BARRETT: Let’s not pretend posties don’t get a plethora of perks

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Postal workers probably won’t like me saying this, but I was relieved back to work legislation went into effect.

After a year of negotiations and Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) not being able to get a deal done – a mediator even walking away because of how far apart the two parties were – government intervention was long overdue. Given the time of year, and the fact CUPW President Mike Palecek refused to even allow workers to vote on the latest deals put on the table, I feel it was necessary to get the mail moving once more.

Except it isn’t. Not really.

Members of the public and some postal workers are taking part in ‘civil disobedience’ campaigns, blocking Canada Post trucks and vans from leaving postal facilities and doing the work they were legislated back to work to do.

I had little sympathy before, but I have even less now.

I want to side with workers. I want to give them kudos for standing up and fighting for their rights the way many more industries should. After looking over exactly what the issues were, and what was in their last Collective Bargaining Agreement, however, I feel more and more like Canada Post workers are like rich rulers raising taxes on penniless peasants because they want their cake served to them on gold platters instead of silver ones.

Some would lead you to believe they’re hard done by, akin to slaves for Canada Post, but the truth is they get a lot of perks and benefits the rest of us don’t – ones I believe often balance out negatives of their job.

For one, after working just six months with Canada Post, an employee who decides to get married is entitled to five days of “Marriage Leave” (Article 21, section  21.01) in addition to their regular holidays. The company pays 80 per cent on all health, dental and drug plans, bonuses at the end of each fiscal year, and many of the people I know that have or do work for Canada Post say there’s extremely flexible hours. The starting pay for jobs people don’t require a post-secondary diploma or a degree for are actually higher than what some of us make working in jobs that do require those diplomas.

Looking at statistics, sure, injuries are definitely something that needs to be addressed, but in some cases, I think it’s a factor of people not taking care of themselves physically – not being taught to lift with your legs instead of your back, how to walk on snow and ice, or trying to carry more than is necessary considering many are given swanky vans to drive around.**

**Update: My mail men and women have always had vans, as have those of my neighbours, friends and family. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw someone come up to my door with a satchel and more than a handful of letters and on the rare occasion, an Express Post envelope.

To be clear, I’m not exonerating Canada Post here – in fact, such lack of training would fall back on the company. I’m by no means saying all injuries are caused that way, but the idea stems from conversations with a couple now-former postal workers regarding coworkers.

When one does get injured, they get paid 70 per cent of their wage (Article 20.10)  – and they’re pushing for 80 per cent -, and some are given helpers for simple things like a cut on the hand (this legit happened to a relative of mine).

In contrast, I cracked my foot in middle school and delivered papers for a daily newspaper in -30 degree Celsius weather with a cast. I got stung by bee delivering papers and finished my route, and was attacked by dogs on two separate occasions. I sprained my ankle and only missed a day of work. I didn’t expect help – I had a job that needed to be done in order to get paid, and so I did it.

Let’s also remember how up in arms posties and mail recipients were over a decision prior to the last federal election to move towards community mailboxes rather than door-to-door delivery.  Seems to me like delivering mail to community boxes rather than door-to-door would reduce injuries significantly.

Would you rather be at less risk for injury, or less at risk for having your job diminished? We can’t always get everything we want.

Perhaps the worst part about the strike and the ongoing protests, however, is at this time of year they’re not hurting the company so much as they’re hurting the people who use it. In some cases, they’re like the Grinch, stealing Christmas away from rural families who don’t have the option of other mail services, or who can’t just go to a mortar store and get what they need like those in Toronto. They’re hurting the small businesses who can’t ship their product and who can’t make their products because the items they need must come by mail.

With international parcels expected to be backlogged until March of 2019, perhaps those still protesting should consider that as much as postal workers think they’re so hard done by, they’re affecting the livelihood of many more people – and people who don’t have the same work perks they do.