March 19th to 25th, 2023
There is a lot going on and a lot coming up. The work of the union never slows down.
SSD COMING FOR YOU
On Friday, March 24th, the local received notification that SSD is going to be proposed for the Church Depots’ upcoming restructures. The local will add Church to the list of depots we are analyzing to potentially stave off SSD implementation.
The corporation is coming after space on the work floors, and forcing as many carriers as possible to share cases is its solution. If you have any ideas about a system of work that could be used instead of SSD or Deerfoot, please let the local know.
That being said, the local does have a plan to address both SSD implementation and an adjustment for Deerfoot that will alleviate the issues with that system, but having more ideas to draw on is beneficial overall.
We have a meeting with management regarding the style of preparation and delivery for the Northeast depots scheduled for April 11th. We will know more about the employer’s plans for those depots after that meeting.
We have two general membership meetings in April. We have one on Saturday, April 1st at 10:00 a.m. at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre, 625 Osborne Street. At that meeting, we will be electing delegates to the contract demand regional conferences in June. We have to elect 25 Urban Operations members to that conference, and three RSMCs to the RSMC conference. If you have attended 50 percent or more of the general membership meetings over the last year, you are eligible to be elected as a delegate.
On April 15th, we will be hosting a regular general membership meeting at 9:00 a.m. at the Riverview Community Centre at 90 Ashland Avenue. At that meeting, we will be conducting our regular business and debating and passing contract demand resolutions.
These meetings will be held in-person only. The local had approved of a potential bylaw change that would allow for hybrid meetings, but our national office said the proposed change was a violation of the constitution and could not be adopted by the local.
MEETINGS WITH MANAGEMENT
Local officers sat down to talk about ongoing issues in your workplaces with your bosses on Tuesday, March 21st.
In the WMPP, most of the issues with the equal opportunity lists have been worked out, and people have been paid for bypasses. Going forward, the plant superintendents are going to keep the lists up to date. The best person to look out for your number is you. If there is overtime, check your number to see that it was handled properly. The union will also check, but we have to check for everyone in the building.
Workers in R0B have been asking for quilted jackets for a while now. The area they work in is not directly adjacent to the outdoors, and therefore, they are not awarded any points to get insulated clothing. However, the garage doors that separate the runouts area from the rest of the plant is often open, and when there is a door open to the outside, workers in R0B say it’s just like standing outside. Currently, management is looking at securing a pool of quilted jackets that could be available for people working in that section. Clearly it won’t happen before the snow melts, and dry cleaning those jackets is going to cost more than what they could spend on jackets for everyone from Sargent Blue Jeans, but a corporation’s gonna do what a corporation’s gonna do.
There are ongoing problems with backfilling and the use of temporary workers, and we raised those issues as well. The employer won’t be filling any backfills this year, and we’re working on fixing that. It’s not easy as the managers say it is a direction from Ottawa to leave positions vacant this year. Poor decision making is not exclusive to Winnipeg. We also talked about how part-timers should be called into work before the use of temporary labour.
In order to start unraveling the staffing mysteries that persist, the local needs to analyze data from the swipe machines. We have access to this information, but we have to go through our national and regional offices to obtain it. The request to have this information has been provided, and we are waiting for the files. When we have them, we should be able to see where the corporation is telling us the truth about staffing and where a little story is being told.
We met with collection and delivery management agents later in the day on the 21st. One of the managers took issue with some of the agenda items we brought forward, claiming some of them could have been addressed in an email rather than at the meeting. That’s fine, and perhaps the management agent was correct, however, we often send emails that are never replied to. It’s difficult to anticipate what the agents will care about and what they will just discard.
Despite the management agent’s protest (we told her to grieve it), we asked all the questions we had.
We talked about the pay for Northeast letter carriers, and getting them fair values for the work they did. Currently, we feel there is one last point we need to consider, and it’s the pay for dropping off carded items at the RPOs. The employer was not willing to pay this time, suggesting there could be a lot of instances where someone didn’t have to drive to the RPO. Unfortunately, the system is based on averages, so if you have to do that action three or more times a week, chances are you’re going there every day.
The management agents are now including the drive-to-RPO times into the document, and we expect to have some finalized numbers to review in a couple of weeks. Again, we are disappointed it has taken this long to figure out, but it really is best if people get paid for all of the time they worked.
We talked about introducing an equal opportunity system for RSMC overtime, but at this time, management isn’t willing to agree to that. We have had some complaints from RSMCs about how overtime is handed out to supervisors’ favourites, not to people who would like the overtime and have not had a lot of opportunities lately. We will keep working on that.
Hey, please watch out for temps in your buildings. We have had reports that supervisors are telling temps that if they were hurt at work, they shouldn’t accept any assignments and should stay at home until they feel better. The employer has a duty to accommodate people who are injured, and it doesn’t matter if they are full-time, part-time, or a temporary worker. If a temp asks you a question about something a supervisor told them, point the temp in the right direction to get a second opinion.
We are still having some issues with the bidding rights for RSMCs moving back to the Southwest Depot, but should have some more answers by the end of the week.
