The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is one of the most radical unions in Canada with unabashed strong ties to movements working against injustice domestically and globally. But once again, postal service workers are under attack by the latest "cost-cutting" measure threatened by Canada Post Corporation (CPC).
Without warning, in December 2013, CPC released a statement announcing the end of urban home mail delivery. Not only would this measure eliminate 8,000 stable living-wage jobs and affect the most vulnerable members of the 63 per cent of Canadians who currently get home mail delivery, but this is seen by many workers as laying the groundwork for full privatization of Canada Post. Despite turning profits year after year, CPC continues to insist that they cannot afford to continue this vital service. Organizers are making connections between the anti-union Harper Government and the track to CPC privatization and resisting.
But we can win this. Workers and activists can learn from CUPW's labour organizing to overcome CPC's latest threats.
1) Solidarity builds solid movements.
CUPW has a long history of working in solidarity with movements, from those building up safer working conditions for marginalized folks in the labour movement in the early days of organizing to current progressive movements like Idle No More, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, No Sweat and many more. As the adage goes, an injury to one is an injury to all. CUPW has taken this to heart, publicly supporting activists and informing members as well as giving them an opportunity to take action. Using these connections with other movements is how CUPW workers will continue to be heard across platforms and help their struggles resonate with Canadians from all walks of life.
2) Local campaigns work.
In the strike of 2011, postal workers kept the support of their local communities through rotating strikes. Hyper-local independent campaigns sprung up across the country, like the mobilization in Halifax. These small community campaigns kept momentum going, even as strikes ended in one region. They also became networks of support, reliable information and important mobilization for postal workers, doing the day-to-day postering, knocking on doors, and holding rallies. Many of these campaigns are still active from the 2011 strike and more are popping up.
3) Innovation is the way forward.
By proposing alternate and forward-thinking ideas like postal banking, CUPW is situating itself as a union of innovative workers. Postal banking, as explored in this recent study, seems to be a viable way to supply CPC with a stable long-term revenue as the corporation changes. Myths about CPC being outdated and doomed are simply that -- fiction. Workers are embracing new ideas and technologies, and there are many possible ways to keep growing.
By learning from the amazing cross-country work already being done, we can win this!
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