The following was written by Marion Pollack and posted on the CUPW Facebook page. Reproduced here with permission. 🙂
I have heard many CUPW activists talk about the need to fight back. I agree, and want to suggest 12 very concrete ways to fight back.
1. Attend Union meetings, read Union bulletins, and support your shop steward. Sometimes Union meetings are not the most exciting places to be, but they are essential for building strong locals. Come to a local meeting and bring a couple of friends.
Keeping up to date on what is happening, is so important. Read the Union bulletins and talk about them with your co workers.
Being a shop steward is a wonderful, but sometimes hard role. Shop stewards are a critical component for protecting our rights. Tell your shop steward that you appreciate the work she/he is doing, ask if you can help them out, if your shop steward asks you to take action, please do it.
2. Take a role in the Union. For me personally, being a shop steward helped give me pride, confidence, and personal strength. The Union often runs shop steward courses, and in many locations there are more seasoned shop stewards willing to help you.
If you don’t want to be a shop steward, look into other roles. Do you want to be on the health and safety committee, a women’s or human rights committee, or assist in route measurement. Even distributing and posting Union bulletins in an important role.
3. Talk to your co workers about how you can build more support and solidarity on the work floor. This could take many forms including welcoming new people , making it clear that RSMC’s, temporary workers, part time and full time workers, letter carriers, clerks, maintenance workers etc, are all part of your world. If you see someone being harassed or not knowing how to handle a situation, talk to them. Sometimes it is as simple as lending an ear, sometimes you may need to approach the Employer with the worker, and other times you may need to develop creative group solutions.
4. Say no to harassment and bullying. We all grew up in worlds where harassment and bullying existed, and sometimes we unconsciously reproduce that behaviour. When you see someone being bullied or harassed talk to them, ask them what they want to do, give them solutions and tell them you will support them in whatever route they choose. Often acknowledging that someone is being harassed or bullied is so important. Make it clear to everyone that bullying and harassment is not okay. If someone is telling a joke or a story, or making a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable speak up. I know that is hard, but we need to do it. And, lastly we need to look at our own actions to make sure that we are being inclusive.
5. Follow the work rules. I know this is hard. Letter carriers are feeling the pressure of postal transformation, really difficult route restructures, and close monitoring from the Employer. Letter carriers want to do a good job and provide the public with good service, and they want to have time for recovery, and with their family and friends. But, the only people who benefit when we start early, don’t take breaks or lunch, or don’t claim overtime is the Employer. The same applies to all postal workers.
6. Take action. Sign petitions, send post cards, etc.
7. Support other workers who are on strike or locked out. Coming to other Union’s picket lines or rallies makes us stronger. In Vancouver, for example two Employers have taken a page out of Canada Post’s book and have locked out their workers in an attempt to force concessions. Workers at both IKEA in Richmond and the North Shore Winter Club have been locked out for more than 80 days. And, while the lockout is on, we should not be shopping at IKEA anywhere. The saying that the longer the line the shorter the strike (or lockout) is true.
8. Come to rallies and demonstrations. I go to rallies and demonstrations frequently, but I know that many people don’t feel comfortable going to rallies and demonstrations. But, we need to do go to these events. The same forces attacking workers rights are the same people not solving homelessness, treating Aboriginal people horribly, restricting immigrants, and benefitting from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, abelism etc.
9. Talk to your family, neighbours, friends about the need for a universal public post office. Canada Post has had on line opportunities for people to talk about what they see as the future of the post office, and we need to be involved in those discussions. Recently, a right-wing think tank –the C.D. Howe Institute, said Canada Post should sell off some of its most profitable assets. We need to say no to that. And, one important step is raising the need for a public post office. Talk to people, after all postal workers know how important the mail is. We are in a perfect position to be strong advocates for a public postal service.
10. Support the Union’s efforts to get Canada Post to expand their services. Many other countries including New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany have some form of postal banking. Why can’t Canada Post? The perfect place to start would be in those communities that have post offices but not banks.
11. Support the fight for better child care. Study after study says that child care is important for the development of young children, and helps reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Child care is good for children, it is good for parents, and it is good for grandparents. I am continually astounded by the amount of time my retired friends and acquaintances are spending looking after their grandchildren. Don’t get me wrong, many of these people love spending time with their grandchildren, but they did not retire to become full time care givers.
12. Remember that we have to get rid of Harper and his cronies. There is an election in 2015 but we can’t wait until then. We need to start now.
Marion Pollack – CUPW Retiree