From the January-February 2018 issue of News & Letters
On Dec. 6, Emory University posted an online Finding Aid for the “Jeffrey B. Perry National Postal Mail Handlers Union Records, 1968-2007.” This large collection was assembled over 33 years of my work as a rank-and-file activist, officer and editor in Local 300 of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (division of the Laborers International Union of North America [LIUNA]).
I worked for the U.S. Postal Service from 1974-2007, where I was assigned to the approximately 4,000-worker New Jersey International & Bulk Mail Center (NJIBMC). I was editor of the rank-and-file publication The Alternative at the NJIBMC (1974-1984), of the Mailhandlers’ Voice at the NJIBMC (1984-1988), of the NPMHU national office’s The Mail Handler (1988-1989), and of Local 300’s Focus and Local 300 Mail Handler News (1988-2007).
Materials from 1974-1988 detail work at the NJIBMC on the centrality of struggle against white supremacy to workplace organizing, including 1984-1988 when an effort was made, with considerable success, to build a progressive union membership at the branch level that spoke out on worker issues and against white supremacy and male supremacy.
The National Union materials from 1988-1991 document an intense period of struggle between the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and LIUNA (its organized crime-influenced parent union) including important research on the Tisch family’s relation to the CNA Insurance Company, which administered the Mail Handler Benefit Plan at a time when Preston Tisch was Postmaster General.
The Local Union level materials from 1988-2007 include information on a Trade Union delegation to the West Bank and Gaza, work with Labor Notes, with the Labor Party, and with the New York City and Bergen County Central Labor Councils.
I started working at age 11, and was educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers and Columbia. I pay special attention to the anti-white-supremacist working-class intellectuals Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism” and founder of the militant “New Negro Movement”) and Theodore W. Allen (pioneer of class-struggle based “white skin privilege” analysis, and author of The Invention of the White Race). I placed the Hubert H. Harrison Papers at Columbia University and I am preparing the remainder of my non-postal papers—including an interview with Raya Dunayevskaya about some of her early political work, and on my own personal activism—for placement with a major repository. I am also working on volume two of my biography of Hubert Harrison. See links at: www.jeffreybperry.net/blog.htm?post=1072651
—Jeffrey B. Perry