CUPW – STTP
Canadian Union of Postal Workers – Edmonton Local
18121 – 107 Avenue Edmonton Alberta T5S 1K4
Ph: 780-423-9000 Fax: 780-423-2883
November 2, 2018
Below is a letter written by Steve Cowtan, our CSS of Stations and Depots. The letter was written to Letter Carriers but I think it applies just as equally to inside workers. I have added a few inside worker specific points to it in blue italic writing.
Yesterday’s announcement of strike action on overtime has led to a fair bit of debate across the city. Most people understand that our end goal is a negotiated contract. If CPC will not agree to a fair contract, then we obviously apply pressure on them until they do, strikes are the most obvious example. They of course, apply pressure on us until we capitulate, the elimination of benefits being a good example.
One of the main goals of rotating strikes is to make a media statement in every little town and large city across the country. This strategy has been very successful and as many front line workers can attest to, we have huge public support. People on my route have exclaimed in shock, “you can be forced to do overtime?!”, or “men and woman not getting the same pay… come on this is 2018!”
For the employer, rotating strikes also create logistical difficulties, extra shipping costs, and storage costs as trucks are held up at picket lines and entire processing plants are brought to a standstill. The employer has been responding to this strategy with one of their own. They are moving mail, parcels, etc between large centres for processing in other cities. (All members need to be aware that under the Canada Labour code we do not have to process struck work. Contact the union office for info). They do this of course to avoid at all costs the backlog that rotating strikes can and do cause. We bring the mail to a halt, filling storage sites, trucks, the processing plants and the depots and we shut the post office down while still collecting a pay cheque.
Overtime strikes are essentially a slowdown. Even if CPC throws in temps, they can still not provide the delivery numbers that a regular route owner could, or process the mail like regular workers do in the processing plant.
This is where the two strategies meet. Backlog of mail that will grow and grow and grow.
We have no idea what the strategy out of national will be next, but we can see that this is a game of high stakes chess, and we are pieces on the board. The question is will we be able to trust the National Executive Board, enough to be those pieces? So far so good. Yesterday’s overtime ban raises some concerns that I want to address.
Remember what’s on the table
RSMCs need to realize that the pay equity decision was an award. It does not necessarily by default become contractual language. That means that the union has won a settlement between two points in time and CPC will do everything in its power to wiggle out of their obligations. One way they will do that is by not completely honouring the award by placing it into your contract. Equality has not yet been achieved.
Letter Carriers have expressed the desire to work overtime and today’s announcement on an overtime strike, some have felt penalized by the union. So let’s explore that. If we work overtime now we are working against the strategies listed above. We want to backlog the corporation to the extreme, and by starting early and running through our day we are working against our own interests. Let’s remember what the employer has on the negation table, the right to use additional temporary employees during the period of November to January. These temporary employees would be utilized as acting part-time relief letter carriers and would be assigned work prior to full-time and part-time letter carriers getting voluntary overtime. If the employer is successful, you and I will not only NOT have any overtime at all during peak season, and this will spread to other busy times of the year. They are reserving the right to have everyone work an 8 hour day and have non completed delivery done by a new group of temporary employees. No overtime during the week, no double time on weekends and no triple time on statutory holidays. Say goodbye. And once we loose that, they will then use the same strategy for the rest of the year. Overtime will be a thing of the past. I guarantee it.
Group 1 workers (PO4s PT/FT, PO5s ) and Group 3 & 4 (Maintenance Plant and Vehicle) – are not exempt from CPCs plans to change how they staff extra work, such as extensions and overtime. It is important to realize that our CA has a bargained for process on how and when CPC can use Temp workers. With CPCs proposals we could see all of what we have now change. We all know CPC has brought in Temporary workers incorrectly in the past and has ignored the process of our CA, many of us have won money back from the grievances filed on that. CPC would like to see that part of our CA disappear. For our maintenance groups CPC has often talked of contracting out and has changed a lot of the maintenance processes without meaningful consultation, if we don’t stand against them on this they will continue this and increase the impact. If we do not stand strong and fight for what we have on the table now and against what CPC is proposing we stand to lose all our extensions and overtime in the future too.
And here’s the real kicker. As the cost of living continues to outpace our wages, we will continue to become a more and more desperate workforce. Desperation hands the power over to the employer. The more desperate we are, the more power they have, and today that is showing more than ever as some workers are debating the merits of breaking rank and doing overtime either before or after shift or on the weekend. This would be devastating to our union’s strategy. The employer knows this and I also guarantee they will be not only be offering overtime work on weekends, very soon, but they will up the ante and offer double time pay. They are already getting a deal at time and one half, but the double time or even triple time comes with the bonus of breaking the union and forcing us into a full blown strike.
Full Blown Strike
As our workforce loses pace with the cost of living we become increasingly desperate. Nothing wreaks of desperation more than no income applied to 50’000 workers after 2 weeks on the line, or 3 weeks, or 4 weeks. Who do you think has the larger defence fund, the union or the corporation backed by the government? And you think they will honour their current offer of the insulting 1.5%? No way. They will claim that the work disruption caused financial stress on the company and they are now only offering 1%, or .5% or 0% to recoup their losses. Again I guarantee it.
Resolve, Dedication and Solidarity to win
We must not fight about decisions the National Executive board makes in front of the employer, in the depots, any of our workfloors, or on social media, as we reveal our desperations and our weakness and our vulnerabilities, we must be smarter than that. Yes debate is completely acceptable, but let’s meet at the union office or in the parking lot or elsewhere. We must communicate our concerns with each other respectfully and learn from our more knowledgeable and experienced community members. We have to learn to be quick to listen, and slow to respond, to one other. We have to dig deep to win, fight the long fight and stick together. We have to be prepared to sacrifice to make gains. And we have to win this. We have to win this fight or I fear for postal workers and their future. Our current trend cannot continue. We must win, and we must win now. Please think deeply on what I have written here. And please let’s stick together.
Chief Steward Depots/Stations
No Power Greater – Votre Force