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Moe Biller, 87; Union President Led Postal Workers Movement

September 07, 2003|From Associated Press

Moe Biller, longtime president of the American Postal Workers Union, died Friday, the union announced.

Biller, 87, headed the union for more than two decades and was still president emeritus. He died in New York, where he had been living in recent years.

Born Morris Biller in New York, he preferred to be known as Moe and became, in the words of his successor, William Burrus, "the hero of the U.S. Postal Workers movement."

"From his first job as a part-time clerk, he devoted himself to the labor movement. During his rise to the top, he worked tirelessly not just for the workers he represented, but for all those who deserved economic justice," Burrus said.

After attending Brooklyn College, Biller became a substitute mail clerk in 1937, earning 65 cents an hour without vacation or benefits.

Biller served in the Army in Europe in World War II and then returned to the post office, where he became active in union affairs.

He was elected president of the Manhattan-Bronx Postal Workers Union in 1959 and served in that position until his election as national president in 1980. He retired in 2001.

Biller first gained national attention in 1970, leading a strike that began in New York and spread to 30 cities involving 200,000 workers. President Nixon called in the National Guard in an effort to move the mail.

The Post Office was reorganized in 1971, becoming the U.S. Postal Service and providing workers with the right to bargain for wages and benefits and instituting procedures to prevent strikes through arbitration.

In 1971, Biller served on the committee that brought about the merger of the five postal unions that now comprise the APWU.

Survivors include two sons and two grandchildren.

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