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101 Monthly Lab. Rev. 14 (1978)
Work Stoppage in Government: The Postal Strike of 1970

handle is hein.journals/month101 and id is 634 raw text is: Work stoppage in Government:
the postal strike of 1970
Eight years ago, the first nationwide strike
by Federal employees disrupted postal service
for nearly a week; the walkout was ended
by a combination of court injunctions,
mediation, and congressional action

On March 18, 1970, the flow of U.S. mail slowed.
First in New York City, then across the country-
more than 150,000 (1 of 5) postal employees
participated in an unprecedented work stoppage.
The walkouts prompted the passage of the Postal
Reorganization Act of 1970, which established the
Postal Service as an autonomous mail agency,
prohibited strikes, and provided for compulsory
arbitration. Once again attention is focused on the
Postal Service where negotiations are underway to
replace the current contract which expires in late
In retrospect, there was ample warning that
postal workers were unhappy over pay and
working conditions and that a strike was in the
making. The 1968 conventions of the United
Federation of Postal Clerks and the National
Postal Union removed the no-strike clauses from
their constitutions. The Letter Carriers local in
New York City spearheaded a right-to-strike
resolution at their union's convention but was
thwarted by a resolution instructing national
officers not to seek the right to strike.'
Stephen C. Shannon is a doctoral student in the History Department,
University of Maryland. This article was adapted from his 1970
Master of Arts thesis entitled The 1970 Postal Strike.

Strike threats and right-to-strike demands were a
consistent tactic used by union spokesmen during
1969 legislative maneuverings.2  These warnings
became more explicit in 1970, when the Letter
Carriers locals, upset at the probable postpone-
ment of their July comparability pay increase,3
began to barrage national headquarters with
strike demands. Letter Carriers President James
Rademacher announced his intention of leading a
nationwide strike if the pay matter was not settled
by April 15. More than 400 locals responded
favorably when asked if they would support such
Strike vote set
The March 12 vote of the House Post Office and
Civil Service Committee for a postal reform-pay
package pleased Rademacher, who had pushed
hard for this plan against the opposition of all the
other postal unions. But, it did not please all of his
membership. On the same day the biggest local,
New York City's Number 36, demanded that its
members be polled on the question of an immedi-
ate strike. March 12 was the regular monthly
meeting of the 6,700-member, Bronx-Manhattan
local. The 600 members present, after hearing a
report on the House Committee action from local
president Gustave (Gus) Johnson, over his opposi-

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