March 20th to 26th, 2022
Spring is in the air. There may also be some infectious disease in the air, as well, now that all mask and proof-of-vaccination requirements have been lifted in the province. It’s a strange time. The province has also closed all COVID-19 testing sites, and the employer has recently changed the quarantine rules for postal workers. A lot of changes very quickly lead to a sharp increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Experts are saying the mask requirements are dropping too soon as they are the easiest and simplest thing we can do to protect ourselves and anyone we encounter in a day.
We spent a lot of time in the local office this week doing some more preparation for the coming restructure in Southwest and we learned about a rumour that is just that, a rumour. Details below!
Provincial governments across the country are changing the public health rules related to the ongoing pandemic. Proof-of-vaccination is no longer required to dine at a restaurant or be admitted to private businesses. Wearing of masks is no longer mandated either, although wearing one is still recommended by many experts and requested by many private retailers, for example.
On Thursday, the employer released its new policy on quarantine leave. If you have COVID-19, you will be granted quarantine leave for five calendar days. This is down from the 10 days you would have been granted to recover that postal workers were eligible for at the beginning of the week. If you are symptomatic after five days, call Health Links and take their advice.
The rules around being a close contact are also changing. If you are a close contact of someone with COVID, you are no longer required to isolate, unless advised otherwise by Health Links.
The changes to the corporation’s policies and the province’s public health requirements mean postal workers are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
We even know of an instance this week where one of our members worked in the afternoon and evening in a letter carrier facility and later that day tested positive for COVID. Local management chose not to fog the facility, and let all letter carriers come into the building the next morning.
And on top of all of this, the employer is refusing to relent on its misguided mask policy.
Two weeks ago, we wrote to Doug Ettinger’s office asking for fairness in masking. We asked that postal workers be allowed to wear N95 masks while at work, as this is the recommendation of many health agencies.
We still have not received a reply from the CEO. When we do, it will be full of corporate language that explains how corporations have a responsibility to make sure everyone is safe, and if people are allowed to wear their own masks, the safety of those masks would have to be investigated on the spot. This is generally what the discussion was at a national health and safety meeting last week.
The corporation’s stance on masks is bullshit and puts you in harm’s way. A Forbes article published last month cited a recent study conducted in California showing that wearing an N95 or KN95 reduces your chances of contracting COVID by 83 per cent. Eighty-three per cent! If the corporation gave a hot damn about your safety, you would be allowed to wear your N95.
When you put all the pieces together, the picture is quite grim. People don’t have to stay home even if their partner was sick with COVID in bed beside them all night. The employer isn’t always fogging your workplace if someone had COVID and was in the building. You are forced to wear an inferior mask. Transmission in the community is going to be on the rise now that there are no restrictions for the general public.
If you feel you may have contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, the local strongly advises you file a Workers’ Compensation Board claim. Long-term COVID can be devastating, and if you contract the illness while at work, it is covered by WCB.
Stay safe out there and don’t hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions.
The restructures of the depots in the Southwest installation continued to chug along this week and the volume count for depot Southwest 2 starts on Monday.
When letter carriers in that depot are sorting their mail, there are some important points to remember:
Sort all mail as addressed, as if you have never sorted that route before;
Only customers can indicate if a piece of mail is intended for a former resident;
Carriers should sort a coloured card, provided by the RMOs, into the case to represent a packet, all packets should be identified in this way;
Packets must be counted as an oversized piece of mail;
Ensure the RMO has marked your parcels and packets correctly, watch for priority items or any items where you might have to collect money for customs;
If a parcel is in a CMB or parcel locker for two days, it can be carded to make room for another parcel. If this happens, make sure the carding and address affected is reported to the RMO.
Accuracy in volume counts really matters. Mail routes are built on data, not necessarily logic. While letter carriers deliver mail in a logical way, when we are preparing for a data-heavy process, it’s important to collect all of the data.
If you have any questions about any of this, there will be three union observers taking part in the volume count, and they will be able to explain and expand upon any of the points made here.
On a side note, consultations regarding the delivery method to be implemented at the Southwest installation should be starting next week, but the employer is not responding to our requests to meet.
The union has announced a special national meeting will take place on May 6th, 2022 to elect a new third national vice president and a union representative in the organizing department.
The Winnipeg Local is entitled to send 19 delegates to this meeting and we will be electing them at the local general membership meeting on April 6th, at 7:00 p.m.
Register for the general membership meeting here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZErduiprzsiEtXKF9C8p71tz_ZZKccuL774
The union is offering the Union Education Program later this year, and now is your chance to apply. The UEP is a great opportunity to up your union game in a short amount of time. Participants travel to Port Elgin, Ontario for four weeks (not all at once) to take classes on labour history, colonialism, capitalism, debating, public speaking, and other important topics that will inspire you.
The people who have taken this program in the past say it is life-changing. Many of the folks who end up working in local offices, as regional officers, or at our national office in Ottawa have been through this program.
A few weeks ago, a younger sibling told me I gave them one of the best pieces of advice they ever had: just apply.
I encourage you to apply. If you don’t, it’s guaranteed you won’t be selected. If you do apply, anything can happen.
This week, the local was receiving reports that there will be a shift bid at the WMPP sometime in April. This is not true. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before a shift bid can occur.
If you haven’t read in the Week in Winnipeg that there is a shift bid coming soon, then there isn’t one coming. You will be informed beforehand in this report if something like that is going to be happening.
If you’re ever unsure, call the local. We really do try to answer every call and respond to every email.
BROTHER MIKE THOMPSON
A couple of weeks ago, the local received word that former activist, shop steward, and all around great guy, Mike Thompson had passed away.
There will be a celebration of life hosted for Brother Thompson at Holy Cross School, 300 Debuc St on April 4th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Stay safe out there, 856. We are entering uncharted territory with all the COVID-19 protocol changes happening both in the community and at work. Do what you have to do to protect yourself and others.