June 18th to 24th, 2023
I’ve had some pretty sad conversations with postal workers over the last couple of weeks. And it’s too bad because it seems to be instigated by Pride Month, which is a celebration of love. Historically repressed people are now able to live like everyone else, and this seems to inspire some feelings of inequity in some. It’s too bad.
I’ve also had some inspiring conversations with postal workers over the last couple of weeks. Temps at the WMPP are asking questions and organizing. Some letter carriers have noticed the heavy-handed tactics by the corporation regarding SSD and are asking how they can get involved to help protect our quality of work and our jobs.
Some of this week’s content has been published before in light of recent conversations.
FLOOD DRIVE TIME
We asked them to pay people. At our monthly labour-management meeting on June 22nd, we asked local management agents to pay out the driving pay for Northeast Depot letter carriers who were displaced after the September 12th flood.
Letter carriers have been frustrated with the amount of time that has passed in getting this pay. For many months, management agents weren’t willing to pay out certain drive times. Slowly, through negotiation, the local executive was able to get a few more times added to the list. The first offer was nothing. The employer was willing to pay overtime if it were incurred when this first went down. Sensible, logical arguments were put forward and now, the employer is willing to pay out most of the extra drive times. The corporation is still not willing to pay drive times for routes that had Community Mailbox clearances where live mail could have been picked up. This was the last item being negotiated and the final answer is no.
The local executive did feel it had the responsibility to negotiate fully, and that didn’t happen quickly. We hope carriers are satisfied with what was negotiated.
The union is looking to have some community organizers working from September onward. The selected candidate have a whole list of responsibilities. It’s quite the list, really. This position is about making the union known to other labour groups, politicians, basically, improving and increasing the union’s profile.
If you’ve ever been critical of the union, this is the opportunity you have been waiting for to show ’em how it’s done. With this position and these responsibilities, the right candidate has the potential to prove that there are better ways to approach these issues than how the union has been doing for a long time. The public-facing aspects of this job should make any critic excited at the opportunity to apply and get out there and do a better job than the usual suspects.
It’s also a great opportunity for someone who supports the union and its goals. It is a big job, but it seems worth it. I would consider applying if I didn’t have my current position.
Check out all the details here: https://www.cupw.ca/en/apply-now-be-community-organizer-0
You have until July 7th to apply. Good luck.
Some of the more negative conversations I have had over the last couple of weeks made me think I should reprint that piece I wrote on good information. Here it is:
If you’re looking for union information, there are a variety of online resources available to you. The union’s national website always has all the latest bulletins, our collective agreements, and our constitution.
If this report landed in your inbox, that’s great. If you want to receive national reports in your inbox as well, sign up for the e-digest, a national newsletter that is published regularly here: https://www.cupw.ca/cupw-eDigest
If you change your address while you are a member of the union, make sure to update your address when you’re settled. The union doesn’t often have to mail you stuff, but when it does, you will want to receive it. The address update form is here: https://www.cupw.ca/en/member-contact-information-form
The local is old school. You have to call us when you move.
There are 208 CUPW locals across the country. Some have websites, some don’t. Some are better than others. We are always working on making Winnipeg’s website bigger, better, faster, more! Below are some links to other locals’ websites, just to illustrate some different styles.
Some locals forego a website and keep a local Facebook group active for communications. It depends on the local’s size, style, and what the current local executive inherited from the previous crew.
When it comes to the larger labour world, through official affiliation, the local supports the Winnipeg and District Labour Council, the Manitoba Federation of Labour, and the Canadian Labour Congress. I’ve written about these affiliations lately, but here are their websites if you’re interested in learning more.
Information is easy to find in this world. Finding good information is another thing. Typically, major news outlets are owned by large corporations which have agendas of their own. Some smaller organizations have a mandate to inform, and nothing else.
Canada has media conglomeration issues, but over the past few years, quality, independent outfits have been making their mark. They join some of the old stalwarts of the movement, and I have produced (I hope) a helpful list here.
Canadian Dimension is a long-running publication produced in Winnipeg: https://canadiandimension.com/
The Breach tells it like it is: https://breachmedia.ca/
The Tyee is a Vancouver-based online news site whose journalists win awards regularly: https://thetyee.ca/
Press Progress is a newer journal that consistently punches above its weight: https://pressprogress.ca/
A subscription to The Maple will get you a great story right to your inbox every morning, sometimes there is a lot of focus on Ontario: https://www.readthemaple.com/
Rank and File is a great resource for union activists: https://www.rankandfile.ca/
Fightback delivers practical news for working people: https://www.marxist.ca/
People’s Voice doesn’t have new content daily, but it’s worth checking in every once in a while: https://pvonline.ca/
Jacobin is a publication from the United States, but its international stories are pretty tight: https://jacobin.com/
Confession: I don’t listen to podcasts. People tell me about awesome podcasts all the time, but I don’t know if I don’t have the time or what but podcasts just aren’t a big part of my media diet. I definitely survive on printed communication. That being said, there are great podcasts out there.
