October 20th to November 5th, 2022
There is a lot of interest in the general membership meting on Saturday, which is great. Members who are interested in attending have been emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form. You can, too!
A few weeks ago, when Covid numbers were rising like floodwaters in the spring, The Week in Winnipeg reported that it was likely the facility you work in could be declared in the red zone soon. Channel Gomer Pyle and surprise, surprise, surprise, the whole city of Winnipeg is now in the red.
Because you may be interested in what this means, here is a direct cut and paste from the official memo on the matter:
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EMPLOYEES
This is your notice that you are a hot spot (red zone) effective today regardless of your current red zone “expiry date”. With the TPRT activated, the following protocols are required for 21 days beginning Thursday, November 3 and ending EOD November 23, 2022:
o Medical masks (level 2) are mandatory.
o Physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet).
o On-site rapid testing clinics or at-home test kits distributed to employees.
o Staggered start times for employees.
o Enhanced cleaning and sanitization.
o Possible work from home for administrative functions.
o No non-essential in-person training or meetings.
o Gyms and multi-faith rooms closed.
o No visitors allowed other than essential safety inspections (ESDC, Public Health, CPC H&S, etc.) – see note below for customers of Retail Post Offices.
o No non-essential contracted work.
o Updated signage and targeted communication in employee facing worksites only – see note below for customers of Retail Post Offices.
We spoke with local management about running bids for start times. Northeast is already doing so, as is Moray. Local management agents committed to running a bid for start times for Church as well. In the McDermot depot, start times were assigned for Friday, and management there wasn’t sure of how to do that bid. They were encouraged to reach out to the other locations in the city that were doing this. The Southwest depots, which are now Deerfoot delivery, local management agents have determined that there is no need to stagger the start times because the time letter carriers spend in the building is already staggered.
Covid safety protocols that are not coming back this time: high risk leave, a vaccination requirement, whenever-it’s-convenient street letterbox clearances, no-touch signatures for registered items. But you are getting updated signage.
Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise in the province: https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/surveillance/covid-19/index.html
SHIFT BID 2023
The next consultation for 2023 shift bid will be taking place on Monday, November 7th at 8:00 a.m. Local officers have reviewed the information in the comment books that were sent to the plant, and we have submitted the proposals we received from members.
After the last consultation, things felt positive. Split days off were put together so that people get a weekend. The Saturday shift, which many, many members did not like, was eliminated.
There are still a few issues with the schedules, and we hope to iron those out on Monday.
Local executive officers will be joined by members from various sections and all shifts in the consultation. If you have information you need us to know, get it to us. Talk to a steward or email us at email@example.com.
NORTHEAST AND ST. JAMES
I hate to tell you this, but there is no update to this situation this week. Overtime, and who gets what and when, is an ongoing challenge. We have a really unique situation here, and finding solutions to equalize everything and make it all fair is challenging. Not often are there automatically 96 portions of overtime available every single day. And typically, letter carriers get to at least look at the work they will be doing before choosing what they will be doing, but that is impossible in this instance. People are still getting all the overtime they can handle, so that’s a positive, but some of the daily stories we hear about how that overtime is offered and selected are concerning, and often there are not a lot of great answers.
Last week, The Week in Winnipeg reported that Northeast Depot 5 would be moving to 38 Terracon Place as soon as possible. NED 5 is smaller than NED 4, and the warehouse space at 38 Terracon is smaller than the space at 164 Terracon Place, which will house NED 4.
Management agents have been contradicting this information at the depot and this is causing some confusion. The management agents saying the larger depot, Northeast 4 is moving to the smaller space at 38 Terracon Place, are incorrect. The plan is to have the bigger depot go to the bigger space and the smaller depot into the smaller space.
Last week, both union officers and management agents conducted timings for all of the extra drives people are doing to pick up or drop off mail. That data will increase each route’s daily assessed time, and people will be paid retroactively to September 13th when their depot moves to a new location.
