by Lance A. Coles, Editor-at-Large
When dictators or insurgents take over a country, one of the first things they do is shut down the free press and replace it with their own propaganda machine. This is a lesson in the vital importance of communication.
We, as postal workers and labor editors, are in the communication business – and once we stop or reduce our communication – we will fail! As our membership numbers decline due to retirements and postal firing, so does the income the national and locals receive – thus how money is spent changes. People that do not see the big picture think that reducing the local’s newspaper publication frequency or pages is the answer to economic woes – they are wrong!
We are not just a grievance machine. We – the APWU – are supposed to educate and agitate – we have to get the membership involved and prepared for what is coming. If we don’t communicate – through our local publication – how will they know of the coming conflicts?
There is no doubt that sacrifices will have to be made in every part of every local’s budgets, and the newspapers will be part of that. If there is a way to keep communication flowing, then it needs to be considered. We have the contractual right for bulletin boards in all postal facilities. Many of these are not very accessible to read, and are usually poorly maintained and updated – the members tend to not read them. It is important that someone in every local, at every plant, station, BMC and associate office, keep the union bulletin boards current and readable. If they are not where the members can read them, ask to have them moved to a better place.
Along with the bulletin board, local presidents are encouraged to do a weekly flyer that keeps the members current on issues, where the newspaper may not afford the timeliness. Put these flyers on the bulletin boards. Make them stand out and each week use different color, ink or artwork.
The membership wants information, and the newspaper is a great one to provide large articles of information, pictures of members and reports – but give the membership more. Post the flyers or hand them out in the break rooms or at entrances.
If the newspapers have to give something to help the budget, then look at the use of different paper stock. Consider combining publications with other locals nearby or other unions. Sell advertising. (Please contact the PPA for assistance before engaging in the acceptance of advertising.)
If the union shuts down their communication process, they are suppressing the memberships’ right to communication and the members will soon feel they have been alienated from their union and will revolt in their own way.
The dictators and insurgents shut down the media because they don’t want the truth to be told. The members of the union will think the same if the union stops or reduces their communication.
Don’t just stop or reduce your publication – look at creative ways to continue. The survival of the union depends on it!