Commentary

Canada Post Debate Rife with Misinformation

The public and political debate over the Canada Post labour issue has been fueled by resentment and misinformation instead of factual analysis.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 26, 2011

With Sunday night's Senate approval of the bill ordering locked-out Canada Post employees back to work and mandating a new contract with lower wage increases than the company's final offer, it's worth looking back at the media coverage and public discussion of the labour conflict.

Let's set aside, for a moment, the notion that Canada Post workers are simultaneously so irrelevant they should be chided for attempting to negotiate a good contract, and yet so essential that the government had to intervene to legislate them back to work.

In the public debate over the Canada Post labour dispute, I've been surprised at the sheer volume of misinformation flying around - even from media 'authorities' that are supposed to know better.

I should disclose at the outset that my wife works for Canada Post as one of the locked-out letter carriers. That makes me an interested party, but it also gives me something of an inside perspective on what's actually going on.

The first thing we need to do is squash the false information kicking around in letters to the editor, website comments and even some op-eds and editorials. Following are some important facts everyone should who wants to pontificate should first understand:

1. Canada Post is not taxpayer funded.

That's right: your taxes do not pay for Canada Post employees. The company is 100% funded from its own revenues in lettermail stamps, parcel delivery, direct marketing and so on. The wages and benefits that Canada Post employees are fighting to protect cost you nothing as a taxpayer.

2. Canada Post is a crown corporation.

The Post has not been a department of the government since the Canada Post Corporation Act was implemented in 1981. It operates at arm's length from the government but is subject to federal regulations around service levels, pricing and so on.

3. Canada Post is profitable.

Canada Post has turned a net profit for each of the past fifteen years. For the fiscal year ending in December 2009, the corporation reported a profit of $281 million and paid $38 million in taxes. Profits were up $191 million over the previous year, despite a 5 percent reduction in operational revenue.

4. Canada Post has one of the lowest stamp prices in the industrialized world.

Federal regulations cap lettermamil stamp price increases below the rate of inflation, so the real, inflation-adjusted price of a stamp tends to fall over time.

5. Employees do not start at seven weeks vacation.

When an employee is promoted to regular full time, generally after several years as a "casual" part time employee with no guaranteed hours, they get three weeks of vacation. Under the previous contract, employees do not reach seven weeks vacation until they have 28 years of employment.

6. The unionized employees were locked out.

After talks broke down, the union instituted rolling strikes to make a point without stopping mail delivery. It was Canada Post that locked the workers out and completely shut down mail operations.

7. The job is hard.

A lot of commentary in op-eds, letters to the editor and online discussion suggests that letter carriers are "lazy", "overpaid", "uneducated" and so on. However, the job itself is extremely difficult. It isn't the stroll-through-the-neighbourhood sinecure that many people seem to think it is, and it hasn't been for years.

Most routes in the lower city, for example, are around 15 kilometres in length and include hundreds of points of call. If a route has 500 houses and each house has four steps to the mailbox, that's 2,000 stairs up and down.

That much walking would be tiring enough on its own, but letter carriers have to do it while carrying 20-30 lbs. of mail as well.

8. Letter carriers will go on extended leave.

When you walk 15 kilometres a day, every day around the year, the likelihood of a serious injury approaches certainty. Between back injuries, hip and knee damage, slips, trips, falls, and dog attacks, it is all but inevitable that a letter carrier will be off work at some point.

By accumulating sick time, letter carriers can top up their short term disability payments so they continue to receive full pay during an extended leave.

It's also important to note that letter carriers do not get paid out for remaining sick time when they retire. Any time not used up is simply lost.


Revenge Egalitarianism and Income Equality

I also want to comment on what I've come to regard as revenge egalitarianism among those people who are incensed that the decent wages and benefits letter carriers enjoy haven't yet been stripped away.

There was once a time when public sentiment on wages and benefits turned around the idea that they should trend upwards. You know, for everyone - not just a thin crust of the deserving rich.

Over the past three decades, the postwar goal of a broadly affluent middle class has eroded steadily. Overall, the median income has stagnated, despite steady growth in labour productivity and gross domestic product.

In the same way that Hamilton's middle-of-the-road income statistics mask the two solitudes of affluent suburbs and desperately poor "Code Red" inner city neighbourhoods", the national income statistics mask a dramatic transformation in the distribution of wealth away from the middle.

Families on the upper end of the middle class have accelerated into tremendous and growing wealth, while families on the lower end of the middle class have dropped into deepening poverty.

Between 1980 and 2005, the top one-fifth of working Canadians by income saw their inflation-adjusted earnings rise by 16.4 percent. The number of people earning more than $100,000 a year (in 2005 dollars) doubled over that time, from 3.4 percent to 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the bottom one-fifth of working Canadians by income - the working poor - have seen their inflation-adjusted median incomes fall by more than 20%.

Our economy has generated strong growth in overall wealth, but most of that wealth has accrued to the very wealthy, while the wealth of Canadians below the median has actually fallen in real terms.

It's no coincidence that this trend coincides with two major changes:

Organized labour achieved some remarkable successes during the 20th century in carving out a fair share of profits for workers - money those workers were able to reinvest in the economy to buy goods and services that generated positive multiplier effects on total economic activity.

The postwar era of strong union membership and very high top marginal tax rates was also an era of very strong, sustained economic growth. The steady annual increases in wealth were distributed much more evenly among Canadians than they are today. The economy was strong because workers could afford to buy things.

Again, as incomes have stagnated over the past 30 years, personal savings have steadily fallen to zero while personal debts have skyrocketed. Our economy today is so fragile that a significant increase in an inflationary commodity like oil is enough to trigger a sharp recession due to falling consumer spending.

