(BlackburnNews.com file photo)

Arbitration begins for Canada Post workers

Efforts to reach a collective agreement for the country’s mail carriers continue Wednesday as officials from Canada Post and the Canadian Postal Workers Union meet with an arbitrator.

Elizabeth MacPherson was appointed the arbitrator after the federal government forced the mail carriers back to work on November 27 following weeks of rotating strikes.

CUPW filed a constitutional challenge against the legislation with the Ontario Superior Court last month arguing the Supreme Court of Canada has already declared the right to strike protected. However, it will participate in arbitration on a “without prejudice basis” subject to its challenge and any court rulings.

Ahead of that legislation, MacPherson served as the mediator in seven days of talks that failed to reach an agreement.

Discussion Wednesday will determine what issues between the sides are still in dispute. A release from the union said that would be up to the arbitrator.

“The legislation passed by the Government stated that the Minister of Labour would determine the issues in dispute,” it read. “The Minister chose not to do this, and has given the arbitrator the authority to make this determination.”

Canada Post offered a wage increase in its final offer to the union on November 15, but CUPW National President, Mike Palecek said it did not address major issues, such as equality between rural and urban carriers, creating more full-time jobs, and health and safety.

“Canada Post wants to send our health and safety issues to a committee,” said Palecek at the time. “We all know what that means. It means they will do nothing.”

The union has said the corporation faces a serious injury crisis with an injury rate of 5.4 times higher than the average federal worker.

A protest by U.S. postal carriers outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, January 15 2019 (Photo courtesy of the American Postal Workers Union)

A protest by U.S. postal carriers outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, January 15 2019 (Photo courtesy of the American Postal Workers Union)

On Tuesday, members of the American Postal Workers Union and other unionized workers protested in solidarity with Canada Post mail carriers outside the Canadian embassy in Washington. APWU also heads into arbitration this year in a struggle for what the union calls “fair wages and safe workplaces.”

Following the protest, APWU President, Mark Dimondstein and the union’s political director attempted to speak with Canadian Ambassador, David MacNaughton but were turned away. Instead, the APWU and NALC will send him a letter demanding the Trudeau government bargain in good faith with CUPW.