When the depots move to Terracon, there will be new timings conducted because things will change. Sortation times will be added back to the routes because there will be sortation cases at the Terracon spaces. Also, the drive times will drop as the drive between Narin and Terracon is significantly shorter. The end-of-day dropoff location for mail will change from McDermot Depot to 38 Terracon Place when that temporary depot is opened.
We are still pushing to have these depots moved as soon as possible and are not impressed with the delays. The weather has turned, there is snow in the seven-day forecast, and this delay is only going to make things challenging.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
I’m not the only one who writes reports in the local office. All local officers are required to submit a report to the local every month. This month, I thought Health and Safety Officer Reggie Taman’s report was great, so here it is:
No matter how hard you try to pump the brakes, time waits for no one. October seemed to hit from all angles, consultations, meetings, building visits, being a witness for an arbitration, and heck let’s throw in an education.
Actually… the education at the end of the month was a welcome break to wrap up the chaos. I was able to participate in the Regional 3 day Educational that was held in Edmonton. I was selected for Solidarity Skills, and after day one it already felt like I was leaving with something in the tool bag. By day three, it really made me aware on how I communicate, not only for what I do as the health and safety officer…but in my own relationships outside of the office.
Solidarity Skills builds a strong foundation in listening skills and communication, and in my office, I have a lot of conversations with members. Some are on the phone, some in person and every one of those conversations has the potential to be long. So, to give members the assurance of being heard, and respected is paramount.
Working on the issues with Northeast is like that 2000-piece puzzle that sits on the kitchen table over the winter. Getting the pieces together, has been long and tedious. Local President Matthew Aitken, Vice President Cam Fortier, and I looked at three units in the Terracon Industrial Park to house Northeast 4, 5, and 7. A lot of headaches for a temporary fix as their home at 1199 Nairn may not be ready till mid next year. Consultations and impromptu meetings seem to happen almost daily as issues roll in. I don’t foresee those calls quietening down in the coming months as the depots make their move thru the winter months.
The first move should happen December 1st, the rest to follow in the new year.
The Local Health and Safety Committee met in the last week of October, and a good part of that meeting was discussing the dangers in the parking lot at 1225 St James. With Northeast down for the count and using St James depot as a hub, it has created a traffic nightmare. Right from the get-go, we observed the issues firsthand as transits and step vans flooded the depot to retrieve their product. Even though we staggered start times and improved the situation, it’s still not ideal. The loading zone is in the parking lot, and the number of blind spots while moving in and around cars with your depot carts are everywhere. The potential of injury is too high for my liking. While the pieces of that “NED puzzle” click together and we acquire the space in Terracon, we will get the congestion issues under control as the depots transition over to their new temporary home.
Oh man I said the “injury” word. Accommodations are a steady topic as well. Aches and pains are common no matter what position you hold. It is the aches and pains that disrupt your ability to do your job…that’s when it becomes an issue.
What do you do?
If it’s a one or two day recouperation for a sore knee, and your back at it, chances are you may be accommodated in house. But if it’s lingering you may want to look over Article 54 in our collective agreement. If you feel that you need to be accommodated it must be submitted in writing to the corporation. From there a disability management file will be created and you will be provided a file manager through Canada Life. If you ever been through the STDP process, it’s very similar as all supporting medical information will be provided to your case manager. If your situation is complex, and your functional abilities are impacted, you will probably participate in a meeting with myself, your case manager, CPC Disability, and management. Those meetings happen when your restrictions and limitations become a concern. Through medical submitted by your doctor and Canada Life, a plan will be put together and reviewed in these meetings.
Yeah, I know this seems like a lot of work, and maybe that side deal accommodation looks appealing…but it doesn’t do you any favors. Our collective agreement was negotiated to hold the corporation accountable. Do the work, get it in black and white…and make it official.
This report took a few turns. Like I said at the beginning…when your hit from every angle, you have no time to look at the clock, and wham-o…it’s November, which is going to be just as, if not busier. The office will be without my presence for two weeks. The week of November 20th, full time officers will be in Edmonton debating resolutions put forward to change our constitution. The week of the 27th, secretary treasurer Ha Yen Jiwa and myself were selected from Winnipeg to participate in the Union Education Program in Orford, QC.
