Postal workers at the Castlegar Post Office were picketing Nov. 22. (Photo: Betsy Kline)

LETTER: Postal workers’ constitutional rights violated

“Constitutional rights should not be violated out of expediency” says letter writer.

I am responding to the two letters printed last week regarding negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers which were abruptly ended by illegal legislation.

First of all, thank you to the countless residents who stopped by to offer support during our rotating strikes (two dates in Castlegar, Trail and Rossland in a five week period). It was very clear that most people understood the issues postal workers are fighting for and we all appreciated the food, coffee and well wishes you quickly offered to picketers.

Secondly, I want to clarify how strikes fall under legal time frames, so people understand that unions don’t just get to pick the time they want to engage in a legal strike. The whole process of negotiations falls under the Canada Labour Code, and once management and the union get to a stage where there is no movement, and a mediator’s mandate has expired, it triggers a series of mandatory time frames before the union gets the right to strike, and the employer gets the right to lock out and change working conditions unilaterally.

In 2011, that time frame ended in the spring and CUPW conducted rotating strikes. At that time, Canada Post wanted the Harper government to invoke legislation to weaken existing rights, so they locked the workers out across the country, giving the government their excuse to enact legislation. That was in June, not December. Management manipulated the process to create a “crisis” and the Harper majority passed legislation that created the poisoned labour relations that exists today.

This time management stalled at the table over the summer to ensure that the time frames for strike/lockout would be closer to Christmas, because they knew Trudeau would not legislate us back in the summer, but needed a “crisis” to justify betraying his own commitments. Hence the “Christmas backlog” which turned out to be just a little more than the usual heavy volumes we process in November and December. The rotating strikes allowed mail to move, just get hung up for a day or so in transit. The crisis was manufactured by management and their government allies responded in the boss’s favour.

CUPW members are legislated back to work and stripped of constitutional rights, but we are not angry with the public, so the allegation made by one of your readers that postal workers would take out our anger on the mail just is not true. Most of the issues on the table revolved around our desire to improve service to the public and be safe while doing so. We are angry with management’s lack of respect for our concerns, and at the government for their lack of respect for the law, but never at the public.

Constitutional rights should not be violated out of expediency, or else none of them are safe. CUPW members will not willingly waive theirs because an Injury to One is truly and Injury to All.

Cindy McCallum Miller

Retired Postal Worker

Lifetime Member Canadian Union of Postal Workers

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