Herman Morris Mulman, 87, a resident of North Hollywood for 55 years, died on Friday, March 18, 2005 of end stage Congestive Heart Failure. A long-time labor union and later local political activist, he was instrumental in getting time and a half pay for overtime for Postal Workers in 1945.
Born in 1917 of Russian immigrant parents, Herman Mulman worked on pushcarts peddling vegetables as a little boy in the Jewish ghetto in Newark, New Jersey, and later sold newspapers from a street corner stand. He quickly learned that people would try to take advantage of a little kid and learned how to be a quick mathematician. His father died while he was in High School and after graduation he worked to support his mother and sister. At the age of 19 he got a job at the Post Office, one of the first of the Civil Service Workers.
An active member of Local #190 of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks, as Chairman of the Legislative-Educational Committee, Herman carried on the fight for overtime pay, “despite all the remarks of the wise boys in the Local and the Federation that he was 'banging his head against the wall.'” In this fight he originated the slogan “ABOLISH UNDERTIME FOR OVERTIME,” which became the national slogan of the Workers. He played an important role in the passage of this legislation.
From 1946-48 he was president of the New Jersey Federation of Post Office Clerks.
In May 1948, Local #190 of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks as well as the New Jersey State Federation endorsed Herman to run for Vice-President of the National Federation of Post Office Clerks on the basis that he had proved he could carry on a fight on a national scope in 1944, when he challenged an unprecedented move by national officers of the Federation in which they called off the National Convention of the NFPOC. Herman launched a campaign to rescind this action and hold a national referendum, in which the majority of the members voted to hold the convention.
The prospect of an incorruptible spokesman achieving national prominence was more than the Government could tolerate. In Nov 1948, the Post Office Department Loyalty Board issued a “Notice of Proposed Removal Action” under their newly established Federal Employees Loyalty Program, authorized by Harry Truman’s infamous Executive Order 9835. The trumped-up charge of disloyalty was based on imaginary associations with Communists and a bogus list of disloyal behaviors. He was able to demonstrate that he had nothing to with these so-called Communists, as his activities were strictly union organizing in nature and the Communists and Socialists had nothing to teach him. Having maneuvered the inquisition into a position where they would have had to admit that it was disloyal to read materials available in the public library or that unionism, itself, was a subversive activity, they informed him, in December 1949, over a year later that, “the adjudication of the loyalty considerations in your case rendered a favorable decision.”
Failing to find grounds for dismissal, they were nonetheless successful in alienating him from his fellow unionists, who wouldn’t have anything to do with him during his struggle for vindication. In May 1949, disgusted over the treatment accorded him by his own people, Herman resigned from Local 190 and moved from New Jersey to California, and in 1961, became president of the United Federation of Postal Clerks Local 1256 AFL-CIO North Hollywood. His son, Alan, grateful to have grown up in So. California, later commented “Thank heaven for Harry Truman.”
After he retired from the Post Office, Herman was involved in the anti-war and civil rights movements, hearings at the Public Utilities Commission, fighting gas and telephone rate increases. In the early 1980’s he spent $900 as a candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. When he received 6% of the vote he said that dollar for dollar he won the election. He also became very active in and served as long-time president of the San Fernando Seniors for Political Action, fighting especially for healthcare issues. In a November 1986 L.A. Times interview he was quoted as saying “When you get to be 70 years of age, it’s no time to have fun yet, it’s time to fight. Either we ask for a violent rebellion or we vote. The vote is certainly safer on your head. Be alert, see what the issues are, learn who the rascals are and if they are not serving your interests, vote the rascals out.”
In his mid-eighties Herman participated in weekly demonstrations protesting the Anglo-American re-conquest of Iraq and was a vocal opponent of the Homeland Security Act, one of the forces influencing Congressman Howard L. Berman to see the light. He also actively opposed the incineration of toxic waste in the San Fernando Valley and, as a member of the Bus Riders Union, was a tireless fighter for the right of poor people to have access to affordable and timely public transportation.
By Alan Sidney Mulman (Son) and
From the Estate of Herman Mulman. Copyright ©2005 Alan Mulman and Doreen Mulman. Web Design Copyright ©2005 Sites by Doreen All Rights Reserved.