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Postal Workers Fight for a Good Contract

The article below is from the August 1st, 1975 issue of the underground newspaper Free Flowing.  Thanks to R S for transcribing these.

By the Revolutionary Student Brigade

Postal workers across the U.S. are gathering fury which may lead to a strike over the new contract announced last week by union leaders and the U.S. Postal Service.

The new contract contains no changes in the layoff clause; no changes in the cost of living allowance or health benefits; and no changes in the productivity requirement, or age of retirement.

“The contract is no good and we’re going to start a campaign to strike,” announced a representative of the National Committee for a Good Postal Contract.

Negotiations have continued since the end of April for a new contract to replace the old one, expired July 20.  If ratified by the four national unions, this contract will determine the working conditions for all postal workers for the next two years.

Concerned with the drastic decreases in their real wages and the lack of security in the job, postal workers have demanded that the contract: 1) Defend every job, 2) Provide more money, and 3) Create better benefits.

A chronic problem of the postal workers has been finding out what their union leaders are ‘up to.’  President Fibley of the APWU declared that all negotiations were to be conducted in a “frosted fish bowl,” and not to be secret from the management – but only to the postal workers themselves.

For the postal workers, Fibley’s betrayal comes as one of a long series.  In 1970 when wages were at little better than starvation level, and the wage-increase promise of President Nixon was broken like a crust of dry bread; the postal workers launched the first postal strike in U.S. history.  Meanwhile the union leaders dusted off their uniforms and did everything they could to help the management.

In 1971 the national union leaders helped implement a new management, the Postal Corporation, which began a wave of crackdowns; thousands of postal workers were disciplined and fired on minor offenses.

In 1973 when angry postal workers were struggling against mushrooming inflation, union leaders attempted a sell-out contract which provided an inadequate wage increase, little change in the poor grievance procedure, few gains in benefit, and no change in retirement.  A ballot vote arose and half the members of the APWU in New York City never even received their ballots.

The Kokomo Plan of Indiana looms as the new specter of disaster for the future.  If employers could force its incorporation into any contract, postal workers would have to endure a doubling in productivity – and a new barrage of lay-offs.

R.S.B. Solidarity

We, the Revolutionary Student Brigade, in unity with the rank-and-file worker organizations – Outlaaw and Uprising, took the workers’ national newspaper Fight for a Good Contract to the postal workers in Ames and Des Moines.  The workers’ reception of the paper was enthusiastic.  A few thought when they saw us it was a Jesus paper and waved us away; but when they saw it dealt with the contract and their livelihood, they said, “Come back here.  I want to see that.”  Many of the people we talked to assumed that a strike was necessary for workers to make real gains.  They were ready to go out and to set up militant picket lines.  One worker told us how tough it was to make a decent living and if things didn’t improve it would lead to action by the workers.  He didn’t trust the union to lead their battle.  It was their jobs, wages and working conditions at stake.  Some workers took 6 or 8 papers because they wanted other workers to be sure to get a copy.  The spirit of the workers encouraged us to work harder in our support.

The contract has expired and a new one has been proposed.  But the R.S.B knows that if workers’ demands are not satisfied, they will strike.  This is one of the many ways the working class can show its strength and win its fight.  All people should support them in their just demands.  The use of the National Guard as scabs is a real possibility and reveals the state for what it is – a tool of the bosses.  This attack on workers should be repulsed.

If there is a strike, people can help them in any other way to win their demands.  The workers themselves have great strength; but solidarity and unity with real friends will advance the struggle and bring greater victories.

The papers, controlled by the employers, have started to campaign to turn ‘the public’ against the postal workers.  But ‘the public’ is mainly workers facing the same problems and having the same interests as the postal workers, their brothers and sisters.  It is the workers who are strong and the bosses who are weak.  Without us, the workers, they have nothing.

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