As was reported in the previous issue of Mailers Hub News, a comment by the Postmaster General about reducing the postal workforce brought a quick and confrontational response from Mark Dimondstein, president of the ever-adversarial American Postal Workers Union. However, comments emanating from the union’s recent convention suggest that a challenger to Dimondstein’s re-election may think he’s not been aggressive enough in dealing with the PMG.
On August 19, former APWU National HR Director Sue Carney offered comments reflecting on the convention; those were posted on the 21st Century Postal Worker website the following day. Relevant to Dimondstein and his approach to the PMG, Carney observed:
“… The delegates also resoundingly rejected President Dimondstein’s ‘we will judge DeJoy based on his actions in the future regarding any effort to actively seek his removal as PMG now. The delegates rejected Dimondstein’s wait and see mentality having read the PMG’s 10-year plan to dismantle and privatize the postal service; having witnessed our service standards to our communities plummet; knowing he and his wife have vested financial interests with our competitors; having experienced his hostile workplace policies and his inaction to stop rampant manager abuse; having threats of excessing hang over their heads; watching him lay the ground work in an effort to justify post office closures, consolidations and the termination of 50,000 career positions.
“It seemed to me based on Mark’s remarks that he’d rather take on closures, consolidations and excessing on a case by case basis rather than stopping it where it starts. It seems he’d rather hope the PMG becomes agreeable to restoring service standards rather than mandating their return now, especially when he had the opportunity to do so while the PSRA of 2022 was being constructed but settled for a we’ll see.
“Thankfully the vast majority of our APWU delegates stood united with very little opposition mandating the APWU take action now to remove DeJoy. The delegates also mandated a letter be issued to the public and legislators within 30 days detailing how DeJoy is responsible for the erosion of our postal service standards; how employees remain committed to their communities; demanding the restoration of service standards, and calling for his removal.
“Imo [sic] this is one of the major differences between our presidential candidates – Dimondstein and his challenger John L Marcotte. It appears Mark thinks he can negotiate with the devil and persuade him to recoil – even with the passage of Postal Reform of 2022 he and our Legislative & Political Director only obtained a passive yeah we will look at service standards with no guarantees of restoring them. And what good is getting one of our own appointed to the Board of Governors when he (Mark’s recommended appointee) stands down citing Destroy’s 10-year plan isn’t all bad while he’s actively taking a meat ax to the People’s Post Office and he’s coming after our members’ jobs!
“While Marcotte on the other hand has stood strong and unwavering all along calling for the removal of DeJoy because of his actions on his ongoing plans. He didn’t need the raised voices of our delegates to read the writing on the wall. In the end the delegates took decisive action to correct our path and overwhelmingly spoke on behalf of our members demanding APWU take all measures to Dump DeJoy now.”
Obviously the candidates for the presidency of the APWU would need to understand the membership’s concerns and appeal to those voters accordingly. For many unions, but especially for one as antagonistic as the APWU, it’s important to have an enemy that can be used to rally the faithful.
For the fiery Moe Biller, for William Burrus (who referred to commercial mailers as “vermin”), and for other union leaders, the enemy was always postal management, as well as mailers who participate in worksharing – taking away union work, in the APWU’s view.
Having a candidate rise up against Dimondstein is no surprise—any good election needs to offer choices – but for one to directly challenge Dimondstein’s approach to the PMG is more significant. How accurately it reflects the attitudes of the rank-and-file in the hinterlands is unknown, but the comments from the convention, and the rejection of Dimondstein’s “wait-and-see mentality,” suggest more than passing displeasure.
The union’s website made no mention of the upcoming presidential election or the bubbling dispute between the candidates, likely trying to keep internal discord as much out of the public view as it can. Rather, reports of each of the convention’s four days of business described the overflowing union spirit among delegates, speakers, and guests like politicians and representatives from other unions.
Dealing with DeJoy
Of course, with any public figure, whether a politician, PMG, or union president, there are always two levels of communication: what’s said for public (or member) consumption and what’s said privately.
Though Dimondstein has been somewhat effective in dealing with Louis DeJoy (he persuaded him to conduct the ongoing check-cashing “test”) and though DeJoy claims (publicly) to have a working relationship with the unions, that may be deceptive. DeJoy’s offhanded comment about having to cut 50,000 jobs in order for the USPS to break even clearly blindsided Dimondstein and put him in a position where he had to react both in his own defense and to assert the union’s willingness to fight job cuts.
Whether any of the bluster will translate into Dimondstein being voted out remains to be seen but, if he’s replaced by a more aggressive successor, one sensing a mandate to confront DeJoy and his 10-year Plan, things could get very interesting. And if the mid-term elections enable union-friendly politicians to retain power in Congress, an APWU using its connections to make trouble for the PMG could further upset whatever he and his Plan might be developing.