The bottom line is that every time a corporation (or government) breaks the back of another union, we all lose out. The median income further stagnates, and the workers whose wages and benefits have been cut have less money to inject into the economy.

Finally, the labour market in general shifts more bargaining power from employees to employers, resulting in downward pressure on wages right across the broad middle class.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2011 at 22:04:08

Thanks for the info. I rarely get any information from old media outlets (TV, paper, radio etc...) but I was completely unaware of points 1, 2, 3 and 5.
Interesting stuff to say the least....

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By RATH (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 15:18:06 in reply to Comment 65192

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:18

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By DJ (registered) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 17:41:46 in reply to Comment 65419

You are even more of an idiot for talking such trash you know absolutely nothing about.May i suggest you crawl back underneath that rock in which you managed to squirm that fetal child like body from.jus sayin!

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By john sayer (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 00:35:58 in reply to Comment 65419

You are uneducated probably working as a security guard.Have you done the Job?If not don't comment.I have done the job 22 years.I have been attacked by dogs many times.We have to deal with drug addicts looking for there welfare checks.Knee Problems,Shoulder Problems,Feet So on.How can you make a comparrison if you have not done the job??You are a attention seeker.Maybe your mommy and daddy ignored you,I dont know but give it a rest,.

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By disgusted canadian (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2011 at 22:06:05

After this farce by canada post and the harper cons. I truly feel sorry for all the young workers in canada who are just starting out. I feel especially bad for the ones who can`t afford a higher education. I am only a few years from retirement. When I joined the workforce there were many decent paying jobs around mainly because of unions. People had money to spend on all kinds of things cars, houses, entertainment etc. everyone was a winner including small businesses. Crime rates were low, because when you have money to spend, you spend it. When you don`t have it, you either don`t buy alot, or you may have to steal if you really want things, things that others seem to have. So by lowering wages for middle class workers has a bad effect on the whole economy, why can`t EVERYONE see this. CEO`s and upper management types are out of touch with reality. Lowering the standard of living for the middle class creates the circle of poverty. The children of the rich will be able to get a higher education and the others will not and so on. Eventually there will be such a great division between the have`s and the have not`s that it will throw this country into almost 3rd world status, and that`s when alot of trouble will happen. It seems to have already begun. Big corporations don`t make multi-million dollar profits, and the CEO`s don`t get outrageous bonuses by paying workers good and decent wages and benefits. Their main concern is MONEY, MONEY for their own pockets. Someday, hopefully all the workers of this country will rise united to fight for decent wages and respect which ALL Canadians deserve. Governments like this one love to pit worker against worker. They are the neighborhood bullies, and like all bullies, they are really when put to the test, are COWARDS at heart.

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By b_in_bc (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2011 at 23:27:55 in reply to Comment 65193

Well said "disgusted Canadian"! I liked what you wrote, I agree with this wholeheartedly. I am curious what you would suggest to people who are young and just starting out who, for whatever reason, can not/will not seek higher education. I myself, have too much education, yes it's true. So, I am asking you for your personal opinion regarding what you feel are some viable/realistic options for those who have little/no higher education. For example, if you were 20, and found yourself in today's workforce, where might you be looking for a solid job which affords them the securities once offered by unions in general. Where does your intuition tell you to look, not only for the short term, but over the span of a career in this rapidly evolving world. This is not to imply that I think unions in general are "dead" in Canada, but, it is my belief that we are in a critical period of transition and flux. A period where Canadians and people abroad must stand up for the chance at actualizing a comfortable standard of living, in a safe work environment, and stand up and protect their rights as humans as a whole. I get the general vibe that the world is on the brink of massive change. What that is, I am not exactly sure, but there are some very real and very 'scary' ideas being thrown around....thanks for your input and taking the time to reply here.
(I am not in any way affiliated with this site, the government, or Canada Post, just a curious Canuck.)

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 26, 2011 at 23:13:30

Very well said Ryan, and all very true. This isn't about the wages of any worker in particular - it's about driving down wages across the board. Unions do raise wages, on average, for their own workforce - but that isn't the end of the story. The fact that unions exist drags up the wages of non-unionized workers in many ways - look at Stelco and Dofasco.

I really love the term "revenge egalitarianism". This sort of thing drives me up the wall - acting as if workers have "no right" to make over $20/hour if they don't have doctorates...as if pay cuts for other workers are going to get anyone (other than a small group of employers) any further ahead. The fact that real incomes haven't improved for 80% of the Canadian populace in almost forty years - some of the most "prosperous" in history - shows that something is startlingly wrong with this system.

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By RATH (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 15:20:32 in reply to Comment 65194

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:14

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By dwookiee (anonymous) | Posted July 02, 2011 at 02:10:48 in reply to Comment 65420

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:11

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted July 02, 2011 at 10:18:41 in reply to Comment 65478

DR 6 380 1% - What a DReadful Discussion Rating!

This discussion has become an exercise in revenge egotism by registered users and anonymous trolls a-like dwookiee. There really is no point in continuing this discussion as RATH$PATH has surely moved on to adorn a new identity elsewhere. Not to worry however still, I am writhing-in really nifty RTH troll tracking softwear where worn threads like these move us closer to a hunt and that ultimate kill, quite easily.

Now get out of the way while I look for fresh paw-prints. We appreciate what you say but you've messed with our raw evidence!

BTW - Happy Post-Canada Day to all RTH residents;-)

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-02 11:43:26

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By you too (anonymous) | Posted July 02, 2011 at 13:40:58 in reply to Comment 65479

you say--"really nifty RTH troll tracking softwear..." but, but, wouldn't that quick knock you yourself out of posting?? Maybe that'd not be a bad thing.

