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The Week in Winnipeg

June 19th to July 2nd, 2022
 

856,

I am so sorry I didn’t get to write to you last week. It felt weird for me, too. I’m so sorry. I was so busy with work and things like a nephew’s birthday party and just didn’t have time to draft a decent report.

Time has been found this week! Big thanks this week to Acting Chief External Steward Roman McColl who has been covering the grievance office while Sister Saramaga-Martai enjoys a week of leave. And I also have to thank Samantha Owens for stepping into Brother Taman’s office as he is on leave this week as well. Both Sister Owens and Brother McColl have been quick studies and fit right in.

 

TAKING BACK OUR WORKFLOOR

We really upped the collective power of the local last week when Third National Vice President Roland Schmidt visited Winnipeg and assisted in facilitating Taking Back Our Workfloor, a tried-and-true organizing program.

On Thursday, June 23rd, six local members were trained on how to run the course, and on Friday, 26 members from various depots, WMPP shifts, and classifications took the main course.

Taking Back Our Workfloor teaches the fundamentals of workplace organizing. It teaches us how our collective power is more important than an individual grievance from one person, or an email from a local president. It teaches us that we can solve problems here and now without waiting years for a resolution.

I couldn’t help but notice the nodding heads of participants when Brother Schmidt or Sister Parvinder Kaur were leading discussions on Friday. Taking Back Our Workfloor is straightforward and makes a lot of sense.

The first part of the day is spent reviewing the fundamentals of workfloor organizing, and in the afternoon, we stand up and put what we learned into practice. The course instills a sense of pride and confidence in participants. It gives them new ideas on how to combat old problems. It teaches us that we have power if we choose to use it.

I’ve been wanting to bring this program to members for many years now. I went for pizza in Penticton with Brother Schmidt in July 2019 when I was president of the Kelowna Local and he was in the Okanagan on vacation. When I attended my first general membership meeting in Winnipeg in August 2020, there was a motion made to run the program. Cool. Winnipeg is serious, I thought. Then lockdowns and public health orders limiting group gathers were enacted.

With all of that behind us, the local is looking forward to running this class several more times over the summer. We weren’t able to have all the people who signed up for this class attend on Friday. Registration for Taking Back Our Workfloor is perpetually open. Email education@cupwwpg.ca with all your pertinent information to get your name on the list. Please include information about where you work and your classification. If you work at the WMPP, please indicate the shift you work. The local will likely run a class from midnight until 8:00 a.m. one night this summer for folks who work Shift One. When you apply, include a line about why you want to take the course, please and thank you!

This course is coming at a great time. Not only are we under a vicious attack from the employer currently, but we’re also 16 months away from contract negotiations. If we stay this course, “Winnipeg,” will be spoken in Ottawa a lot late next year. We want that. We want to represent Winnipeg as best we can. Our city has a proud working class history. Let’s write our own chapter in that story. Let’s show the country what Winnipeggers can accomplish when they work together.

With emergency suspensions being handed out more often than stacks of neighbourhood mail, and with a two per cent raise this year and next while inflation hovers above six, we have absolutely nothing to lose by taking back our workfloors. Sign up today.

 

UNION-MANAGEMENT MEETING

On Tuesday this week, local executive officers participated in what was probably the most disorganized union-management meeting I’ve ever been a part of in my four years as a local executive officer.

The union was prepared, of course. We were ready, we had our notes arranged and had a list of items we wanted to raise. Shortly before the meeting, I was contacted by a management agent who seemed a bit desperate to postpone the meeting because one other manager was on leave. The meetings are supposed to happen once a month, and a few weeks ago, we were guaranteed all managers would be present at the meeting. They weren’t.

The meeting, as all meetings have been over the last couple of years, was virtual. A few times in the meeting on Tuesday, we would ask a question and the management agent who should have been responding was silent. Their cameras were off and they just weren’t there. That hints at the respect they have for the union and the collective agreement – it does not exist.

We are still trying to get clarification on a question about how oversize and overweight items are handled locally. Management agents are being cagey on this one. We’ve been told that in 2017, local health and safety committees developed a safer policy than the official corporate policy. Personally, I don’t see what is unsafe about the official policy. In fact, I think the “safer” local policy is less safe. The local policy is also inconvenient for the customer and likely costs us some overtime opportunities. All that and local health and safety committees do not get to change or alter official corporate policy. There is no local agreement on this deviation, and even though we have been asking for some shred of evidence that indicates a lot of people on the corporation’s and union’s side approve of this new policy, it has yet to be provided.

We also asked about management agents in the plant holding a vote for our members working in the runouts section of the plant on Shift Three. There is an ongoing debate in that specific section about the rotation of duties. The union maintains that every two hours, or after every break, members are entitled to work another position until the next break. The theory is that by changing up work assignments, we’re also causing a break in repetitive motions and minimizing injuries related to repetitive strain. 

The union would never negotiate four-hour assignments. If people want to trade jobs so they can work beside a friend, that’s okay, but on paper, the rotations have to be two hours. Despite a management agent’s claim that union officers agreed to a four-hour rotation of duties for the section, both our notes and the corporation’s notes from the last consultation on the matter say otherwise. Talk about someone’s pants being on fire.

We didn’t get a lot of great answers for our questions. Was it a complete waste of time? No, we were able to move some items forward and put the management agents on notice for others. But was it inefficient because of the disorganization on the other side of the table? Yes, it really was. And it’s clear that management agents in Winnipeg do not like being asked questions.

We have requested meetings like this for July and August. If you ever have a question you want answered at that forum, let us know. We will ask. Gladly.

 

TEMP RULES

On May 15th of this year, the corporation ended its suspension of Article 44.11, which explains temporary employees have to provide a “reasonable” availability for the corporation. Reasonable is a subjective term and ends up causing confusion. What is reasonable? 

