Seniority

“A day of work at Canada Post is a day that must count towards seniority”

This is the principal of seniority that CUPW fought to get recognized and we did.  We got this concept of seniority entrenched in our CA signed in 2007.  It was clear that as of May 3/07 the old rules of Seniority were amended and the new rules would apply.

The new rules were: The first day of work at Canada Post performing work for the bargaining unit would be the new seniority date provided there was no break in service for more than nine and a half months. Prior to this the Seniority date was the first day of work as a ‘regular’ or permanent employee.  So now a person who worked as a casual or a Christmas casual without a break that was longer than nine and a half months would get their seniority retroactive to the first day of their work as a casual or Christmas casual when they became permanent employees.

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There was a process spelled out in the 07 contract under appendix MM as to how a person could go about getting the new seniority date.  Our members also received letters from Canada Post advising us what our new date would be and if someone disagreed they had an opportunity for a review.  This process continued for a year or so and most of us were able to get our seniority date changed.  But then when our members started to get hired as permanent employees in the following years, the management in our region stopped giving our members their seniority as agreed to in the CA.  Their excuse was the wording of the CA.  Their interpretation was that the process only applied for a limited period of time and any one hired after that did not get their seniority based on that appendix.  This of course was clearly a misinterpretation of the CA.  The whole intent of the new rules was that members would automatically get their seniority based on these rules.  Many of our members have still not received their correct seniority after grieving and waiting for quite a few years.

During the last negotiations we brought this up at the table and informed the bosses in Ottawa as to what was going on in some regions and after much negotiating were able to make changes to the article 11 that pertains to Seniority and clarify it.  We hope that our new members who get hired as regular employees will not have to fight to get their seniority recognized from now onwards. We also got another process in place to review seniority for all those members who are still waiting to get their rightful seniority date back in Appendix MM.  Please make sure you read the new article 11 and the new Appendix MM if you think there is an error in your seniority date and start the process ASAP.  If you cannot find the record of your first day worked in your file, you may have to call Access HR to provide you with those dates from their records.

To summarize; under the new process the member with the help of a shop steward should write up in detail when they started work for the bargaining unit and what they think their seniority date should be.  They must provide as much documentation as possible as evidence.  The burden of proof lies with the member.  This should be addressed to Canada Post, Labour Relations and given to their supervisor.  A representative of the corporation will be doing the review.  Make sure you get the supervisor’s signature stating that she/he received it.  A copy of the set should be given to the Local who will send it off to the Region where a person assigned by the National Director will review it as well.  Please keep a copy for yourself.  Remember this is NOT a grievance, it is a review.  The union’s decision will be final if Canada Post and the Union fail to agree on the member’s seniority date.

There is also a MOA attached to the Appendix which explains how ‘random numbers’ are applied.  For the longest time there had been a lot of confusion around these, but now an agreement has been made by both parties on this issue.  Please familiarize yourself with this as well if there is still confusion around such numbers.

I hope this article would have helped some of the members who have been waiting and fighting to get their seniority corrected which as we believe is the cornerstone of the unions.

In Solidarity,

Asma Burney, Shop Steward – shift 3

The Struggle Continues

I have been an employee at Canada Post for almost 33 years. I have been on strike, locked-out and legislated back to work numerous times. I have been witness to the many tactics and attacks that Canada Post and the Federal Government-of-the-day have tried, but this all started before my time at Canada Post.

In 1965 it was an announcement by the government (unilaterally) that postal workers would get a wage increase of $360 a year. This did not sit well with workers and this was the start of our first strike and union. At the end of three weeks on the picket line workers went back to work and after negotiations postal workers had gained higher wages than what the government was offering. Mail handlers received $510 not the $300 that was offered and other workers received $550 not the $360 that was originally offered.

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In the mid-seventies there was continual interference by government(s) that lead to several strikes, legal and illegal. Also in that period of time was when we first encountered technological change. In 1976 there were 21 notices of technological change. With the move to implement Modern Post, I could not tell you the number of notices of technological change that the union has received in the last 3-4 years.

