06.13.2011 06:58 AM

The strike no one noticed

For a while, years ago, I was a lawyer for CUPW. Back then, they were a tough, no-nonsense bunch. They took no prisoners.

I have a hard time squaring the CUPW I knew with the CUPW now allegedly on strike in the Summer of 2011.

They’re worried about public opinion, clearly. But is that worry undermining the effectiveness of their strike?

Sure seems like it. What’s your view?

62 Comments

  1. ottawacon says:

    When they were a vital public service, they were ruthless. Now that they are a historical afterthought one privatization or competition bill away from oblivion, they are rather more concerned with how ruthless Canada Posts’s shareholder might be.

  2. smelter rat says:

    The feds have been pretty silent on this one, but seem to be all over the potential Air Canada strike. I guess they have priorities, and it ain’t the mail.

  3. AP says:

    What? The postal workers are on strike? How they hell am I supposed to get my McDonald’s coupons now? Damn you CUPW!

  4. Harith says:

    Self-entitled spoiled jerks who should be happy with the pay and benefits they have.

  5. MLukas says:

    Although it was all over the papers, I’m not sure how many people really noticed the (relatively minor) first actions they took. As they expand the strike more people may start to notice. I’ll be interested to see what the public thinks then.

    • Dave says:

      My mail-order business is down 75% over June 2010. I think it’s safe to say people have noticed. I’ve noticed.

  6. Africon says:

    It promotes a form of Fascism that is “anti-employer” – yup, follow that one to it’s logical conclusion – CUPW leaders can all go live and work in Cuba for all I care..

    CUPW National Constitution 2008/11/27 – Preamble

    The Canadian Union of Postal Workers undertakes the task of promoting and defending the interests of its members against all attacks of the employer and government (the agent of the employer) as a fundamental objective

    This means that, in addition to the struggle which the Union conducts daily for recognition and the rights of postal workers, CUPW actively commits itself to the objective of transforming the present social and economic order to make it consistent with the interests and aspirations of workers

    In so doing, CUPW rejects all forms of trade unionism that fail to pose the basic division between the interests of workers and the interests of the employer CUPW characterizes its orientation as a Union which, in an uncompromising fashion, pursues the class interests of its members, resisting all attempts by employers and governments to weaken or destroy the workers’ movement

    CUPW manifests its commitment through a number of policy statements which are grouped as follows:

    A – The struggle of CUPW against the employer…

    http://www.cupw.ca/1/1/3/6/8/index1.shtml

  7. smelter rat says:

    Once again you are completely off base, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from right wing tub thumpers like you. If you are so completely enamored with a race to the bottom, perhaps you could do us all a favour and move to a RTW state. I prefer to live in a country where ordinary working people can earn a decent wage.

    • smelter rat says:

      I’d be surprised if many Canadians want to replicate what’s going on in Michigan. The overall US jobless rate is still nearly 10% and climbing. But still if you think it’s all milk and honey down there, be my guest and move.

  8. Matt says:

    I honestly think it’s pretty sad. This gives the folks who do use Canada Post the chance to learn how to avoid them. The Unions need to tell us what they do and why they are important, not simply say we want out jobs and benefits. This will pretty much kill them.

    • Dave says:

      You’re right!

      I can use private couriers who charge double the rate (at best), who have craptacular delivery to residential addresses, one depot, usually near the airport, in major centres, and nothing at all in smaller ones.

      And then I can pass those charges on to my customers, who balk and cancel orders, or I can swallow them so that every transaction is a loss.

      Hooray for competition!

  9. Liam says:

    I think it’s been pretty obvious the union realizes they don’t have much of a leg to stand on here since the first rolling strikes started in Winnipeg.

    First of all, rolling strikes. Starting out in smaller, less-business-centric cities, they could have the optics of being able to say “We’re striking!” without actually pissing people off enough to spring legislators into action.

    Second, in some of the early articles on the strike from places like Winnipeg, you had the striking carriers showing less than brimming optimism in their union’s ability to really make their case, and positing completely unworkable solutions to the problem. The one I remember clearest being that to a portion of the union suggested that to combat falling mail volumes, Canada Post should go after significantly larger admail contracts.

    Because clearly, if you’re not getting enough legit mail into the system, the best way to create sustainability for the future of an eroding service model is to solicit more junk mail going into peoples’ homes.

    I had a very small worry at the beginning of this strike. I had recently ordered some nice shirts from a UK bespoke/tailored men’s store, very much on sale. It was my second order from them in the past six weeks. My first order took about 15 days to arrive after it was marked as shipped.

