Brothers and Sisters,
Recently, with all the attention on Capitol Hill, many political
figures have been reciting the preamble to the Constitution. I
found it interesting the interpretation of what our forefathers
meant by the phrase “to form a more perfect Union”. The experts
indicate this implies the progress of the American experience is
never complete. I realized that saying could also be applied to our
union, the National Association of Letter Carriers. Although I
could be a little biased regarding how great our Union is. It would
be foolish to think that even we, the NALC, could not continue to improve.
The Union is not an individual or a small exclusive group of people; instead, everyone is a member. We are over 94% organized, which means there is plenty of ideas and talent amongst our members. Step up! Be an active part of the union. It is easy to complain, but it takes effort to be a contributing, “more perfect Union” (member).
I put out messages like this every so often, usually, after I have entertained discussions with members on how unhappy they are with someone in a union leadership role. Comments like, “Well, I pay union dues, and I want a grievance filed”, or “I pay union dues and I didn’t get a return phone call”, or even “I pay union dues, but what for?” I do not make excuses for the union leadership; however, I try to explain to the member to please be patient – they are probably handling someone else’s issue now. They will return your phone call and get back to you regarding your grievance. Are NALC representatives perfect? Of course not. But that does not mean someone should get out of the union or file charges against their officers for their imperfection. No, instead, step up and help make us a “more perfect Union”.
I would also like to briefly touch base on another closely related topic that our office is asked to do by members, which is to change their steward. Usually, the reason for this request comes from a personality issue between the member and their steward. As most know, stewards are either elected or appointed by an elected branch officer. Thus, it is the branch memberships’ will to have that person as the office’s steward. Therefore, I explain to those individuals it would be improper for our office to interfere with the wishes of the branch.
By law and the oath that stewards take, they must represent their craft when circumstances require their representation. However, when there ever comes a time that someone is not being represented properly, there is a provision in the NALC Constitution that states the branch president “…shall at all times have the authority to relieve any steward, whether appointed or elected, of any representational duties or functions and to assign such duties or functions to another member appointed by the President, whenever the President concludes that such action is necessary to ensure that the Branch meets its representational responsibilities or to ensure Branch compliance with NALC policy.” Again, the steward representing carriers in a unit is ultimately determined by the members of that branch.
As I complete this article, a tentative agreement with the Postal Service is being voted upon by our membership. The return of ballots has been extended until March 1, 2021. Please take a minute to complete your ballot and get it back into the mail stream as soon as possible. If the contract is ratified by our members, local negotiations are scheduled to begin on April 29, 2021. Now is the time to prepare for negotiations. Our office will be setting up virtual trainings to help branches prepare.
In closing, I just want to remind everyone to please stay safe, wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Your life or the life of a loved one may depend upon it!
National Business Agent – Region 6
Kentucky – Indiana – Michigan (KIM)
National Business Agent - Region 6