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted July 03, 2011 at 10:40:30 in reply to Comment 65483

but, but, wouldn't that quick knock you yourself out of posting??

Nothing would knock me myself quick out of posting except perhaps other obligations which keep me away from my bothersome computations.

Maybe that'd not be a bad thing.

You are absolutely correct U2, this long holiday weekend I had lots to do; so much in fact that by my not being here debating trolls I got most everything racked that I needed to roll.

I don't whine on message boards that consume all my free time while my mulberries have ripened and I'm pressed to make wine. This weekend is when I make the must that begins fermentation and I must also do this quickly without hesitation especially with a watch for severe precipitation. Thankfully, that did not happen, yesterday, and I suspect the "IT's Your Festival" fans... blew all those rainclouds away?

Storm Watch GIF Image
original image. I apologize for originally embedding a near 1 mb gif resource hog.

This weekend I also meticulously restored a Clairtone Model #7978 Boombox I garbage-picked about five years ago. I kept the unit because IT has high quality sound and also receives two shortwave bands in addition to AM/FM Stereo and a working cassette deck. The equipment may be used as an amplifier as well and includes auxiliary, phono, mic, mix-mic and remote input jacks, plus an array of antenna/RF-in, audio-out orfices to choose from.

The FM selector button is broken and missing but still working. The record switch is busted but may work, I just haven't tested and both rabbit ears are missing in action although a wire coat-hanger fixes the arrested reception. But most important of all of my restorative tinkers, right down to the shiny chrome finish, was how I repaired the blown left bass speaker ever so simply with clear nail polish.

Tracy and I also walked to Gage Park on Friday evening to enjoy the It's Your Festival and rock our delicate middle-age eardrums for awhile so I suppose "that'd not be a bad thing", of all things considerably less juvenile.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-07-03 11:30:42

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By rath likes weiners (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 00:38:47 in reply to Comment 65420

What are your sources?Facts and sources attention seeker

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By James (registered) | Posted June 26, 2011 at 23:56:55

Well said, Ryan! The sheer amount of junk information I've heard about this recently is ridiculous.

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By Counterglow (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 01:42:16

The real problem is that people who, in some cases over many years, have been too cowardly to take the risks associated with starting or joining a union, now resent the fact that union workers are doing better than them. They didn't have the courage to raise themselves up, so now they want to drag others down to their own level of futility and impoverishment.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 09:13:02

Can citizens enact 'back to work legislation' with no pay increase the next time politicians at any level try to give themselves a massive raise??

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By Unionist (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 09:37:26

Here's #9, CUPW members pay for their own benefits, it comes off their paycheck not from the company.

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By RATH (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 15:22:56 in reply to Comment 65203

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:08

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By I sir Rath am an IDIOT (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 00:42:13 in reply to Comment 65421

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:05

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:41:48 in reply to Comment 65203

I have to say I like this approach. You look at how GM et al screwed themselves with poorly-managed pension obligations they can't escape, and meanwhile compare vs. the Teacher's Pension Plan which is not run by the employer.

Union-run benefits seem to always go better.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 10:11:58

Thanks for this Ryan, the misinformation around this issue has been disgusting. Last week I read an editorial in Maclean's magazine (I was waiting in a doctor's office) that was so full of half-truths and obfuscation it was shameful.

Essentially telling workers to "clue in to the reality", but never explaining what that reality is. Could it be they want to pay workers competitive wages with workers in developing countries? And the editors at Maclean's think we should all just suck it up and get over it.

Sadly many working people buy into this BS... and become crabs in a bucket.

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By RATH (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 15:24:05 in reply to Comment 65207

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:38:03

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By RATH THE IDIOT (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 00:46:00 in reply to Comment 65422

insult spam deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-29 22:37:57

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:03:52

Revenge Egalitarianism is a lovely term however might be a bit cumbersome. I have started using 'hate media' and 'conservative coalition' to refer to the broad collection of entities that convince us that treating people badly is justified. Others that I presently challenge as often as possible, are "liberal media", "heroe", and "podcast." In the end it does not matter, the conservative coalition consisting of elected officials, and the hate media channels are all on message together. Nothing can stop them in the immediate future. It is always easier to destroy things than build them.

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By What is the truth (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:24:33

There are people in this city, who I deem as the poverty pimps. They go around and speak the words that they truly care, yet they are part of the greater effort to knock people, wages, benefits,down.

We must expose these poverty pimps for who they are!

In solidarity with the workers

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By sentient_robot (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:29:02

*Great* post. Sharing around.

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By The Zed Word (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:34:14

Great overview of what's really at stake. I am very proud to have voted for the NDP since they took a stand against the further erosion of Unions in Canada.

Some of the most disturbing sentiment I've read online about the Postal strike is from people claiming to work non-union jobs that earn low wages who WANT to see the Postal Workers brought down to lower wages and less benefits. Instead of looking at their lives and realizing that the existence of Unions help raise wages for everyone, they want Unionized workers crippled and brought low so that that the working class is all equal -- equal on the bottom floor. I think people's anger is directed at the wrong people.

