December 11th to 17th, 2022
Yes, it’s Monday and last week’s report is just landing now. Last week was one of those weeks. It’s fine, I have worked at the post office for more than a decade, so I know what it’s like to be busy in December.
There was a local general membership meeting on December 10th, and RSMC Mahdia Hasan was elected vice-president of the local. Sister Hasan has been working for the employer for a little more than two years now and has been interested in workers’ rights the whole time. She is bringing a lot of passion and energy to the local, so I hope members are ready for it!
Sister Hasan has been attending local meetings for some time and was a delegate to the conference in Edmonton last month and on Saturday, December 17th, she was elected to be a delegate to represent the local at National Convention next May.
Sister Hasan is a great example of what it takes to make a change in this union. She saw an inequity, started asking questions, didn’t always like the answers she got, and now she’s the vice president of her local. Instead of being so frustrated that she just gave up, she doubled down and got involved. We’re all lucky to have someone like that involved. The sister displays tenacity, she has heart. From the people I’ve talked to, we’re excited to see where her work in the union will take her.
Sister Hasan wasn’t the only one interested in the vice-president vacancy. Sister Kathleen Marshall, also a conference delegate, put her name forward as a potential candidate. I want to thank Sister Marshall for stepping up and doing that – it takes a lot of guts. Sister Marshall has also been getting more involved in the work of the local, and is an active member of the local’s women’s committee.
The only way you get the union you want to have is by being involved. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the first step. Just watch Sister Hasan for a good example of what can happen when you decide to put your hand up.
WMPP AT THE TABLE
On Monday, December 12th, local officers were able to meet up with the WMPP managers to discuss the rotation-of-duties schedules for the coming year. Those discussions were pretty standard. The local still has some concerns that certain sections only have heavy, repetitive duties, and are interested in combining some sections to give people a greater variety of tasks throughout their shift.
But also during the meeting, the managers present informed us there will be superintendents at the plant in 2023. Letter carriers, RSMCs, and PO-4s in depots are familiar with this scenario, but this is a change for management of the WMPP.
The managers we were talking to last Monday seemed to be positive about this change as it is allowing them to have one week a month when they will all be on a daytime schedule. They then suggested this will make scheduling of union-management meetings easier and consistent.
We agreed. The confusion and absences surrounding the last two times we tried to get together cannot continue, so this change is welcome for those purposes.
We also acknowledged in the meeting that the equal opportunity lists at the plant are very wrong, and there needs to be a review immediately. There wasn’t any appetite for that, which is odd because the lists are so wrong, there could be grievances filed worth a lot of money for this bypass.
Basically, plant management agents have been running equal opportunity incorrectly for many months. This year, when people were on extended leaves, when there was overtime offered to their section, their equal opportunity number wouldn’t be increased like it should have been. This has resulted in a situation where people who were off of work for a while are now receiving the bulk of the overtime offers.
That’s wrong, and it is not our members’ fault – it’s management’s. If you work at the WMPP and you haven’t been offered any overtime, or you think maybe you should have been offered more, ask to see your section’s equal opportunity list. If you have someone on that list with an opportunity number that is much lower than everyone else’s, there may have been a mistake.
Did you know you are entitled to speak to a steward about these kinds of things, no matter what? Even if it’s the busy season, you are entitled to speak to a steward when you request to speak to one at work. At the very least, you should be speaking to one at the start of your next shift. The plant managers have vowed to clean up the equal opportunity lists and make sure opportunities are recorded correctly in the future. That’s all fine and good for the future, but it doesn’t clean up the mess that exists now. Sigh. The struggle continues.
The president of the Winnipeg local of postal workers has a seat on the executive council of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. That group meets four times a year to update everyone on the state of the labour movement in the province and in each other’s unions.
