There's Always Work at the Post Office

African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality

By Philip F. Rubio

472 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 46 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5986-5
    Published: May 2010
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9573-3
    Published: May 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8249-3
    Published: May 2010

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Awards & distinctions

2011 Rita Lloyd Moroney Book Award, United States Postal Service

This book brings to life the important but neglected story of African American postal workers and the critical role they played in the U.S. labor and black freedom movements. Historian Philip Rubio, a former postal worker, integrates civil rights, labor, and left movement histories that too often are written as if they happened separately. Centered on New York City and Washington, D.C., the book chronicles a struggle of national significance through its examination of the post office, a workplace with facilities and unions serving every city and town in the United States.

Black postal workers--often college-educated military veterans--fought their way into postal positions and unions and became a critical force for social change. They combined black labor protest and civic traditions to construct a civil rights unionism at the post office. They were a major factor in the 1970 nationwide postal wildcat strike, which resulted in full collective bargaining rights for the major postal unions under the newly established U.S. Postal Service in 1971. In making the fight for equality primary, African American postal workers were influential in shaping today's post office and postal unions.

About the Author

Philip F. Rubio is assistant professor of university studies at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and author of the award-winning A History of Affirmative Action, 1619-2000.
For more information about Philip F. Rubio, visit the Author Page.


"Singlehandedly rescue[s] an important part of African American history. . . . A substantial achievement."--Greensboro News & Record "Page Turners" blog

"A major contribution. . . . While There's Always Work at the Post Office rests on the extensive and careful archival work that earned Rubio a Ph.D. at Duke University, it also incorporates the stories and voices of black workers that an activist history must include."--XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics

"[An] impressive study. . . . This excellent book documents what postal work meant for many Americans. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"He reveals the outlines of a crucial, if overlooked, tradition in black labor and civil rights activism." --Journal of American History

"An excellent book covering the struggle of African Americans to find value as citizens through their work, and in the larger society. . . . An engaging piece."--Oral History Review

"Rubio has crafted a scholarly and accessible exploration of a largely overlooked and extremely important history."--Journal of Southern History

Multimedia & Links

Read: Rubio's guest blog post "Who Remembers the Nationwide Postal Wildcat Strike of 1970 (and Why Does That Matter)?" (3/19/2015).

Listen: Interview on NPR's "Weekend Edition" - "Effects of Postal Service Cuts Could Ripple Through Middle Class" (02/09/2013).

Listen: Radio interview with listener call-in, WBEZ "Morning Shift" (Chicago) (12/3/12).

Listen/Read: CNN Radio Network story, "Forgotten history of the Post Office" (10/2/12).

Watch: See Rubio's appearance on the Colbert Report (September 14, 2011):

Read: Rubio's guest blog post "Pray for the Postal Service!" at (12/28/11).

Listen/Read: Interview on NPR's "Tell Me More" - "Do You Need Your Mailman?" (12/20/11)

Read: Rubio's op-ed "Who will deliver the US postal service from destruction?" at The Guardian (12/13/11).

Read: Rubio's op-ed "Why we need the Postal Service" at (09/09/11).

Listen/Read: Interview on NPR's "Tell Me More" - "There's Always Work at the Post Office? Maybe Not" (08/18/11)

Read: Rubio's op-ed "With the U.S. Postal Service ready to contract, African-American job opportunities will suffer" at New York Daily News (08/11/11).

Listen/Read: Interview on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" - "Everyone Loses When Post Offices Close" (08/01/11).

Read: Rubio's op-ed "What we'll lose if we lose the post office," at (07/29/11)-

Listen: Interview on KUT (Austin) "In Black America" (04/02/11).

Watch: Rubio's presentation at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (11/06/10):

Listen: Interview on WUNC (Chapel Hill) "The State of Things" (06/22/10).

Listen: Interview on WPKN (Bridgeport/New Haven) "Black Introspectives" (11/20/11).