How the Postal Disruption Could Impact Kingston

Postal Strike, mail carriers, back to work legislationAfter 12 days of rotating strikes that disrupted postal services in Toronto and Montreal, Canada Post workers were locked out by management, effectively crippling mail delivery across the country.  The screeching halt of mail trucks was heard on Parliament Hill, where the Conservative majority decided that it was in Canada’s best interest to intervene and push through back-to-work legislation.  Thankfully this was met by some solid opposition, resulting in a 58 hour filibuster, the longest in Canadian history, which ended on Saturday night.  With Canada Post expected to get back on to work by Tuesday, for far less than what management had originally offered, this week’s poll question asks:
[poll id=”63″]
For our household, the postal disruption had little to no impact. We don’t rely on Canada Post to deliver many cheques, save for what Grandma puts in birthday cards, while the few magazine subscriptions we have aren’t vital in the age of online, interactive media. The biggest pain was not receiving bills, as we have yet to take the plunge and automate monthly payment for things such at cable, utilities and credit cards. This was remedied in less than 5 minutes of phone calls, and in the end it has nudged us closer to taking the plunge and setting up automatic payments, or at least trialling it out.  Sure I’m glad Canada Post is getting back to work, but at what cost?  Government legislation in these types of cases is an asset when we’re talking about essential services, but this sets a precedent that could hinder future negotiations between labour and management.  It also brings up the touchy question as to whether or not Canada Post is an essential service.


Please drop off your experience during the postal strike, as well as your thoughts on filibustering, and legislation versus negotiation.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

18 thoughts on “How the Postal Disruption Could Impact Kingston

  • all my bills and method of payment for them are digital/online

    I rarely use Canada Post unless it's shipping a gift to someone but my aging mom was stressed as she needs reliable postal service to submit medical receipts to her insurance company

    seeing unionized labour disruptions over the years, it's time to privatize (outsource) Canada Post

    • You think that private companies don't (or shouldn't) have labour unions? Being part of a union is a fundamental right, it is about fighting for dignity and decent conditions for working people, not your convenience.

      • Partial competitors of Canada Post like UPS are unionized. The difference is they are in a competitive space. The union knows if they cause business to shift elsewhere with a strike, or cause it to be unprofitable then they won't have jobs to worry about.

        Very different then CUPW who use the fact Canada Post has a monopoly on lettermail by law to hold the public hostage. They've used it effectively in the past to get to the insane compensation levels they have now. Now that the business is in decline, while the $3.2b pension deficit is going to have to be covered, that can't be allowed to happen anymore.

        Its funny hearing Liberals "oppose" the CPC legislation. In '97 the Chretien government ordered them abck, and they ended up with almost the exact same amount less pay raise then CP had offered then as they are going to now

      • it's my opinion David, not yours – that's my fundamental right

        • Who was questioning your right to have an opinion? I was asking whether you thought that privatization would solve what you seem to think is a problem with unions, and informing you that being a member of a union is a right enshrined in law, and that workers in private companies have an equal right as those in publicly-owned organisations to be members.

          • Privare sector companies can have unions, but they dont always have to have them. Unions can regularly create a "company vs workers" mentality and it doesnt have to be that way…and once the union does exist, it locks in that confrontational relationship for life. There are other models that work well in the private sector that dont involve unions, thereby passing the strike/lock-out scenario… See Westjet (non-union) vs Air Canada (union… and even worse, constant government involvement).

            While a generalization based on limited observations, and I will await the hellfire response, my experience is that unions often result in less innovation, reward longevity rather than performance within an organization, and dont align the workers with the company objectives… making the organization less competitive.

            There. I await the fireworks.

  • My partner is self-employed, and he found it very frustrating (and costly) not to have Canada Post. For the past several weeks, he's had to send everything by courier, which greatly increase the cost of shipping — both for him and for his customers and clients. He also needs to order in parts and other items regularly from the US and Canada to do his job. I'd say that for small business people, if their experience is anything like his, Canada Post is absolutely an essential service.

