Northeast Flood Update

Northeast Flood Update
November 16th, 2022

This mid-week special edition of the Week in Winnipeg is coming to you today because by December 5th, all of the displaced letter carrier routes and auxiliary positions associated with those routes will be operating out of the employer-owned facility on Narin Avenue.

Northeast Depot Five will be moving first, and it will be in the Narin building on Monday, November 21st. Part of the building is ready for letter carrier operation and part of the building is still under renovation. There will be no move to temporary facilities in the Terracon Business Park or any other location in the city.

The move back to Narin is coming with some odd and temporary situations that will only last a couple of weeks. This morning, local Health and Safety Officer Reggie Taman, four CUPW members of the depot’s LJHSC, and I had a little tour of the facility and asked every question we could think of. All of the following provisions are in place until December 5th.

Corporate agents toured the facility on Narin and looked at the temporary solution at St. James two weeks ago and determined it needed to end as soon as possible.

From that point, the renovation efforts became a 24-hour-a-day effort, employing a team of more than 60 people. So, for the last couple of weeks, there have been some major changes to the building on Narin. Basically, half of the building is ready to go and the other half is still being worked on. The half that is finished has had temporary drywall and plastic sheeting placed all around it and is independent from the portion being renovated.

It is vitally important that none of our members wander into the portion of the building being renovated. Doing so, we were told, will cancel the whole project and Northeast Depot Five would have to move back to St. James until December 5th. We don’t anticipate this happening, and think this is an extreme outcome if someone is legitimately lost or confused and just opened a door, but let’s cross that bridge if we come to it. Still, please respect the space the contractors have to work in and they will respect ours, and that’s that.

There are fewer accessible bathrooms available because of the restoration work being done. There will be two temporary, outdoor toilets brought to the property, and everyone will have access to the bathrooms on the second floor of the building as well.

Management agents were happy to have LCAs and PO-4s take their breaks at a little table in the corner of the workfloor, but after some discussion, agreed to let people have their lunch in the supervisor offices upstairs. This space will have to be accessed through the customer entrance where the letter carriers currently go to pick up their keys. There is no fridge available at this time.

There is no fire alarm functioning in the building right now. For this, Commissionaires will be brought in and be on site 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency, the Commissionaires will blare a horn and direct everyone out of the building.

On Monday, November 21st, when Northeast Depot Five letter carriers report to work, there will be a building orientation. Union LJHSC members will be onsite for this and will answer any questions you have. 

Staggered starts are going to remain, and we expect Winnipeg’s red zone designation to be extended for some time. Local management is going to apply the staggered starts to the letter carrier sortation cases, so you may have a new casemate when you get back to Narin.

The overtime landscape is going to change a little next week. Currently, 92 portions of manual mail are available for overtime on a daily basis, but when NED5 starts operating out of Narin again, that number will drop by 42. Letter carriers working out of NED4 and NED5 will be able to sign up for these shift extension and overtime opportunities. 

When everyone left work on September 12th, it was just another day and nobody expected the building to flood. When we were touring the depot this morning, there were personal effects on the currently disorganized sortation cases. There was a phone charger here, a bluetooth speaker there, little things that normally have a home had to move. 

Management agents say all of these personal items were elevated and left to dry if they were on the floor. Other things may have moved because renovations needed to happen. We hope people haven’t lost little things that are important to them and that they get those items back. They are strewn about the facility, on the equipment we use for mail sortation and transportation. Hopefully the lost and found process works well.

Local officers will begin a conversation with the corporation’s route measurement department to get the extra drive times applied to all affected assignments from September 14th onward. That should be the last chapter in this weird little book, and hopefully it is written soon.

So that’s it, the displaced depot saga is coming to an end. Local management agents have expressed that this whole process has been difficult. Lots of long days and meetings trying to arrange everything. At the local, we have also had to adjust to more work because of this accident at an already busy time of year. I appreciate all the time and effort local officers have spent on this issue.

However, nobody was more affected by this than the RSMCs and letter carriers who had no real place to prepare their mail for more than two months. Because I’ve answered the phones and read the emails and texts, I know it’s been a challenge. Letter carrying can be difficult in a perfect world, so this much disruption in a work day created some real challenges. But the letter carriers and RSMCs persevered. Only one day of service to our customers was lost. We showed up and did what we were supposed to do. Let’s remember this when we’re asking for a raise next year. We were willing to do the work, no matter what. Is the corporation prepared to acknowledge that by giving us wages that keep pace with inflation?

Having to transition from one facility to another during the busiest time of year is not an awesome situation, but it is better than having to wait. For many weeks now, our members who work out of Northeast have been waiting for a solution and some answers. Now we have some, and we hope just knowing makes everyone feel a little better about the situation.