    Second order? 10 days. My overseas package arrived FASTER during a job action. The only thing I receive regularly is the bank statements that I can’t yet sign up for electronic versions of.

    Frankly, it seems to me that five-day-a-week mail service is an artifact of a time long past, and that Canada Post is absolutely doing the right thing in sitting this one out for a while and forcing some serious reconsideration of how this whole system works.

    I’ll be able to eBay myself shirts and punk vinyl again when this blows over. If anything, this whole thing is saving me money.

  10. CQ says:

    Took No Prisoners? Is that before their organized support for Hamas?

  11. Rick T. says:

    This strike is led by a misguided out of step union. The writing on the wall is there, to bad they cannot read. You guys are about to go the way of the Horse and Buggy.

    A $23 an hour starting salary is way over the top and you guys want more

    • smelter rat says:

      So you think slashing their pay will create a better mail service? How would that work, exactly? Would CP management be expected to slash their pay as well? You should think before you type.

      • Ryan says:

        It’s not about slashing their pay. They make a very good salary to start. It’s about them whining that they want more to start. I hate to think of those poor CP workers scraping by on a measly 23 dollars an hour. You should think before you respond to postings rat.

        • smelter rat says:

          So they should stay at $23/hr forever because you think that’s a fine wage? Kids in Alberta make nearly that much flipping burgers at McD’s.

          • Ryan says:

            Not forever but do you really think 23 an hour is a bad starting wage? It’s ridiculous. The minimum wage in Alberta is $9.40. Unless there are a few unionized McDonalds in Alberta I can’t see a 16 year old kid making anywhere near 23. It’s just common sense that these unions are getting out of hand. The point I was making is that 23 dollars is not a bad starting wage considering it’s well over 10 dollars an hour of most minimum wages across Canada.

          • smelter rat says:

            I see…the unions are getting out of hand, and Multi-national employers are benevolent social work types who only want to do what’s best for their employees. FYI, most fast food joints in Alberta offer signing bonuses, pension benefits and starting salaries far higher than minimum wage.

        • Dave says:

          He-he.

  12. patrick Deberg says:

    I love to see the the tremendous insite into unions here! I now understand how obsolete and evil unions are now that I have gleaned the nuggets of wisdom here. My God!! Imagine the adacity to actually pay someone 23 dollars an hour! That will never do. We need inspiration from true free enterprise examples of how to steer the country. Why that shining example of market forces unleashed to nirvana is with us yet today. Let Gord and CQ and Liam unleash the power of NORTEL!! This market darling once had the media clamoring all over one another to declare John Roth prime minister. All those NORTEL employees sure didn’t need to unionise now did they. They had the market forces to help them in their plight. But the right wingers never mention Nortel or Lehmanns or Countrywide. I guess when we’re all earning five bucks an hour the free marketers will be happy….

    • smelter rat says:

      Exactly. The neocons are practically creaming themselves in anticipation of a race to the bottom. Thank god someone is thinking of the shareholders!!

      • The Doctor says:

        That’s ridiculous. A corporation, Nortel, f+cks up massively in several respects and thus blows up. And that somehow proves that, what, CUPW must be supported in this strike? That all private enterprise is bad? I smell a massive non-sequitur.

        And I would love to hear how the Nortel workers’ being unionized would have prevented any of the bad things at Nortel from happening. Please explain.

        • smelter rat says:

          Name one civilization that flourished because it’s worker bees had their livelihoods decimated.

          • The Doctor says:

            Where did you get that one? From a book entitled “World’s Best Ridiculously Leading Questions”?

          • Marc L says:

            Who’s talking about decimating their livelihood??? Really.

          • smelter rat says:

            My question is certainly no more ridiculous than your ravings, Doc. Isn’t that the end game? Break the unions, reduce the workforce and force their employees to grovel for the few jobs that will remain? Or are you neocons simply suggesting some sort of permanent wage and benefit freeze? It strikes me that the people complaining the loudest about unions are those who don’t belong to one. Sour grapes.

          • The Doctor says:

            It’s clear you know dick about my real political views. To call me a neocon is laughable.

            If everyone who doesn’t blindly support every single position taken by every single labour union in every single dispute they’ve ever had is a neocon, well then guess what, just about everyone except for the far left fringe of the NDP is a neocon.

            There are actually other ways of promoting the interests of workers, you know. Ever hear of this thing called Employment Standards Legislation? It covers nearly ALL workers, not just those few who happen to be fortunate enough to belong to a union. There are lots and lots of reforms that could be made to employment laws which could benefit huge numbers of non-union workers, and generally, I don’t hear union people saying squat about that. Wonder why.

