Listening to newly elected president of the New York Metro Area Postal Union Jonathan Smith speak, you can tell that he takes his new position seriously. It’s easy to understand why, since he has a family steeped in the history of the post office.
“I’ve been a postal worker for 24 years,” said Smith. “I had a grandfather who was a postal worker. That’s why I’m intimately aware of what the postal worker goes through.”
Smith ousted three-term incumbent Clarice Torrence to become president of New York Metro local, the largest chapter of the American Postal Workers Union. He received 1,167 votes to Torrence’s 676 votes.
“I’ve always been fighting for union issues against management,” said Smith. “I could never go to management because my grandfather would roll over in his grave. It’s about getting our piece of the pie. All we want is what’s fair, and I understand the importance of union solidarity.”
Smith told the AmNews that it seems as if there is a national attack on the post office and unions in general. For him, union jobs are one of the few gigs in the country that “if you didn’t go to college, you could take care of a family reasonably.”
Smith also talked about the alleged stash of overpayment into a retirement program for civil service employees that he feels could be released and save many jobs. He thinks hoarding the money is unnecessary.
“If the government released that $75 billion of overpayment into the retirement program for civil service employees who are not even born yet…release that money,” said Smith. “There’s no other government agency that has that burden but the postal service. No other federal agency.”
So what’s the most important issue right now for his union?
“The most important issue is protecting our work,” Smith said. “Right now, we’re being attacked politically and by management. [They are] eliminating workers’ jobs left and right. They want to privatize the postal service. We were established as a nonprofit. We go where everyone wasn’t willing to go because it wasn’t cost-effective. Making money off of it is not the way it was originally intended to be.
“I can tell the difference between the truth and a lie,” said Smith when asked about politicians’ complaints about the post office losing money. “When you’re telling the truth, you put everything on the table. If you’re doing so badly, how come there haven’t been any layoffs in management?
“We all must come together and realize that this is a battle for our livelihood.”