|THE ALLIANCE CENTENARY
WILSON TO OBAMA
By Paul N. Tennassee
Guyana Journal, May 2013
“The history of the Alliance is one of the most fascinating recordings of vision and devotion to the cause of racial advancement enacted by any group in the great stage of human progress. More than a story of leadership, it is an epic of 35 men (and one woman) bound by devotion to a noble cause. This is no 10% novel of glamour or meaningless adventure, nor a playwright's dream of names inscribed in steel and stone out of which any one personality can be singled for eulogies or christening ceremonies. Instead, it is a spiritual monument to cooperative and concerted effort.” John L. Sweat-Founder Member - Alliance October 1944
In October 2013 the Alliance (National Alliance of Postal Employees) will celebrate its Centenary. It is an American story that is intimately linked to the United States Postal Service (USPS), trade unions and independent black organizations. In the first decades of the 20th century, African Americans were structurally blocked from employment in the private and public sector. The Post Office Department, which was the largest employer, opened its doors to educated black men to work as railway mail clerks. The White AFL affiliated Clerks Union prohibited blacks from becoming members on the basis of racial difference. Consequently, the black railway mail clerks founded their own union National Alliance of Postal Employees (NAPE). In 1965 it became National Alliance of Postal & Federal Employees (NAPFE. NAPE and NAPFE are commonly referred to as The Alliance. The Alliance is the only surviving independent predominantly black union. Today, the Alliance, USPS, trade unions and independent black organizations are at risk of becoming obsolete. The challenge for these institutions is to endlessly create them as they evolve through the 21stcentury.
The ALLIANCE played a mainstream role for six decades in the 20th century in the struggle for trade union and civil rights. Among its martyrs are James Foster Spencer who was lynched in 1920 and William C. Moore who was gunned down in 1963 on a one man march to Alabama for freedom and equality. The ALLIANCE is referred to as the NAACP of the Post Office.
Highlights of its achievements include:
The ALLIANCE conceived, designed and implemented a dynamic international program. It developed relations with the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) and other unions in various parts of Africa. The leadership did a twenty-five days mission to Africa and met labor unions in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya and Liberia and signed memorandums of cooperation. Seminars for overseas African trade unionist were organized at Howard University, sponsored and financed by the ALLIANCE. Ninety African trade unionists were trained. ALLIANCE developed relations in a mission to China with the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). During 1983-2006, the ALLIANCE was affiliated to the World Confederation of Labor, held the Vice Presidency for North America and attended the 69th Session of the International Labor Organization in 1983. In 1988 in Senegal, the ALLIANCE President and Vice President signed a cooperation agreement with the WCL to establish a Washington Liaison Office at its National Office in Washington DC to monitor the international financial institutions in DC and hold WCL representation at the UN. The ALLIANCE became an important focal point of solidarity with WCL affiliates around the globe and a voice for them in four prominent global governance institutions. Solidarity for the ALLIANCE was a two way street. In early decades of this century, as the union entered financial crisis due to significant loss of membership, it obtained a significant loan which it quickly repaid from the Confederation of Christian Trade Union of Belgium (ACV). Martin Luther King, Marion Barry Jr., Walter Fauntroy, Maynard Jackson, William Lucy, William Pollard and Joslyn N. Williams are among many of socio-political leaders in the US and abroad who are on record for recognizing the outstanding contributions of the ALLIANCE
"In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself". Frantz Fanon - 1967.