Light the Way

by Craig Schadewald, Vice President, North Carolina State Association of Letter CarriersSave Postal Service Rally-Greenville_2_Wilson

Most often in life, darkness represents a negative, an unpleasantry, just the opposite of a bright positive, comfortable feeling. People and animals can suffer from forms of depression during the dark gloomy days of winter. Many small children are afraid of the dark, fearing what they can’t see. It’s more difficult to see in the dark. Driver’s use high beams to see better while driving when it’s dark. Metaphors are often used figuratively. Christians believe Jesus is the light of the world shinning in the darkness of everyday life. High school and college graduates are wished a bright future, meaning good things for them. To shed some light on a topic, means to explain the issues for better understanding evolving from the word enlighten. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines ‘enlighten’ this way: “To give light of fact and knowledge; to make clear the facts; inform.” No matter how it’s put, light literally removes darkness.

We (NALC) have a serious problem facing us. Many of our members go through their work life in the dark, and I mean that figuratively speaking. It can’t be due to a lack of information available to us. I talk with many of our state members, some who’ve been delivering mail for years, who don’t know the various websites like our national association website, nalc.org, or our state association website nclettercarrier.com. Some may know the websites but rarely visit them or don’t read the bulletins posted on NALC boards at their work station. Others don’t read the Postal Record or the NC Letter Carrier mailed to their address or don’t attend their local Branch meetings.

If when driving in the dark you use your high beams to shine more light to help you understand the bumps, curves and avoid mishaps, then why wouldn’t you shed some light on one of the most important things in your life: your profession, your way of maintaining your lifestyle and providing for your family needs?

Folks, we have an ongoing fight regarding postal legislation which in turn will affect your work life and your family life. Until favorable legislation is passed, we will continue to have attacks against our bargaining rights, health, retirement and workers compensation benefits. Within our state and across our nation frontline supervisors and postmasters are incorrectly educating letter carriers on working conditions and contractual issues. If you are reading this, I ask you to enlighten yourselves concerning these issues for the betterment of our organization and our jobs. The national, state and local leaders can’t do this alone. We can provide you with information but we can’t make you read it or put it to use. Ask any NALC union representative and they will tell you much of their knowledge has been achieved through self-education with materials supplied by the union.

Knowledge is power, and the more members who understand this and act on it, the  better off we all will be.

Recently, amended Senate legislation S.1486 was voted out of committee. This legislation would threaten full and part-time jobs; lead to pension cuts; weaken our position in contract negotiations; eliminate Saturday delivery after 2017 and door-to-door delivery for new deliveries; allow the USPS to further reduce  service and delivery standards, and the list goes on of harmful changes.

This legislation is very damaging to letter carriers, other postal employees and our customers. S.1486 also fails to relieve the USPS of the pre-funding requirement of future retiree health benefits, responsible for the service’s financial losses.

What’s with these people? Apparently they’re in the dark. This is why we need all members to turn on their high beams to fully understand the consequences of this and any future harmful legislation, and shed some light on the topic to anyone who will listen.

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