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The Week in Winnipeg
September 25th to October 1st, 2022

 
 

856,

 

I had a weird day yesterday. It ended well, with local members passing a slew of progressive resolutions and bold ideas for the governance of our union. I have been saying it for months, but if you think the union can do better in one area or another, this was the meeting to bring your ideas to. This was the meeting where changes to our constitution, the book that provides the rules that govern us and the policies that guide us. 

The meeting started at 6:30 with about 30 members in attendance. By 10:45, a few folks had left, but 20 of us were still debating. Discussions about resolutions can be long. There is typically one day at National Convention where delegates start debate at 9:00 a.m. and debate for 13 hours. There is a lot of stuff to go over in those resolutions, a lot of stuff to consider.

The Winnipeg Local will be bringing forward resolutions that seek to prorate the dues for all members. Currently, full-time members making the full wage pay 1.7 percent of their gross earnings for dues. Part-time members and temps pay the same amount, even though they work fewer hours. Also, members who started with the corporation after 2012 get paid less, but still pay the same amount as people making the top wage.

To some union members, this is an inequity that needs to be addressed. I am one of those members. The Winnipeg Local now has a resolution out there that would see all members pay 1.7 percent on their regular wages and one percent on any wages they earn on overtime.

Currently, when we go on strike, we have to be on the picket line for five days to earn $200. The Winnipeg Local has a resolution that makes an adjustment to that clause in the constitution as well. The union has been using single-day, rotating strikes in its job action strategy. This is good for interrupting the corporation’s business and we make our voices heard, but when we only spend two or three days on the picket line, we give up all of those wages.

Strike pay is never meant to replace all lost wages, and the idea we’re putting forward is that members who participate in strike activity should get at least two hours of pay for participating on a day. My fingers are crossed that this resolution makes it to the floor of the convention in Toronto next May and is popular with the delegates present.

The local endorsed a resolution that would see the creation of a new union officer at the regional level who will focus on internal organizing. Internal organizing is a tricky business. Organizing is listening, and it takes time. Currently, our union representatives at the region and our regional organization and education officers are pressed for time. Creating this new UR position would alleviate some of that pressure and help strengthen our membership overall. It’s an exciting idea.

The resolutions we passed last night and on September 10th will be taken to the Prairie Region Conference in Edmonton at the end of November. If they pass through that process, they will be off to the National Constitution Committee, and if that committee places one or two of our resolutions high in the queue, maybe they will be debated on the floor at National Convention in Toronto next May.

The world never stops changing, and it’s important that the union adjusts to reflect new realities. 

Honestly, I was so excited about the resolutions and the direction the local is taking on some issues that I was not able to fall asleep until after midnight. I really appreciate the members who stuck it out to the end of the night and debated these ideas.

It really was a great day.

It didn’t start that way. In the morning, I needed to take some posters to some bulletin boards in the city. I was in my car and mapping the route to my next destination when I heard a knock on my window. It was two letter carriers. I rolled the window down.

“You Matthew?”
“I am,” I replied.

“Yeah, I just wanted to see the face of the total disgrace of a president we have,” one of them told me. They continued, “You should resign. There are plenty of people ready to step up and do a better job than you.”

This person doesn’t like my politics. They have emailed me anonymously a number of times with statements like, “Please do your members a favor [sic] and step down. Your leadership is questionable on the best of days,” and, “I look forward to voting against you any chance I get moving forward.”

I had never met this person before yesterday, and their comments were meant to be intimidating. The vitriol was clear. Am I safe when I visit work floors?

There have always been and always will be people who don’t see the value in the union advantage and think that union officers are just lazy bums. That’s fine. But this was a little different. This person has problems with me specifically. Again, I have to wonder if I am safe when I visit work floors. Am I gonna get cold cocked?

To be clear, this person was angry that they were not able to report to work for a number of months due to the requirement to be vaccinated against Covid and their unwillingness to receive a vaccine. They are angry about my participation in an anti-Convoy protest in February. They mentioned that it was wrong for me to take a union flag to that event.

To be clear, the union, nationally, released a statement denouncing the Convoy before I ever took a union flag near an anti-Convoy protest. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network clearly identified the Convoy’s organizers as white nationalists who trade in untrue, misleading conspiracy theories. The folks who organized the Convoy rallies spread dangerous ideas. I am and will always be opposed to the type of rhetoric the Convoy’s leaders are guilty of spewing.

