Convention Update – A Successful Opening Day, Powered by You

“Now more than ever, we need to harness the power of you, all of you’s.”

The quadrennial National Convention was called to order on Monday morning by National President Paul Hogrogian.  Mail Handlers came in droves from across the country, gathering in a large conference room to hear speakers, nominate judges of election, and pass the set of rules that will govern this week’s proceedings.  Excitement was in the air as the 285 delegates in attendance harnessed their power under this year’s Convention theme – the Power of You.

The morning started with an introduction of all the Local Presidents in attendance.  Following this, the National Officers on the National Executive Board were introduced – including Mark Gardner, whose air guitar solo was caught on camera.  Next, delegate Reggie Riggins of Local 310 gave a beautiful invocation with a parable thrown in.

The NPMHU invited the Chicago Fire Department Pipe and Drums to present the colors while performing patriotic standbys such as “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful,” with solo trumpeter Mike Olen playing the national anthem.

Next, Local 306 President June Harris and LIUNA Great Lakes Regional Manager Terry Healy gave delegates a warm welcome to Chicago.  Both sung the city’s praises as “the most beautiful in the world” and encouraged delegates to get out and explore.

President Paul Hogrogian then continued the introductory proceedings by honoring those union officers who have passed away during the past four years, as well as those that have retired – including a special address from National President Emeritus John Hegarty.  He told the delegates that retirement actually was all that it is cracked up to be, and encouraged them to “keep on kicking ass for the working class.” Hegarty was later joined on the stage by Joe Boston (former Treasurer of Local 306), James Bell (former President of Local 304), Hardy Williams (former President of Local 306 and Central Regional VP), and Samuel D’Ambrosio (former President of Local 322 and Eastern Regional VP).

The keynote speaker of the day was LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan.  His speech consisted mostly of praise for the craft, along with a strongly worded political endorsement.

“If it’s a fight you want, with the Mail Handlers it’s a goddamn war,” O’Sullivan bellowed to a standing ovation. “Your LIUNA brothers are proud as hell of you.”

O’Sullivan claimed that LIUNA’s endorsement of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came easily – not only is she “a staunch defender of the right to organize,” she is an extremely qualified candidate for President. He also noted that Secretary Clinton happens to be engaged in a race against a volatile opponent, one who is dangerous, unqualified, and wholly anti-Union.  “I say Trump is a chump,” said O’Sullivan.  “It’s time, with all due respect, to cut the bull; damn, it’s time to elect Hillary.”

President Hogrogian presented President O’Sullivan with “yet another empty wooden box,” the gift of choice for all guest speakers.  He thanked all of LIUNA’s attendees for showing their support, and pointed out that at present the NPMHU and LIUNA are working together better than ever before.

The Convention Parliamentarian Kirk Overbey was introduced next, followed by General Counsel Bruce Lerner.  These experts serve as valuable resources over the coming week, fielding questions about convention proceedings or proposed amendments and resolutions.

After a quick break, U.S. Representative David Joyce addressed the crowd.  A Republican Congressman from Ohio, Joyce has been a fierce advocate for postal reform and against privatization.  He shared a little of his personal experience, and then delved into his praise of the Postal Service and its Mail Handler craft.

“You are the unsung heroes of the Postal Service,” he said to warm applause.  “I know you are the backbone of the system.  Five hundred and nine million pieces of mail [processed] per day.  That’s incredible.”

After thanking Representative Joyce, President Hogrogian informed the Union of all the work performed by its Political Action Committee, quickly plugging the upcoming 50/50 raffles.

Reports were then presented by the Credentials, Election, and Rules Committees.  All three committees were brought to the stage for a round of applause and a brief picture, and then the respective Committee Chairs spoke to the delegates.  Credentials Chairman Pervous (Andy B.) Badilishamwalimu of Local 310 moved to adopt the Credentials Report, which was approved unanimously.  He also gave a supplemental credentials report that stipulated the number of delegates in attendance for the day.

After playing a short video about election proceedings, Election Committee Chairwoman Yvette Johnson of Local 300 announced the Election Committee rules for electing the Judges of Election who will conduct this year’s election of National Officers.  She then received and approved nominations from the delegates for the positions available as Judges of Election.  The list of nominees is below:

  • Richard Coleman, Local 306
  • Woody Hendrickson, Local 332
  • Roxie Olds-Pride, Local 311
  • Susanna Paniagua, Local 320
  • Chawanda Parson, Local 310
  • Tommy Reid, Local 300
  • Michael Rembelinsky, Local 308
  • Claude Ridley, Local 321
  • Eric Schneider, Local 303

Finally, Rules Committee Chairman John Gibson delivered his committee’s report and moved to adopt the thirty-one rules recommended by the Rules Committee.  All rules were met with overwhelming positivity, and were therefore adopted.

All in all, the Convention’s first day was jam packed.  Recess was called a little early in order to facilitate the start of the Judge’s Election.  Delegates lined up this afternoon to cast their votes for three Judges, and the Election Committee is working tirelessly tonight to tabulate the results, which will be announced at the Convention tomorrow morning.