I don't get it. A rising tide lifts all ships, right?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:50:20 in reply to Comment 65217

One interesting thing about unions is that they tend to support labour-friendly political parties, like the NDP, who advocate for stronger labour laws for everyone. That, in turn, weakens the incentive for individual workers to organize. In other words, unions are actually acting against their own narrow interests when they advocate for broader social equity.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-06-27 13:50:56

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 17:39:52 in reply to Comment 65223

Ryan or someone also regst'd as him, wrote, "That, in turn, weakens the incentive for individual workers to organize." That posting is a debate club thing, not an observation that holds in Canada's real world. My response could be : if only! You give far too much credit to the successes of CCF, NDP or similar socially progressive parties out of Quebec, e.g.
As for this: "In other words, unions are actually acting against their **own narrow interests** when they advocate for broader social equity." Social unionism has been a function of Canadian labour unionism for well over a century now: what's good for me is good for all. Unions have often--or usually-- taken the lead that political parties have then had to be dragged to follow--in occupational health and safety, in social health plans and provision of, in gender equity questions where of course there'd been weakness within the labour mvmt too, and other important initiatives.
Achieving success in labour union initiatives taken has often shown to governments that, hey, this makes sense and can work for all. Jean Claude Parrot expressed these thoughts in Hamilton three decades ago in explaining why what was necessary and demanded by workers in postal factories may very well be beyond the NDP's comfort level [he'd been asked to respond to exactly that question]--but that fact in no way was going to inhibit the union he was democratically elected to lead from pursuing what was right and necessary--any possible 'embarrassment' to the NDP notwithstanding.

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By mnbvfds (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 14:36:09 in reply to Comment 65228

I just noticed that the Rob Ford types are voting down 'observer' comment above that tells a bit about hard won history of CUPW and a former leader of CUPW. If you hide it, the truth will go away---and Harper wins, unopposed. I remember, like Observer does, that people were afraid of Parrot without listening to what he was actually saying. There's a snooty view out there that workers are too dumb to know what's good for them--only somebody else knows.

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By Marcel (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 13:56:43 in reply to Comment 65228

I am a letter carrier and the wages weren't the main issue. The new way to work in regards with the new technology is. Winnipeg and Laval (in Quebec) have been the first two to work under this new ''Modernized Post'' and the results are devastating. A 1600% increase in work related injuries for Winnipeg and 1000% for Laval (Winnipeg started a year and a half ago and Laval less than a year).

That's food for thought. When people who know squat what the job is about try to implement new ways of working these are the results. I only have 6 years to go before retirement and I am very concerned that I will probably injure myself seriously because of that new way to work. I have never hurt myself seriously in 24 years (less than a week total of leave due to injury). Good luck to the new workers, some serious battles lie ahead...

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 22:32:12 in reply to Comment 65228

DR 57 81 70%

There are far more anonymous observer's than there are regst'd editors to be sure. Take you for example, you have amassed at least 16 comments over the last year, 17 if you've ever posted as silent observer, 28 if that includes Concerned Observer and 48 for the addition of all anonymous Observer comments. Not to mention, if any of those other aliases were in fact you cloaked in another form of anonymity, then you've been around here since long before me, EH?

Notwithstanding and with even less need to say, your approval rating as an anonymous user is far superior to my own at 84%. Your words are well spoken and not needlessly spent.

Thanks for sharing and please consider registering. We need more voters like you out here hammering!

BTW - All of the aforementioned gently worn anonymous names are openly available choices for your registered user claims.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-06-27 23:53:13

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By What is the truth (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:41:37

Zed word: Yes you are right, people are directing their anger in the wrong direction. Workers should be organizing, as a collective they can have power to influence change. Too bad, there are many poverty pimps in this city who do their best to absolutely destroy people who are trying to initiate change.

The list of those who lie on a daily basis, that they care, is long and vast in this city.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 13:48:54

Canada Post has a monopoly on letter mail. If they are willing to give that up and allow consumers to buy their mail services elsewhere, postal workers can strike for a decade if they want.

However, as long as they want to be PROTECTED by the government, they need to play by the government's rules.

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By MARCEL (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 14:01:20 in reply to Comment 65222



Monopoly eh? Try sending a parcel with Purolator to Nunavut for $2...Canada Post is a service.

I challenge you to put 59 cents in any vehicule and deliver a letter anywhere in Canada...you'll see how far you go...

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By M Kurgan (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 20:15:47 in reply to Comment 65222

Yes. This is very important point, somehow (?) missing in the blog post!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2011 at 21:04:40 in reply to Comment 65229

That's a ridiculous assertion. The employees' right to organize and bargain collectively doesn't go away just because the employer is government-regulated.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-06-27 21:05:37

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By jtford (registered) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 13:49:47 in reply to Comment 65230

I find it insulting that public sector unions exist at all! It basically says that the people(themselves) are out to screw them. This is nonsensical. I thought it was only the big bad capitalists who were out to keep the masses poor? As a citizen taxpayer who might also work in the public sector, I don't begrudge workers a respectable living. Demanding ever unsupportable heights in wages year after year is not on!

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By screen name (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 17:00:15 in reply to Comment 65336

'I find it insulting that public sector unions exist'--ask public sector workers WHY they've organized themselves to bargain collectively--no, don't ask yourself, ask them--read history of why people organized themselves collectively; and if you and I do a job with the same competence, shouldn't you get more because the boss likes you and your sister? And, how would anyone know about that arbitrary different pay?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 21:56:09 in reply to Comment 65230

>> The employees' right to organize and bargain collectively doesn't go away

Do Canadians who rely on the postal service have any rights?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 17:19:03

I never get why people feel free to critize members of public unions for their "excessive wages" or "posh benefits plans"?

If they were able to negotiate these concessions from their employer, good on them. I wish I could get that from my employer. Why should I go around insulting them, telling them to "wake up and abandon defined benefits pension plans". What makes anyone feel that they're entitled to judge the compensation of others?

I also can't help but notice this judgment seems restricted to unions. I don't hear quite the same outcry about the starting salary of accountants, or dentists.

