COVID-19 and Rochester Labor
APWU Local 215
Interview with Robert Stahl (President, American Postal Workers Union Local 215), 17 March 2021
APWU Local 215 represents about eight hundred clerks, custodians, drivers, maintenance, mechanics and other skilled trades workers at two large Postal Service facilities, where more than half of members work, as well as at numerous smaller post offices.
Efforts to protect workers from COVID included access to masks (mandated) and sanitizers as well as stepped-up cleaning of facilities and the installation of barriers and distance markers at points of customer service. Members who took time off during the pandemic cited quarantines, underlying health conditions, and childcare as reasons they were absent. Thanks to contract language, accumulated sick time allowed most of them to not lose pay. Absences resulted in increased overtime opportunities as well as some new workers being hired despite a drop in the volume of letter mail as package mail increased this past year.
Postal workers became eligible for vaccinations in mid-March of 2021; the many members who are military veterans have been getting vaccinated at the VA.
Local 215 has been holding meetings via Zoom and found that member participation has escalated — leadership expects to continue making virtual participation available even after in person meetings resume.