We’re meeting with management agents again on April 20th, so get your questions to us before the 14th so we can add them to the agenda and get some answers (or not) from your bosses.
After a couple of busy months of education at the local, there are no classes planned for April, but I’ll be trying to inspire the Education Committee to host a class in May.
Nationally, however, there is a great opportunity for a couple of people from across the country to take a university-level labour course. It’s called Labour College, and you can read more about it here: https://www.cupw.ca/en/labour-college-open-application-until-april-30-2023
If you are a member in an installation with fewer than 20 employees, the union wants you to consider becoming a health and safety representative: https://www.cupw.ca/en/consider-becoming-health-and-safety-representative-2
On May 6th, the MayWorks Festival is running some workshops and gatherings at the Ukrainian Labour Temple in town. Festival organizers are looking for participants and volunteers and more information about the event can be found here: https://www.spiritof1919.ca/
On Monday, March 20th, I attended an all-day meeting of the Manitoba Federation of Labour executive council. The president of the local is a member of that council.
As we operate in the federal realm and these meetings are for provincial goings on, there often isn’t a lot talked about at these meetings that has an immediate impact on postal workers. However, it’s good to check in with the labour leaders in the province to find out what is happening out there.
For instance, the Canadian Labour Congress is watching closely to find out how Bill C-228 is progressing through parliament. Essentially, this bill seeks to protect workers’ pensions if a company or corporation happens to dissolve. If you want, the CLC would appreciate you emailing the Senate to encourage them to do the right thing and vote in favour of the proposal. You can find more information about it here: https://canadianplan.ca/protect-pensions/
The Canadian Labour Council representative for Manitoba, Bernie Wood, mentioned at the meeting there are some people talking in the south east corner of the province, attempting to reestablish a labour council there. There is also a labour council in Selkirk that has recently started operating. I mention this because members of our local work in these geographic areas and we currently only pay affiliation dues to the Winnipeg Labour Council. That is going to change moving forward, and the local will be funding provincial labour councils appropriately.
The Manitoba Government and General Employees Union reported a labour victory for firefighters who contract a disease as a result of them doing their job. Urban firefighters have their claims and paperwork fast tracked through the Workers’ Compensation Board if they develop a condition (typically lung cancer) related to their work. Forest fire firefighters, until recently, were not fast tracked in the same way. Getting those firefighters into the same program seemed pretty obvious and it was too bad they didn’t have access to this process until now.
The MGEU is also concerned about a new bill by the Progressive Conservatives that would make liquor sales in the province public. Kyle Ross, MGEU President, said that this could increase the number of liquor stores in the city from 36 to 500 almost overnight. Some people are going to say this is a great move that will, I don’t know, make things better in the province. However, in truth, this will be a net loss at the end of the day for Manitobans. Currently, Manitoba liquor stores submit more than $300 million annually in profits back to Manitobans. If private sales are allowed, a good portion of that money is going to go to private individuals instead of back to government coffers. That reason there is enough for me to support keeping liquor public. And I’m not an easy sell. I lived in a province with public and private sales for 15 years, and other than paying more for products at the private stores, I didn’t feel too strongly either way. But in a province like Manitoba, which has fewer revenue streams, this is a big deal. Read more on the MGEU campaign here: keepingliquorpublic.ca/
The Manitoba Nurses Union is gearing up for the provincial election slated to take place on October 3rd this year. Part of that preparation includes having lawn signs that indicate support for nurses and public healthcare for people to put out. The signs will be ready for pickup at the end of April. Visit the nurses’ website for more information: www.manitobanurses.ca
CUPE Manitoba is also embarking on an awareness campaign. Perhaps you’ve seen their billboards or heard one of their ads on the radio. CUPE members work in a variety of industries across the province and you can learn more about them here: weworkformanitoba.ca
These unions are undertaking these public awareness campaigns because of the provincial election later this year. The provincial Progressive Conservatives have done their best over the last few years to undermine all kinds of public entities, hoping the public would get on board and be happy to privatize the whole province. Every day in the legislature, they stand up and lay blame at the feet of the NDP government they replaced seven years ago.
The PC’s leader, Heather Stephanson, consistently polls as the least popular premier in the country, and many of the party’s MLAs are announcing they will not be seeking another term. It is best to go out on top because they are likely to get trounced at the ballot box in October.
So when the topic of conversation changes to provincial politics at MFL executive meetings, the mood in the room is one of hope. An NDP government, or so the theory goes, would invest in Manitoba. Proposals to sell off public assets like liquor sales would be called off and Manitobans would keep their money instead of letting it get filtered into business owners’ bulging pockets. The NDP is promising to invest in health care and attempt to deal with the many years of neglect brought by the Tories.
The unions would like to have a friendly competition to see how many union supporters can knock on doors when the campaign officially begins later this year. Visit the NDP’s website for more information. Candidates are already knocking on doors on the weekends and can always use volunteers to help in those efforts.
It was a busy week and there was a lot to report. I often feel like I forgot to mention something and this report is no different. If it comes to me, I’ll mention it next time. Until then, be your best self and take it easy.