William Burrus, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, served as the first African-American President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) from 2001 – 2010. The APWU is the world’s largest postal union, representing over 200,000 postal workers and 2,000 private sector workers across the nation and its territories. Afer serving his nation in the Army, Mr. Burrus began working for a Cleveland, Ohio post office as a distribution clerk in 1958. Mr. Burrus served in various capacities on the local and state level of the APWU: President, Cleveland Local (1974-80); Director of Education and Research Ohio State APWU (1971) and one of Cleveland’s leaders in the “great postal strike of 1970.”
Mr. Burrus became the vice president of the APWU in 1980, and served alongside Moe Biller, one of the longest-serving presidents in the union’s history. As vice president, Burrus worked to improve working conditions for members, negotiated the ability for thousands of part-time workers to move to full-time, and increasing volume of work by returning the priority mail to the US Postal Service. As Burrus elected president of the union in 2001, the county and postal service was irreparably changed due to the bioterrorism attacks after September 11. Burrus worked to restore confidence in the system not only to the American people but also to his fellow workers, after two members were killed in the Anthrax attacks.
In fall of 2010, after serving his fellow workers for thirty-six years, Mr. Burrus retired from the APWU. Not closing his illustrious career quietly, Mr. Burrus continued the fight against reducing mail service to 5 days a week, working for the Postal Service’s fiscal solvency of, and preventing the closure of post office station and branches across the country.