Why all this hate for people who, in the past, were able to negotiate decent benefits? They're working out something with their employer, and I don't see why the peanut gallery feels they deserve to get involved in the discourse. Does your postman show up to your job site at Christmas and criticize your "hefty" Christmas bonus? No? So why is the reverse tolerated?

People need to mind their own f#%$&@$ business! I understand you're frustrated with the Canada Post strike, but what makes anyone feel entitled to tell another group of people what they should accept from their employer?

Many of the people complaing about unions also seem to be rather poor, and working in a non-union environment. I'd almost chalk their comments up to jealousy. Many lament how difficult it is to "make ends meet" and how good the postal employees have it. I don't suppose any of these complainers have ever though that maybe they're underpaid, and the postal union has managed to negotiate a living wage? Maybe they should be congratulating the posties instead of insulting them.

This is between the employer and their employees, Canada Post and the Union, everyone else is free to complain about the disruption, but should refrain from publicly lynching either side (yes, I said either side.).

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By Inspire (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 21:39:43

The misinformation flows both ways.

Many things you have said in this post are bang on.
On the other side the Canadian Government jumped in and forced Canada Post to end its lock out which is also a right of the company. 8 months of negotiations and nothing good happening, just getting worse. The unions doing circulating limited strikes, and the company locking them out all together.
The Government is getting things moving which is a good thing for Canada on the whole.

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By Scott (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 22:05:52

Hey A Smith you ever hear of FedEx or UPS?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 22:18:16 in reply to Comment 65235

Sure have. According to the Canada Post Act, they aren't allowed to deliver letter mail...

Exclusive privilege

14. (1) Subject to section 15, the Corporation has the sole and exclusive privilege of collecting, transmitting and delivering letters to the addressee thereof within Canada.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 12:40:02 in reply to Comment 65236

This is nonsense. There are countless courier services who will deliver letters to any address you scribble on it. You just can't pay with a stamp.

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By jtford (registered) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 13:51:59 in reply to Comment 65251

It's not apples to apples, you don't seem to understand that.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 13:46:21 in reply to Comment 65251

And these couriers are forced by the government to charge 3X the going rate of Canada Post (15(e)), regardless of the actual cost.

Exception

15. (1) The exclusive privilege referred to in subsection 14(1) does not apply to

(a) letters carried incidentally and delivered to the addressee thereof by a friend of the sender or addressee;

(b) commissions, affidavits, writs, processes or proceedings issued by a court of justice;

(c) letters lawfully brought into Canada and forthwith posted thereafter;

(d) letters concerning goods for delivery therewith, carried by a common carrier without pay, reward, advantage or profit for so doing;

(e) letters of an urgent nature that are transmitted by a messenger for a fee at least equal to an amount that is three times the regular rate of postage payable for delivery in Canada of similarly addressed letters weighing fifty grams;

(f) letters of any merchant or owner of a cargo vessel or the cargo therein that are carried by such vessel or by any employee of such merchant or owner and delivered to the addressee thereof without pay, reward, advantage or profit for so doing;

(g) letters concerning the affairs of an organization that are transmitted between offices of that organization by an employee thereof;

(h) letters in the course of transmission by any electronic or optical means; and

(i) letters transmitted by any naval, army or air forces of any foreign country that are in Canada with the consent of the Government of Canada.

... In other words, Canada Post has a MONOPOLY on cheap mail delivery and postal employees have benefited for decades from this lack of free market competition.

The Canada Post Act states its primary objective...

5. (1) The objects of the Corporation are

(a) to establish and operate a postal service for the collection, transmission and delivery of messages, information, funds and goods both within Canada and between Canada and places outside Canada;

Postal strikes stop mail delivery and thus run counter to this first objective of Canada Post.

Canada Post is NOT a make work scheme. If these workers are unhappy with the job, they are free to find other work.

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By HeScores (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 10:49:30 in reply to Comment 65257

Except they choose to charge about 33x the price of Canada Post for a letter. I guess they must have misread the 3x.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:02:06 in reply to Comment 65257

So as long as they charge $1.50+ and deliver in a timely fashion, it's legal. That's about the going rate for slow-pace courier service anyway, and there are lots to choose from. If all else fails, Blue Line Taxi will do it for you.

Canada regulates simple letter mail, just like any other country. That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of alternatives. Nobody is being left high and dry here.

Oh, and this wasn't a "strike", it was a lockout.

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By jtford (registered) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 13:54:09 in reply to Comment 65286

The union declared rotating strikes, which make doing this kind of business impossible. Therefore the lock-out. What would you do?

A strike is a strike, do you need to read dictionary?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:56:21 in reply to Comment 65286

It ended in a lockout but started as rotating strikes. Call that one a draw.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:51:54 in reply to Comment 65286

>> Canada regulates simple letter mail, just like any other country.

And why does it do this?

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By A Nonymous (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 16:40:38 in reply to Comment 65289

To guarantee that fees remain reasonable. Like a previous poster said, UPS and the likes don't just charge 3X the price, it's WAY more.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 21:33:28 in reply to Comment 65352

OK, so how can fees be reasonable if postal workers are on strike?

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[ - ]

By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 22:57:36

Bravo Ryan, well said.

It sickens me to think that there are so many people out there, both rich and poor, who think that dragging others down will somehow raise them up. The most obvious difference between the prosperous times of the past and today is the disparity in wealth that currently exists. The common thread in neo-conservative tactics, such as flatter income taxes, minimum wage freezes and the undermining of rent controls, public health care and education, is always that they make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

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[ - ]

By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 23:09:03

I don't know about the rest of you but tomorrow morning I'm gonna put a sticky note on the inside lid of my mailbox that says, "This address proudly supports Canada Post letter carriers."

