AFL-CIO political writer Shant Mesrobian has been working in Kentucky with union members to help get out the vote for the state’s critical gubernatorial elections. Steve Beshear (D) is challenging Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), who has canceled bargaining rights for state employees, privatized Kentucky’s Medicaid program and taken other anti-worker stands.
On a cool, crisp Saturday morning, the Kentucky labor movement was on fire!
While polls across the state show the governor race pretty much over (largely due a 47-point lead for Beshear among union voters) labor leaders in Kentucky are saying: “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet—You’re Next, Mitch [McConnell]!”
When the female leadership of the Postal Workers (APWU) discovered the majority of the nonmembers they represented were women, they didn’t just mourn about this gap in union membership. They organized.
Although the APWU represents all clerical, maintenance, motor vehicle and support service workers at the U.S. Postal Service, under federal labor law, the workers do not have to join the union. Some 20 percent of the workers the union represents at the nation’s 37,000 postal facilities are not members.
Inspired by the discussions of woman-to-woman organizing during the 2005 Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) convention, the 17 women who were elected national officers approached APWU President William Burrus with a plan to focus on recruiting women.
The result: Since March, some 7,184 workers have joined APWU. The success of the Women’s Organizing Campaign isn’t limited to women—many male workers are among the new members.