I think I might have made a mistake when I said something about spring last week. Maybe it’s all my fault?
FLOOD DRIVE PAY
Local officers had a discussion with local managers about the drive time pay that was promised to letter carriers in the Northeast Depot for all the extra driving they had to do while that depot was flooded last September, October, and November.
Last week, we received some updated documents that indicated what times the corporation was willing to pay. When we reviewed the document, routes with street letterbox clearances were not given drive time to drop the mail at the McDermot Depot. Today, we provided a list of the routes that should have this time. Those values are big, and we’re not sure why they would be left out.
At this time, and perhaps for the rest of time, the corporation is unwilling to pay the drive times to drop off carded items at RPOs. The managers are telling us if a letter carrier went into overtime because of this delivery, it would have been paid at the time. The union believes this time should be included since letter carriers didn’t have a choice but to perform this duty. The struggle continues.
The staffing piece of this puzzle has been solved. We know who was covering what routes on what days. This is good, because this was a big part of the delay.
Managers said they would update the information they have with the issues we raised today and provide updated documents for our review early next week. Everyone wants this project to be completed and people to be paid as soon as possible. Hopefully, it’s soon.
MEETINGS WITH MANAGERS
Local executives had their monthly meetings with managers today. We started at the WMPP in the morning and met with collection and delivery managers in the afternoon.
Staffing at the plant is a bit odd right now. On any given shift, almost a third of workers are not able to come into work. This has changed the corporation’s plans regarding temporary labour. Last month, we reported the employer was considering not using temporary labour at all this summer. They claim volumes do not warrant the labour. However, with 30 percent of people not able to report to work, the use of temporary labour will continue quite normally for the next little while.
We suggested filling the vacancies would help with this. They are looking into it.
We also talked about the possibility of temporary workers being able to arrange a pre-planned personal day, now that they get them. There is no formal process for this, but the managers agreed that having something like this in place would be beneficial for everyone. We’ll continue to work with them and see what can happen there.
We talked about the equal opportunity problem in the plant, and the managers say they are waiting for us to review a document that indicates who was bypassed and when. We made plans to have that reviewed next week and hope to have more answers soon.
In the afternoon, we met with collection and delivery managers at the McDermot Depot. We had a few issues to raise with them.
We had a whole bunch of uncommon issues to discuss this month. For instance, the placement of the union boards in the Church and Northeast depots. They were moved recently, there was no consultation with the local executive on this. It seems odd, but the boards at Northeast and Church were moved to inappropriate spots in the buildings. The board at Northeast has since been moved, but the one at Church remains in an awkward place. We’ll be asking for it to be returned to its spot in the lunchroom. See? Weird. This conversation didn’t take long to have, but it’s very rare to have to talk about this.
We talked about the frustration that B-route letter carriers are experiencing at the Southwest Depot. Also, the corporation is salivating at the potential to turn the Northeast Depot into an SSD facility. We pitched a three-wave system again at the meeting today. We feel that would be the best way to alleviate the frustrations of Southwest letter carriers and stave off any potential frustrations of Northeast carriers in the future. We’ll see how it goes.
Also, if you have any ideas about a system that would work better than SSD, Deerfoot, or three-wave, please, let us know.
We’ve been asking for documents and training videos regarding two-bundle delivery and it appears it is very difficult for the corporation to provide this information. We’re not even sure it exists, honestly. We hope to have those documents soon.
We also raised our opposition to the $10 Amazon gift card that will be given to one member in the Southwest Depot this month for participating in the dog hazard awareness program the depot is running. One prize for one individual is bargaining outside of the contract, and it’s wrong. The union remains opposed to prizes. Compensation for a job well done should be in dollars, and it should be on your paycheques, not because you jumped through a hoop the best, you know?
Inflation is getting to be really bad and people are running low on money. There has been an uptick in violence-in-the-workplace incidents lately. Because of this, we asked both management groups today to look into the possibility of increasing training that could help with this overall stress. The corporation has human rights courses and other respect-in-the-workplace training modules that we feel could benefit our members. The world isn’t easy, and nobody should come to work and experience violence, whether it be physical or verbal. We hope that people make good choices in the meantime.
MAKE IT SAFE
We had an interesting conversation with management agents on Monday, April 17. In a discussion about the restructured routes for St. Vital, we talked about start times.
The corporation was interested in having two start time for the depot, 8:30 and 10:15. However, this plan had a little hiccough when we raised the issue that the collective agreement indicates all routes of the same type are supposed to depart at the same time.
