April 9th to 15th, 2023
I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to happen, and it did! Winter ended this year. I don’t mind winter, but it does tend to get a little long sometimes. This year was one of those times. I hope the letter carriers out there are appreciating the warmth.
Hey, if you’re interested in improving your contract, come out to the local’s general membership meeting on Saturday, April 15th at 9:00 a.m. We’re hosting the meeting at the Riverview Community Centre at 90 Ashland Avenue.
At the meeting, we’ll be discussing and debating contract demand resolutions. These resolutions could end up being what our national contract negotiating committees use for guidance as they participate in collective bargaining with the employer.
If you have an idea or two about what could be better at work, this is the meeting for you.
The local currently has 55 resolutions ready to be discussed on the 15th, and there will likely be more when it’s all said and done.
Also at the meeting on the 15th, we will be accepting nominations for the local’s committees for the 2023-2024 committee year. Being on a committee is a great way to get involved with the union. The local has about a dozen different committees that deal with various subjects. There is a communications committee that assists with local publications. The organizing committee could be a busy committee this year as we prepare for contract negotiations. Work floors in the local have been visited by members of the women’s committee over the last few weeks. The human rights committee meets to discuss issues facing equity-seeking worker groups. We’ll accept nominations at the meeting on Saturday, and members will be elected to their committees at the general membership meeting on May 13th.
If all of those committees sound too formal, there is also the good and welfare committee that does things like organize lifetime membership presentations, which the local is doing soon.
Local membership meetings are the best way to get involved with the union. They are not the only thing someone can do to be involved, but they are a good start. We hope to see you there.
NORTHEAST SSD TALK
Members of the local executive and of the local’s workload structuring committee met with Winnipeg collection and delivery management agents on Tuesday, April 11th, to talk about the type of mail preparation and delivery planned for the Northeast depots following their upcoming restructures.
Those of us present were not surprised to hear why the corporation was considering SSD for Northeast. But the points the management agents were raising to justify SSD were bizarre. At first, they insisted the change to SSD wasn’t about saving space in the depot, it was about changing the corporation’s business to be more parcelcentric. That’s a new word, parcelcentric, and it has already been nominated for 2023’s word of the year, so don’t worry about getting that paperwork filed, it’s done.
We were also told, with a straight face, that the change to SSD would be about consistency. When letter carriers come in to get their mail in the morning, it will be there ready to go and sorted and tied out perfectly into three, easy-to-follow, line-of-travel bundles. Those of us listening to this were wondering how that would be any more consistent than what letter carriers have been doing for decades, and that was never explained.
If you know workload structuring committee members Joe Murphy, Amber Rinn, Brett Thurston, and Toni Montanti, give them a nod next time you see them in the depot. They were at the meeting as well, and got a front row seat to a show about how frustrating dealing with corporate agents really can be sometimes. All four of them had excellent questions and they asked their managers without hesitation. It was so beneficial to have them provide their perspectives.
We feel we asked good questions in the room. For example, the routes are going to have their volumes counted now, when the corporation itself admits that volumes are particularly low, and at the same time, it is looking to increase its parcel business.
“Can we have the special allowance for parcel volumes for every route adjusted to reflect the corporation’s projected increase in parcel business?” They told us they would look into it, but the answer is no. But that’s one of the ways the corporation does its business. It knows it can make money off of your labour if it cooks the books a little bit. It’s looking to do that through this restructure.
Three hours into the consultation, we were being told earlier statements needed some, cough, clarification.
SSD is about gaining space in the facility, which would allow the business to become parcelcentric. Whew! Glad we cleared that up. Once that was admitted, we were able to discuss what the corporation was looking to do, and how it was going to happen.
The corporation seems to have fallen head over heels in love with SSD over the last few months. So far, SSD has only been implemented in 13 facilities across the country, but it is being proposed for almost every restructure imaginable moving forward. Near the end of the meeting, management agents were attempting to claim the union hadn’t provided any alternatives to SSD, which wasn’t the truth at all. But, it’s hard to get someone (or something) that is in love to look at anything but what they are infatuated with.
The local does have some plans for how preparation for delivery could look and could be better than having someone else sort your mail every day. We do think the corporation could accept a three-wave system, where carriers still get to sort their own mail every morning. But when we spend the first three hours of the meeting pretending SSD is about making things more environmentally friendly (really, that was mentioned as a good reason to bring in SSD), then it’s difficult to talk about what’s real, like solutions.
