Mail Handlers Amend Union Constitutions and Discuss Political Goals

Haggarty, Harris, Cowan, Sneesby, Gibson and Jackson advance to Mail Referendum Election

The political power of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union has come to the forefront over the last two days at the 2016 Convention.  The National Officer Primary Elections were held on Wednesday morning.  Judges of Election Tommy Reid, Rick Coleman, and Chawanda Parson presided over the balloting and counting of votes.  Together on Thursday morning, at the Convention, they announced the two candidates for each Region who will move on to the next round of voting:

CENTRAL REGION VICE PRESIDENT

  • Jim Haggarty, Local 307
  • June Harris, Local 306

WESTERN REGION VICE PRESIDENT

  • Eddie Cowan, Local 303
  • Donald Sneesby, Local 316

These elections will be conducted via mail ballot in September and October.  Unlike the primary elections at the Convention in which all delegates could participate, the final elections will only occur within the Regions in question.  All members in good standing will be eligible and encouraged to vote.

In addition to these two elections, Local 308 President and incumbent Eastern Region Vice President John Gibson will be running against Local 305 President Felandria Jackson for the position of Eastern Region Vice President.  No primary election was necessary this week, as there were only two candidates nominated.

All four National Officers who were re-elected by acclamation took the time to give a heartfelt thanks to the delegates for their support and confidence.  Retiring Vice Presidents Rudy Santos and Jefferson C. Peppers III also took a moment to reflect on their service, and thank the delegates.

After completing the business of elections, Constitution Committee Chair Jefferson C. Peppers III took the podium.  After introducing and thanking the Committee, Peppers launched into the report of the Constitution Committee.  There was only minimal debate from the floor as he read through each change recommended by the Committee.  Eventually, every single change was passed (mostly by unanimous vote).  One additional amendment – brought to the floor by delegate Ira Edelstein of Local 318, with friendly amendments from delegates Nick Mosezar of Local 318 and J.R. Macon of Local 329 – also passed by the required two-thirds vote.

As a result, the 2016 edition of the Constitution will look considerably different than the one that preceded it.  Only a handful of these changes are particularly substantial, but they certainly will make our Constitution better.

The delegates also got a chance to look at the bigger picture when NALC President Frederic Rolando delivered a brief address Thursday morning.  Rolando talked about possible postal reform legislation, and how the Unions can assist each other in this fight.

“The grassroots involvement of all our members is so important politically and legislatively,” Rolando said.  “Our issues are not Democrat, they’re not Republican, they are American.  That’s the type of activism we really need to see.”

Rolando discussed that for the first time in history, the Unions were able to come together with the mailers (such as Amazon and eBay) and the Postal Service through the Postmaster General to form a coalition of like-minded organizations.  Although members of this coalition have different individual interests, collectively it has been able to agree upon a bill with some basic protections and improvements.  After all, everyone in the coalition shares the goal of keeping the Postal Service strong and thriving into the future.

“Two things I want to leave you with – one of them is we have adversaries, we’re in a war, but always remember, you don’t have any in this room.  We have to come together as a team.  Because all the things we do, they don’t mean anything if this company (the Postal Service) doesn’t continue to exist.  Second, . . . whatever you do for the Mail Handlers Union, whether you’re an officer or a steward, you are why your Union is strong.  Your Union is as strong as it is because of what you do, day in and day out.  All the strength and success in the Union comes from what you do everyday.”

Later in the day, Legislative and Political Director Bob Losi spoke to this point.  He thanked the membership for their tireless work in the field, and provided more context about the two postal reform bills before Congress.  Losi also talked about how important it is to vote in the upcoming national election, encouraging delegates to register their newly eligible relatives.

Afterwards, Losi took questions from the delegates about how to best get involved politically.  He encouraged participation in their respective State AFL-CIO organizations, and to get out the vote – both up and down the ticket.

The final order of business was the Report of the Legislative and Political Committee.  Chair Rudy Santos introduced and thanked his committee, and then proceeded to read through the recommended resolutions.  The Committee has recommended 8 resolutions, and at present, 4 have appeared before the delegates. So far, all of those presented have been approved.