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Canada Post Locks Out Workers

Canada Post Locks Out Workers

Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) arrived for work Wednesday and discovered the doors were locked. The CUPW has been waging a contract war with Canada Post by employing a series of rolling strikes across the country for the past two weeks. Canada Post reports that selective work stoppages, which targeted major hubs in each province, cost the company $100 million and has resulted in a 50% drop in mail volume as Canadians find other ways to ship goods and letters.

Rural Service Not Effected for Now

Living rural, as I do, the mail disruption has been minimal. Rural mail carriers operate under a different contract than their urban counterparts, but Canada Post warns that the lockout could be long and eventually all mail delivery will be effected.

Consequences

What’s at stake for both workers and Canada Post is the business of old-fashioned mail delivery itself as more Canadians opt to receive and pay bills online and turn to other companies like Fed-Ex and UPS to send and receive goods. Canada Post, much like the U.S. Postal Service, has seen the rise of the Internet eat away at mail volume over the last decade, making “snail mail” less and less attractive to consumers who have faster and even free options.

The Issues

The sticking point in this latest labor dispute revolves around proposals to deal with declining mail volume and a $3.2 billion pension deficit. CUPW balked at Canada Posts proposal to reduce full-time employees in favor of part-time, prompting the initial rolling strikes, but though Canada Post withdrew that idea, the problem of staying competitive in a shrinking market remains.

The 50,000 CUPW workers were surprised by the lock-out, which was only decided upon late Tuesday by the company, and company officials warn that unless the government steps in with legislation forcing the workers back to work, the union should expect to be out of work for a while. While they have declined to become involved so far, the Labour Minister is looking at options.

Public Reaction

So far there has been little public outrage where I live. The Edmonton strike last Wednesday resulted in a day or two of no mail for myself and my neighbors. We live in a tiny hamlet outside Fort Saskatchewan, and I observed a half-dozen CUPW workers with picket signs as I walked through the downtown that day. They chatted, drank their Timmy’s coffee and waved from the picket line. Surprisingly, we had mail the next day. My neighbor remarked on it as I passed her with a bundle of junk mail.

“The mail came today?” she asked. “I hardly notice when it doesn’t. Do most everything online and the only thing in the mailbox are flyers.”

Flyers or mail from Canada Revenue because the government, at least, supports the old system.

The real danger to both the CUPW and Canada Post, which both groups are aware of, is the fact that the business lost during the strike is unlikely to return. Small businesses especially are effected and messing with their bottom line in these recessionary times could have devastating consequences. Canadians are no less anti-union than Americans, and when the subject has come up on radio or in newspaper comment forums, the mood is decidedly against the CUPW.

What Do You Think?

Are services like Canada Post relics whose time is over? Would you miss mail? Mail boxes? How do you receive and pay bills? And is there a downside to leaving the paper trail behind us? Let’s hear from you.

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Photo credit: Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! by Scazon

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69 comments

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11:22AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Lock outs really solve the problem don't they? Avoidance is not an answer.

7:38AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Times are changing and we no longer need the post office with their inflated wages and pensions - I sent a christmas present through the postal service and it never got there so now I don't trust the mail and send other ways that are safer and are sure to get there.

11:06PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

And btw, Margaret & Ald Oro, I don't know your ages, but I remember the Reagan era when economists were promoting the "trickle-down" theory of economics, wherein the idea of giving enormous tax breaks to large corporations & the wealthy was supposed to stimulate the economy. The theory went that given additional money, there would be more spending on the part of the rich, & more jobs created by corporations because debt/profit loss fears would ease. Instead, a number of those large corporations took the surplus cash & went to Third World nations to set up shop. This is when the great flight of living wage jobs began to take place, and when the US' huge trade deficits began. They were caused by the American corps. manufacturing the items overseas sold back to us cheaply, thereby further eroding the US job market by pressuring the remaining companies to adopt similar policies (reducing wages/moving operations overseas) or go out of business.

This is where it all began & it's because of the actions of these unscrupulous corporations & their administrators who care little to naught for civic responsibility in the country of their birth. It has NOTHING to do with labor, unless you're going to say that those who create the wealth of the corporations have no right to expect a living wage for their work. That would be extremely unethical and immoral. Those who work, whether they are the toilet scrubber or the president, deserve a living wage and respect for

10:44PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Excuse me, correction, Jeffrey Immelt earned that for 3 years work, not one. Still an incomprehensible sum for such a short time period to the average worker.

10:00PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

But that's small peanuts compared to over $28 million for ONE YEARS WORK! He must have really worked up a sweat in his penthouse office, breathing in dangerous vapors, risking his life, et al., to make that kind of salary.

9:59PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

I think Margaret Paddock is a paid shill for corporate propagandists at the "personal" level afforded by a site like Care 2. I don't see you complaining about how over-compensated Fortune 500 CEO's are. I'm sure someone like you would just prattle on about how in a Capitalist system, some work harder & are entitled to earn more because of it, completely ignoring the fact that the gap between the wages of CEO's and the lowest paid laborers in the company has expanded from 10 to 1, to currently 400 to 1. Total executive compensation has increased dramatically in recent years, which has led to real concerns about pay equity and ethics. Corporate profits have soared more than 50 percent since 2001, yet workers’ real wage and salary income has actually declined over the same period. For example, Jeffrey R. Immelt, as CEO of General Electric in 2007, earned a total compensation of $14,209,267, which included a base salary of $3,300,000, a cash bonus of $5,800,000, stocks granted of $4,713,000, and options granted of $0.

Turn to organized labor compensation. Marty Beil, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 24 SEPAC, made $161,847 in 2008 according to the organization’s Form 990. It's easy to wave numbers around in the faces of the middle class in an attempt to raise their ire, since making over $150,000 per annum sounds like a lot of money to those only making $35-40,000 per year. But that's small peanut

6:39PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

By the way, that was over $11 billion EACH in pay raises.

6:37PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

Margaret Paddock, you might want to ask one question:

Who are the fat cats: the union "bosses", elected by the members, who make annual salaries of anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 for the 10 largest unions (I know, sounds like a lot, but stay with me for a second), OR CEOs, of whom the top 50 make an average of $10.7 MILLION per year?

10.7 million divided by that 500,000 (which most union bosses made less than) said 21.4 on my calculator. So if you say union bosses are fat cats, what the hell are you calling someone making over 21 times as much??? Which is also over 364 times what average employees make.

I don't think a cat can even be that fat and live, Margaret. They sure are altruistic making almost $11 million while you juggle bills to keep the lights on and food on the table. And for the record, some make much more than that average. The same year they laid off 2000 primary household wage earners nationwide, the Koch brothers gave themselves $11.4 BILLION in pay raises. This is clear proof they have the very best interests of wage earners at heart and it sure feels good to know we are in the caring hands of men like these, doesn't it?

5:16PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

I will not put personal items online so yes I still need mail service.

3:49PM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

For Margaret.

http://www.care2.com/causes/politics/blog/wisconsin-wants-to-repeal-child-labor-laws-too/

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