The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post are currently negotiating a new collective agreement, with “Canada Post hellbent on labour dispute as talks continue, union president says” in the Toronto Star (July 12). If no deal is reached by September 9, a strike or lockout is possible by September 26. An important goal has been to consolidate two agreements into one, and to achieve equity between the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) unit and the Urban unit on job security, guaranteed hours of work, and wages, following an arbitration award in CUPW’s favour on June 1 . Also highly important in this round of negotiations, however, are CUPW demands related to climate change and the environment.
CUPW’s interest in environmental issues is not new. In February 2016, CUPW launched The Delivering Community Power Initiative which re-imagines the postal service by leveraging its huge retail network to provide: Charging stations for electric vehicles at post offices; postal banking, especially to rural and indigenous communities; community hubs for digital access and social innovation. In addition, the postal vehicle fleet could be converted to renewable fuels; provide consolidated last-mile delivery service that would ease congestion and pollution in urban centres; and vulnerable people in their own homes could be served with a check-in service by door-to-door mail carriers. The 2012-2016 collective agreement between CUPW and Canada Post included an Appendix T: Service Expansion and Innovation and Change Committee, which secured the right “to establish and monitor pilot projects which will test the viability of the proposals” to expand services – and from CUPW’s perspective, these could lay the groundwork for its Community Power initiatives.
In the current negotiations, CUPW’s Negotiating Update (August 2) states: “We recognize that both Canada Post and CUPW have responsibilities to work together to reduce our environmental impact. We have put forward a bold vision: Delivering Community Power. Our vision will expand services for everyone and generate more revenue while also creating new jobs. It’s interconnected: our environment demand supports the Delivering Community Power campaign, and the campaign’s massive public support will help us in bargaining. “ An updated statement of the Community Power document was released in August: Delivering Community Power: Postal Service and the Low carbon economy and in June CUPW published It’s time for a postal bank for everyone: How a bank in the post office could help you to present the advantages of postal banking and describe examples from other countries.
The specific environment–related demands, as outlined in Negotiating Program Bulletin are :
C.3: Improve Services and Standards to the Public: Expand retail services, delivery hours, banking, and internet and other services. Contract-in all work that CUPW members can perform with no contracting out of work. Maximize work in local communities.
C.22: Green Canada Post Operations and Reduce Emissions with New Services: Require CPC to take measures to reduce its environmental footprint, initiate new environmental services and negotiate joint environmental sustainability committees.
Follow CUPW updates to the current negotiations here .
CUPW’s long history with environmental concerns is outlined by Geoff Bickerton, Meg Gingrich and Sarah Ryan in Chapter 9: “Climate change and work and employment in the Canadian Postal and Courier Sector”, in the book Climate@Work (2013) . In 2016, Carla Lipsig Mumme of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change project (ACW) made a presentation to the federal government’s Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, titled Canada Post and Environmental Leadership , which made proposals for a Green Plan for Canada Post, drawing on many of the CUPW themes. Canada Post Corporation’s latest Sustainability Report (2016) reports on existing environmental performance re fleet performance, GHG emissions, landfill waste diversion, paper consumption, and building operations and real estate.