Have a Nice Day :-)

On second thought, maybe I'll use four postage stamps to affix the note, which is for less letters they're betwixt to tote.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-06-27 23:37:03

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[ - ]

By Old Postie (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2011 at 23:23:35

It is nice to read healthy comments from informed people no matter which side of the debate they may be on. As a letter carrier with more than 30 years of service, I have learned that most of my customers understand that I do more than put pieces of paper into square boxes. The negative comments from those who do not know my job do not affect me because I know they could never walk a mile in my shoes. Canada Post may sign my paycheque but I joined in the day when your customers came first and a profit was not a priority. I, and many of my co-workers, do this job because we enjoy the interaction with the people we meet, their dogs and kids, and because it satisfies a need to provide a service that is important...and to do it well. The pay and benefits have allowed me to raise a family in comfort, but not in luxury. I have been a longtime defender of the company, the service and my co-workers at the inevitable backyard BBQ question period..but no more.The soul of Canada Post has been hijacked by a political agenda that is determined to change the face of public sector unions in Canada at the expense of my customers. Mail delivery on a daily basis is no longer a priority to management if it means spending outside of the budget. It can sit for a day or two. I may be a pessimistic old goat but I believe that we posties are just the first to fall. Next up?....it could be any one of you, union or not.

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[ - ]

By Sarah (registered) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:50:01

Thank you for posting this article. I had very little background knowledge of this issue, but a strong gut feeling that what we are being offered by the media is poorly articulated at best and straight-up lies at worst. How is it that a crown corporation can lock out workers and then the government gets to legislate them back to work? It is a sad reflection on all of us that people no longer see a difference between a lock out and a strike. This is the first article I've seen that actually provides concrete information about the situation, rather than regurgitating whatever Harper would like us to think.

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[ - ]

By PostieFriend (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:16:44

I spoke with my letter carrier this morning and asked how she was feeling. "Angry" was her response. "Angry at the government AND my union!" I was surprised at the union part and when queried, her answer made sense. According to this letter carrier, there was an acceptable offer on the table, but the union rolled the dice with rotating strikes. Canada Post management and saw this as an opportunity to 'GET THEM' by knowing that this Federal government was itching to flex its anti-worker muscles. A lock-out ensued and now the posties are getting less than what they went on rotating strikes for. Thanks Union. Thanks Canada Post. Thanks Steven Harper.

I think posties have a right to be angry....and will any other federal union dare strike now?

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By a postie (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 14:32:01 in reply to Comment 65248

I'm a 20 year "Postie" ,sent home today after 8 hours work even though there's tons of mail but management says No Overtime...I can comment on this, it was NOT about the money on the table it was about the Company wanting to take away our sick time. I've already had hip surgery once and I guess I'll have to get the other hip done sooner or later it's starting to ache just like the first one. The company doesnt want us to be allowed to save up sick time for when we have to go off work,,they want to put us on "disability" with only part of our pay. And for people that call me "lazy" why do you think I have so much sick time saved up, it's because I Don't call in sick unless I'm really sick. Alot of cupw members retire with hundreds of sick days saved up, they just walk away from them even though other types of workers get to cash out their unused sick time. One thing for sure ,with this new contract if I get 7 sick days a year and I can't save them up I will will be sick 7 days a year. So don't blame the Union, blame the company and blame the bullies on parliment hill who took away our right to Collective Bargaining. This is only the beginning, expect more Unions to get slapped by this government.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 14:46:54 in reply to Comment 65261

>> I've already had hip surgery once and I guess I'll have to get the other hip done sooner or later it's starting to ache just like the first one.

Not all jobs are meant to be careers. For example, football players last around 4-5 years, in large part, because of the stress on their bodies. Perhaps it's the same for postal carriers. It may just be the real problem is NOT a lack of sick days, but that the job is simply too taxing on the body.

Perhaps, the next step is to limit postal jobs to a maximum of 10-15 years.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted June 30, 2011 at 12:58:35 in reply to Comment 65263

Haha. That made me laugh out loud. I wish we could limit anonymous trollers (like Anonymous Smith) to 15 posts.

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[ - ]

By Canadian Tax Payer (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 13:14:37

Interesting read. Where did the funds to start up and see Canada Post throught the hard times come from at any rate?? Tax Payers?? Thought so. Have these funds been retributed? No. Why is it a Crown Corporation as opposed to Private? Hmmmm. Is it an Essential Service? If yes....why isn't it listed and why would they be allowed to Strike?? Lockout you say....interesting.....if you and I are at the table Negotiating and I give you a mandate that I have a 95% Strike Vote Mandate unless I get what I want....how do you react? I then start Rotating walkouts....just to let you know...I feel I am in control and you had better Buck Up nad meet my demands. I of course realize the Canadian public using these services are in the dark but...I don't expect them to worry....right? lol!! So Business is now moving to other alternatives and Revenues are bein lost.....sweet. Even with this.....I won't back down on rotating walkouts...I have you by the short ones...right? Surprise......you won't concede to the demands....the negotiation(?) is stalemated....you are losing Customers and Revenue....decision time...do you Cave....or do you act and stop the nonsense and force the hand being played? Hmmmmm..... of Course it is Canada Post Mangements fault....how could it not be?? Kinda like having a Gun to your head demanding your wallet. Unions have their place.....granted.....times change....I haven't read anywhere that it is the accepted Mandate Unions are to solve all of the Econimic woes.....have you?? I consider over paying for a Service wrong...and will seek other alternatives....IF available....what about you?? People need to learn to use the routes available to them to address matters....it is not the Unions job...nor are they capable. Union has created Public dis-like for themselves and the Posties in this one and will continue to do so...until they learn to change and seek alternative routes to work WITH companies to represent.....FAIRLY....the workers who are paying them Monthly dues. As for Mis-Information as you suggest.....Thank the Media....they apparently don't care about accuracy.....are they in a Union?....lol!! As for Safety on the job.....do we not have a Health and Safety Board to address these matters?? Have they been called in....or have they already given their blessing all is OK and the Union is simply after a Wish List?? Hmmmm. You have made some good points for certain.....but.....slightly One Sided....and I simply disagree with some points.