    • A race to the bottom, so ridiculous.

      I’ll bet Canada Post would outsource mail delivery to India if they could.

  13. Sean says:

    I don’t want my stupid mail anyways!

  14. Marc L says:

    The strike finally convinced me to go electronic with all my bills and statements. Super-easy to set up. Now, I can’t think of a single piece of relevant material I will receive more than, say, once a quarter at the most (municipal taxes, which are not electronic in my part of the woods yet, and…and…ummmm I think that’s about it). How many other people will have been driven by the strike to do away with a major chunk of their mail PERMANENTLY? Good job CUPW!

    • The Doctor says:

      Exactly. The big banks have been trying for years now to have their customers go all electronic with respect to banking transactions and statements. This is like a gift from God to them. Keep up the noble struggle, CUPW!

      • smelter rat says:

        Uh huh. And for all that the banks continue to raise their transaction fees. Corporate profits must continue to increase, screw the employees and the customers.

        • Marc L says:

          I worked for a big bank and believe me, I did not feel that I was getting screwed. In any event, what are you saying? That we should not go the electronic route to preserve CUPW jobs? I have a suggestion for you. Look up the word “luddite” in the dictionary. Sit down and reflect for a minute.

          • smelter rat says:

            I see, so unless I embrace electronic banking I’m a luddite? OK, whatever. As for your experience working in a bank, good for you. I’ve known many bank employees who’ve been royally screwed over, sometimes after putting in 15 or 20 years with their employer. However, what would you expect from a corproration that clears over a billion in profits every year, benevolence?

          • Marc L says:

            Rat, what’s wrong with profits? And where do you think those profits go — in the pocket of some evil capitalist in a tux, a top-hat and a monocle? And yes, if you are of the view that technological progress is bad because it presumably eliminates jobs you are indeed the modern equivalent of a Luddite. The thinking is the same. Combined with your whining against profits, it also shows you have no idea how the economy works.

          • The Doctor says:

            . . . never mind the effect that eliminating corporate profits would have on such things as:

            1. the value of the Canada Pension Plan (decimated);
            2. the value of Canadians’ RRSPs (decimated); and
            3. the value of every union’s pension plan (decimated).

            Yeah, that would just be awesome for ordinary working Canadians. I’m sure job growth and hiring would grow at a really healthy clip too.

  15. Michael says:

    Interesting that a lot of those corrosive and impovershing piecces of socialist labour legislation were enacted by the Progressive Conservatice government of Bill Davis. 😉

  16. patrick DeBerg says:

    Ah Doctor !

    When the auto workers were pastured they took a pension with them, about 100,000 thousand and a free car. What did Nortel workers get ? Closed doors at midnight, the handicapped 30 percent of their pension. John Roth millions, Frank Dunn millions to cook the books but lunatics like you don’t really care about the workers that built Nortel ,do you? Their just “resources” to you. Let me tell you a little story “Doctor” I was shopping at Canadian tire and met a young man stocking shelves that I was taken to for his attitude and willingness to help. He had been a high flyer in the Nortel glory days and had stock worth 1.5 million. Hes was one of the key programmers and had clearance to work in any place in Canada such was his skill. He was alerted to something amiss as certain folk left before the fall. His stock after the crash was worth 39000 dollars. Instead of getting out he listened to people like….people like ….well you!! Get out? No stay in, too big to fail, market corrections, blather and the markets are always right. He stayed, when he heard they declared bankrupt he tried to get something. He found work with a few more of folks like …well you Doctor!! they used his skill to build something and promptly sold out and the buyer crushed it all and on the street again. After six months he was stocking shelves so your forces were correct. And Guess what ” Doctor” the day I found my camp gear he had a letter he showed me that was from Nortel that said his stock would never be redeemed. Thousands like this guy and you don’t really care “doctor”. After alll your party voted to screw all Canadian pensioners of what they spent years building. Well I do Doctor and if you think for one second I’ll turn my back on all the people Screwed by the Doctors of the world you are sadly mistaken. I’m here and I’m not going away ever “Doctor” If you guys put as much effort into busting John Roth or Frank Dunn who it is known to have cooked the books to pay themselves a bonus as you do attacking the people that actually do the work in this country I’d be flabbergasted. But tough on crime only goes so far doesn’t it “Doctor” Go comfort the sick.

    PS “Doctor, When I asked him if a union would of helped he said he would of crawled over broken glass to join one then. As my father used to say, Too soon old, Too late smart…..