I did take a flag to a protest in February. However, that protest is over, the Convoy protests are over, and the statement the union released that would support my take on the situation is still available online: https://www.cupw.ca/en/statement-good-collective-action-versus-convoy

This has never been an easy world to navigate, and it’s still tricky. I hope that whoever you are and whatever your politics might be, that you don’t have to face the same attempted intimidation that I do and are subjected to the same kinds of verbal assaults. 

I will continue to visit work floors and talk with members, even when that conversation is difficult. I’ll continue in my role as president of the Winnipeg Local because I think, by and large, I do a decent job of it. And when my term ends in March, 2024, I’ll be happy to be handing the reins to someone else.

So yeah, yesterday was weird. It went from a real low point where I had to wonder if I am going to be assaulted to wanting to high five everyone, and I really do mean everyone, who was at the meeting last night. Just one of those days, I guess.

 

FLOOD UPDATE

There is not a lot to update this week regarding the Northeast-St. James situation. Letter carriers bid on their start times this week and started arriving at the St. James depot in smaller groups, alleviating some safety concerns everyone had about the situation.

Overtime is still being portioned out to letter carriers through the 17.04 process. Management is still unwilling to pay OCREs to sort RSMC mail unless an RSMC is willing to forfeit their sortation pay for a day. It’s clearly a double standard, and we are still advocating to have it corrected.

There has been some movement on arranging end-of-day mail dropoff at the Northeast facility. Currently, if people have misssorts or other undeliverable items, they have to take this mail to the McDermot depot before returning to the building on Narin to end the day. Frustrating, annoying, and an end to this practice is on the horizon.

There is still no word on a new location. When we do receive notification that a new location has been found, it will take three to four weeks for it to become a full-fledged letter carrier depot. I remain hopeful the new depots are set up and functional before Remembrance Day. By the end of next week, if there has not been any progress, maybe not so much.

 

2023 SHIFT BID

WMPP members, you have been using the books! Using the books we dropped off that show the proposed schedule changes is great. It’s not the only way we will ask for your input, but it helps.

Talk to the shop stewards on your shift about the proposal. We will be talking to them before the consultation on October 7th.

I have also encouraged all local officers to visit you at work and talk to you about the schedules. We want to know what your concerns are, and talking to you at work is a priority for us. I hope we are able to run into you. Personally, I was busy every night this week and was unable to visit Shift 3, and I only have Thursday evening available for a visit next week. See you then, I guess. Shift 1 requires a different kind of plan, and I hope to make it to that shift next week as well.

Look at the books. Our email addresses are in the front. Talk to your shop stewards. Look out for executive officers and talk to them if you get the chance. The employer has a lot of demands and wants some changes. If the changes are bad, let’s hear about it and try to stop it.


MEETINGS

We had a great special meeting to deal with resolutions last night, September 28th. We also elected three delegates to our last remaining spots and will be taking a full delegation of members to Edmonton in November. That’s also great.

October’s general membership meeting will be on Wednesday, October 5th, at 7:00 p.m. At that meeting, we hope to be electing a chief shop steward for the plant and one for the letter carriers. If you’re a shop steward who is ready to take the next step, consider finding a nominator and logging into the meeting.

 

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

September 30th is not a holiday. It is a day off from work for us, but it’s not like August Long. I think tomorrow is supposed to be for reflection. It’s supposed to be a day where we think about the world and the complexities of the human experience. It’s supposed to be a day where Canadians can reflect on and learn about the country’s complicated and often shameful relationship with Indigenous people. 

You don’t need to hear it from me, there are a lot of resources out there for people to learn about this. There are events going on around Winnipeg tomorrow to mark the day.

September 30th, originally Orange Shirt Day, is now Truth and Reconciliation Day and part of the Canadian fabric. As workers, as the working class, it’s important for us to understand these issues and that our struggles are universal. Some of our ancestors were told lies about Indigenous people and believed them. It’s up to us to correct those mistakes. The injustices perpetrated by some of our ancestors greatly benefitted our way of life while degrading the lived experience of Indigenous people, sometimes to the point of genocide.

Take the day, but don’t take it as a holiday. Use the opportunity to learn something that may initially make you uncomfortable, but something you can learn from and use to make this country better, for everyone.

 

Peace,

Matthew

 

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The Winnipeg local is Located at:
207-83 Sherbrook Street Winnipeg, MB R2C 2B2

Call us at: 204.942.6323

Our mailing address is:
Box 62 Winnipeg, MB R3C 2G1

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Canadian Union of Postal Workers · 83 Sherbrook Street · Suite 207 · Winnipeg, Mb R3C 2B2 · Canada