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Source: Carriers in a Common Cause--A History of Letter Carriers and NALC Branch 782 E. A. Baker Union Update




"...The Postal Record reported that 'the average American family' earned $5,520 ayear before taxes in 1955 while the average Letter Carrier earned $4,400--$1,120 a year less (Editor-guy note: 20% less income...)

...By 1960, Letter Carriers were having serious financial difficulties. Many Carriers worked two jobs to support their families, and their wives were forced to work to supplement Carriers' meager income. A substantial number of Letter Carriers could not even qualify for an FHA loan to buy a home.

...1970--A Strike is called: Not surprisingly, New York was the center of the drama, for the city itself had been a cauldron of social unrest, with protests against the Vietnam War, urban race riots, strikes by teahcers, transportation and sanitation workers dominating the news for several years. Angry Branch 36 members had already raised their voices protesting the federal government's indifference to their plight and their own union's ambivalence...the vote on March 17, 1970 at the Manhattan Center dragged on until around10:30 p.m. Some30 minutes later, the results were announced to the members: 1,555- yes; 1,055 - no. NALC's largest local had chosen by a 3-to-2 margin to strike against the U.S. Government regardless of whether the national union joined the strike.

...Since Branch 36 had night routers, the strike began throughout Manhattan and the Bronx earlier than elsewhere in the New York area. At 12:01 a.m., March 18, members of Branch 36 set up picket lines outside post offices and, although not all the members had votes, almost every Letter Carrier in Branch 36 stayed out. Immediately, over 25,000 postal clerks and drivers ...honored the picket lines...And then the wildfire swept the nation: Branch34, Boston, Massachusetts; Branch 157, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Branch 1, Detroit, Michigan; Branch 40 Clevland, Ohio; Branch 84, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Branch 214, San Francisco, California; Branch 9, Minniapolis and Branch 28, St. Paul, Minnesota; Branch 47, Denver, Colorado; Branch 11, Chicago, Illinois. In large and small communities alike, from coast to coast, Letter Carriers and postal clerks walked off their jobs, joined the picket lines, and dug in for the duration. By march 23, the strikers numbered over 200,000 strong.

...only with a strike could Carriers have achieved substantial economic and legislative gain. The long struggle of Letter Carriers for dignity and justice had taken a great step forward. The stike--what news magazines at the time termed "Revolt of the Good Guys"-- was an uncoordinated, spontaneous uprising of aggrieved workers, longing not only for economic justice but also for a voice and recognition of their dignity and humanity."

 

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