June 27, 2011

Canada Post and CUPW

author 2 comments

Ok, I’m not necessarily going to pick specifically on Canada Post or their union, just unions in general.

Unlike most people in the IT profession, I’ve had the “pleasure” of working for a union before.  Not in IT, but during one of those character building summer jobs, in a steel mill.  During my time there I also had the “pleasure” of being part of two one day strikes.  I never did hear the details, as it really didn’t concern me, I was only a part time worker.

From that experience, the experience my wife goes through ( she is a teacher, and therefor part of the teacher’s union ) and everything else that is going on with Canada Post, its union, Air Canada and its union.  I have come to a conclusion UNIONS SUCK.

The only people they seem to protect is the low end of the workforce involved.  When it comes to teachers, the good ones seem to be penalized when they out perform, over achieve, or try to help out more than the those who do the bare minimum.

I can’t speak to all the conditions affecting the CUPW ( Canadian United Postal Workers ) but some of them seem pretty ridiculous to me.  They are complaining that the starting salary is 18$/hr ( down from 23 ), pension ( anyone non unionized even have an idea of what that means ), and a few other things I’m sure we will never know about.

Seriously 23$/hr to deliver the mail, when in a lot of areas, there isn’t even the “hard labour” of walking from one house to the next, they just drop it at communal boxes and make the citizens go to them.  My post office worker drives around in her car from box to box, and drops the mail there.  She won’t even knock at my door when there is a package to deliver.  She will just fill out the card, and leave it on the handle and walk away.  I know because its happened a few times I was in the house next to the door in my living room ).

Salaries are usually justified by a few elements, to name some of them: skills/education required to complete a job, availability of workers, risk associated.  This is why doctors are paid more, because of the schooling required.  Professional athletes because of the skills, etc. So if we take out the “specialized training”, “hard labour” and “risk” factors, why the hell are they earning 23$/hr STARTING salary anyways.

As for pensions, haven’t they heard about RRSP’s, saving your money, oh wait that would involve taking responsibility for your own future, and not blaming someone else.

If you aren’t happy with the conditions of the employer, quit and find something else.  If enough people quit, the employer will need to realize that they aren’t paying enough, offering enough, etc.  I’m sure a lot people that earn a lot less that 23$/hr would jump at the chance to deliver the mail knowing these conditions.

I can understand that in the 1920’s unions were important to protect the employees.  With the creation of the “ministry of labour” that is province/nation wide (who’s sole purpose is to protect the employee from what used to be called exploitation) I personally don’t see the purpose for the unions anymore.


the IT dad

0 Comments on “Canada Post and CUPW”

  1. Hi Tim 🙂 I’m a firm believer that Unions are necessary. Whether they are an evil or not, depends on the situation. I don’t think Unions need to be eliminated, but rather reformed.

    The reason for this attitude is, eliminate the unions and we’ll just revert back to the days when companies marginalize their employees.

    Lets take Canada post for example. Not to belittle the work of a postal carrier, but there is probably very little training or experience advantage related to delivering mail. If the unions didn’t exist, essentially Canada Post would probably use a Letter Carrier up until the point he/she could be replaced by a lower paid (younger) employee. Maybe this would trigger the “age discrimination” laws, I dunno, but they’d find a way to make it work.

    Also in the case of Postal workers or any other standard labour worker the company is under no obligation to give a raise to employees. They’ll only raise the employee’s salary by enough to keep a majority of the workforce going. Although as an employer You’d want to keep entropy rather low as it does cost $$$ to hire and onboard new personnel.

    I would rather unions reform themselves such that they don’t protect the slackers. In cases where its obvious a person is not performing their job adequately they should allow the company/crown to fire that person. Perhaps even work out a deal with the employer to refund part of the person’s union dues in the case where the union won’t go that extra mile for them.

    Or maybe Canada post should be upfront with their Postal Carriers and say “you’ll have this job for X years and then we’ll force you to retire with Y years severance pay”. At which point the employee might be given the option to continue on with the Postal Service if they’re a good employee worth their weight. This way a potential employee will know this might be a “short-term” gig as opposed to a tenure position.

    Complaints I often here from people about union workers (especially Government workers) is that these people don’t feel it fair that a Postal worker has better retirement benefits and salary than they do. Well, to them I say “It’s a free country, go put in your application to the Post Office then”. The truth is, they don’t want to be a Postal Carrier, they just don’t want those people to be able to make a better living then they do. Which is a complete BS attitude to take. Like they are “entitled” to make more than a Postal Worker because somehow what they do is so much harder or worthy.

    1. If you put it that way, then I am hard put to disagree with you on this one Craig. But dramatic revamping is a necessary step in today’s markets. One of the largest impacts on the strike and subsequent lockout was not to Canada Post or the CUPW, but to the competition such as Fedex, UPS, and the other services that saw an increase in demand.

      At least in some of the professions that are managed by unions, I still see rewards should be handed out based on skills and experience instead of seniority, for example the teachers union. I can also see from the point you bring up about not all jobs do benefit from experience (i.e. delivering the mail ) and therefor people would probably get marginalized, and moved out of the way after a couple years for cheaper/younger resources.

      Like you said, I don’t want to work there either; it just seems to me that their “if we don’t get what we want, we will strike until we do” attitude seems to me a lot like the child throwing a tantrum, and being a parent, giving in to the tantrum just makes the next one that much worse.

      I guess after this back and forth, i have to give you the +1, maybe the abolition of the unions isn’t ideal for all of them, but they need to be reformed in a way that rewards the good/smart/effective and deals effectively with the slackers.

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