CPWU grew out of a series of nationwide conference calls in the Spring of 2012, among postal workers from three unions – the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) – and other allies in the labor movement. Pulled together by Labor Notes, a national magazine and organizing center, the conference calls focused on the urgency of de-fending the postal service against closures to mail processing plants and post offices.
Some of us had unsuccessfully fought the closure of the Frederick, Maryland plant and watched with horror as first class mail sat in trailers for ten days. Others had organized 500 people to show up for a closure hearing in White River Junction, Vermont and cheered as the plant was taken off the closure list. We had organized a thousand-person Save the Postal Service march through downtown Portland, Oregon. Some had helped occupy a threatened post office in Harlem, NYC. We wanted to combine our efforts.
We applauded the national day of action organized by our unions on September 27th, 2011. We knew it was time to call a national action, again. So we did – on Tax Day, April 17th, with the theme “No Taxes Needed to Save America’s Postal Service”. We had organized about a dozen cities for action by the time the national APWU and the NPMHU got on board. In early May we met to formally found CPWU at the Labor Notes conference in Chicago.
By late June we had organized a DC Hunger Strike to Save the Postal Service – ten of us, letter carriers, clerks, truck drivers, maintenance, mail handlers, seniors, vets, Occupy activists, rank-and-file & officers – walked the halls of Congress. We demanded that Congress stop starving the postal service, repeal the pre-funding man-date & refund the pension surplus and protested at postal headquarters demanding that the Postmaster General stop the cuts and closures. Generating major media coverage, our hunger strike had an impact on Congress and the USPS but more importantly it put the CPWU before the public and brought a new layer of activists into our midst.
Since the hunger strike we have been active at three national union conventions – NALC, NPMHU, and APWU – hosting well attended meetings about building local labor/community coalitions and pushing through resolutions to encourage such local formations. NALC and APWU also passed resolutions calling for a National March and Rally to Save the Postal Service.