The start of rotating strikes across the country by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is a signal that solidarity is needed more than ever, by other trade unions, and by the public. That begins with picket line support, the most immediate way to show that the courageous members of CUPW are not alone in their struggle with a bitterly anti-working class crown corporation management and a big business federal government.
But this confrontation is much more than a dispute between a militant trade union and an employer determined to press for concessions. The bargaining demands put forward by CUPW (see page 2 for details) have wide-ranging implications for all workers in Canada, and for the thousands of communities which rely heavily on a publicly-owned mail delivery service. CUPW is fighting for real workplace equity, not just the empty rhetoric about equality served up by Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers. That means giving the largely female group of rural and suburban letter carriers the same wages and working conditions as other postal workers. It means paying these employees for the actual overtime they work – a demand which should be self-evident in the year 2018.
CUPW is also working to reframe the entire discussion about the role of the public sector of the economy, pushing back against neoliberal politicians and the corporate media who claim that every government asset and service should be privatized. The CUPW “Delivering Community Power” campaign is a brilliant strategy to win working people for the understanding that banking and many other services can and should be provided by the public sector, not by profit-hungry corporations.
Yes, get out to the CUPW picket lines! But don’t forget to help promote the union’s wider agenda, through resolutions, letters to the editor, petitions, social media postings and other tactics.