    • CQ says:

      Five and six years back, I was pointing out failed Cdn. businesses and leaders of the Sep-Jun year. As my fictitious Awards title I called it the Bre-Tel’s for Bre-X and Nortel. Nary a response.

      I had also critiqued the Toronto Star for its fall ’06 Sunday (and Fri/Sat.) issue during a missed Friday Red Shirt Rally and Pres. Karzai’s first official visit to Ottawa yet(!) they had featured a (pg 2) lovingly composed portrait of Bin Laden and another (pg A3) from London of then-PM Blair’s sister-in-law at an anti-war rally. A couple of weeks they changed their top TWO executives.

    • The Doctor says:

      Why are you misattributing all of that shite in your post to me? Are you insane? Or do you just like making stuff up? Where did I say anywhere that I supported Nortel management as they blew up the company? Where did I ever say that people ought to have held on to Nortel stock? And wtf is “my party”? I don’t belong to any political party. So as Warren K is wont to say to posters who have their heads completely jammed up their rectums, piss off.

      • patrick Deberg says:

        What have I made up Doctor? I didn’t ask you to support anyone, I have an idea of who you support. It’s not the postie who walks every day for years so you can have your fliers to discard. Or the auto workers who built to spec exactly what was asked of them. You asked me how the union might have helped the Nortel fiasco and I told you in a clear answer the difference between a union shop and a non union shop. You may find unions crude and a thing of the past but they are effective. Very effect and when you’re being frogmarched to the door they may be the only friend you will ever have. Don’t tell me to p*ss off if you don’t like being called on the carpet. It demeans your argument feeble as it may be.

        • The Doctor says:

          I don’t think you explained at all to me — not one whit — how being a union shop would have prevented Nortel from going down the toilet. All you did was engage in a rather discombobulated, rambling pro-union rant.

          You’ve got this archaic view, characterized by a classic false dichotomy, that you’re either “with the workers” or with their evil capitalist oppressors. Because I made some (perfectly legitimate and supportable) criticisms of unions, you automatically label me as some uncritical supporter of corporations. How sophisticated and thoughtful of you. There are actually other views out there, you know, more moderate views that aren’t characterized by class hatred and zero-sum “kill the other guy” thinking.

          And I’ll tell you to piss off any time you completely misrepresent me and my views, thanks.

          • patrick Deberg says:

            Nothing could save Nortel from itself Doctor. That’s the point I have made. It was full of smarmy executives that think like you. You don’t seem to understand my argument do you? I care not one whit for the executives of Nortel. They are cut from the same cloth as each other. They shift from company to company leaving destruction in their wake and are never held accountable as they destroy complete countries. Tell me do you think I should set up a false dichotomy of profound regret at the treatment of John Roth or Conrad Black? Or Bernie Ebbers or Bernie Madoff? Frank Dunn and the vultures that parade the streets in suits pretending to be virtuous? I am with the people that built something and have it swept away by attitudes that it was a “market correction.” Take in a widow that at the age of seventy that can’t afford to feed herself because a friend of yours needed to get a four million dollar bonus. Se how that feels to sit in a room and try to explain how it will all be fine when it never will be. If you don’t want me to “misrepresent” you prehaps you should not engage in dialouge with your own words. You lay it out pretty clearly. Doctor, Before you pass out a judgment on the legitimate and supportable criticism of unions let me give you some advice Doctor. Join one, Study one, spend some time working for one. I could get you into one of the construction unions any time. Plumbing? Electrical? Bricklayer? Miner? Textile? Sheet metal? Which one is it Doctor? Don’t be afraid to get a real job. You’ll be in the best physical shape of your life when you’re done. If you survive it.

          • The Doctor says:

            I’ve been in a union. I also studied labour law (and my instructors were notably left-of-centre politically, but nevertheless had the integrity and open-mindedness to point out the flaws in our North American labour law regime and to be critical of union behaviour when it was appropriate to do so). So save your lame working-class hero schtick for somebody else.

            You obviously don’t have a f+cking clue what jobs I’ve had in my life. I’ve literally dug ditches for a living. It’s just unbelievable how presumptuous you are.

            The other thing that’s so offensive about your schtick is this belief that there are “real jobs” and then these other jobs that are somehow not “real”.

