We had a good week in the local office. We had new members come in and sign up for memberships. They’re excited to have this opportunity and we do our best to let them know the local is here for them if they have questions or need help. We had our usual meetings with the employer and put out little fires here and there. Today, across the hall from the local office, we’re training 12 shop stewards who work in the WMPP. These folks are excited to be taking on this new role at work, and we hope increasing the number of stewards at the plant helps the membership overall. A big thank you to the folks who are taking the training! Your experience with the union doesn’t have to be $100 a month in dues, it can really be a lot more.
TAKING BACK OUR WORKFLOOR
Folks, I am so happy to announce the local will be hosting a special educational seminar on June 24th: Taking Back Our Workfloor.
Taking Back Our Workfloor is a course designed to give postal workers the tools and skills they need to deal with issues that matter to them. The course teaches folks how to work as a team, and feel empowered by that. There is power in unity, and this course is the great galvanizer.
The local is looking to have 30 people attend this course. It takes place on a Friday, and we will be renting a room that is big enough to host that many people. You will be booked off of work and paid for the day, and a lunch will be provided.
Look for posters and application forms on bulletin boards soon! If you can’t wait for an application form, email your details to email@example.com. Include a couple of lines about why you want to take the course.
The day before we host Taking Back Our Workfloor, we will be running a course for six people called Train the Trainers. The participants in this class will learn how to teach Taking Back Our Workfloor so that we can continue to run this course locally until everyone who wants to take it has taken it.
It’s a big undertaking, but it will empower our membership to tackle the issues that matter to them. Sometimes, union folks can come around talking about how capitalism is the real enemy, and it’s greed and individualism that is degrading the society we live in. Hey, I can be guilty of that. And workers can be frustrated by that kind of talk because they just want to be able to find a place to park when they get to work, or they want their supervisor to buzz off and let them work in peace. I’ve been there, too. While all of those things are important, let’s not kid ourselves: capitalism will rage on until society wakes up, but we can fix the parking-spot issue if we address it in the right way.
Let’s do that. Let’s fix our local problems and take our workfloors back. Then we can set our sights on fixing the world.
Some of the ideas in that book are great. Some need a little refining and updating. It’s a living document in that way.
We all know about dues. Dues are explained in this book. Article 7.06 provides the formula for calculating dues.
There is nothing in there about prorating dues. Personally, I think dues should be prorated. Members working full-time should pay full dues, and part-time and temporary workers should pay based on their hours. Pretty simple to me.
But not so simple for the union. How exactly should that clear idea be presented in the constitution? That’s the real trick, and the reason I’m thinking about resolutions a year before they get debated and voted into or out of the constitution.
What do you want to see changed about your union? You can’t just say that dues are too high and complain about it. You have the power to come to local meetings, draft resolutions, get yourself elected as a delegate to convention, and then go there and speak on behalf of your idea. It’s not simple. It does take some work. It’s a heckuva lot better than just complaining.
I want local members to feel like they have some agency in this union, and that’s why I’ll be hosting local resolution writing workshops in the near future. I hosted some classes like this last year when we were drafting contract demands. We ended up getting a lot of quality contract demand resolutions last year, and I hope the workshops regarding constitutional resolutions produce the same result.
When we have our local resolutions ready for debate, at some point in September, the local will be hosting Local Convention. The details are still just rattling around in the cavernous space between my ears, but the plan is to replicate a regional conference or a national convention as best we can. Which should be pretty easy, actually.
Local Convention will do two things. First, it will help us with our resolutions. They will be stronger if we debate them properly and make good amendments before we send them off to the regional level. Secondly, Local Convention will be a good opportunity for members who have never been to these events before to practice in a smaller, safer-feeling venue. At Local Convention, we can take the time to coach one another through processes and procedures that some of us might be unfamiliar with or find intimidating.
This is our union, and this is how we shape it into what we want and need it to be.
IT’S RIGHT TO STRIKE
Last summer, our National Executive Board endorsed a contract extension offer from the boss that gave us two per cent raises this year and next. Right now, huge corporations are price gouging and the general cost of living has been increasing at a rate much higher than two per cent.
I was personally opposed to the contract extension last year and encouraged members to vote against it. I thought we should be asking for more than a paltry two per cent. And we should have, because now, we are most certainly falling behind.
When we stand together and demand more, we will win. We might have to strike, we might not have to strike. It seems like corporations don’t take contract negotiations seriously until workers withdraw their labour. We could be there by the end of 2023. We might have fairly negotiated contracts, or we might have to withhold our labour to make a point.
One thing that didn’t go well for us this week was finding out about Project Lighthouse the wrong way. Honestly, it feels like the local is in the doghouse the way we were treated by management agents on this one. We found out about this through a worker, not because we were officially informed.
We should have been officially informed.
The corporation has been sending out a team of engineers to look at ways to make the mail sorting machines more efficient. Or so they told me this morning. Machines break down because of use and maybe shutting the machines down while getting more mail to feed into it would be beneficial for the machines and all their 2,000 parts.
I made a couple of calls to our people in other plants and got some different information about the project. The boss gets really excited about red and green lines on the machine-monitoring screens in the plant. For folks who don’t work in the plant: there are multiple televisions in the plant that display the belts that parcels move along in the plant. It’s kind of like a map of traffic, and when there is a jam, the street (belt) goes red. When parcels are flowing, the belt is coloured green.
The boss doesn’t want to see any red. They want it to be green as much as possible. In one city, the member I talked to said it will be our responsibility to tell a supervisor if the belt is red, and a maintenance call will be placed.
Generally, the lines are green, but if there is a bunch of mixed mail products, parcels mixed with flats of mail, the computers have a hard time scanning it all and distributing it efficiently, and the belt will go red. There is almost no way to stop this unless there is careful, manual sortation of the mail product. My source told me this is about finding little ways to come after our jobs, and nothing else.
Our local members have been asked to join in conversations with the employer about the mail sorting machines, and they have not been informed about their rights before participating in these meetings.
Having conversations is one thing, but having these types of conversations about workplace activities like this without even informing the local union at all is super shady. Like, I’m talkin’ dark-recesses-of-a-cave shady. I’m talkin’ shade grown coffee here. If local management were a child performer, they’d be Shady Temple, and there wouldn’t be no cutesy drink named after them.
If managers at the plant want to talk to you about the machines, you do not have to speak with them without union representation present. We’re told this is about finding efficiencies with the machines. We have seen in the past how searches for efficiency end up in fewer hours and fewer jobs for our members.
Project Lighthouse for the employer, but Project Doghouse for how they treated the union, and really, Project Outhouse because the whole thing stinks.
The local will be hosting a general membership meeting on June 8th at 7:00 p.m. for those who can attend.
Here is the registration link: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpdO-rrD4iG9eiyMn5UbhfS1MuiXNdcqYk
We will be electing our Health and Safety Committee members at that meeting. It’s quite likely the July general membership meeting will be online, but by September, depending on the COVID-in-the-community situation, we could be back to in-person meetings.
That’s all she wrote this week. Next week we hope to nail down the agreement that will define the delivery model in the Southwest installation. Hint: It’ll be the Deerfoot Model. The local is also accepting submissions for the next Eye Opener. Email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WINNIPEG LOCAL 856
2022 General Membership Meeting Schedule
Wednesday, June 8th, 7:00 p.m.
*Meeting schedule subject to change due to living in a difficult-to-predict world.
Email email@example.com to receive a registration form.