Burrus on contract supporters: “It’s All About Me”

To APWU Members

I have written a number of opinion letters criticizing the tentative agreement; however, while forcefully advancing my position I realize that there is a countervailing position as expressed in the hypothetical letter below reflecting the sentiment of many APWU members.

Dear Mr. Burrus:

I have read your opinion regarding the tentative agreement and with all due respect to your service and experience as a union representative, I strongly disagree.

I was apprehensive about the outcome of the 2010 national negotiations during a period of economic uncertainties in our country and in the Postal Service. The unemployment rate continues at an uncomfortable level and by all reports the Postal Service is approaching bankruptcy putting my employment in serious jeopardy. While I have complaints about several aspects of my job, it does provide me the income necessary to maintain my standard of living and the uncertainties of arbitration would threaten my economic security; I really wouldn’t like that.

When I learned that a negotiated agreement had been agreed to that does not drastically reduce my income; that continues to provide health insurance with a modest increase in my premium, and that the new provisions will not directly threaten my ‘job security’ I breathed a sigh of relief. As added benefits, the tentative agreement eliminates mandatory overtime and limits excessing to a reasonable commuting distance as well as returns contract jobs to the Postal Service. Other features that I do not fully understand will not affect me personally but will not hurt me either.

The initiation of a two tier wage schedule and the increase of non-career employees are negatives but they will not directly apply to me and I will even receive modest pay raises.

The increase in casuals (I don’t care what you call them) is troublesome, but if that is the only price that I have to pay I will swallow it. If someone has to perform the same work for $12 per hour, that’s their problem.

When I was informed that employees hired under this contract would receive over $200,000 less for performing the same work I was disappointed, but those new employees can speak for themselves and those who accept postal employment will know in advance the wage scale that will apply; they will be free to seek employment elsewhere. I hear that McDonalds is adding 50,000 new positions today so that will be an alternative if postal wages are not acceptable.

I know that this is selfish on my part because I inherited the advances made by the postal generations that preceded me. I appreciate the struggles of those who jeopardized their careers by participating in the strike, those who were responsible for rejecting the tentative agreement in 1978 that would have capped the COLA and reduced my income dramatically over my career. I appreciate all of the contracts negotiated since I was hired that advanced my rights and increased my income.

I am thankful for the 2007 upgrades Mr. Burrus and the fact that you protected the income of those who have been hired after each of the contracts that you negotiated because if you had agreed to a two tier salary before I was hired it would have affected me and when all is said and done, it is about "me."

Mr. Burrus, if you or Mr. Biller, the only two presidents that negotiated contracts during my career had reduced postal wages at any time before or during my employment it is possible that I would not have accepted or continued postal employment, but I cannot live in a world of "what if’s." You did what you had to do and now it’s my turn. In this decision, I have to look out for myself. I am appreciative that I am being provided the opportunity to vote and my vote is "Yes."

And if my vote makes a difference, I will admit that I was partially responsible for reducing the pay of future postal employees up to 24% and reducing full time jobs to 30 hours a week and still call them full time, but times are difficult and in this instance it’s them or me and I chose the latter. Isn’t that what a union is all about?


APWU Member

via burrusjournal.org – Editorial.

  • Enough Already!

    I swear Burrus is a legend in his own mind! This man feels that his contracts are superior to any one else’s and its ridiculous. I haven’t gotten a raise for two years! If you feel so strongly about this contract why didn’t you negotiate it? You had your chance but you chose not to and now you probably are insecure because your legacy is being threatened. Now let me give you a quote from another president that speaks volumes about you…

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

    …Stay Retired…

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Burrus, it sounds as though you, yourself, composed this letter. Shame on you…

  • OnceAmazedNowAmused

    United we stand, divided we fall!

    But you who are today covered by the APWU Collective Bargaining Agreement don’t seem to grasp the significance of that statement.

    Brother Burrus (and Brother Biller) WERE strong forces in the creation of the job you have today and they earned and deserve their retirement, on their terms and in their own time. How dare you berate them for exercising the very same benefit that you undoubtedly aspire for?

    I am sad that Brother Burrus was not there to negotiate this contract. I was saddened more to hear that his offer of assistance was rebuffed by the cureent leadership as they are most certainly products of his tutelage in the past.

    My salary and protections increased consistently during my career with the USPS, along with all those who were hired before AND after me but this contract forever changes that for the future. Not only wil the new hires be forever harmed but even current employees stand to be harmed with the prospect of NTFT positions. Don’t think it can’t happen to you! There are several scenarios where you could be forced to accept a 30 hour week JUST TO STAY EMPLOYEED with the USPS. OH sure, the TA ‘says’ you can’t be forced… and you’ve never seen the CBA subverted? I got some land to sell just for you!!!

  • Charles Keller

    After reading the following letter to Mr. Burrus, I am saddened by what I see as an attitude in this country by the populace in general.
    There seems to be an attitude by many of taking care of myself the hell with any one else.
    Being raised in a union home as my late father was a member the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers IAM District 751 his entire working career, I came to understand that an injury to one is an injury to all.
    If we do not stand together as a brotherhood/sisterhood then we are nothing more than individuals with targets on our backs waiting to be picked off by corporate entities one at a time.
    There has always been strength in numbers and eating our young “those who follow in our footsteps” so to speak does nothing to strengthen our position in life, it instead invites the inevitable, a slow death.
    Please reconsider “and vote no on this contract” before it is too late and the corporate attitude engulfs the United States Postal Service as it is doing in this great country of ours.
    Don’t’ let this corporate attitude destroy something that was fought hard to gain.

