One Year After Convention: CUPW Members Play Vital Role in Keeping Communities Connected

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Sunday May 17 2020

Jan Simpson, CUPW National President / Présidente nationale, Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des postesOnly one year ago, we had just finished our national convention and I wrote that I would follow through with “my commitment to build a united union, to fight the attacks on all our members and to mobilize the membership” for the future. How could we have ever predicted that our members would play such a crucial and historically unprecedented role in our communities? During this pandemic, we are doing what we do best.

Every day, there are so many examples of postal workers in every region and in every local delivering more than just the mail in their communities. They are delivering much needed supplies, messages from loved ones and a friendly face walking down the street that has not seen regular traffic in weeks. We are also seeing so many CUPW members that are organizing events to show much deserved love and support to our Health care friends by doing solidarity caravans in front of Health care facilities. This has been an incredible show of solidarity between frontline workers. We are in this together!

It is also important to acknowledge the work of the members that are behind the scenes making sure parcels, packages and mail reach families and loved ones. To all of you that sort and process the mail, who sell stamps and deliver the public’s carded parcels at retail counters, the members that work in tech services that make sure the equipment is running in order to process mail, the cleaners that keep our facilities clean to ensure we can keep doing our jobs safely. Every single worker in CUPW is working incredibly hard to make sure we are able to keep our important public service available to all.

I am proud as a postal worker and as the President of CUPW that our members are continuing to help people feel connected in this unprecedented time of disconnection. We have so many members that are working to ensure that our communities, families and friends stay connected and safe. This is not only because of the important service provided by our members at Canada Post but also because of the numerous members in the Private Sector that play a vital role in our communities such as our Medical dispatcher members, cleaners, Foodora delivery members, Combined Urban service workers and couriers. Every CUPW member is making a difference through this crisis by providing important services to the public.

Our National, Regional and Local officers are receiving many messages of gratitude confirming what we all already know - that postal work is an important and necessary public service that connects us all to communities from coast to coast to coast. I want to add my voice and thank each one of you who are showing up to work every day under the most challenging of circumstances in our history. We also want to send solidarity to the members that for various reasons are unable to be at work during this time. We are with you and we will continue to fight to ensure your rights and benefits.

Be reassured that at all levels of the union, we are working hard to protect your rights and your health and safety. Here are some examples of what we are doing: 

  • We have conference calls with Canada Post several times a week to get updates and to pressure them to take actions to ensure that all workers are safe;

  • We are in contact with our regions to ensure that we are hearing all the issues from every Local across the country and are raising these as they happen;

  • The National Executive Board meets a couple times a week, to share what is happening and to discuss strategy for the future;

  • We have had a number of COVID-19 webinars;

  • We are in contact with others in the labour movement and our allies to learn about various strategies and struggles that others are dealing with and how they are protecting their members as well;

  • We are following what steps post offices and postal unions are taking internationally to respond to COVID-19;

  • We have set up a special COVID -19-email address at CUPW National Office: ;

  • We are also continuing to prepare our final arguments in front of Arbitrator McPherson in regards to settling both the Urban and Rural collective agreements.

I know that some Urban Operations workers are invoking article 33.13 of the Collective agreement, which is the right to refuse. This clause says that Urban Operations postal workers have the right to refuse to do particular work if they believe they have reasonable grounds that the performance of that work will endanger their health and safety or physical well-being and/or the health and safety of others.   RSMCs have the right to refuse under Section 128 of the Canada Labour Code. RSMCs have the right to refuse dangerous work if they have reasonable cause to believe that this work will endanger their health or another worker’s health.  CUPW members in the private sector also have rights under their own collective agreements and have rights under the various provincial health and safety legislations.  CUPW has “right to refuse” information cards on our website and Local executives should ensure that every member is aware of their right to refuse unsafe work. We must also be there to assist any member that is using this right.

CUPW members are truly inspiring. While our communities are doing their part by “staying at home” to flatten the COVID-19 curve, our members continue to work and provide important services to our communities.

History will remember this moment in time and the contributions that CUPW members made.

Stay Safe. Be well. We WILL get through this together.