The supporters of the 2010 national agreement are blind to the damages inflicted on the fundamental role of a labor union. They have reduced the debate to support or opposition to the responsible officers, but the changes inflicted go way beyond defying the mere definition of “union” which stands for togetherness and equal treatment. This contract reverses 200 years of struggle. Many of the current employees have never been exposed to unequal treatment so they cannot relate to disparate rules that are determined based on arbitrary factors.
As a senior citizen, with many years of fighting against rules that separated American citizens based on sex or skin color, my antenna is extended for similar exceptional applications based on anything beyond skills and ability. My generation fought the battle to end discrimination against people of color, women and the handicapped with labor unions in the forefront of each epic battle. We fought and won the struggles against rules that were applied discriminately with the sworn principle that all American citizens are entitled to equal treatment. The excuses now heard in support of unequal treatment for new employees are echoes of the justifications cited years ago. Now come the 2010 national agreement that reverses those years of struggle and sets a new standard for compensation. Wages are no longer determined by the tasks performed, the skills applied or the employees’ work commitment, but the date of hire. This harkens back to the days when sex or race was the determining factor and is no different than those historic forms of discrimination. The demands of women, people of color and the handicapped are no different than the demand of an employee hired after May 23, 2011; judge me for my ability and my performance. The wages established are intended as compensation for the efforts required to perform the assigned work; not who performs the work.
And do not be convinced that the adjustment is minor and the fact that acceptance by people desperate for employment somehow mitigates the injustice. For performing the exact same duties, each new employee will receive compensation and annuity over their career and lives that is more than $500,000 less based solely on date of hire. Imagine, if $500,000 had been removed from your lifetime earnings based on your height, weight or hair color.
Equal treatment for job performance is a fundamental principal of the American labor union movement and the contractual changes reversed 200 years of progress. The road back will be as difficult as the struggle to get here. Correcting this injustice will consume years of efforts that could be expended on more positive issues of advancing the causes of postal employees. Effective the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Lilly Ledbetter law we thought that we had prevailed and all American citizens would be treated commensurable to their contributions but our union has consciously imposed another artificial qualification, the date of hire. My entire life has been a struggle against such injustice. I guess there is more work to do.