American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Records
Language of Materials
Moe Biller served as president of the New York Metro Area Postal Union (originally the Postal Union of Manhattan-Bronx Clerks) from 1959 to 1980. As local president, Biller led the New York City union through the hard-fought national postal strike of 1970. From 1980 until his retirement in 2001, Biller was president of the American Postal Workers Union. This collection is composed of selected APWU presidential files, documentation of an oral history project carried out by retirees of the New York Metro Area Postal Union in the late 1970s, as well as a selection of printed items, including photographs and protest materials, as well as numerous physical artifacts in the form of plaques and awards.
Morris "Moe" Biller was born in New York City on November 15, 1915. He attended Brooklyn College and City College and began working in the Postal Service in 1937 as a substitute clerk. Except for wartime service in the military, Biller spent the rest of his life in the Postal Service and as a postal union leader. He held almost every position within his local union (National Federation of Postal Clerks, Local 10) before the local broke away to become the Manhattan-Bronx Postal Workers, a local of the newly formed National Postal Clerks Union. Biller became president of the new local, 25,000 members strong, in 1959 and led the local through the so-called Great Postal Strike of 1970. This national strike lasted eight days and resulted in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, creating the U.S. Postal Service and granting its employees collective bargaining rights. In 1971 the National Postal Clerks Union joined with four other postal unions to become the American Postal Workers Union. Biller's local took on its present name, the New York Metro Area Postal Union, in 1973; the new name reflected the inclusion of the New York Bulk and Foreign Mail Center and the North Jersey Facility in the local's bargaining unit.
Biller was elected president of the American Postal Workers Union in 1980, and carried his activist style into this new arena. He was a long-time supporter of the civil rights movement and of women's efforts to advance in the labor movement. He served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations, including the March of Dimes and United Way, and sat on the boards of university labor studies programs at Cornell University and Empire State College. Biller's personal interest in labor history was exemplified in the cooperation he offered to the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, to the Tenement Museum on New York's Lower East Side, and to a number of labor history oral history and film projects. It was with his full and enthusiastic support that Dana Schechter embarked on her project to document the history of the New York Metro Area Postal Union through interviews with and by the local's retirees. On his retirement Biller returned to live in his beloved New York City; he died in New York on September 5, 2003.
Walsh, John and Garth Mangum, Labor Struggle in the Post Office: From Selective Lobbying to Collective Bargaining (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1992).
The American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Files are arranged into four series, the first two of which are processed.
The series are as follows:
- Subject Files, 1930-2001
- Oral History Project Files: New York Metro Area Postal Union, 1962-1983
Files within each series are ordered alphabetically.
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the American Postal Workers Union from the perspective of its former president, Moe Biller. Biller was a long-time labor activist and also an active civil rights supporter. The American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Records contain materials documenting the health and safety hazards posed to postal workers, as well as the union's energetic attempts to improve working conditions. Also included are a range of records and printed ephemera documenting the Depression-era history of U.S. postal workers and their organizations.
During his tenure as president of the American Postal Workers Union from 1980 until approximately 2001, Biller actively advanced labor history in New York City through his philanthropic support of numerous charitable organizations and educational institutions. The American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Records contain significant paper-based and photographic documentation, as well as artifactual evidence of Biller's career with the Postal Service, and his legacy.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) were transferred to New York University in 2001 by William Burrus on behalf of APWU. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives. Please contact email@example.com, (212) 998-2630.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Records; WAG 099; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) president Moe Biller at the time of his retirement in the fall of 2001. The donation was confirmed by incoming president William Burrus. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 2001.198 and 2001.199.
Moe Biller's life-long interest in the preservation of labor history inspired him to mark his retirement from the American Postal Workers Union by donating a selection of his presidential files, as well as his personal collection of memorabilia, signed photographs, posters, and books on postal union history to the Robert Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. Incoming APWU president William Burrus confirmed the donation and designated the Robert Wagner Labor Archives as the official repository for APWU records at the same time. In 2001, the union also transferred to NYU a body of records documenting the New York Metro Area Postal Union oral history project; these were apparently given to Biller during his tenure as New York Metro president.
About this Guide
Processing Information Note
During initial processing, photographs and artifactual materials were established a a separate collection: the American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Collection (NP 112). In April 2013, the photographs and artifacts were reincorporated into the American Postal Workers Union: Moe Biller Files (WAG 099), and the entire collection was rehoused. The final two series in this collection, Series III: Photographs and Series IV: Artifacts, are unprocessed but open to researchers.