We will schedule another meeting with management in the near future to continue this discussion.
Next week, on April 20th, we have meetings scheduled with your managers. Last month, we asked for certain things like the training videos on two-bundle delivery, and the official Corporate Manual System document on two-bundle delivery. We are pretty certain this material does not exist as making a video to show the efficiency of a two-bundle system is going to make the impossibility of the system obvious, but we would still like to see it if it does exist.
At the union-management meeting for the plant last month, we asked if the equal opportunity lists had been updated and if all of the bypasses for last year had been cleared up. Managers did tell us people had been paid, but only on Shift Two. There are still many outstanding bypass issues for Shift One and Three. And, to make matters worse, there are more bypasses stemming from mistakes made over the Easter weekend.
Late last year, plant managers told us the new shift superintendents would be taking care of the equal opportunity lists. We’re four months into the year and the lists are still poorly maintained and mistakes in handing out overtime are frequent. We’re even hearing that temps were called in to start work at midnight while workers on Shift Three hadn’t been offered any overtime.
How much longer are we going to let them get away with this? The union has filed multiple grievances to try to deal with this and the violations of our rights aren’t slowing down. Grievances are fine and have their place, but these constant violations of workers’ rights in the WMPP are going to continue until the workers tell their bosses they’ve had enough. The local has run Taking Back our Work Floor classes in the past, and there are members out there who have been educated to organize other workers on issues like this. We would like to see some of that organization happening now. Because the problem is out of hand, and the grievance machine is not stopping it.
We’ll raise that issue at the union-management meeting on the 20th. If you have any questions or concerns that you would like us to ask at the meeting, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org before the end of the day on Tuesday, April 18th, and I will add your question to the agenda.
Also, a note on the Corporate Manual System – that’s where the policies are, eh? You have access to the manual through your Employee Self-Serve online.
The CMS is a series of PDFs that outline the corporation’s policies. Official uniform policy? It’s in the CMS. What are you supposed to do with oversize items, and how do you know what size oversize is? That’s in document 1202.30. A few weeks ago, carriers at the Southwest installation were wondering if they had to strike through the barcodes on their flyer slips. Well, the CMS says you do.
The CMS is not the collective agreement, and the union didn’t negotiate the language in it. However, if your supervisor is telling you about a new process or something like that, ask them to provide the CMS document for it. Honestly, it’s a good way to keep the boss honest, by getting them to first read, then respect and enforce their own policies. Check them out.
DAY OF MOURNING
April 28th is the international day of mourning for workers who were killed on the job. We will be talking to your shop stewards about arranging for a moment of silence to occur while you are at work that day.
Workers should always be able to go home at the end of their work day. Often, money-saving measures by employers can leave workers at risk, and every workplace death is preventable. It’s sad when anyone dies, even from old age after a life well lived. But when a working person is involved in a life-altering event that could have been avoided, it’s sad and a shame.
On April 28th, consider wearing black, and remember those who didn’t get to go home.
POTENTIAL LOCAL CHANGES
The union’s quadrennial national convention is being held in Toronto from May 1st to 5th this year. On May 5th, there are elections for our national presidents and union representatives and our regional officers and representatives.
I have thrown my name into the ring to be National Director of the Prairie Region. There’s a website for it: https://votematthew2023.com/
Sister Lana Smidt, the current National Director of the Prairie Region, is also running. Her website is here: https://lanasmidt.ca/
I mention this because if I win that election, I will have to resign the presidency of the local immediately. Sister Mahdia Hasan would take over as president until someone can be elected at the next general membership meeting on May 13th.
Also, depending on a couple of things, Sister Cheryllynn Saramaga-Martai could be putting her name forward to become a union representative in the Prairie Region office. If she is elected to that position, the local grievance officer role would have to be filled at that meeting on the 13th as well.
If you feel like you might be suited for either of these positions, consider running for them on the 13th. We won’t know if the positions are vacant until the evening of May 5th, so you’ll have to stay tuned.
I’m looking forward to the convention and debating the resolutions that are going to be presented to the delegates. The union needs to have important discussions on prorating dues, how strike pay is doled out, and other items that could make members’ interactions with their union more positive overall.