July 16th to 22nd, 2023
There has been some chatter in the text groups about the heat lately. While the weather here has been moderate this month, many parts of the world are suffering through punishing heat waves. Last month, when it was hot here, there was a lot of excitement about a petition that was being shared around the local that was asking for air conditioning to be installed in all corporate vehicles.
The local has only received one of these petitions from one depot. We hear there are many others out there, but would like to have more than 40 signatures before we present anything to management.
It’s supposed to be hot again next month, so help those petitions find their way to the office!
Last week, on Friday night, at 2:15 a.m., a large parcel belt malfunctioned at the plant. A worker reported a strange sound when the machine was started and a couple of hours later, thousands of pounds of equipment came crashing to the ground, nearly hitting a couple of workers who were doing their jobs underneath.
The employer did not notify the local of this malfunction and accident. There was no health and safety investigation. It appears that the corporation just doesn’t care to do those kinds of things.
Right now, that belt is running on replacement parts and parts that had to be fixed to make the machine operational again. New parts have been ordered, but it will take months for them to arrive. If the belt malfunctions again and these Band-Aid parts fail, there will be a whole lot of manual sortation going on at the WMPP.
If we hadn’t had a labour-management meeting with WMPP bosses this week, we may never have been informed by the corporation that this happened.
Apply by August 21st to have a chance at participating in the union course, Turtle Island in September.
Turtle Island is a week-long course about the Indigenous experience on this land and how colonization impacted Indigenous people.
When my parents went to school, there was a thought that the Americas had about 30 to 40,000,000 people living here at the time of connection. Now, archeologists know that more than 120,000,000 people lived here when Europeans started visiting.
The history, the real history of what happened here to create the modern nation states is both heartbreaking and inspirational. Indigenous people were thoroughly abused but over the last few years, we have seen them rise to confront their oppressors and lift their people up.
When people expand their knowledge of the situation, they can help.
The course is taking place in Gimli from September 25th to 29th. Good luck!
NORTHEAST IS SSD
The local executive tried. It really did. We listened to what the letter carriers at Northeast were saying about SSD and we took your arguments forward to the employer. But, there was not a lot of thought given to our proposal and the style of preparation and delivery for the Northeast depots will be SSD.
There are a few things that frustrated us about this whole process. The first is that we cannot get a straight answer regarding consultations, and if the right consultations had taken place at all the right levels.
Our union is very procedural. Because it has been relying on the grievance procedure to attempt to correct the employer’s wrongs over the last number of years, a lot of the notes we get before going into consultations are things our union superiors would like to have on the official record for arbitration. Because of this reliance on procedure, we were not allowed to consult locally regarding alternatives; the national consultation had not finished.
Well, the employer says the national consultation was completed and that’s that. Locally, the employer was willing to consult. The national arm of the union said we shouldn’t. The employer proceeded to build the new routes.
On Wednesday, July 19th, we were able to present our alternative which we believe will be safer for letter carriers, but we might as well have been giving a presentation on Lenin to a Conservative Party of Canada convention crowd.
Northeast will be SSD and we are already requesting to consult on the other depots in the city that are tagged to go SSD in the next few months; Church, Moray, and Southwest.
We still have to talk about some details of how Northeast will operate once the switch is flipped. We still don’t have a good idea of what the routers will be expected to do. The corporation doesn’t yet know how many of those positions will be available. We do know that routers will be expected to work under measured time, not measured work. We know that in other cities, they sort packets throughout the day and take them out to letter carriers on their routes.
There will be job losses with SSD. In Northeast 4, there are currently 53 full-time assignments and one part-time position. After SSD, there will be 46 full-time routes, two part-time routes, and four or five routers. The average points of call for a Northeast 4 route currently is 721, and under SSD, it will be 835.
Northeast 5 has a similar story. There are 41 fill-time routes right now, and five will be eliminated under SSD. The employer anticipates needing four routers for that depot. The average points of call on each route is going up by almost 100, from 599 currently to 695 after SSD.
Letter carrying is changing. We lost the grievance and we rely on procedure, which often forces us to play catch up, like we’re doing here.
If you think this is BS, hey, I’m with ya. That’s why I’m here. If you think you can help, the door is always open for you to get involved. The local has been building a solid activist base after a few years of tumult, but the door is wide open to those who want to come along.
We had labour-management meetings with your bosses on Wednesday, July 19th.
Honestly, I do not look forward to those meetings. We bring concerns which we feel are real, and it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of acknowledgement from the other side of the table that our concerns are valid.
Last month, we asked for just something to be put in the lobby of the plant that informed temps of where to go in the plant, and whom they should report to at the beginning of their shift. It’s still not there, but they seemed to be a little more receptive since we were bringing it up a second time. Will they get a board there before we meet with them again in August?
We did give the plant managers shit for not calling us, emailing us, or even sending a singing telegram to inform us about the major equipment malfunction at the plant on the 14th. We still haven’t received any official anything regarding the incident.
One of the big discussions with collection and delivery managers revolved around no air conditioning in vehicles and rising heat. Other parts of the world are experiencing punishing heat waves right now, and while we’ve been moderate this month, weatherfolk say heat is on the way.
Heat is deadly. I used to letter carry in a desert. When the outside temperature is 37 degrees celsius, you cannot cool down. Your vehicle, a place of refuge for the corporation, could be hotter than 50 degrees. If there is no air conditioning, you’re not technically allowed to start it up, then close the door and let the cab cool down for a couple of minutes while you’re outside. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have a vehicle with AC.
The response from your bosses was that it’s up to you. If you feel like it’s too hot and you can’t continue, you can come back to the depot and be assigned duties to finish your day.
This is an extremely stupid policy and position to take that will result in a fatality due to heat. The callousness is clear. The unwillingness to put a hard cap on what is or is not acceptable for delivery in hot conditions is deplorable. I’ve almost never been so personally disappointed in someone else’s response to a very reasonable concern.
We have these meetings with the employer once a month. If you want an issue to be raised at one of these meetings, email me at email@example.com.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
A couple of weeks ago, the local was asking for applications to cover Brother Reggie Taman’s desk while he has to take some time away.
Posters were sent out to all the bulletin boards in the local, and the vacancy was also advertised here in The Week in Winnipeg, which is read by more than 600 folks every time one is published.
We received two excellent applications to fill the vacancy. After some deliberation, local executive officers elected Sister Christina McVety to cover the health and safety office until Reggie returns to work.
Christina applied for, and was selected to work a position in the regional office last year, appealing rejected short-term disability decisions. She is the member with the most knowledge of short-term disability in the local, and was Reggie’s choice to cover his desk when we supposed his absence would only be a few weeks.
Putting the position out to application is different than how the local has handled these absences in the past. Usually, the officer going on leave selects their replacement. By putting it out to application, the local executive felt it was increasing transparency and democracy in the way the local is run.
If you have a health and safety concern, Christna can be reached at the local office or at firstname.lastname@example.org.