It was one of the busier weeks the local has had in a long time. The finishing touches on the Southwest restructures were taking place while our members working out of the Northeast depot were caught up in a real emergency situation.
Well, that was unexpected.
At 9:20 p.m. on Monday evening, a manager was ringing my phone. When you get a call from the boss at that time, you mutter, “Oh, I hope nobody died,” before you answer the phone. After about 45 seconds of spin, I heard that a building had flooded and nobody was hurt. Whew!
In a report earlier this week I stated 300,000,000 gallons of water was released in the accident. That’s impossible. That’s the number management was really putting out there, but it wasn’t that much.. They now believe about 2,000,000 litres of water flooded the crawlspace of the 60-year-old, silt-foundation building. Some structural reviews still have to be completed, but some repair estimates are in and we won’t be back in that building before Remembrance Day.
The employer is scrambling to find an alternative delivery facility. If they can’t find a space that is big enough for all three of the depots that were operating out of the building on Nairn, they may find three smaller spaces. Corporate agents from Ottawa have been flown in to aid in the search.
For this week, the plan is essentially the same as it was last week. Letter carriers will be driving from Nairn to St. James to pick up the day’s delivery. On Tuesday, there will be a pile of manual mail from last week to deliver. It has been sorted over the weekend. If you are a letter carrier faced with this backlog, talk to your supervisor and work out a delivery plan for the week so you aren’t delivering mail in an unsafe manner. Our customers are expecting their items, and we want to deliver for them, but we have to do it wisely and safely. Loading up five days’ of mail for delivery in one day is neither wise nor safe, so talk to your supervisor and work out a plan.
The local executive is going to be requesting meetings with management agents for Monday, September 19th so we can try to make sure the employer is communicating with our members clearly this week on what expectations should be. There are some extra temporary letter carriers helping with the implementation of the new routes in Southwest this week, so if things are looking heavy, there is help available this week.
Things will continue to evolve through the week, and hopefully there is some news on a new location. Nobody likes the current situation and the backlogs that it causes, so finding a solution is definitely a priority.
With the exception of the letter carriers who work out of the Charleswood depot, Southwest letter carriers will be working new routes on Tuesday morning.
There will be some extra temps on hand on Tuesday morning to help alleviate the pressures of a restructure. If you think you might be heading into an overtime situation, have the conversation early in the day and ask for help, there is an opportunity to have that arranged.
The situation on Tuesday could have been a lot different that what it is going to be. When it came time to start discussing the restructures of the Southwest depots, the employer wanted to turn the facility into a Separate Sort and Delivery one. It wanted to assign all sortation duties to people who don’t then deliver that mail, which is just a recipe for frustration and ultra long days.
Most letter carrier have been relief letter carriers and know that it can be confusing to deliver mail tied out by the route owner. Delivering mail tied out by someone who has maybe never even delivered mail could be a daily nightmare, leading to long days that put letter carriers in dangerous conditions.
But there was pushback on this. The workers in the Southwest facility made their voices heard and told management they didn’t want SSD. They put signs up all over the building and management took them down. The union board was covered with messages of truth about what SSD does to our independence as workers, and why it was a bad choice.
And we got something better because of it. The noise that the workers made was heard by the boss, and the boss reached out to us to help them find a better way. We found the Deerfoot model, and while it’s not perfect, it’s better than the employer-created SSD.
Your restructure team has worked diligently and tirelessly over the last several months to get this restructure right. Our Workload Structuring Committee has more members on it than I’ve ever seen and we hope to be sending at least two members to a regional education seminar in Edmonton at the end of October to learn more about restructures and how the union can make sure they are fair for us.
Hey, if you’re working your new route and something seems wrong with it, there are opportunities to correct it. There are things you can do to make it better, and there are now more people around who can tell you all about it and help you through some of the processes to make things right. Just because the routes are new doesn’t mean they’re perfect and the real world changes. It’s important we keep up with that.
2023 SHIFT BID
On Monday afternoon, the local received the employer’s proposed schedules for WMPP for 2023. Our first official meeting with the employer regarding this is scheduled for October 7th, and there were a few things going on on Monday that prevented us from reviewing the proposal at all. Then, on Monday evening, Northeast flooded.
I can’t speak for all local officers, but for those of us in the office this week didn’t have any time to review the schedules at all because of the flood. We plan on giving them the time and space they need this week. We also plan on communicating about the changes the employer is proposing, and asking for your feedback on what you think needs to happen.
The employer has some pretty steep demands this year. Shift 2 is being halved, and positions are moving to Shifts 1 and 3. And without having looked at it, I know they are proposing some members work on Friday night and then again on Saturday morning because the Saturday evening shifts this year just didn’t work out all that well.
We will review and visit you at work to talk about the changes. We will take shop stewards with us into the consultation, so make sure your stewards know what kinds of ideas you have and what you want to see.
STATE OF THE UNION
The general membership meeting on September 10th was a smashing success. We elected 25 of 29 delegates to Regional Conference in Edmonton at the end of November and we passed a few resolutions, too.
Resolution meetings, however, can go long and the meeting lost quorum eventually and we had to pause our resolution debate and end the meeting. We are still trying to find a date for a special meeting to pass more resolutions, but could also roll that into our October general membership meeting as well.
If you would like to be a delegate to the regional conference in November, there are still four spots available and we can elect more delegates at the next meeting.
If you want to see change in the union, this is the place where some of that change happens. This is where some directions and aspirations can be formalized into our constitution, the document that guides our daily activity.
NO WORK MONDAY
Hey, don’t go to work on Monday, September 19th. You have the day off. You deserve it. The federal government has made it a one-time statutory holiday. About six members go into work at the plant, and I'm sure they are well aware!