The Power of “You Get a Box”: Delegates Hear from National Leaders

The past couple of days at the NPMHU 2016 National Convention have been chock-full of noteworthy speakers, ranging from Members of Congress to leaders of the labor movement.  In fact, the main event Tuesday afternoon was listening to a series of pre-arranged addresses and video recordings.  Among those joining the Convention delegates through video messages were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and APWU President Mark Dimondstein.  All sang the praises of the Postal Service, and discussed the importance of postal reform legislation and Union solidarity.  Dimondstein in particular highlighted the importance of solidarity between unions and among all postal employees.

Those guest speakers who attended the Convention in person and spoke from the podium did not leave empty handed.  President Hogrogian had several specialty wooden boxes that he gifted to speakers as a token of appreciation.  After any well-received speech, the delegates enthusiastically demanded that the guest be provided with a wooden box.

Of the box recipients, first up was Montana Senator Jon Tester.  A huge postal advocate, Tester talked about all he had done with the NPMHU on his mind.  “When it comes to the Postal Service, it’s pretty simple.  I want what you want,” Tester said.  His home state of Montana is especially reliant on the Postal Service, as its rural, mountainous terrain is often bypassed by the private sector.  According to Senator Tester, compromising over privatization is a waste of time.  “We need politicians who support privatizing the postal service to just come out and say it,” he said.

Senator Tester called upon the audience to help him in his fight for meaningful postal reform.  “This is a good government issue, a constitutional responsibility,” he said to an enthused crowd.  “I’m willing to partner with anyone who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”

Following Tester was Senate hopeful Tammy Duckworth.  A Congresswoman from Illinois who has been a staunch advocate of veterans and working families, Duckworth shared her personal story.  “My family traces military service back to the Revolution,” she said.  Duckworth’s father was a veteran who found himself out of work.  “We were struggling, and it wasn’t because we weren’t working hard.”

Because more than one quarter of Postal Service employees are veterans, Duckworth understands the importance of retaining these Union jobs.  She promised to continue her support of postal reform and worker’s rights when elected to the U.S. Senate, and hoped Illinois voters in the audience would offer her their support.

The following morning, the delegates heard from yet another Member of Congress with personal ties to labor.  Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) has a brother who is a current postal employee, a mail handler, whom she frequently relies on as a source of information.

“You don’t have to lobby me; my brother sends me texts.  Better have a job after this, he writes; a pay raise would be nice too,” Kelly said.  An advocate of postal reform, Kelly believes this legislation and related measures stand a good chance with a new administration.

Representative Kelly publicly endorsed Secretary Clinton, and then launched into the importance of the next generation.  “The millennials are the most broad-minded generation in our nation’s history.  They seem to understand the constitution sometimes better than us.  Let’s give ourselves a pat on the back; we have taught them well.  It is reassuring to know we’re leaving our democracy to a generation who supports principles and ideals, diversity, inclusion, justice, and equal opportunity for all.”

Kelly, like all the speakers that preceded her, left the stage with the gift of a wooden Mail Handler box.  “When you come to visit me in DC,” she said, “this will most definitely be on my desk.”