on car rentals and support your fellow union members from Avis, Budget and Hertz. Visit

        Entertainment Save on movie tickets, movie rentals, sporting events, gift certificates and more. Call 1-800-565-3712 and use ID: 744387769 or visit


Service- Union Plus benefits guarantee member satisfaction.

Working families never need to settle for less with Union Plus. Our member advocates, who are OPEIU Local 2 members, work with the program providers, so if you encounter any problems or concerns, they're here to assist: 1‑800‑472‑2005 (8:30 a.m. ‑ 4:30 p.m. ET, weekdays) or online at


Solidarity- Supporting union-made products and services strengthens the labor movement and ensures quality goods and services at

        Union-Made Clothing Save up to 10% off the latest quality apparel, union-made in the USA.

        Goodyear Tires and Service Find union-made Goodyear tires made by United Steelworkers (USW) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and save 5-10% on car service and tires.

        Hawaii Cruise –Book a cruise on the world’s only all-union cruise ship to Hawaii through NCL Cruises with a special 5% discount.


More than ever, it pays to be a member!  For more info on the Union Plus discounts, stop by the Steward’s desk, or call us 651-778-1637



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$200 Weekly ‘Union Difference’


Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary union members were $908 per week in 2009, compared with $710 for workers not represented by unions, according to a new report from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

          The agency said union members earn 28 percent more than their nonunion counterparts.

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Responses to Eight Reasons Non-Members Won't Join the Union or to Members Wanting to Quit – Reprinted from the Rank and Filer


The following is a list of common reasons non-members give for not joining, and some responses that will give them something to think about.

REASON 1: I can't afford the dues.

RESPONSE: Could you afford to work for $6 an hour? That's what you would be making if there were no union. You don't really believe the Postal Service gives you raises out of the goodness of its heart, do you? You saw the wage package the proposed in the last contract negotiations. They think you make too much. Management wanted to freeze your wages, cap the COLA and cut benefits. You've got it backwards. Given what management wants to do to our pay and working conditions, we can't afford not to pay union dues. The union is all that stands between our paychecks and management's give back demands. Don't you want the best contract negotiators, union advocates, and stewards working on your side? The union can't afford them with out your dues money. Can you afford to have the second best negotiator on your side at contract time? Can you afford to have less than the best trained steward or advocate representing you when your discipline or termination is on the line?

REASON 2: I don't believe in unions.

RESPONSE: Do you believe in termination without just cause? Do you believe in child labor? Slave wages? No retirement system? Straight pay for overtime? 84-hour work weeks? Monetary fines for breaking rules that management set up solely to be able to fine you and get their money back? Didn't they teach history where you went to school? All those things happened before there were unions. Some still happen in other countries, and in non-union labor industries in this country. Unions are the only means for the workers to deal with management on an equal basis. Unions, not businessmen or bosses, brought this country into the 20th century. How can you believe in America and not believe in unions?

REASON 3: I don't need to be a member. I get everything that members get without paying the dues. That's the law.

RESPONSE: It is? The law says only that raises apply to non-members as well as members, and that the union must handle grievances for you. If you get injured on the job and have to fight a long compensation claim, you get no help from the union unless you are a member. If you have an EEO complaint, the union won't represent you unless you are a member. Union insurance and discount plans are available to members only. Members alone are eligible to vote for union officers, and to ratify contracts. Only members get to choose whose their union representatives are through democratic elections. Non-members have no say in who represents them. Many rights are stamped, "MEMBERS ONLY."

REASON 4: Who needs the Union? What has it ever done for me?

RESPONSE: More than three quarters of the things that make your job worth having exist only because the union exists. If you haven't worked here long, ask somebody who has how great a place this was to work BEFORE the unions. If the unions ceased to exist tomorrow, how long do you think you'd have the salary and benefits you have now? See responses one and two.

REASON 5: I don't like so and so.

RESPONSE: One person isn't the union or this local. The union is all of us. So you don't like one person. By not being a member, you're hurting everybody, including yourself. If you've got that big of a problem with an officer, then run against him. But don't just drop out. People who didn't like Ronald Reagan didn't renounce their citizenship.

REASON 6: The union is just here to get trouble makers out of the trouble they deserve to be in.

RESPONSE: Yes, the union defends anybody who's in trouble. Isn't that part of the union's job - to make sure everybody gets his day in court? That isn't all the union does, though. The union works to create jobs, improve working conditions and make sure no one's rights are violated. Look at responses one and two. Grieving disciplinary actions is the union's job, but it's far from the only job.


REASON 7: I don't want anything to do with the union. I'm trying to get promoted to boss.

RESPONSE: 80% of the employees in here are union members. Over 90% of the people promoted in the last five years have been union members. Notice a trend?

REASON 8: I went to the union with a problem and didn't get any satisfaction.

RESPONSE: Did you talk to somebody higher up? Did you bring it up at a union meeting to try to get some action? Is one bad experience really reason enough to just give up on the union? Are you sure you really had a legitimate grievance? If you don't believe the union is handling things properly, that should be the reason that gets you involved in the union to try and change things, not a reason to get out. The union isn't perfect, but it's all we've got to protect our rights and jobs.

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Which side are you on?


          There’s an old folk song by Pete Seeger (there’s also a great cover of the song by Natalie Merchant) that starts with that line.  It goes to say you’re either a union man, or a thug for JH Blair, (a mining company). Back in those days, the battle lines were more clearly drawn, and the battles more violent.


But we are in our own battle today.  The battle to preserve the Service, and to preserve one of the last well paying jobs available to those without college educations.  A job that allows you to buy a home, have a comfortable life, and even send your kids to college.  A job that lifts families from one class to another, a job that allows people to work hard and earn the American Dream.


In this battle, we need to ask, which side are we on?  Are you pulling your weight?  Paying your dues, even if you don’t file grievances?  Are you supporting COPA? Contacting your representatives on bills that are important to the survival of the Postal Service, or that protect your contractual bargaining rights through the Union?


Or are you on the side of those that would see the Service privatized and dismantled for profit?  Those that would do away with first class protection and universal delivery at the same low cost rate?  Are you taking all the benefits the union fights for but not contributing to the cost of the fight by paying your dues?



I ask you, which side are you on?  Which side are you on?  Consider joining the fight, we need all of us pulling together if we want to succeed.