  • I have a rather beautiful carbon triathlon bike frame stuck in the post somewhere, which is annoying, but as long as I get it at least a couple of weeks before the K-Town Triathlon, I won't be too upset. I think the postal workers have every right to strike and I wish them success.

  • The only time I rely on Canada Post is for items purchased online that offer free shipping (eg Futureshope, Amazon.ca, etc).

  • I personally don't use the mail much outside of work, and mostly we switched to fax. The way this was handled is disgusting. The rotating strikes were a fine way to protest, and didn't cause much in the way of undue disruption. It was the Canada Post brass that caused the larger problems with the lock-out.

    To have the government come in and give the union less than what they were negotiating for in the first place goes against everything collective bargaining is for. "Oh, so you're a union? So what, EAT IT, love The Harper Government."

    • The rotating strikes were fine for CUPW to cause disruption while maintaining full pay. Not fine for Canada Post who lost tons of business from people who couldn't risk a full strike at any time stranding their mail. Eg huge mailers who use CP like Futureshop moved all their business to couriers. Canada Post is barely profitable(not really if you account for the future pension obligation they are racking up) at the best of times, they couldn't keep all their expenses while revenue tanked. They only have about a 2% margin which has only been kept by huge annual rate increases.

      Send a parcel elsewhere in the world, then have it sent back and it will become very clear how crazy out of line Canada Past is. They are already way way way overpaid for the unskilled job. There is nothing comparable with the full package they have ~ 15 carried over sick days, defined benefit pension, 6 weeks vacation etc

      Much of the world is/has gone to private and/or competitive postal service including the entire European union by 2013. deutsche Post has become a major global player since being freed from the public service. Canada Post should be too.

  • The government didn't simply legislate Canada Post back to work. They also legislated a wage that was *lower* than what management had offered the workers. Doesn't that count as a punishing the workers for exercising their legal right to strike?
    Read and weep, rinse and repeat: http://www.thestar.com/business/companies/article

    • And this is just the beginning, most likely. It was a dreadful bill.

  • This relatively short disruption was need to encourage the laggards to go digital and stop wasting our collective resourses on things like cheques & invoices.

  • Hopefully it is just the beginning. Easy enough to look at what is happening in Greece where unions with too much power/low productivity and government that solved everything by spending more has destroyed the country. . We don't want to get back on that track that we were on before '84.

    When even half of NDP supporters support the government's back to work legislation you know they are doing a great job .

    • I'd stick to posting about Canada if I were you, you clearly don't know that much about Greece. The roots of Greece's problems have little to do with unions and much more to do with two things: a strongly solidified ruling elite, and almost universal tax evasion.

  • It always amazes me how people keep wanting to bring others down. Instead of saying, "Hey, those postal workers have good jobs. I wish my job was more like that" and working to make it so, they instead focus on bringing those people down. "OMG! They have fair pay, good benefits, and job security! Let's gettum!"

    This is really sad and brings the standards for everyone down.

    • When they are goverenment jobs, then we all have a vested interested in what is fair, as it is tax dollars that pay for these jobs when the services dont pay for themselves. At present, Canada Post brings in more than it pays out to employees, but that margin is getting smaller and soon will likely be upside-down. That is, it wont pay for itself, so it likely needs to adapt, and become more efficient… As a tax-payer, I am concerned about how my tax dollars are spent… I dont have the get 'em attiude, quite the opposite, I admire people and corporations who become successful, financially or otherwise, by becoming innovative and competitive. That is where I think Canada Post is falling down. I had hoped that the strike (not the lock out) had gone on for longer so we could have seen just how relavent CP is. Some divisions could be competitive and pay for itself, others perhaps should be pared back or eliminated. Legislating them back means the uncompetitive nature . monopoly of CP will continue.

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