San Diego, CA; August 23-29, 2014
The system that elects the national officers of NAPS (National Association of Postal Supervisors) is based on rules that may have made sense when the organization was founded in 1908, but are outdated and undemocratic for 2014. When the largest NAPS branches across the country control blocks of votes, it is reminiscent of machine politics where the outcome of the election is pre-determined. The undemocratic process has been a barrier to women being represented in the organizations’ leadership.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 40 percent of employees in the United States Postal Service are women, but in the 105 year history of NAPS, only one woman, Margarete A. Grant of San Francisco, has held a leadership position from 1986 -1996. In the past 20 years, no other woman has been elected to serve NAPS in Washington D.C. and there has never been a woman elected President of NAPS. Mary Burkhard, NAPS Branch 244 President from Santa Clarita, California is running for NAPS National Secretary/Treasurer at the convention taking place at the Towne and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego, CA. Burkhard supports a resolution that would change the election system to be more democratic, giving every member of NAPS one vote.
The NAPS organization is controlled by Congress through Title 39, US Code, Section 1004. Mary Burkhard has been lobbying Congress on behalf of NAPS members to have Congress change this code to reflect the need for more transparency and democratic elections.
NAPS leaders have taken steps to make the organization less transparent by banning video recordings at the convention, and blocking filmmaker Jay Galione of “Gone Postal: The Documentary” access to the convention hall to film the debate on the resolution to give each member one vote, as well as the campaign speeches and events leading up to the election. Galione and filmmaking partner Sheila Dvorak were allowed access to the convention in 2010 when Mary Burkhard first began fighting for a more democratic election procedure and to represent her NAPS members as their Secretary/Treasurer. The story of Mary’s determination and passion for the Postal Service will be chronicled in the film “Gone Postal: The Documentary”, coming in 2015. The trailer is available now at www.gonepostalfilm.com/trailer.
Host Charles Showalter of Union Edge Labor’s Talk Radio interviews Producer Sheila Dvorak and Director Jay Galione of Gone Postal:The Documentary to Save The People’s Post Office.
Kingston Community Radio hosts Gary Bishoff and Chris Acosta interview Director Jay Galione about Gone Postal:The Documentary. Contribute Today! www.gonepostalfilm.com/trailer
Director Jay Galione and Producer Sheila Dvorak traveled to Philadelphia last week and captured the action at the NALC letter carrier convention in Philadelphia. They were on site to meet letter carriers and galvanize support for Gone Postal:The Documentary. That didn’t stop Jay from taking out his camera to cover the Stop Staples March and Rally on July 23rd, and the Solidarity Rally on July 24th where Letter Carriers joined the protesting Metropolitan Carpenter’s Union, which has been locked out of work taking place at the convention center. Check out the highlights in this new video, and contribute today by visiting our IndieGoGo campaign page at www.gonepostalfilm.com/trailer.
Gone Postal: documentary lens on USPS
Anne Pyburn Craig
It’s no exaggeration to say that the U.S. Postal Service is under attack. A Google News search for “post office closing” returns over 53,000 results: hours being cut, branches being shuttered, irate residents protesting closure plans or wringing their hands over the loss of their local PO.
Post offices are community centers of sorts, where you can pick up the latest news and gossip along with your mail and see a friendly face or three. Post offices, along with libraries, are a place where we are treated not just as consumers, but as citizens. The U.S. Postal Service was established in the Constitution.
Useful and beloved as they may be, post offices are dropping like flies: in Mumford, Texas, on Starlight Lake Road in Pennsylvania, on Rt. 7 near Albany. Locally, the closing of the mail-processing center in Newburgh added a day or two to delivery times, as mail now needs to be routed through Albany.
A privatization deal struck to allow office supply mega-mart Staples to carry out many postal functions means mail being handled by $8 an hour employees rather than sworn civil servants in 1,500 locations; although Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe swears no jobs will be cut and no post offices closed as a result of the pilot program, it doesn’t seem to be holding true on the ground.
How to fight back? Rosendale filmmaker Jay Galione, whose father was a postal clerk for 30 years, has teamed up with fellow filmmaker Sheila Dvorak to make Gone Postal, a feature-length documentary and work of unabashed advocacy that exposes the untold stories, from what might have made a postal worker snap to how Congressional manipulation has set the USPS up for failure and privatization. The BlueStone Press spoke to the filmmakers about their project.
BSP: Beyond Jay’s dad, how did you locate former postal employees who would speak out? Were current ones afraid or forbidden to do so? In your trailer, I see one interviewee with his face blurred; I’m guessing that might be someone who still works there?
SD & JG: You’re right; it wasn’t easy finding workers who were willing to talk to us. Most postal workers fear their jobs are at stake if they speak out. We started our search online, finding workers who had written books and articles and were not afraid of talking publicly about the problems inside. Once we found these activists, they connected us with other workers across the country who trusted us with their stories. In North Carolina, when mail carrier Steve Spencer killed himself at the post office, his friends and coworkers felt it was too important to keep quiet and gave candid, emotional interviews.
Interviewing subjects for the documentary film has taken director Jay Galione and Producer Sheila Dvorak to post offices across the nation. Here are some of our favorite stops along the way.
On Friday June 27th Jay Galione was a guest on Voices At Work on KPFT Houston 90.1 Pacifica Radio. Guest host and former Letter Carrier Gordon Anderson interviews Jay Galione about Gone Postal: The Documentary. If you missed it live, listen to the interview here. It begins with an introduction, the 4 minute trailer, followed by the interview with Jay.