Figuring out what your route type is is similar to figuring out exactly what kind of music your friend who is really into metal listens to. It’s a menagerie of sub-genres and styles. Maybe your route is business-primary. Or maybe it’s business-residential. Maybe it’s straight up residential. I don’t even know if those are the names of the types, but they’re like that, they are a reference to the types of addresses being delivered to.
Management agents are looking into that pesky clause in the collective agreement and a couple of notes in the Corporate Manual System to guide them as they schedule the route start times.
Local management agents’ attitudes toward the Corporate Manual System have been odd lately. Sometimes, they seem all too happy to enforce policies from that document. Sometimes, like when we raise an issue that the CMS provides clarity on, it appears management agents are too happy to hear it. When they claim they have a process for something, and we ask to see where that process is identified in the CMS, we’re told those are management documents. We’re not entirely sure what that means, but we are certain about the end goal of that subterfuge. They seem to want to be able to run the post office however they want, rules be damned.
Back to the story…
The union always raises the issue of working in the dark. We believe it’s more dangerous because of the lack of light. Local management agents, however, do not think it’s more dangerous and just a fact of life for letter carriers. And in the discussion on Monday, they said they would provide headlamps to people who have to work after sundown.
“Why would you provide a headlamp,” I asked. “Is it because working in the dark is less safe and this is what is being provided to make it more safe?”
To be clear, there is no answer to this, just corporate spin. And personally, if I were in those management agents’ positions, the corporation would have to pay me a lot more than its paying them to sit there and say something I knew was complete bullshit, and then maintain that position while a jerk from the union points out that it’s incredibly flawed logic. It’s just something I could not and would not do.
The point is this: management agents have many tools at their disposal to make your job more safe, but they always seems to choose an option that results in less work for them and puts you in harm’s way. The rules say all routes of the same type have to depart at the same time. Following this rule would mean a whole lot of routes would start earlier than 10:15, and we would be able to work safer. Without headlamps.
It’s important to remember these kinds of situations when management agents are telling you they care. If they really cared, they would follow the procedures they are supposed to.
What are you going to do about them not following the rules? The local executive manages to catch these items in consultation, but that is not the only venue where we, union members, interact with the employer. Ask about late start times in health and safety meetings. Ask if it’s safe to be delivering in the evening when people are home and let their dogs out. Ask about the headlamps. Now that we’re into spring, start asking about working in high heat. You could even ask about working in smoky conditions. I hope that we don’t have to worry about that this summer, but there is no problem with having a plan in case.
If we keep the pressure up on all fronts, things will change, and they will be in our favour. But we have to keep that pressure up.
Ever been to a seven-and-a-half-hour general membership meeting? I went to one on Saturday, April 15th. Lots of other people were there too. The most amazing part? It ended on a motion to adjourn. We didn’t lose quorum, we adjourned.
Soon after the meeting opened at 9:00 a.m., we nominated a lot of people to the local’s committees. Those who were nominated will be receiving notice of that nomination in the mail shortly. We hope those who were nominated are able to join us at the next general membership meeting on May 13th at the Bronx Community Centre on Henderson Highway.
After the rounds of nominations were finished, the members present at the meeting started debating contract demand resolutions. Many were submitted to the local, and members in attendance all brought some along as well.
In total, the local passed 76 resolutions along to the regional level. Starting on May 29th, regional officers and full- and part-time executive officers from around the region will meet in Edmonton to discuss the resolutions and prepare for the regional conference scheduled from the June 1st to 3rd. There will be an RSMC conference two weeks later, from the 14th to the 16th.
Seventy-six resolutions is a lot. That says something about the dedication of local members. They are interested in improving their contract, and making it better for all postal workers.
SUPPORT FOR PSAC
This is a reprint from the notice that went out on April 19th, 2023.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada is on strike for a better contract and fair wages! Negotiations with their employer have stalled and now the workers are withholding their labour.
Local Health and Safety Officer Reggie Taman and I went downtown on our lunch hour today to support the picket lines there. There is one at 280 Broadway, and one at 123 Main Street. There is also a picket location at the train station on Main Street. The pickets downtown are going from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every weekday until the workers receive a fair offer.
If you want to go and support these workers, find a picket line here: https://workerscantwait.ca/
While Reggie and I were on the line, we were thanking the PSAC members for being on strike and for setting a good standard for negotiating in the post-pandemic world. They’re asking for a 14 percent raise over three years, which isn’t enough, considering how inflation has been, but it would be more than double the two percent increase postal workers are getting this year.
Read more about the strike here: https://psacunion.ca/psac-announces-nationwide-general-strike-beginning
And our 3rd National Vice President’s bulletin on the matter is here: https://www.cupw.ca/en/psac-strike-0
Don’t wear your uniform if you’re out to support. Swing by the local if you would like to borrow a flag.