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[ - ]

By just me (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 14:18:38

Huh?? ..You wrote above, "you have amassed at least 16 comments over the last year".. And that's a lot? That's less than 1 1/2 a month. I think the writer was meaning that Ryan's comment was different in depth from Ryan's usual fine points. It was, as I read it, a gentle dig plus a useful, and interesting, elaboration. I just, for me, have no idea at all what you are confusingly getting at, above. The posts in general at RTH are really interesting, the follow-ups often not so much.

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[ - ]

By RyanW (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 16:41:34

What entitles a postal worker to $20/hr when some kid standing behind the checkout at McDonalds making $8.75/hr could do the same job? I agree, walking 15km/day and carrying a 20 lb sack of mail isn't as easy as dishing out Big Macs but let's be real. What's wrong with taking responsibility for yourself? If your job sucks and you're not making enough money, find yourself another job. Get a better education. Win the lottery. DON'T bite the hand that feeds you if you want to keep being fed.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted June 30, 2011 at 13:01:37 in reply to Comment 65280

I agree. Pay the kid in McDonalds $20 per hour!!!

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 19:04:12 in reply to Comment 65280

So employees should follow the Oliver Twist model then, eh? Be grateful for whatever job you have?

Damn them for fighting for a living wage when the corporation is earning a decent profit off of their labour!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:52:41 in reply to Comment 65280

By this logic, why pay anybody more than $8.75 an hour?

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By RyanW (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 02:17:53 in reply to Comment 65290

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 07:22:05 in reply to Comment 65313

Have you ever done either of those jobs?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2011 at 17:01:26 in reply to Comment 65280

"The response I never understand is the person who tells me how crappy their job is and is outraged that mine is better; strangely, this person never seems to grasp that improving crappy jobs is a better strategy than dumping on those who have a better, unionized, one."

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[ - ]

By Tragic24 (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:11:15

So because a McDonalds worker gets 8.75/hr we all should? Let me ask you this. Why don't McDonalds workers make 20/hr? Their employer has raked in TRILLIONS in profits off their workers backs!And what is done with those profits? Why is it people are so thick headed that they can't see the inequality in this? So what if they don't have an "education". Not everyone can afford an education.... especially if you are trapped on the hampster wheel that spits out 8.75/hr.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2011 at 04:42:27 in reply to Comment 65287

If you believe that McDonalds is taking in unfairly high profits then buy the stock and get your piece. It is currently trading at $85 USD.

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By RyanW (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 02:24:28 in reply to Comment 65287

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:43:38 in reply to Comment 65287

>>Why don't McDonalds workers make 20/hr? Their employer has raked in TRILLIONS in profits off their workers backs!

Does anyone force people to work at McDonalds? Does anyone force people to eat at McDonalds? If the people of Canada don't like McDonalds wages, are they free to eat somewhere else and put McDonalds out of business?

Canada is a free country. If you don't like the job you have, find another one, or better yet, start the next McDonalds and become a billionaire.

Just please stop the whining.

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[ - ]

By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:52:54

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 19:37:28 in reply to Comment 65291

The point of Canada Post is that if I want to mail a letter to my sister in Whitehorse it costs the same as if I were mailing a letter to Hamilton, Toronto or another city.

It means that everyone has guaranteed mail delivery regardless of where they live.

And for a cost to me of $0.52, that's not too shabby.

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[ - ]

By Sapere Aude (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 18:57:45

"The employees' right to organize and bargain collectively doesn't go away just because the employer is government-regulated."

The implication of this statement is fallacious.

The government is the one to whom unions go when they want to cry foul about unfair bargaining practices. If the government can regulate pricing and lock other businesses out of carrying letter mail, it stands to reason that it can also regulate wages and when to send postal workers back to work.

Any union of public sector workers is doomed by definition. Better for the workers if the union didn't exist, at least they would save union fees.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 22:31:27 in reply to Comment 65293

The police are the ones to whom citizens go when they want to cry foul about being victimized by criminals. If the police can lock people up for committing crimes, it stands to reason that they can also decide who to lock up and for what reasons.

See what I did there?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2011 at 04:48:26 in reply to Comment 65307

Except that is not how our system works. The police can in fact arrest and charge you. Then the Crown Attorney has to decide to prosecute those charges and then those charges have to be proven in a court of law.

Neat little system with built in checks and balances is it not. I realize that there is a small percentage of convictions that are wrong but by and large the system works pretty well.

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[ - ]

By Xeblaro (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 19:09:04

For every union worker willing to strike, there's a minimum wage worker willing to do the union job, for half the union wage.

It's upsetting to see people who are, seemingly, so comfortable in their lives and work that they feel they can walk out of their job in an attempt to make it their job better.

Can't you see the irony, driven by complacency?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 20:20:33 in reply to Comment 65295

And that's why unions protect their members from being fired for no reason. Unfortunately they sometimes protect them from being fired with cause too, but that's another story.

An intelligent employer respects experience and pays well for it knowing how much more they are capable of producing.

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[ - ]

By Tragic24 (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2011 at 20:15:04

How about we put all jobs in canada up for bid yearly and the lowest bidder gets it?

That way everyone can just run into slavery and third world living conditions by themselves and we will get to see what it is like to have a real free market society with everyone eating each other's young!