Bran Hughes and Kevin Hitchings in Saskatoon have been running Overburdened for a couple of years now, and many posties already subscribe. Find them on Spotify, Audible, and the like. I do find time to listen to these podcasts sometimes and find them valuable even if I don’t finish listening to the whole episode.
A shop steward in Calgary, Jim Samuelson, just started releasing The Silver Bullet Podcast this month. Jim tells me this is his contribution to the effort. I gave his first episode a listen, and it’s full of honest and earnest talk for workers. There are a few podcasts with the words silver and bullet in the title so a Google search gets dicey; Brother Samuelson’s podcast can be found on Spotify.
Local UofM Labour Studies prof, activist, and all-around good person David Camfield produces Victor’s Children for the world when he isn’t busy doing things like writing books about capitalism and the environment. Find Victor’s Children on Soundcloud and Future on Fire at McNally Robinson, other local sellers, or here: https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/future-on-fire
Also, Delivering Community Power. In short, it’s the union’s plan to green the post office and save the world. It’s our plan to get the employer to expand its services for Canadians and to become a world leader in sustainability. In DeCoPo, we’re calling for a just transition away from fossil fuels, and a healthier planet for everyone. Postal workers in Canada should familiarize themselves with the plan because it is a big part of our organization at the national level. Here’s the link: https://www.deliveringcommunitypower.ca/
Temps from the plant have had some questions about their work. This piece was originally published on June 30th, 2022.
On May 15th of this year, the corporation ended its suspension of Article 44.11, which explains temporary employees have to provide a “reasonable” availability for the corporation. Reasonable is a subjective term and ends up causing confusion. What is reasonable?
We received a list of questions from temp workers from the plant, and have done our best to get some answers. Here they are.
Q: How are temps scheduled? Is it for the week or month?
A: Temps are scheduled daily, depending on mail volumes.
Q: Who requests temps?
A: Shift managers.
Q: How are temps entered into the call system?
A: By PC&R staff. Eclipse adds shift refusals or acceptances to SAP. Read: automated.
Q: How long do we have to call back for a work offer?
A: If you get phone calls, you’ll get one call and then six minutes later, a second call. You have 10 minutes from the first call to reply. If you receive work offers via text message, you have 10 minutes to reply.
Q: What time zone is used for work opportunity history in ESS?
A: Seems like everyone’s best guess is Eastern.
Q: How does temp seniority work? Is it based on start date or are hours worked also included?
A: Hours worked are not included. Your seniority date will always be the same.
Q: Are declined work offers treated the same as no response?
Q: What is the percentage of shifts we need to accept to maintain good standing?
A: Management agents like to say 50 per cent, but Article 44.11 says you have to provide a reasonable availability, not accept 50 per cent of your work offers.
Q: When does the count start? Did it start on May 15th? Does it include work opportunities prior to May 15th?
A: Article 44.11 was suspended until May 15th, 2022.
Q: Do childcare, second jobs, school, etcetera, factor into an employee’s reasonable work acceptance rate?
A: I would say yes. Some management agents may not have as big a heart as me, though.
Q: If a temp declines multiple work offers for one day, how many work offer refusals are being put on our records?
A: You can only work one shift a day, so you can only incur one refusal a day even if you are offered all three shifts.
Temps’ attendance is evaluated every two months. When it is, if a temp has not been accepting a lot of shifts, they may receive a letter letting them know they are not accepting enough shifts. If attendance is low over the next two months, they could receive another letter. After another two months of low attendance, it’s possible the temp’s employment could be terminated.
If you receive a letter like this, the union advises you file a grievance on it. Temps have been let go in the past, but because of the subjective language in article 44.11, they have been reinstated. This isn’t to say you can do whatever you want and you’ll never get fired. But if your employment ended because of low attendance, it is possible you could be reinstated.
Many temps have two or three jobs. Keep records of your shifts at these jobs so that if you do start getting letters, we have good evidence that you could not have accepted a bunch of shifts. Also file a grievance if you receive one of these letters.