In support of Posties

As the president of the Okanagan College Faculty Association, I am writing to publicly give our union’s support to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and declare the passing of back-to-work legislation by the Liberal government on Nov. 26 unconscionable and unconstitutional. 

Canada Post’s earlier proposal of a cooling-off period to remove public pressure on them at Christmas when they have had a full year to make progress was also entirely inappropriate. Our over 300 College Professors, Librarians, Counselors, and other valued employees fight for the same demands CUPW is currently striking for: health, safety, gender equality, and earnings that form the secure foundation of our lives.

The postal workers have been negotiating for almost a year and have just entered into their sixth week of rotating strikes, all to get Canada Post to show movement on the key issues. This movement has not been forthcoming. A year is too long for the employer to engage in “good faith” negotiations and yet show no movement on the identified key issues. The strike is justifiable, and the passing of back-to-work legislation negates this union’s right to freecollective bargaining. Canadians all see the proliferation of parcels. This is not the same postal environment these workers were in years ago. The employer needs to start addressing the key concerns of the CUPW and not hide behind back-to-work legislation to shield it from engaging in fair and equitable negotiations.

All members of my union benefit from the actions of so many workers before us. It was not that many years ago that CUPW fought for paid maternity leave with a strike, a benefit that we now accept as the norm. Today they strike for worker safety, equalizing the male-female pay disparity, and work conditions that do not include overtime as the norm. Requiring a worker to frequently work over 40 hours a week is unreasonable. Their strike strategy was sensitive to the needs of the nation, with rotating 24-hour strikes leaving no single community suffering. Yet the message was clear: they want equality and safety in the workplace.

When unions stand together in solidarity with other unions, we all make gains. As with the maternity leave, many of these union-fought benefits trickle into our everyday world and into many non-union jobs. Canada Post should be using their profits to ensure gender equity and safety for their workers. If their own striking workers do not change their mind, let them hear from all of us other unions and Canadians that they need to listen. The federal government needs to hear from us that we support the CUPW and their constitutionally granted right to strike

Prof. Sharon Mansiere, Okanagan College Faculty Association

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