Postal Workers Back Strike Action

Residents in Windsor-Essex might be able to convincingly use the excuse "it got lost in the mail" come the end of the month.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers members are overwhelmingly backing strike action should a new deal not be reached with Canada Post. Across the country, nearly 94% of urban and 96% of rural workers backed a strike position while those in Windsor-Essex with CUPW Local 630 voted 95% and 100% in support.

"For the last three or four negotiations we've taken rollbacks and it's always been this excuse, that excuse," says Phil Lyons, president of CUPW Local 630. "We've gone a lot of years where we haven't even stayed up with the rate of inflation and wages are a big part of this."

Strike votes were held between August 7 and September 9 across the country, producing the provisional numbers released today.

Lyons says the nature of work at Canada Post is changing and hopes to reflect that in a new deal.

"We're now more of a parcel company than we are of a letter company even though the letter rates have become stable, but our parcel business is just booming."

While wages and the changing work at Canada Post are among the top priorities for the union in a new deal, Lyons says some moves by the Crown corporation have not sat well with union members.

He argues Canada Post used pay equity requirements with rural workers to show a proposed second quarter loss of $242-million.

"It really rubbed our members the wrong way and it was really done to buffalo the public," says Lyons. "At every level of this union we weren't too happy with that, we've seen them use that tactic before and it's time that they got called out on it."

The previous contract was a two-year deal, but Lyons hopes to see the next contract set at four years.

The two sides stepped back from the negotiating table on September 4 which has been followed with an offer on September 7 from Canada Post which the CUPW negotiators are expected to respond to by the end of the week.

"It by no means means that there's going to be a strike and I think this strong mandate is really — you're really going to see things heat up over the next couple weeks and we really believe we'll get this done," says Lyons.

Those global offers to the union "simple weren't good enough" according to CUPW national president Mike Palecek.

In a statement following the release of the strike numbers, Palecek says it's time to address what he sees as deteriorating working conditions at Canada Post.

“This ends now. Our members have spoken — this is the time to address serious workplace problems.”