The purposed cuts at Canada Post -- increased postage, cutting 8,000 jobs, and ending home mail delivery -- announced on December 11 of 2013 are just the latest assault on our public services in Canada. Doug Nesbitt and I have written elsewhere why fighting these cuts is a winnable battle. The experience of the 2011 lockout for Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and community activists, the popularity of home mail delivery and the callous and public disregard of the elderly and those with mobility issues by Canada Post mean that it is possible to build a far-reaching coalition against the cuts.
However, to win this fight means the left will need to engage in a broad based organizing effort. Sixty percent of Canadians, despite a huge propaganda effort by the right and Canada Post management, support home mail delivery. But we should keep in mind that this support is passive. When Royal Mail was privatized in Great Britain in 2013 it enjoyed over two thirds support as a public service.
So our task is to begin to translate the already existing support for home mail delivery into action. How can we do this? Here are a couple of ideas.
1) Educate yourself on the issues -- there are numerous articles explaining the situation at Canada Post.
2) Put a poster of support in your window and sign one of the many petitions.
3) Talk to your friends, family and co-workers about the issues and get them to put up signs of support and sign a petition.
4) Go to on of the many rallies, actions or town halls.
5) Contact your local MP, MPP, and municipal councilor (this issue very much affects municipalities, as Canada Post has to install thousands of community mailboxes in cities and towns which affects things like traffic flow, pedestrian safety, and parking). Let them know where you stand on this issue and ask them what they are going to do about. If they agree with you push them into action -- get them to hold a town hall and invite postal workers to speak on the issue.
6) If you are part of a union, get your local to pass a resolution against the cuts at Canada Post and ask for resources to be put aside for campaigning (same goes for student unions or other religious or community groups).
7) Contact your local labour council, local chapter of the CUPW, your NDP riding association and try to organize a town hall talking about the issues. At the town hall event make sure to connect with people interested in taking further action.
8) Use your contacts to organize door-to-door canvassing in your community. On the door-to-door canvassing talk about the issues, debunk the myths, distribute literature, ask people to sign a petition, ask people to put up signs of support and inform them of the ways in which they can get involved. If you have another town hall or meeting make sure to inform them and get their contact information.
9) After you have canvassed your neighbourhood the posters people have put up in their windows or on their mailboxes can give you a good visual map of support in your area. When organiznig town halls or rallies revisit these houses (as well as phone/email the contacts you have collected from campaigning).
10) Organize further town halls, organizing meetings, and rallies. This can ensure more people are empowered to take action and keep the momentum building.
Each action we undertake as organizers should lead to the possibility of further action. Every town hall should conclude with another meeting planned and dates set for leafleting, postering and canvassing. Each house visit and conversation we have with members of the public should invite them into taking action and giving them a range of ways they can get involved.
We eventually need to start coordinating our efforts in our communities and across the country. If we don’t stop the cuts at Canada Post, they will be rolled out over the next five years,however, it is looking that changes to home mail delivery will start to happen this year. Meaning the time is now! We must apply pressure by mobilizing people to take action and to squeeze elected officials into reversing the decisions before it is too late. Already the CUPW has been organizing actions across the country. The rest of us need to get involved, if our mail service is cut to the bone without a fight, the right will surely attack other public services with even more vigour.
Please visit supportpostalworkers.wordpress.com for campaign materials you can use in your local organizing efforts.
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