William H. “Bill” Young was the 17th National President of the NALC, the union representing city letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service. Along with serving as exclusive collective bargaining agent for active carriers, the 117-year-old NALC also promotes the interests of retired members of the craft.
Creating a better working environment for letter carriers and ensuring the Postal Service has the tools it needs to thrive in the 21st century were among President Young’s top priorities. Since first taking office in December 2002, he worked steadily to achieve those goals through policies to reduce job stress and improve contract enforcement, and to promote effective postal reforms through an effective coalition of stakeholders.
Those efforts culminated in December 2006 with the enactment of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the first major overhaul of the nation’s postal laws since 1970.
President Young had already served in four of the union’s top 10 positions before members elected him as president by an overwhelming margin in 2002. Their confidence was based on a three-decade record of leadership experience, contract expertise, and an unfailing belief that letter carriers standing together can overcome any workplace or political challenge. The confidence of the membership was further reinforced when—on his birthday—Young was
re-elected to a second term as National President by acclamation at the 65th Biennial Convention in Las Vegas.
A member of Central California Coast Branch 52, Young began his postal career in 1965 in San Luis Obispo and soon became involved in the local union. “I witnessed supervisors verbally abusing letter carriers who were unable to defend themselves,” Young explained. He was able to step up for them—once literally standing nose-to-nose with a supervisor—and has been doing so ever since.
But confrontation was not his sole aim: "I also made it my goal to not only assist those members but to find ways to prevent the acrimony from continuing."
After service in the Army, Young returned to the post office and became a shop steward in 1969. He was elected local branch president in 1971, a California State Association officer in 1972, was named a Regional Administrative Assistant in 1978, and elected as National Business Agent for the San Francisco Region in 1986.
Having earned a reputation both for his contract enforcement skills and innovative solutions to problems facing letter carriers, Young was elected Assistant Secretary-Treasurer in 1990 and began serving at National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was appointed Director of City Delivery in mid-term to fill a vacancy and was elected Vice President in 1994 and Executive Vice President in 1998.
Young was deeply involved in efforts beginning in 1994 to overhaul the grievance-arbitration process to make it faster and fairer. After overcoming suspicions and resistance to change on both sides, the effort resulted in a new Dispute Resolution Process, formally incorporated in the 2001-2006 National Agreement.
President Young was a Vice President of the AFL-CIO, serving on both its large policy-making Executive Council and its smaller decision-making Executive Committee. He was a national Vice President of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), the NALC’s official national charity. He was also a member of the Advisory Board for the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit, which holds historical records of 10 major unions, including the NALC.
Young and his wife, Debbie, live with two daughters in suburban Washington. Two other adult children round out the Young family—a son who lives in Maryland and a daughter who lives in her father’s hometown of San Luis Obispo, California. He retired in July 2009.