June 4th to 10th, 2023
May was a challenging month. Since the beginning of May, some local officers have had to be out of town for union business for three weeks. This leads to inconsistency at the office, and generally a lot of burnout among us. Things will be more normal in the coming weeks and through the summer.
Representing the local at events is required by the local’s bylaws and national constitution. If we don’t participate, others will, and then Winnipeg’s interests won’t be heard at all. I think a lot of the officers are relieved this particularly busy season of having to be out of town is over and are looking forward to being close to home for a long while.
Local officers and delegates were in Edmonton last week to participate in the Prairie Region’s Urban Operations pre-negotiations regional conference.
At a pre-negotiations conference, contract demand resolutions from around the region are debated and passed on to the national negotiators or tossed in the bin.
This year, there were almost 400 resolutions for the committee to review from Sunday to Wednesday before presenting them to conference delegates from Thursday to Saturday. This number of resolutions is staggering. Postal workers want to see some changes to their collective agreement, that is clear.
The resolutions coming out of the Prairies this time around are fairly standard. There are resolutions on increasing our pay and improving our benefits. There is a demand about bringing the RSMCs into the Urban collective agreement, which would get them many rights they do not currently enjoy.
There were resolutions about expanding bereavement leave to cover aunts and uncles. There were resolutions about making the provincial holiday in February a holiday for us as well. There were resolutions to increase our boot and glove allowances.
There were no resolutions regarding just transitions and training workers for new jobs. The machines are coming–there will be fewer jobs for postal workers going forward. The automated equipment operating at the newly-opened Albert Jackson facility in Toronto replaces hundreds of workers. For resolutions that address these looming challenges, we’ll have to rely on other regions.
Despite this shortcoming, I think the region is sending a solid package of resolutions to Ottawa and our national negotiators. We have a lot of good ideas, and the negotiators will likely see many other good ideas from around the country. If other regions submit as many resolutions as the Prairie Region, the National Executive Board and national negotiators will have a lot to take to the table.
BE A REGIONAL ORGANIZER
You have until June 16th, next Friday, to get your application in to become a regional organizer for the union’s Building Worker Power program.
As we head toward negotiations later this year, the union is looking to bolster the strength of our work floors and engage with members on the issues that matter to them.
At our national convention last month, our newly-elected and acclaimed (more officers at all levels were acclaimed, not elected) leaders promised to reject contract extension offers from the corporation and enter collective bargaining instead.
That leadership group is going to need your help to achieve the results they claim are possible. Applying to be the region’s BWP organizer is the first step. Good luck.
WORKING IN EXTREMES
If it’s not cold, it’s blazin’ hot and maybe it’s a little smoky as well.
We already lived in a place with extreme temperatures, and now with climate change, our air quality is compromised. Water is next.
Heat first. When it’s above 37 degrees out, your risk of a fatal event increases a lot. I don’t know the percentage, but I know it’s not good. When you’re working in temperatures above 37 degrees, your body can’t cool down in any way.
Smoke is sinister because it will get ya in the long run. Environment and Climate Change Canada produces an Air Quality Health Index every day. Find it here: https://weather.gc.ca/airquality/pages/index_e.html
When the index reaches seven, the risks to your health increase significantly. When the index is showing a level of 10 or above, it’s not safe to work outside. The corporation has a functional policy to deal with this. I’ve read the policy. It’s all about assessing and reassessing. There is no clear direction, really. If a manager decides that it is too dangerous to force letter carriers and RSMCs to deliver, outside work will be called off for the day.
They won’t be doing that. There were big issues with smoke in the Okanagan when I was president of the Kelowna Local in 2018 and 2019, and delivery was never called off. The AQHI was more than 10. Perhaps Winnipeg management agents will make better decisions.
At any rate, if you have a condition you think might be complicated by extreme heat or smoke, don’t put yourself in a situation where you could really hurt yourself. Part of the functional policy is that N-95 masks should be made available to you. You should ask for them. The irony on this one is as thick as the smoke.
Come out to the local’s June general membership meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 10th. We’ll be meeting at the Bronx Park Community Centre.
This month, the secretary-treasurer will be presenting the local’s budget for the year. At almost every general membership meeting, a member has a question about something in the budget. The meeting where we present the budget is a great meeting for those who are interested in the finances of the local to attend because you get to be part of the budget-building process.
Also on Saturday, local members will be dropping off flyers for potential member of parliament, Julia Riddell. There is a byelection in Winnipeg South Centre on June 19th, and Dr. Riddell is a candidate who supports postal workers. Ben Carr’s late father, Jim, voted in favour of back-to-work legislation used against postal workers in 2018.
This riding is definitely the Liberals’ to lose. The Conservative Party of Canada narrowly won the riding in 2011, but the Liberals typically own those polling stations. Dr. Riddell has a challenge on her hands, for sure. But the idea is, with representatives in Ottawa who support postal workers, we will have greater advocacy when and where we need it.
There is of course, no obligation to come and help flyer for Dr. Riddell, but it would be nice to see you there.
If you haven’t heard yet, the union lost the national policy grievance on SSD. The union vows to keep fighting agains the implementation of SSD on letter carriers, but how that will look and turn out is still up in the air. Read the official bulletin here: https://www.cupw.ca/en/separate-sort-and-delivery-%E2%80%93-national-grievance-rejected