The NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF POSTAL AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES (NAPFE) is a national industrial labor union, headquartered in Washington, DC. The Greater Cleveland area, covering postal zipcode zones 440 and 441, is represented by Local 604. NAPFE was founded in Lookout Mountain, TN, in 1913 by representatives of postal employees from 13 states. Its purpose was to eliminate racial discrimination in the postal service. Black clerks had been serving aboard railroad cars for years, during a time when those cars were made of wood, and safety was marginal. When steel cars began to replace the wooden ones and the workplace became safer, the Railway Mail Assn., which excluded AFRICAN AMERICANS from its membership, began to recruit white workers for the work. NAPFE was established to give black workers a voice with postal authorities.

Although organized to protect the rights of black workers, the alliance has always been open to all workers, regardless of race, sex, or creed. By 1923 the alliance had greatly expanded, and the Cleveland local was established shortly thereafter. Over the years the union also broadened its representation, now serving workers in a variety of federal settings. When civil rights legislation made racial discrimination in federal hiring illegal and when African Americans became freely able to join labor organizations, the focus of NAPFE changed somewhat. It is now concerned with assuring that equal opportunity exists in promotion and transfer procedures, and represents workers who are victimized by discriminatory practices in the workplace. The Greater Cleveland unit of the alliance had approx. 550 members in 1995.

National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees Local 604 Records, WRHS.

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