After nearly two years of talks, an employee lockout and back to work legislation, Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) have come to tentative agreements for both urban and rural units.
The agreement was reached between representatives from Canada Post and CUPW Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers Unit on Friday, while the Urban Operations Unit reached an agreement on Saturday. Because they were reached without an arbitrator they are not imposed settlements—Canada Post employees may still vote them down.
However, CUPW representatives are urging workers to accept the agreement. National CUPW President and Chief Negotiator Denis Lemelin wrote in a bulletin on October 12 that they “believe the [urban workers’] settlement is vastly superior to what we could expect to come out of the Final Offer Selection arbitration process.”
In the above process representatives from the union and management would both present a deal to an arbitrator. The arbitrator would choose one of the deals to become the new collective agreement. This decision would be legally binding and no negotiations could take place.
Lemelin argues that the arbitrator’s mandate is biased in favour of management interest, citing that the arbitrator would have to ensure the terms of the deal “are consistent with those in comparable postal industries,” while the current settlement provides terms that “are very favourable [for employees] when compared to other postal and courier companies.”
For example, the current settlement provides nationwide job security for new employees from the day they are hired, and “40 kilometre protection” after five years. The last deal proposed by management only ensured job security after five years, and 40 kilometre protection after 10.
The starting rate for employees is also much higher in this deal—$19 compared to the previous $17.50. In addition, Canada Post is required to keep all 493 public offices open at least until the deal expires in 2015.
In a separate bulletin also on October 12, 4th National Vice-President and Chief Negotiator Donald Lafleur wrote that the union is “recommending the tentative agreement [for rural workers] because of the improvements it contains and because we believe that, with the current anti-worker actions of the Harper government, it is the best agreement possible at this time.”
Ontario workers will receive either $18.50 or $20.35 depending on the area of Ontario in which they work. New employees will begin at 85% of these wages and rise to 100% over 5 years. Pay rates for the former will increase by 2.5%, while the latter will increase by 2.0%, on January 1, 2013 and again on January 1, 2014.
Lafleur emphasizes that “this decision will be yours [i.e. the employees’] to make” and promised to provide more detailed information to assist with the decision making process.
The settlement for rural employees is also being supported by the union and will be anonymously voted upon by employees between November 13 and December 19.