With disco, jazz, country beat, letter carriers rally to save Saturday delivery

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s Branch 86 letter carriers were represented at the 67th Biennial Convention of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in Anaheim, Calif., for one of the most important conventions I have ever attended.

It was great to be in a room with 8,000 fellow letter carriers and to be able to speak to like-minded people, as though you had known them for years. At the top of the agenda was our campaign “5 Days is the Wrong Way – Save Saturday Delivery.”

The convention opened each weekday morning with a union band playing a different kind of regional music, including country, disco, jazz, and down home blues. Each morning the session convened with an invocation, by a rabbi, priest, or pastor, and a different stirring vocal (a cappella) rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

As the week progressed, many elected officials and union leaders addressed the convention. William Burris, American Postal Workers Union (APWU) president, spoke with an intimacy that could only be shared by two union crafts that must tame the same dragon. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, kept the carriers riveted with his speaking style that oscillated between a Sunday sermon and the incitement to strong action.

All speakers pledged full support to the two postal worker unions, NALC and APWU, in our quest to defeat the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service to cut mail delivery to a five-day workweek.

The early evenings, and mornings were filled with training sessions dealing with all levels of advocacy. Evenings were for fun. We ate dinner together some nights, and met various delegates from east and west, from the Virgin Islands to Guam.

Friday the convention agenda was light. The timing was perfect. The AFL-CIO had planned a jobs rally on the south lawn of Los Angeles City Hall. NALC delegates wasted no time boarding buses to downtown Los Angeles. It was a beautiful day for a little civil disobedience, and the influx of thousands of letter carriers caused the already well-attended rally to swell to three times its original size.

Along with the Teamsters were the American Federation of Teachers, Unite Here, SEIU, United Auto Workers, and many others. Fred Rolando, president of NALC, spoke about our struggle. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, pledged to help defeat the USPS and its union-breaking scheme to reduce mail delivery to five days.

The convention and rally kicked off a national campaign to save Saturday mail delivery. The Letter Carriers union is appealing to its members, their family and friends, and members of the public to make their opinions known.

“Write a letter based on your own experiences, about the importance of Saturday delivery to you, and send it to the Postal Regulatory Commission Office of Public Affairs & Government Relations at 901 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20268-0001,” urges the NALC.

Photo: National Association of Letter Carriers