It’s a remarkable symbol of societal progress when everyone involved in a public postal system can refuse to work and still be guaranteed to keep their jobs.
But things like that are a little hard to appreciate when our mail is being held hostage. Fortunately that didn’t have to happen this summer, but threats of strikes and lockouts were constant from May through August.
Even though both sides knew for years when that contracts were due to expired, it took them another two months after the deadline to agree upon how much posties should be paid.
During those two months, posties threatened to strike against the Canada Post Corporation, and the CPC responded by indicating its willingness to lockout the posties. So no matter who’s demands weren’t met, they were both threatening to disrupt service. I have trouble understanding how one party can expect any leverage over the other by issuing the exact same threat.
Maybe they were inspired by the threat of mutually-assured destruction that got us through the Cold War. But I find it more reminiscent of a disciplinary measure at my old high school: If students were caught cutting class or arriving late more than a few times, they would be suspended. Analyzing that logic was some of my earliest appreciation of irony; the deterrent to prevent us from missing school was threats of making us miss more school.
Much like teenagers who don’t want to go to school, bloated Crown corporations seem to think of inactivity as a form of progress. They somehow found a way to use stagnancy a bargaining tool.
Both sides want the work stoppage to convince the common folk that their plight is more important – their campaigns invoke sympathy for the noble posties who are being nickel and dimed at the wrath of corporate greed, while also addressing the reality that Canada Post can’t continue to offer the same levels of service and compensation while up against technological advancements that are crippling the industry. Some people hate big corporations, others hate public unions. This recent dog and pony show isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
Some of our forefathers worked extremely hard to improve the brutally dangerous working conditions they once endured. But they weren’t advancing human rights so that work stoppages could become so routine and frequent.
Organization as large as the CPC and the CUPW would presumably staff their communication departments with professionals. Yet these people who somehow made a career out of diplomacy couldn’t even be in the same room together without a federally appointed mediator. They had one job – hash out a new contract. But they missed their deadline by two months, and the agreement isn’t even fully ratified. If that level of incompetence happened to any private business, heads would roll.
Thankfully we’re not bound to the suffrage of public union hacks and useless bureaucrats – there are privately-operated alternatives we can use in lieu of Canada Post. But I don’t think privatizing the postal system would improve the lives of Canadians; there are many invaluable qualities that only a public system can offer. And even though some of CUPW’s strategies epitomize all that’s wrong with public unions, their goals are entirely commendable; they’re protecting the quality of service and the number of good-paying postie jobs in every community across the country. And the fat cats at Canada Post aren’t opposing CUPW’s demands to ruin livelihoods and diminish the quality mail delivery – they’re just trying to balance the spreadsheets to keep the business viable.
It’s just too bad the negotiators on both sides have so much job security – they’re terrible at what they do. I wonder if they’ll always be held to such low standards.