I was at the last meeting of the year on Friday (part of the reason for this report arriving so late). Information shared there is somewhat of an overview of the Manitoba labour scene. The federation president, Kevin Rebeck, gave a pretty thorough report about the groups who have been on strike and won contracts since the last meeting in September. He also presented a bit about how health care workers are experiencing a higher rate of injury at work than those involved in the construction and manufacturing industries, which used to rank highest for injuries. Rebeck credited the success of safety initiatives and campaigns for reducing the injuries on construction sites and in factories, and now those in health care need to be made aware of the dangers they face at work so their injury statistics can start to shrink.
There was a member of the executive council who reported that their federal sector workers were having a hard time at the bargaining table. In their words, “Might as well be dealing with Harper with these Liberals at the table.” The Crown corporation we deal with isn’t the government, but this statement isn’t great news. And hey, Liberal, Tory, same old story, eh? The big two parties here have never been friends of the working class, so while the Harper-Liberal-no-difference comment is disappointing, it’s not surprising.
This meeting also had a report from Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. There has been some progress on banning the use of scabs when workers are on strike, but it’s still an issue that needs some resolution. Canada has some really regressive laws in place when it comes to workers’ rights, and people are working on making them more fair all the time.
At lunch, the council was joined by members of the Manitoba NDP. It’s no secret that the house of labour is a base that NDP governments across Canada reach out to for both guidance and support. There was talk about projects that have support from both entities. For example, there is a big hydro project going on in Northern Manitoba right now, and the provincial government has hired contractors and workers from Alberta to do this job. Why not Manitobans? Seems wrong. The NDP was promising more jobs for more Manitobans for Manitoba projects on Friday.
Generally, the relationship between a federation and the provincial NDP is pretty friendly as both groups claim to be fighting for you and me, the workers of the world.
There is a Canadian Labour Congress convention next May, immediately after the CUPW National Convention from May 1st to 5th. If you want to be a delegate to that convention, you have to have attended 50 percent of your local general membership meetings to be eligible to be a delegate.
If you have more questions about the Manitoba Fed, or want to check out their advocacy campaigns, check them out here: https://mfl.ca/. Read more about the Canadian Labour Congress here: https://canadianlabour.ca/
REST IN PEACE
Shortly after midnight, on December 10th, Sarbjit Gill was driving home from an evening shift at the plant when her vehicle was struck by another, and she was killed. Sister Gill leaves behind a husband, two 14-year-old children, and a community that is mourning her passing.
A card of condolences was circulated in the plant, and a collection was taken for the children. A few members who work at the plant have been in contact with the family, who is thankful for the support at this incredibly difficult time.
The police are alleging the driver of the vehicle that struck Sister Gill was intoxicated at the time of the accident. So unnecessary, and so sad.
The local office has received inquiries about donating to the family, and there is no bank account set up for them. We will collect donations in the office if people feel so inclined and will deliver it to the family on the 24th. A service for Sister Gill is being held today at 2:00 p.m., and local officers will be in attendance to pay respects.
A few weeks ago, RSMC Shayne Rode passed away, and that was also a shocking and unexpected death. I know he was popular among RSMCs and will be greatly missed.
Every once in a while, there will be a post in the local Facebook group about a former postal worker passing away. A lot of people worked their careers at the post office, and we all gotta go at some point, so those posts will always happen.
But it’s rarer to have to see a post about someone who is still working.
Our hearts go out to the Rode and Gill families at this time. Let’s honour this brother and sister by making our workplace a little friendlier, a little kinder. You never know when you might be having your last conversation with someone.
May Sarbjit Gill and Shayne Rode rest in peace.
That’s all I have for you this week. I hope this week is a little quieter with fewer surprises and I’m able to write to you on Friday. If things really go sideways, have a good holiday. It’s always an honour and a privilege to serve you all as your local president and I never take it for granted. I’ve been somewhat worried lately that something is going to happen because the local feels like it’s operating well these days. We had a great conference where we were well represented and when there was an opening for an executive position, there was interest and competition for the spot. The local committees are meeting and getting things done and there is a good education plan for the first few months of the new year. I get a front row seat to all of this, and I’m really enjoying the show. I hope you are, too.