Modern Post In Winnipeg – A Disaster So Far, By Any Measure

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Thursday November 18 2010

On September 20, 2010, mechanized sequencing of lettermail to line of delivery was implemented at Depot C and Charleswood Depot in Winnipeg.  Mechanized sequencing is the part of Modern Post that has the biggest impact on letter carriers.

Jobs Lost

Depot C lost 3 full time (FT) and 1 part time (PT) routes, and Charleswood lost 1 FT and one PT route.  Because parcel deliveries were taken from Mail Service Couriers (MSCs) and given to motorized letter carriers, 4 FT and 1 PT MSC jobs were lost as well.  The new routes are significantly longer than the old.

Every new letter carrier route in these two depots is motorized.

Overtime, Pain, Accidents

It’s not going well so far. 

There is a substantial amount of overtime every day, as carriers struggle with the new “two bundle” work method.  Mail that is mechanically sequenced is to be carried in the hand.  The flats and non-machineable letters are on the arm.

CUPW has been concerned from the beginning about the new work method.  Many carriers are reporting soreness in their arms.  They also say that they are having trouble seeing stairs, etc. as they walk because the bundle on the arm restricts their vision.  There have been some workplace accidents reported.

Poor Training

Many carriers do not feel that they were given adequate training about how to handle the mail using new equipment.  Others are not sure how the new work method is supposed to work.  That’s not too surprising – CPC has been unable to answer many of the Union’s questions.   How are you supposed to do householders, for example?

Some of the new equipment is not working as advertised.  The new Portable Data Terminals (PDTs) are not able to scan all of the items out for delivery.  This forces the carriers to put in extra time making sure that everything is scanned.  The packets (A/Os) are often late, forcing carriers to wait.  There are not enough carts to handle the larger than anticipated volumes of parcels.  Processes for unloading mail that has been picked up are not clearly defined and communicated.

Not Enough Staff

There is not enough staff to do the inside work in the depot, and the work is poorly organized.  Supervisors are doing a lot of CUPW work.

Some routes have not been covered on some days, violating clause 17.04 of the contract.

The Union identified hundreds of problems with the routes before implementation.  Some were fixed, often at the last minute.  Many, many others have not been fixed.  Carriers do not have credit for all of the distance that they walk.  In many cases, there are too many delivery loops from the vehicle at single stop.  Some of the loops are too long.  Pickups and late deliveries were not properly evaluated.

Understandably, letter carriers at Depot C and Charleswood are very frustrated with their new jobs and are very tired from the overtime.

Winnipeg Should Have Been a Pilot

From the beginning, CUPW said that Winnipeg should be a pilot project, so that problems with Modern Post could be worked out.  Instead, CPC’s approach was to
“wing it” and ram bad restructures in to meet an artificial deadline that someone at CPC headquarters in Ottawa had set months or years earlier.

Did CPC learn anything from this?  It doesn’t look like it.  Depots M, J, and Transcona were implemented on October 18, 2010, with a loss of 12 FT and 1 PT jobs, and 3 FT jobs downgraded to PT (MSCs and letter carriers combined).  Adelaide Depot in Toronto was implemented on November 15, 2010.

Sometimes you wish you didn’t have to say “I told you so”.

In solidarity,
Donald Lafleur
4th National Vice-President (1994-2014)
Colin MacKenzie
National Union Representative - Staffing (2002-2011)