October 16th to 22nd, 2022
There are a dozen local members in Edmonton today and through the weekend taking various union classes. We have members taking the LCRMS course so they can learn more about how letter carrier routes are built and maintained. We have members taking solidarity skills which teaches a whole bevy of union things. We also have a good group of WMPP workers taking the Basic Shop Steward course. It’s always great to have more stewards around and we hope the students are enjoying the class.
THE COST OF EVERYTHING
When gas prices are high, RSMCs are adversely affected. Their compensation for the fuel they use to move is tied into the CRA rate for mileage. This rate is static throughout the year, but is adjusted every year based on the previous year’s data. This means that the CRA rate for mileage is likely to rise significantly next year, but that doesn’t do anything to address the increases in prices our members are struggling with this year.
The high cost of fuel has been an issue for months. There have been parliamentary petitions and appeals to the federal minister responsible for public services to address this issue.
The corporation is still refusing to provide RSMCs with any more compensation than they are already receiving. RSMCs may have to wait until the CRA rate for mileage is adjusted next year to see an increase to their fuel allowance.
All members are going to have to wait some time to get the next installment of COLA. In both the Urban and RSMC collective agreements, there is a cost-of-living allowance that kicks in when inflation is as rampant as it is these days. If you worked the last few months of last year, then you received a COLA payment in April or May.
The union believes inflation was high enough at the beginning of this year to trigger another COLA payment, but the payment hasn’t come yet.
I have been looking for details as to why, and what I’ve heard is that there is some disagreement on what the rates are supposed to be because nobody updated the dates referenced in the collective agreement when we extended the lifetime of the contract last year.
Basically, the lawyers are arguing about it and the rest of us have to wait.
WMPP SHIFT BID
On Monday this week, consultations regarding the new proposed schedules were canceled because the employer had not yet forwarded us the new proposed schedules and we had not solicited any feedback from the workers.
On Wednesday, those schedules were forwarded to us and by the time the evening shift started, copies of those schedules had been sent to the WMPP with blank pages for suggestions and comments.
There weren’t too many surprises in the revised proposal. The employer said the Saturday shifts could be eliminated, and they are. Also, some of the unfavourable schedules where RDOs were split have been amended. Split RDOs are now rare on the schedule.
Local officers will be coming around to collect the books on Monday or Tuesday next week so we can take a look at the feedback before meeting with the employer again. Currently, there is no consultation scheduled because everyone’s calendars are so full. We will find a time to address any lingering issues.
NORTHEAST FLOOD FALLOUT
It was a really frustrating week for many of our members who have to deal with the fallout from the Northeast flood.
We don’t know why the employer keeps moving the goalposts on overtime, but it seems to happen almost every day. Sorting of mail cannot happen in the morning when it regularly does, and there is a limited number of cases at St. James that can be used for sorting mail. When this situation was first presenting itself, the local negotiated an hour of overtime to sort one day’s worth of mail for one route. We know this hasn’t always been evenly applied, but that is what was negotiated. We also assumed the employer would equalize the opportunities for letter carriers, and when we found out that wasn’t happening, the employer corrected it. This might put a cap on how much overtime someone is able to do, but everyone gets the same opportunities to work overtime in our world.
We didn’t know that the employer was handing the assignments out first come, first served. We would like to correct that so that people are picking their assignments by seniority.
We also didn’t know that the employer was not guaranteeing people their route’s mail for overtime. You always have the first right of refusal on work on your own assignment. If you want to sort your own route, you should be able to make that call. Let us know if you are denied this.
We have good news to report on the timings as they are starting next week. Since this whole thing began, we have been asking to have letter carriers compensated for the time they are spending driving all over town to complete their daily assignments.
Everyone will be paid for the drive from Northeast to St. James, and from St. James to the start of their route. They will be paid for dropping off items at retail outlets. They will be paid for the drive from the end of their route to McDermot, and then back to Northeast. Sortation times and flyer collation times will be removed. Gathering and collecting times will be adjusted to reflect the new reality.
Getting paid for this is not as straightforward. The depots in the Northeast facility cannot be officially restructured because essentially, they haven’t been, some duties have been adjusted. The new values have to be applied retroactively, and right now there is no way to get people paid directly every two weeks. The payment for all of this increased daily activity will come to a letter carrier when their depot leaves St. James for a new temporary location.
We do not have good news to report on the temporary locations. They have not been secured. The unit at the Terracon Business Park has not been secured yet, and even when it is, there is work to be done in that location to turn it into a letter carrier depot. It’s likely Northeast Depot 4 will move into that location, but it might not be before the end of November at this point.
The landlord at 975 Marion wants a five-year lease, which is not something the employer was willing to sign.
There are two more spaces in the Terracon park that are available to us, but starting in January. This appears to be the option the corporation is choosing, despite our insistence that the Northeast-St. James situation is not acceptable through our busy time of year. But there are no other spaces and we cannot force the employer to rent a building for five years when they need it for six months.
It’s not an ideal situation and the corporation is shifting some management agents’ duties and roles so that there can be a focus on resettling the Northeast depots.
But maybe not until the new year. Yikes.
Try to enjoy the weather this weekend because after Monday, they (the weather people) are threatening another step toward winter.