From an August 30 press release on the website of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers(CUPW) comes the news that as of April 2019, Canada Post and its unions have reached a formal agreement to collaborate to reduce Canada Post’s environmental footprint. The joint statement outlines six principles for collaboration, including long-term commitment, good faith, meaningful participation, and openness and transparency. The full 2-page statement is here , signed by the Association of Postal Officials of Canada, the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Union of Postal Communications Employees, as well as Canada Post.
The initial focus of activities will be towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and single-use disposable plastics from Canada Post operations. In early 2020, the parties will publish an action plan for 2020-2022 , with agreed- upon targets for 2020-2030. After identifying a process and timelines, the parties will implement joint initiatives, “Working together with bargaining agents to develop methods of engaging all employees on local opportunities to reduce waste, emissions and energy.”
At the CUPW Convention in May 2019, the union approved its own Action Plan 2019-2023 with detailed objectives, with environmental objectives including: research and prepare detailed proposals to reduce the environmental impact of Canada’s postal operations, utilizing the provisions of Appendix “T” of the Urban Postal Operations (UPO) collective agreement ; Ensure new jobs for servicing new vehicles and equipment to reduce the environmental impact; Conduct a thorough environmental analysis of CUPW operations at the Local, Regional and National levels and ensure structural changes include an environmental impact assessment; Work with the academic and environmental communities on initiatives beyond the postal system; Participate in conferences and organizations dealing with the impact of climate change and solutions to halt and reverse the damage to our planet.
Many of these environmental objectives spring from CUPW’s innovative Delivering Community Power initiative, first unveiled in 2016, and also including a high-profile campaign for a national postal banking system . The latest progress on the Community Power initiative is summarized in a Report to the Convention in May 2019.
In June, the National Environment program of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/SCFP) shared online the materials for a workshop on How to lead a workplace discussion on Climate Change . The materials consist of a 28-slide PowerPoint presentation, Speaking notes and Tips for facilitators, in English and French versions. It provides labour-focused information and interactive discussion tools on “how climate change is affecting our planet, our communities and our economy”, and although the content is specific to CUPE – presenting examples from CUPE jobs and CUPE policy statements, it offers an excellent model for other unions.
CUPE has a long history of climate change related educational materials, including: Healthy, Clean & GREEN: A Workers’ Action Guide to a Greener Workplace (2015), which encourages workplace behaviours such as waste reduction, environmental committees and environmental audits; How to form a workplace environment Committee ; and an online, interactive Eco-audit tool to workers score their workplace behaviours related to energy conservation, recycling, water use, cleaning products, transportation, and workplace meetings. A very early document was the CUPE Green Bargaining Guide , published in 2008 and which provided examples of collective agreement language on many issues, including conservation, commuting, and establishing an environment committee . Most of these examples have also been incorporated in the ACW Green Collective Agreements database, here.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/SCFP) is Canada’s largest union, with over 650,000 members in every province, representing workers in health care, emergency services, education, early learning and child care, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, airlines and more. All CUPE materials are available in English or French.
In the newly –published Greenprint for Greater Toronto written by President John Cartwright, the Metro Toronto and York District Labour Council provides a concise and comprehensive overview of what has been done and what needs to be done to answer climate challenges, with specific examples from Toronto. The report recognizes that workplaces contribute significant greenhouse gas emissions, and though there are many examples of dramatic workplace improvements around energy use, waste reduction and green procurement in the workplace, there remains much to do. “The Labour Council is proposing to establish a network of environmental advocates to power the climate change agenda both within workplaces and in society as a whole.” Environmental representatives “would function in much the same manner as health and safety reps do under current Ontario legislation”, and based on existing models in Canada and Britain, could be involved in “waste audits; supply chain reviews; reviews of the movement of materials; identifying ways to re-use excess energy or heat; suggesting improvements around staff commuting.” The Greenprint document was promised, and many of the ideas sketched out, in an earlier Labour Council document: Labour and Climate Change Statement , January 7th, 2016 : The road did not end in Paris, but goes through it. To see collective agreement language already achieved to form workplace environment committees and representatives in Canada, go to the ACW database here . To see British examples, see Go Green at Work: A handbook for union green representatives, published by the Trades Union Congress in 2010 .