The 70’s  was also a time when Canada Post would disregard and violate our rights under the collective agreement and pretty much do what they wanted without meaningful consultation and without regard for the workers…..sound familiar yet?

I found a booklet from 1979 “Postal Workers’ Struggle Continues” in the office and on the cover was the following:

Confronted with an employer who wants to mechanize the post office at their expense, who refuses to honor their collective agreement, who refuses to acknowledge their right  to negotiate, and who resorts to any number of repressive measures to impose his will  upon them, the 23,000 postal workers in Canada are in the midst of a long struggle to         win the right to negotiate the effects of technological change, defend their job security, improve their working conditions, ensure compliance with their collective agreement,  and win back the freedom to bargain. The consequences of their success or failure will  be felt throughout the whole labour movement.         To win they need the solidarity and concrete support of all workers.

I found this very ironic and inspiring at the same time. Inspiring because the struggles that we are facing today are so much like the struggles those workers before you and me faced. Ironic because the attacks the CUPW and labour as a whole are facing under the Harper government are unprecedented. In the last month in the news there have been several stories about the following anti-labour legislation:  Bill C-377, Bill C-60 and finally Bill C-525 (the hat trick)

Bill C-377 was passed in the House of Commons and is now before the senate. It is a Bill that will restrict what unions can do with the union dues they receive and will also force unions and every Labour organization in Canada to file detailed financial information, including the names and addresses of companies and individuals paid more than $5,000 cumulatively in a year. This information would be posted publicly on a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website. The government tells us that this is about union transparency. In fact, it is more about helping employers, the Conservative Party and special interest groups with close ties to them. The government seems determined to ram C-377 through, even though legal and privacy experts have testified the Bill is likely unconstitutional. It is estimated that it will cost the Harper government anywhere from $32 million to $45 million a year to set up a regime and oversee compliance of Bill C-377. As for Bill C-60 this bill would insert the federal government-of-the-day, through a Treasury Board representative, into the collective bargaining process at Canada Post and other Crown Corporations. The government would approve the employer’s demands, and would make the final call on whether the employer can sign a new collective agreement. At Canada Post we already know what it is like when the government interferes at the negotiating table. In 2011, the Harper Conservative government decided to impose even lower wages on postal workers than what Canada Post had put on the table. Under C-60, the government’s offer would be the only offer on the table. Bill C-525  would make it more difficult to organize workers in the federal sector into unions and easier to decertify workers.  One way this is possible is by moving to a vote-based certification system. This gives employers a greater opportunity to scare and pressure workers to vote no. A card-based certification system works. It requires a majority of all workers in the bargaining unit to sign a card in favour of the union.

Bills C-377, C-60 and C-525 are attacks on unions. The Harper government is intent on reducing the power and strength of workers’ collective voices. The aim of these Bills is to subject all levels of our union to outrageous government regulation and control. Postal workers know the Harper government is not our friend. As workers, we need to stand united against these attacks on our rights.

I was inspired by the quote on the cover of the booklet because is showed me that those workers before us had the same kind of struggles and challenges that we 54,000 postal workers face today, I for one know that I have benefited greatly from the struggles of those before me.  I would hope that my efforts as a union activist will result in benefits for future postal workers and other workers. The workers of the past had enough and took a stand.  They were successful and we have benefited. I think today we may have more to lose but I am not sure if we can get past our complacency and take a chance like the workers before us did.

Will we have to go back to the 12 or 16 hour day with no compensation before we fight back?

Will we have to quit our jobs to raise our children before we fight back?

What will Canada Post and/or the Harper government take away from workers (not just postal workers but all workers) before the workers say enough is enough and take a stand against these attacks? If you are truly interested in seeing the similarities of the postal worker from the 70’s and the postal worker of today you should read” My Union, My Life” by J.C. Parrot. It will give you something to think about ……

Cathy Furtak, Secretary-Treasurer