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Save our public postal service

Pam Frache

August 7, 2014

Postal worker victories
In 1965, a strike by inside and outside postal workers paved the way for public sector bargaining across Canada. They defied their bosses and their own union leaders to forge a new fighting union that set standards for workers across Canada.
For example, in 1981, members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) walked the picket line for 42 days to win paid maternity leave for women workers — a top up to 93 per cent of their regular earnings and an amount much higher than the benefits offered through the unemployment insurance system.
This victory helped pave the way for other groups of workers to win similar provisions; today, many union and non-union workplaces offer paid parental leave for women and men.
Postal workers were in the forefront of negotiating benefits for same-sex couples, creating a union-administered child care fund, and negotiating educational leaves for members. Although Canada’s Supreme Court only recognized no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1995, postal workers had negotiated such a clause in its collective agreement as early as 1980.
Public is profitable
Of course, postal workers have also been on the forefront fighting for high-quality postal services, including door-to-door delivery upon which more than five million people and businesses rely.
Far from losing money, Canada Post has consistently generated a profit that has been used to fund the other public services we rely on.
Contrary to popular myth-making, email and social media have not eliminated the need for high-quality postal services. In fact, e-commerce has underscored the importance of affordable postal services for people and business.
Typically, the most affordable delivery option for online purchases is via Canada Post. This reality helps explain why mail parcel volume has increased, not decreased in recent years.
In fact, even Canada Post management admits that postal workers delivered a record number of parcels during last December’s holiday season.
And nearly three-quarters of a million of these parcels were delivered on Saturdays and Sundays, highlighting the need for more mail delivery, not less.
Stop privatization
Unfortunately, the Harper government is determined to dismantle Canada Post. They have begun eliminating door-to-door delivery, increased user fees (the cost of stamps) and cut back on the frequency of mail delivery.
Why such recklessness? There’s little doubt that the Harper government wants to privatize our public postal service, or portions of it. By reducing access to and increasing the cost of mail delivery, Harper hopes to undermine support for a publicly run postal service. Selling Canada Post will redirect revenue from the public purse to private pockets. And even if only a portion is privatized, it will undoubtedly be the most profitable routes, such as those in urban centres, leaving taxpayers footing the bill for the more expensive routes. In either scenario, the Conservatives' corporate friends make out like bandits.
No to 2-tiered service
If they get away with it, eliminating door-to-door delivery will create a two-tiered service: one for the rich and one for the rest of us, since those with financial means will always be able to pay to have their mail delivered to their door.
Meanwhile, seniors, people with mobility issues, those who are ill or in recovery, parents, caregivers and many others will lose out.
We can stop Harper
Most Canadians oppose these plans. In fact, recent polls show that nearly two-thirds of Canadians want to maintain door-to-door mail delivery. We can win this fight if we organize and amplify this sentiment in every community across the country. We can start by sending a message to our own Member of Parliament and by putting a "Save Door-to-Door” sign on our front doors or in our windows. You can find campaign materials like these here.
In addition, by talking about this issue with our co-workers, neighbours and friends, we can help spread the word and sound the alarm. And if you’re in Toronto on August 17, join the Toronto West branch of the International Socialists for a film screening and discussion about the important legacy of CUPW and about what we can do right now to save Canada Post and maintain decent jobs. For more information or to RSVP, email
Film & discussion: Memory & Muscle
How postal workers fought for decent jobs, paid maternity leave, and public services for all of us
Film narrated by Montreal-based playwright David Fennario; Introduction by Pam Frache
Sunday, August 17
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Story Planet
1165 Bloor Street West

TTC: Dufferin | Map
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