We received a list of questions from temp workers from the plant, and have done our best to get some answers. Here they are.


Q: How are temps scheduled? Is it for the week or month?
A: Temps are scheduled daily, depending on mail volumes.

Q: Who requests temps?
A: Shift managers.

Q: How are temps entered into the call system?
A: By PC&R staff. Eclipse adds shift refusals or acceptances to SAP. Read: automated.

Q: How long do we have to call back for a work offer?
A: If you get phone calls, you’ll get one call and then six minutes later, a second call. You have 10 minutes from the first call to reply. If you receive work offers via text message, you have 10 minutes to reply.

Q: What time zone is used for work opportunity history in ESS?
A
: Seems like everyone’s best guess is Eastern.

Q: How does temp seniority work? Is it based on start date or are hours worked also included?
A: Hours worked are not included. Your seniority date will always be the same.

Q: Are declined work offers treated the same as no response?
A: Yes.

Q: What is the percentage of shifts we need to accept to maintain good standing?
A: Management agents like to say 50 per cent, but Article 44.11 says you have to provide a reasonable availability, not accept 50 per cent of your work offers.

Q: When does the count start? Did it start on May 15th? Does it include work opportunities prior to May 15th?
A: Article 44.11 was suspended until May 15th, 2022.

Q: Do childcare, second jobs, school, etcetera, factor into an employee’s reasonable work acceptance rate?
A: I would say yes. Some management agents may not have as big a heart as me, though.

Q: If a temp declines multiple work offers for one day, how many work offer refusals are being put on our records?
A: You can only work one shift a day, so you can only incur one refusal a day even if you are offered all three shifts.

Temps’ attendance is evaluated every two months. When it is, if a temp has not been accepting a lot of shifts, they may receive a letter letting them know they are not accepting enough shifts. If attendance is low over the next two months, they could receive another letter. After another two months of low attendance, it’s possible the temp’s employment could be terminated.

If you receive a letter like this, the union advises you file a grievance on it. Temps have been let go in the past, but because of the subjective language in article 44.11, they have been reinstated. This isn’t to say you can do whatever you want and you’ll never get fired. But if your employment ended because of low attendance, it is possible you could be reinstated.

Many temps have two or three jobs. Keep records of your shifts at these jobs so that if you do start getting letters, we have good evidence that you could not have accepted a bunch of shifts. Also file a grievance if you receive one of these letters. 

 

SOUTHWEST RESTRUCTURE

I thought I would change up the reporting style on the Southwest Station this week. Local Workload Structuring Officer Sean Tugby was in the office, so I cornered and grilled him.

Matthew: Where are we at?

Sean: Southwest Two, we’re running into errors right now. The transfer-to-retail stuff was all left to the end, and route measurement officers want to make two part-time routes and we’re pushing them to change things and disperse the work to many routes so we don’t lose any positions. This is in flux and might not be relevant tomorrow. But we’ve addressed the issue and are trying to resolve it. Southwest Six is complete. We’re currently reviewing documents for that depot’s routes. Southwest Three is currently being built and the build for Southwest One begins on Monday. We’re optimistic we will retain a lot of work and there won’t be any losses. 

Matthew: What has been the most challenging aspect of this whole process?

Sean: For me, personally, it’s developing all the knowledge. I was elected to this position in November, and the route building started in May, and I had a lot of stuff to learn in that time. I’ve had a lot of assistance from Tyler Oswald and Lisa Peterson on this. Roberta Mitchell at the Region has helped a lot as well. Their assistance has been invaluable. I like developing this knowledge for our local. 

Matthew: The members who stepped up to help out with this, how have they been?

Sean: Exceptional. We’ve had a lot of people putting in a lot of volunteer hours to ensure the Southwest build is held to a high standard. Many of those members joined the Workload Structuring Committee to further their knowledge to assist the local and the membership.

Matthew: How much work is left?

Sean: We’ll be very busy for the next four to six weeks reviewing routes and verifying route values. 

Matthew: What’s next for the route measurement department?

Sean: In the near future, we’re going to swing into education for our members. As well, our other assigned duties such as bar charts, staffing, and general route investigations.

If digging into route measurement is something you think you might be interested in, there are still four vacant spots on the local’s workload structuring committee. Find a nominator, come to the next meeting, and get signed up!

 

VACCINATION PRACTICE ENDS

Members who have been on leave without pay because they were not willing to receive a vaccination for COVID-19 will be permitted to return to work on July 6th. All affected members have been called and asked to report to work on that day.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, do not hesitate to give the local a call and ask. 

 

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

One way to start getting involved in union business is by attending your local’s general membership meetings. 

The next general membership meeting for the Winnipeg Local is scheduled for Saturday, July 9th, at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be virtual. To register for this meeting, click here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAtdeCorD0oH9GfxVffxZSVHIYEFHz_VI2q

This meeting may be the last virtual meeting we host. Next general membership meeting is likely to be September 17th or 24th, and it will be Local Convention. That meeting will definitely be in person. If you have attended more than 50 per cent of the general membership meetings over the last year, you are eligible to be elected as a delegate to Regional Conference and National Convention. The local meeting on September 17th or 24th will replicate the conference and convention environment so that Winnipeg Local members new to these situations will be prepared and confident when they get there. The meeting will likely be longer than a typical general membership meeting. I hope to see you there.

Have a good long weekend, everyone.

Peace,

Matthew

WINNIPEG LOCAL 856
2022 General Membership Meeting Schedule
July

Saturday, July 9th, 10:00 a.m.

*Meeting schedule subject to change due to living in a difficult-to-predict world.
Email connect@cupwwpg.ca to receive a registration form.


 
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All rights reserved.


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