Light up the night: postal workers’ union speaks out against Canada Post changes

Recent changes to Winnipeg’s mail delivery causing concerns for mail carriers

Some Winnipeg residents should be expecting their letters and bills well into the evening thanks to recent sorting and delivery changes from Canada Post. Dylan Hewlett

The president of the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is criticizing changes Canada Post is making to the way it operates.

Bob Tyre says the public may be unprepared for the changes, which will in some cases see mail delivered at later times in the day.

“Canada Post did nothing to tell the customers, ‘You’re going to be getting your mail later,’” Tyre said. “People are used to getting their mail at a certain time, and after 25 years they’ve gotten used to it. They know when to keep their dogs inside and when to keep the light on.”

Kathi Neal, manager of media and community affairs for Canada Post in Manitoba, disagrees and describes the changes as exciting.

“We’re investing in our company to ensure that Canada Post and its employees are evolving and protected through the changing market,” said Neal.

Changes include automatic mail sorting at Canada Post’s new facility at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport and motorized delivery to each distribution area.

The process allows one mail carrier to load up a motorized vehicle with all the mail for the area, as opposed to multiple mail carriers carrying as much as possible in their mailbags.

The new transition is causing some residents’ mail to be delivered later in the day and into the evening.

Tyre said that delivering the mail in the dark only adds to safety issues the new system is already causing.

“You can’t see your feet,” Tyre noted. “The machines sort some mail and the mail carrier does some. You need to carry that mail on your arms and merge the two piles as you walk.”

But according to Neal, none of the employees’ shift times are changing.

“One shift starts at seven and ends at three and one shift starts at ten and ends at six,” she said. “Canada Post has been a top employer for the past several years, and we would never ask our employees to do anything unsafe.”

CUPW recently delivered announcements to residents of the Fort Rouge area about the coming changes. Attached to the announcements were light bulbs to use for the employees protection.

Ashley Fraser, a Windsor Park resident, had not heard about the changes before reading an article about the Fort Rouge campaign in the Winnipeg Free Press last week.

“I’m not overly concerned with getting mail in the morning or the evening, but I agree with their (CUPW’s) concerns. I wouldn’t want to be out there at night,” said Fraser.

Fraser believes that the public should be better informed.

“If no shifts are changing then why are they protesting?” she said. “Something must be up for them to cause such a stir.”

Winnipeg is the first city in Canada to initiate this process but will be followed shortly by Toronto and other cities.

For Winnipeg, Canada Post’s plan is to have 90 per cent of the city on the motorized mail delivery system by July 2011, excluding the downtown area due to density of businesses and parking concerns.

According to Tyre, this plan will be executed regardless of complaints from workers.

“They’re using Winnipeg as a test site,” he said. “They intend to go ahead with their little pilot project no matter how many people get hurt.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 18, 2010)

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