The Week in Winnipeg

August 20th to 26th, 2023


This week’s report will be a little like the classic Jeopardy! column, Hodge Podge. Just a little of everything. And maybe it gets more valuable the further you go. When we apply those rules of organization, we’ll have to start with the cheap stuff, politics, and end with something that gives us real returns, education.


It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve as your local president for the last two-and-a-half years, Local 856. I’m resigning and the local will have to hold an election for president at the general membership meeting on September 9th.
I am leaving the term early, and that’s not something I thought would happen, but best intentions and all that.
Holding an election now gives someone the opportunity to lead the local for six months before a general election in March. I think this time would be beneficial for the local executive as it prepares to organize for potential job action next year.
I look forward to returning to my letter carrier route in the Southwest depot and attending my local meetings regularly.


By 2025, all letter carrier depots in Winnipeg will be SSD. This week, letter carriers in the Northeast depot are bidding on their new assignments.
SSD routes are letter carrier routes with less sort and preparation time than in the past. Letter carriers don’t have access to their sortation cases in the mornings. All manual mail will be sorted by routers, who have an interesting set of rather undefined duties. We asked a lot of questions about this new position the corporation is creating and got some interesting answers. We know that in other cities, routers are being asked to do some stuff that really tests the limits of the collective agreement, and we hope that kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.
Routers aren’t allowed to bid on a set of routes, and we were not guaranteed in consultation that they would be able to bid their daily assignments. Which is both bogus and sad. When does a letter carrier not get to choose their assignment? Only the very junior person gets stuck with an assigned assignment, and it’s really just because there’s nothing left to pick. Local managers said they would have to get back to us on this point.
Seems like a good way to upset people, really, tell them they don’t get to pick by seniority, and that the supervisor is just going to assign them tasks daily.
Letter carrying is a later-in-the-day game under SSD than it was previously. The start times are later, and this is to allow for all parcels and packets to be sorted before letter carriers show up to grab their stuff. The union does have concerned this puts letter carriers at risk. In the summer, carriers will be working through the hottest hours of the day, and in the winter, they’ll be working into darkness. Personally, I don’t think the darkness is as dangerous as the heat. You might slip and fall in the dark, and that’ll hurt, but the heat can kill you. I don’t like it, and my disagreement is merely noted when it is raised.
There is also a loss of positions with SSD. Not many, but some. The router positions seem to keep the losses from being more impactful. Without the router positions, all depots could lose 10 percent of their workers with a switch to SSD.
When you have mail that is sorted by someone else, it’s going to be important to remember that you have the right to organize your mail any way you see fit while you’re in your truck. Many years ago, an arbitrator declared we should have that right, so use it if you have to.
Overall, SSD has significant impacts on our work, and the union will continue to raise concerns about the way it is rolled out across the city in the coming months.


The employer needed to change schedules at the plant this summer. Downstream product, parcels that have to be redirected through another centre like Saskatoon, wasn’t making it to its destination in time. The corporation believes this is because things in Winnipeg weren’t moving on Saturdays.
In 2022, we received complaints from members that there was no work on Saturdays, or, if there was, it was very minimal. They felt like they were being taken for granted. While their families were at home, they had to be in the plant doing very little. Locally, the employer was willing to try running things without a Saturday shift for 2023, and ultimately it feels like that is no longer possible.
But, it did believe it could alter some sections’ schedules and avoid a large shift bid for the whole plant. This is what the employer ended up presenting to us and what was eventually bid on.
The local did print the proposed schedules, asked for feedback, and visited workers on the floor to talk about the proposed changes. Shop stewards reported feedback from the workers, and we believe we were able to take everyone’s concerns to the consultation. The employer accepted many of our proposals.
Saturday shifts are going to be a bigger part of plant operations moving forward. The CEO has indicated there needs to be weekend delivery in order for the corporation to stay competitive going forward.
Rotating schedules will also be normal going forward. Folks who work at the WMPP should expect a lot of rotating schedules in the proposal for 2024. Those schedules should be available in a few weeks. The local and the corporation hope to be consulting on 2024’s schedules by mid-October.


The RSMC collective agreement expires on December 31st, and the Urban Operations collective agreement expires a month later. In Canada, negotiations commence 90 days before a contract’s expiration date.
In June of this year, the eight CUPW regions held conferences for both the Urban and RSMC bargaining units and collected contract demands from the delegates.
So far, the union has selected the primary negotiators, but there hasn’t been any other news about the demands or any information sent to the local regarding a timeline for the adoption of the program of demands.
Keep an eye on your union boards so you know about these meetings and can attend and learn about what the union is up against when it comes to fighting for better wages and working conditions for you.


The region is hosting four classes in Edmonton from October 20th to 23rd. Application forms will be sent out to the bulletin boards soon and you’ll have until September 20th to apply.
The courses being offered are Welcome to CUPW, Climate Emergency, Updating Routes and Basic LCRMS (Urban only), and Knowing Your Benefits.

1. Welcome to CUPW The purpose of this course is to explore all aspects of CUPW-STTP that is to provide a basis for knowledge of who we are, what we do and how we guide our work.
• To understand the various fields in which CUPW dedicates our work;
• To have fun in an informal learning environment;
• To create a sense of belonging; and
• To recognize the differences between the goals that drive employers versus the values that guides the work of Unions.
Participants will gain awareness of strengths and challenges as we work together to develop the values we want to promote within CUPW. 

  1. Climate Urgency
    • To understand the nature and scope of issues linked to the climate crisis.
    • To discuss these issues and examine the debates they spark.
    • To identify the causes and effects of climate change.
    • To review the different analyses on how to fight climate change.
    • To understand and assess the impact of the choices made by governments.
    • To develop strategies of collective action.
    • To get involved in environmental issues. 
  2. Updating Routes & Basic LCRMS
    This course explains the fundamentals of the Letter Carrier Route Measurement System (LCRMS), with a focus on the factors used to update routes. Participants examine the different time values that determine a route and review how they are calculated. They look at restructures, volume counts, and the parts of the collective agreement that relate to LCRMS. Most important, they learn how to verify time values to ensure they reflect the letter carrier’s work, and what to do if there are discrepancies. Note that this course centres on Urban Operations, and does not deal with the RSMC Route Systems and/or Schedule A’s. 
  3. Knowing Your Benefits The course objectives are the following:
    • Provide basic information on the range of health benefits provided to CUPW members working at Canada Post Corporation (urban and rural bargaining units).
    • Equip participants with the knowledge necessary to handle requests for information from CUPW members.
    • Provide resources to deal with Canada Post and the various insurance companies who administer our benefit plans.
    • Learn about the relationship between benefits and the broader collective struggles. The course will cover all facets of our benefit plans: definitions, types of benefits, the collective agreements and the various types of plans. Samples of various forms are also included in the course for use when making a claim.


The next general membership meeting will be September 9th, 2023 at 720 Henderson Highway starting at 9:00 a.m. We will be having an election for local president and hopefully some reports from all our committees on their activities over the last several months.
See you there!