Labor Struggle in the Post Office: From Selective Lobbying to Collective Bargaining

By John Walsh; Garth Mangum | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
FROM REPRESSION TO COOPERATION

The postal unions, from their formation in the late 1800s, suffered some basic disabilities shared by all public sector unions of the time. They had very little bargaining power and few areas where pressure could be applied to the United States Post Office Department. Their sole recourse was to the Congress which established the rules governing postal employment, including wages, hours, fringe benefits, and working conditions. They were hampered by restrictive rules governing political activity, could not bargain collectively with the Department, and did not have the right to strike. The philosophy of government upon which these restrictive policies were based was stated succinctly by Spero in 1927:

The feeling [is] that those who earn their living in the service of the state owe their governmental employer a special obligation of loyalty and a peculiar duty of obedience different and distinct from the obligations of ordinary wage earners to their employers, which make it improper to agitate their grievances by methods generally approved for others.1

The view that government workers are not entitled to rights granted to workers in the private sector is based on the concept of "sovereignty" handed down through the centuries from the feudal system's "divine right of kings." When postal workers first tried to organize, they were confronted

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Labor Struggle in the Post Office: From Selective Lobbying to Collective Bargaining
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Photo Credits x
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Part I- The Strike That Shook the Nation 1
  • Chapter 1- Thunder Before the Storm 3
  • Chapter 2- The Storm 13
  • Part II- The Long, Hard Haul 41
  • Chapter 4- The Struggle 43
  • Chapter 5- From Repression to Cooperation 71
  • Part III- The Era of Collective Bargaining 95
  • Chapter 6- The First Decade 97
  • Chapter 7- Enter Moe Biller 141
  • Chapter 8- The Regime Settles In 187
  • Chapter 9- The Future 233
  • Notes 247
  • Subject Index 265
  • Appendix 269
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