By Craig Schadewald, Vice-President, North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers
Americans have cast their votes and Donald Trump is our president-elect. It’s unfortunate on a union-labor side of things, that our endorsed candidate wasn’t successful in her bid towards the presidency.
It is funny how this election stuff works; Clinton didn’t win, although she received more votes nationally than her opponent, Donald Trump. But the Electoral College process is how our country’s election system works and we must accept the outcome.
Another unfortunate issue is the lower turn-out of voters than we had in the last presidential election. I understand folks may not have liked either candidate, but men and women of our military have sacrificed, put their lives on the line, have been injured, and some have made the ultimate sacrifice, all to allow Americans to choose a leader of our democracy.
At the time of this election there were 241 million people of voting age in America, with 200 million registered to vote. Only 124 million people cast a ballot for president. Just under half of the voting age people chose to not vote. There were 5 million ballots less this year than in the 2012 presidential election, when 129 million voted.
These low numbers are not unusual. Since the 70’s voter turnout percentages for Presidential elections has been in the 50’s range. I believe it is our duty as Americans to vote, not only to choose a leader but to honor the sacrifices of our fellow Americans protecting our right to vote.
I realize many of our members did not support or vote for the union endorsed candidates, and that is their right and I accept that. What I don’t accept is how rude and nasty a few of our own members were to the NALC releases or volunteers when politely contacted asking for their support for the NALC candidates.
For those members who did not support the NALC candidates, you must understand the NALC endorses and supports candidates based on their positions regarding workplace issues important to letter carriers and in support of a strong postal service and the right for us to have a union to include collective bargaining. So it shouldn’t have been a shock with who our union endorsed and worked hard for in an attempt to get them elected. Our North Carolina NALC campaign releases worked many long hours to get the union’s message out and were aided by member volunteers, in hopes of getting our pro-letter carrier candidates elected.
Although, it didn’t play out the way we, as a union wished, I can’t thank our releases and volunteers enough. You put social issues aside and focused on what would help letter carriers with regards to the postal service, union activities and workplace issues and did it in a polite, non-confrontational and professional manner.
So where do we go from here during these uncertain times? Based on our President-elect actions and comments during his campaign, corporate life and his proposals for America, it may not be good for federal employees and unions, including letter carriers and the NALC. He has stated the second thing he will do within his first 100 days is place a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety and public health). I don’t need to remind you, letter carriers are federal employees.
His actions regarding unions, recognizing unions and contracts, has much to be desired. Take a look at what he is doing to his hotel employees in Las Vegas. Maybe he will spare us, who knows? But don’t be shocked if he doesn’t.
Had we prevailed in electing more pro-letter carrier candidates, we definitely would be in a better position to move our issues forward. Unfortunately, the NALC will now be required to expend more resources in hopes of maintaining the benefits and working conditions for all active and retired letter carriers.
The election is over and now it is time for all letter carriers to come together to ensure the postal service continues to provide quality service, six days a week, to include door delivery to businesses and households. You will be asked in the future to support your union if legislation develops attacking your job and benefits. We have been in this position before and I have no doubt our NALC officers at the national and state levels will work hard to protect letter carriers, the postal service and our customers, but we will need your help. I hope that’s something you can support.
I’d like to wish all of our members and their families a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday Season and a Healthy New Year.