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[ - ]

By Superfly (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 03:34:46

Thanks for having the correct facts Ryan.

Bucket Wish List of Employers, maybe I'm next

McDonalds been there,
Monopoly control like Canada Post Corp.... I wish , ... darn only at McDonalds again.
Canada Post- not

Every work experience has it's benefits.

What's with all the Mickey D and minimum wage banter. If the kids try to unionize, the Corporation would rather close down shop, move one block up the road with new employees than have it occur. Studies have shown that higher wages in the fast food sector do not raise consumer costs but do affect profits and only slightly. Hence good franchisee owner/operators maintain their long term full time staff through incentives other than wages. ie. Funding vacations / retreats, sports teams or other tax deductible means. There is a reason a new McDonald's franchise will run you over one million dollars now a days, consider it a printing press.

Running any business , small or large, well (unionized or not) requires skill. Some objective goals, a commitment to outstanding service, safety, etc. When it's a monopoly like Canada Post and competition is limited to only a handful of alternative courier options like UPS for parcels but Purolator not being one since Canada Post owns it as well. With $281 million profit. It would appear there is a cornered market. Canada Post Corp can do whatever it wants to now that the Harper Conservatives have given them Carte Blanche on these employees and lost all ethical reason to negotiate. The trust and ethics have been broken, try fixing that.

Sounds like privatization to me. Perhaps it's already been worked out that way in the back rooms.

Opinion

I'm surprised to see nothing in mainstream media nor any Conservative Party Patsy object to Steven Harper's new title and last bill passed before the holiday break.

Steven Harper declares himself the new " Chancellor of Canada" under Bill F-yew which passes unanimously.



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[ - ]

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2011 at 11:33:53

McDonalds pays low wages because its workforce is disposable. The McDonalds model (groundbreaking for its time, but now followed by countless others) is essentially a tiny factory standardized factory for food. Each job is designed and mechanized down to the last detail, to the point where nearly anyone can walk in off the street and do it. In many ways it's a perfect model of Taylorist or Fordist production, and it can be rebuilt anywhere.

Is this what we want to strive for? Mechanization and standardization driving all skill out of work? Businesses so standardized they everything from the furniture to the menu is virtually identical across continents? Business practices that drive independent, local alternatives to the brink of extinction? Quality so low that it literally kills customers en masse?

As Ryan pointed out in his article, virtually all of the explosion of wealth and productivity in the last four decades has gone to a tiny elite of owners and managers, leaving the rest of us working far more for real wages that haven't budged at all - if we're lucky. If the businesses that employ us aren't providing quality products for decent prices, fair wages or a diverse and interesting set of options, then what's the point of participating at all?

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[ - ]

By Monty2 (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 16:10:30

Thank you Ryan for providing clarification however, not being a postie and not knowing all the intimate issues surrounding the reason for the strike, you have essentially only mirrored the lack of detail provided by the mainstream media surrounding this issue. Why is the lack of detail on all the issues so prevalent? For example, why is it that the new machines being put in place by Canada Post are causing more injuries? Why should a postie with 28 years of service be entitled to seven weeks of holidays? Why should a new hire be entitled to three weeks? And don't tell me it is because that is what has been negotiated - some management idiot agreed to that over a barrel but that does not make it right. I agree that the work mail carriers perform is hard work but I have to ask myself why is it that the union insists on maintaining this right of mail carriers to work so hard - the move to super mailboxes while not popular certainly overcomes this issue so why isn't the union pushing to move all mail delivery to this model. Canadainas will object initially but in the end they won't really care.

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[ - ]

By RATH (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2011 at 16:20:10

My apologies, I forgot wrath has a W in front. I forgot to be clear about who [sir? maybe madam?] is exactly a idiot. I should be clearer, I know. Many people did not get this info 2nd hand from nerds--what is that anyway? but as I now know, from meeting with and listening to the people mentioned--before I as RATH was born, probably. As for "anonymity", registd can also be a simple user name--like RATH could be. The "reliable source" you ask for was at the events described, as I have now humbly learned. Apologies. My meds ran out and I forgot that RTH is not a treatment centre. Also, I wasn't clear about what part of the posted comment was made up. I still don't know, and have since learned that it is as was observed, from as I said before, a real, 'reliable source'. I am proof that idiocy has a cure. Thanks for your time. And sorry, RTH

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[ - ]

By retired postie (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 01:49:45

I'm so tired of hearing the many comments that all posties are uneducated. In my thirty-five years of service I've worked beside college and university graduates, former olympians and some outstanding musicians. Terrific people all in all...

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[ - ]

By johnny (anonymous) | Posted July 01, 2011 at 12:43:30

Most of these anti-union posts characterize unions in some way as cheating, or ripping off the employer. They fail to realize that unions came about as a way for the government to regulate the power of the people to organize and fight for their rights. People have always had the advantage in numbers, and during the first half of the 20th century they kicked ass against the interests of capital (the moneyed class). Labour legislation allowed the employer and organized workers to come to agreements in a reasonable fashion, and gave reasonable time-frames to do this, stating within the laws that its purpose was to "equalize" the power imbalance between worker and employer. It also minimized the likelihood of work stoppage by giving the parties time to reach agreement, and allowing reliable and reasonable arbitration processes.
The Harper government, in messing with this process (and it has done considerable damage), lets loose the prospect of unregulated labour unrest. Remember the Winnipeg general strike, and the march to Ottawa. People can't be oppressed forever.
Maybe they think that the advent of SunTV's views will change the minds of Canadians. Don't be a chump, support the working class. Higher wages are better than lower, for Canada, and the world. People aren't stupid, they will see their own interests eventually.

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