THE FIRST DECADE
The American Postal Workers Union ( APWU) met for its first biennial convention at the Rivergate Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 12-16, 1972. The new union was born out of eighty-one years of trial and error, of inter- and intra-union conflict, and of persistent battles for union recognition. A new era of postal employer-employee relations lay before the nascent union that represented the first significant experiment at collective bargaining on economic issues in federal employment. The President of the APWU, elected by referendum, was Francis S. Filbey, former President of the United Federation of Postal Clerks, and the General Executive Vice President was David Silvergleid, former President of the National Postal Union. Owen Schoon, Secretary-Treasurer of the United Federation, became the Secretary-Treasurer of the APWU, and the Presidents of the three craft unions assumed the presidencies of their respective craft divisions within the APWU.
Five out of six of the APWU's top officers and thirty-five members of the forty-eight-person Executive Board were from the craft union tradition. It was not altogether certain that the craft and industrial factions would be able to get along with each other. When President Filbey called the 1972 convention to order, the craft unions were the dominant faction. But the inclusion of 80,000 members of the National Postal Union out of a total of 300,000 members, created an unresolved tension within the organization. It was not until 1980 that a slate of NPU candidates defeated craft candidates for the top positions in the APWU.
The eventual triumph of the NPU faction was perhaps inevitable. The politics of the craft unions were based primarily on the manipulation of