            I still think you’re guilty of a massive reading comprehension FAIL. Nowhere in my posts was I defending what Nortel or its execs did. They were guilty of fraud and gross financial mismanagement, and there were obviously huge failures in corporate governance. I still think it’s a massvie non-sequitur to jump from that to some conclusion that we should blindly and unswervingly support CUPW, or any and every union, in any dispute no matter what the facts on the ground are. I always think the correct approach is to treat each situation as unique and judge it on its own facts.

          • patrick Deberg says:

            Doctor you speak of working man schtick in the past tense. Oh I dug ditches so I know everything!! You studied labour law? That explains everything…..

          • The Doctor says:

            Yeah, all those union-side labour lawyers are your class enemies — don’t ever forget that.

            I guess it’s fair to conclude from your posts that anyone who’s not currently doing virtuous manual labour isn’t working a “real job” and is suspect as a possible enemy of the workers. I can see Pol Pot nodding in agreement. Time to forcibly remove all of those white-collar poofters from their desks and send them into the fields for re-education and toil in solidarity.

  17. CQ says:

    Five and six years back, I was pointing out failed Cdn. businesses and leaders of the Sep-Jun year. As my fictitious Awards title I called it the Bre-Tel?s for Bre-X and Nortel. Nary a response.

    I had also critiqued the Toronto Star for its fall ?06 Sunday (and Fri/Sat.) issue during a missed Friday Red Shirt Rally and Pres. Karzai?s first official visit to Ottawa yet(!) they had featured a (pg 2) lovingly composed portrait of Bin Laden and another (pg A3) from London of then-PM Blair?s sister-in-law at an anti-war rally. A couple of weeks later… they changed their top TWO executives.

  18. james says:

    Warren
    I am a postie
    I think we are acting this way beacause, if we stike we’ll be legislated back…and we’ll be imposed with a contract that is much farther away than what we think we can negociate this way. Of course it’s a very delicate situation.
    With regards form support from the public…I think in this day and age it means everything. If you support us we may have a chance, if you don’t we’re dead…

    • MCBellecourt says:

      Here’s one that supports your union. Privatization, in every situation I have witnessed, has not resulted in any sort of savings for any of the companies I’ve witnessed. All it does is divert funds that used to pay workers decent wages, to fat cat stuffed suits and shereholders that have nothing to do with keeping the operations viable. A perfect example was my former workplace.

      It used to be that the employees were directly paid by the building management. The money was kept local and, in turn, fed my city’s economy because it circulated within. The employees could afford to keep themselves well-fed, their teeth maintained, their eyesight maintained and their uniforms clean and pressed. Service was better because both union and employer came up with the guidelines for running the workplace.

      Now it’s, quite bluntly put, a frakkin’ mess. Communications between the contractor and the building management is often muddied and confused, the workers are often coming to work hungry, especially in winter where a choice has to be made between work and food, everybody’s bitchy and no one gives a shit about their jobs. Turnover is high and the supervisor, a friend of mine, is ready to pack it in only having been there a few months.

      Yet no money has been saved by the management. Most of the money goes south to unseen faces.

      The one purpose for the contracting out was to bust the union, but the service (and the business itself) has gone completely and utterly downhill.

      Corporate greed, and nothing more, is the only place here to attach the blame.

      If people can’t make a decent wage, then the whole local economy suffers, along with everything else. Everything goes to shit in a hurry.

      I’ve been watching this country going for shit for a long time now. What incentive is there to do your job well when you know that, at the end of the day, you’re just going deeper into the hole just to stay alive? Why should any worker give a shit about anything when nobody gives a shit about the worker?

      Every situation, work or personal, is a two way street, and until people wake the hell up and realize that, society itself will continue to go for shit, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

      • MCBellecourt says:

        “…choice has to be made between work and food,” should read “heat and food”. Sorry ’bout that.

  19. patrick Deberg says:

    Keep walking the beat James like the firemen, police, paramedics and armed forces and so many other public servants that actually work for a living. Ignore the brave souls here would have you working for five dollars an hour to satisfy their ideology.

  20. what does it say when the federal government immediately announces plans to implement back to work legislation for Air Canada workers after one day of their strike?

    http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCATRE75A0GX20110614

    • MCBellecourt says:

      By going for a full-out strike, rather than a rotating one, the Air Canada employees made themselves a wonderful target for Stevie’s little toady Raitt. After her Stooooopid comment about sexy cancer, she needed a way to look serious, and this is the perfect opportunity.

  21. I think the obit is a premature.

    JK Galbraith, great Canadian economist that spent a lot of time at Harvard, coined the term countervailing power which applies here as much as any other economic issue. Let parties negotiate and as long as they treat each other with respect the outcome is the best that the market or the country can expect.

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