I have two weeks to tidy up the office and solve all the issues in the health and safety world.
Wish me luck!
Always in solidarity,
There is a Canadian labour showdown happening in Ontario this week. In one corner is the Province of Ontario, as represented by the Progressive Conservative Party and their education minister, Stephen Lecce. In the other corner is CUPE Ontario, a union made up of 55,000 education support workers who are willing to defy the government’s back-to-work orders, set to come into effect on Friday, November 4th.
The union has said if its members are going to have their rights taken away, they will perform a political protest. Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario said this on Tuesday, “On Friday, regardless of what this legislation says, our members will be engaging in province-wide protest. That means no CUPE education workers will be at work. Instead, we will be taking a stand for public education for ourselves and for our future. Our union and others have been effective in challenging governments in the courts and we won, but all too late for workers. Enough is enough. We may, in fact, challenge this in court, but we are first going to challenge it in our communities. We are not going to allow our rights to be legislated away.” Quote from this story: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/education-workers-in-ontario-announce-mass-walkout-amid-back-to-work-legislation-1.6131853
Postal workers are familiar with being forced back to work. For many years now, when the time comes to start contract negotiations, those talks break down. There is no mutual agreement. The process ultimately fails. We withhold our labour. Corporate Canada goes and cries foul to the government. The government steps in and legislates us back to work, violating our charter rights. Then, we have to challenge that legislation in court and it takes years to find out our rights were in fact violated.
And it’s a bizarre situation to be in. Employers and governments are suggesting workers aren’t worthy of raises that keep pace with inflation, but they’re also so essential to the functioning of the country that our rights are less important than the economy. Score one for capitalism.
It’s dirty pool, and workers know it. CUPE workers in Ontario have had enough.
Here’s a nice little video of Trudeau saying that the way Doug Ford and the Ontario Conservatives are taking away workers’ rights is wrong: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/early-session-debate-education-legislation-1.6636334
It’s totally cute and contrary to his actions in late 2018 when he called a late-night sitting of parliament so members of parliament could vote away postal workers’ right to strike.
One complicating matter on this is the Ontario government’s proposal to use the notwithstanding clause (so the province can ignore charter rights for five years) in this regressive approach. Here’s an article on that and what the potential repercussions could be: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-support-staff-strike-education-legislation-1.6635108
CUPE members in Ontario are risking a lot with those potential fines. They’re standing up because they’re tired of being offered wage increases that are actually a loss when compared to inflation.
As postal workers, would you be willing to do the same? We could be on strike at this time next year, and the employer could be offering pathetic raises. In the face of eight percent inflation, what do you need for your wage to keep up? Would you be willing to risk a personal fine to get what you deserve for your labour?
Watch how the situation in Ontario unfolds over the next few days. Are CUPE members in Ontario laying the groundwork for what is to come in future labour disputes in Canada?
It’s also important to note that Canada’s conservatives have been rather silent on this matter. You would think that the freedom-loving politicians like Pierre Poilievre, Danielle Smith, Heather Stephanson, and the like would be chiming in with support for those CUPE workers to negotiate a fair contract with the government, but they’re not. Maybe freedom is only good enough to talk about when they can spin it against their political rivals, to score cheap political points. When it’s workers’ rights on the line, their silence speaks volumes.
For a good background on the situation, check out this piece by Mitchell Thompson at Press Progress, an independent news outlet that consistently punches above its weight: https://pressprogress.ca/stephen-lecce-claims-he-made-the-biggest-education-investment-in-ontarios-history-actually-he-cut-education/
The folks at Passage removed the paywall from a piece they published in June that explores the recent history of how the Ontario government takes its education workers for granted: https://readpassage.com/cupe-education-report/
Autumn really hung on to give Winnipeggers one of the nicest Halloween evenings anyone can remember, but it seems that November got itself a reality check and is coming through with the cold weather we were expecting. Stay warm out there, friends.