  • GlennDL

    I recall when the president of a local was elected to a national office in the APWU the first instruction they received from headquarters was to stay out of the local’s process for selecting their replacement. To distance themselves from in…fluencing the work of their local’s remaining officer’s and the selection process. This came from the Burris administration if not Burris himself. I’m not saying that this should be applied to President Burris’s commenting on our current contract negotiations but it goes without saying that the logic for those instructions should be considered. At the same time wasn’t President Burris in full control of his retirement date? All this is said not to condemn or diminish President Burris commentary, but in light of these points I find it troubling that President Burris would result to a hypothetical letter as justification for questioning the motives of those who differ with him on the contract.

  • jstl85

    You want to criticize everyone about ‘its all about me’ , huh? What the F%$3 do you think that you are doing? You supposedly retired. You don’t give one lick about me or anyone else in this or any other union. It is all about you! I carried mail for 15 years, came over to the clerk craft, to see you get into a personal spat with a local president, that when I read your response, I would have NEVER found a response like that from on the carrier side. Your petty issues with this local have been incredibly childish!
    The ‘you didn’t vote for me, then I am going to get you ‘ attitude and personal vendetta against our local tells me how petty and ‘good ole boys’ attitude that you continue to maintain. I voted what I did. (which is NONE of YOUR business). For someone so SELF-CENTERED and obviously worried about their legacy. This is disappointing and you should really keep quiet and fade off into retirement with your substantial checks and leave us alone. To play ‘Holyier than though’ now, really is disingenuis on your part at the very least. To get so personal at a small loca in Illinois, then to pontificate to the entire union nationwide really is hypocritical! You to me , seem to be an incredible idiot at the very least. Shut up and enjoy your substantial retirement and leave the rest of us that you DID NOT represent, to do what we think is right for us and our families!!!

  • jstl85

    Minus a couple of mispellings, I think I got across my point. I just don’t see how people with the ‘its all about me’ attitude and thought process, get into the position to represent “US” as a whole! He doesn’t care about me and no matter how much money that I give to the union, he never will.

  • jstl85

    And before anyone criticises me on this fact, I AM a paying member of BOTH unions!

  • Paula

    If anyone can read between the lines Mr Burrus certainly can.I respect his input and actually see what he is saying happening in my office already.

  • Rich

    OK, enough already. If the contract is not ratified and an arbitrator destroys us including being laid off, the members that voted against it and Mr Burrus can keep up the rest of us seeing that they have such giant gonads. It’s only fair, those against seem to think that the arbitrator is going to be sent from heaven with all blessings to the APWU. You guys are starting to sound like those nuts on the right. If you haven’t watch the news in the last year or so. Unions are being destroyed. If the nut jobs take complete control of Washington in 2012 and we don’t have a contract well we better start making our peace with God, because the fat lady will be singing. Only a few would be interested in a 30 hour work week but if somehow you were forced into a 30 hour work week I would say that would be much better than being laid off. If you disagree with that either you are already wealthy through another means or your spouse makes a very good living. If you still disagree you are related to Sarah Palin you idiot. Mr Burrus needs to take a tour of my office there is nooooooooooooooo mail. Yesterday the 50 carriers in my office barely had one tray of DPS. Today they had alot, one Tray and a half. Flat mail is so light that they want even take the time to run it on the new Flat sorting machines. It’s not even worth it. Tractor Trailers used to back up to the dock and the mail was literally falling when they opened the door. Now the mail is so far in the tongue of the trailer that at night you can’t see it until the driver brings it to the back of the truck. Please someone tell me how you leverage when you have nothing to leverage with. Oh by the way I live in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. This May I will have 28 years and I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before. There is absolutely no mail. Now you are going to arbitration Mr Burrus and make what demands. Please tell us how this would go down we all by now want to know your incredible secrets. What are you going to present to an arbitrator that would have their panties all wet and they would say yes Mr Burrus you are so wonderful and yes let’s give the APWU a big raise, make everyone full-time, no lay-offs forever, anything you want Mr Burrus because you are the man. The APWU is waiting to hear your wonderful plan. Please do not take this as belittling, I just think it is time for you to share how you would accomplish something better than what Mr Guffey and the other officers have negotiated. We are tired of hearing how everyone else sucks at their job. We want to hear how you would do it. You haven’t shared how you would have the Postal Service or an arbitrator eating out of your hand. That’s what we want to hear.

  • KT

    A union member who short-changes future members should feel deeply and personally ashamed. We all enjoy decent pay and benefits thanks to sacrifices made by those who preceded us: it is the height of shameful hypocracy to deny those benefits to new hires.

    If you disagree, and many do; please join management. That is where you belong.

  • Yuri

    enough already…….that excellent quote, to which I often refer for inspiration…was by former President Theodore Roosevelt. Very applicable in these circumstances…thanks!