Being an active member of this union for the last 18 years has left me feeling frustrated more than inspired. A big part of this is due to our National leadership group never providing an overarching strategy to prepare our membership to meaningfully resist back-to-work legislation. I do not fault our leaders for being intimidated or frightened by this prospect, but I do not fault them for not even trying, especially after always promising to do so at our National conventions. Sadly, based on the hundreds of workfloor visits I did in our local before the pandemic, I know that most of our members share my sentiments. In Edmonton, we have been doing the necessary organizing work over the past two years but the reality is we need more than couples locals on-board with the same approach to have any impact.
I share all this to stress just how surprising, and welcome, it is for National leadership to finally be putting forward a tangible, mapped-out plan to prepare our members for the traps always set for us. While it can be said the “Building Power to Win’ campaign should’ve started six months ago immediately following the arbitration debacle, this development is better late than never. As a democratic organization, it is our duty as members to give constructive criticism where it is due; conversely, we must also be generous with our credit and support where warranted. Regardless how it came about, and for what reasons, this campaign aims to address exactly what has been lacking in our union for decades: deliberately giving the workfloors of every local the skills to organize and confront CPC directly. Only by building this foundation, do we stand to take the next step in mounting the resistance necessary to actually gain ground instead of always losing.
For those who may be skeptical about the campaign, please consider: struggle in real life is not like in a movie. There are no heroes coming to save us. People don't just wake up one day with the courage to radically confront the considerable power of dehumanizing companies or corrupt governments. Ruling elites never change laws to give workers or unions more power unless they have no other option but to appease us. If change is to happen, it will only be by embracing our collective responsibility to create it. We can’t force that change without creating leverage. We have no leverage if we don’t mobilize our membership en masse. We won’t be able to successfully organize and mobilize our members, without giving them the skills and confidence necessary through deliberate training. There are no shortcuts. The work must be put in. Our local is well positioned due to our tremendous focus on recruitment and education over the past two years. We’re eager to see what momentum grows as other locals get trained up.
As will be elaborated on at other points in this meeting, our local has wholeheartedly embraced the ‘Building Power’ campaign. Those that haven’t read a more in-depth perspective on the campaign should check out the report already posted on our website (www.cupw730.ca). To help bring members into the campaign, and familiarize themselves with the democratic process building up to Regional Conference, and negotiations 2022, we have developed a robust chain of opportunities over the next few months. Here is timeline summary:
Today, we will finalize our delegations for the (virtual) Prairie Regional Conferences. For those unfamiliar, separate Regional conferences will be held for both our Urban (April 30-May 2) and RSMC members (May 14-16). Our local is able to send up to 31 delegates to the Urban Conference and 11 delegates to the RSMC Conference. Our delegations will join those from the other Prairie locals to pool, and debate, the negotiation policy resolutions passed at the local GMM-level throughout our Prairie region. Resolutions passed at all the different Regional conferences across the country are then forwarded to the National office to build our program of demands, which is then submitted back to our entire membership to be voted on. Once we ratify our program of demands, our negotiations committee initiates bargaining with CPC.
The next few months represent a tremendous opportunity for the members of our local to learn about, and be a part of something that may have seemed too complicated or irrelevant before. The bitterness and cynicism felt by many of our members towards the union for not doing enough may be justified but the direction being offered by National now is truly something different. The success of this campaign will depend on how many other locals are willing to join us in embracing this opportunity to fight back.
As I said before, whether you believe in defying back-to-work legislation, intimidating the government against using legislation, or winning enough public support to bully Canada Post into rolling over at the bargaining table, that journey must begin here, with our efforts on our own workfloors. This battle cannot be won by our elected officers alone -- we need mass buy-in and participation. If we don't all do our part, we are effectively saying that we are fine with how CPC treats us. No active solidarity means no struggle, and without struggle, there can be no victory.