We at the Edmonton local find ourselves at an import intersection. Like any crossroads, the choice of paths to take can be intimidating or confusing. But this hesitancy only exists if we don’t understand the journey that we are on. If one knows where they started and where they are going, then one need not hesitate at every choice presented. Instead, you point yourself towards your goal and you take the next step.
Where we have been
Our union has come a long way in it’s 57 year journey. We have won many victories over the years, many of which have not only improved the lives of postal workers, but all Canadians. Nearly all of these achievements have been realized because Postal Workers have been willing to organize and fight the ruling class through direct action.
Our last contract ratification is a stark reminder that our Union seems to have forgotten this. We have replaced our demands for a real raise with begging for a fare negotiated settlement. We have traded our picket captains for corporate lawyers. At a local level, for years we had been mired with individuals clinging to small pettiness and personal slights. Often times resorting to backstabbing and ridiculous political maneuvering. All of which puts an individual's personal ambitions ahead of the collective benefit of all members.
Over the last few years our local has taken a bold step to revitalize the historically proven strategies of direct action. To attempt to put aside petty differences, and actually begin to believe that we can make a difference in this world, if only we work together.
Where we are going
I talked of a journey, so let me be clear about where we are going, and what is it that we are continuing to struggle towards? It’s the same thing that, for generations, workers have been fighting for. Put simply it’s a fight to improve the lives and working conditions of all workers. That our bodies would be protected from injury during our long careers. And through our labor we would be able to provide for ourselves and our families. It wasn’t long ago that a family could be comfortably raised off the wages of an individual union job. As I say that out loud it sounds like some sort of a nostalgic dream. It just goes to show you how far we have to go just to regain what we have lost.
How we get there is clear... Direct action. History tells us that this must take the form of job action and strikes, which will in all likelihood lead to defying federal back to work legislation. If we are to be successful, we need to prepare our members both locally and nationally.
Throughout the "Big L" Labor movement, we know that this is accomplished through education and organizing that starts small and builds. This work of preparing our members cannot be taken lightly. If we want justice, or even an actual raise, we need to stop begging for the crumbs that fall off the master's table.
Where we are
Our local leadership has been quite clear about the path we are on. Although Roland has moved on to National, the path that we as a local are on has not changed. Despite a covid pause we are now continuing our education classes and looking to build upon the foundations set pre-covid. As we build our organizing capacity in our local, we will be working closely with other locals both in and outside the prairie region.
Let me be clear about one thing. This is not about me. Just like it was not about Roland. It’s not even about you. We have a chance to make a real difference in this country. But the only real hope we have of doing that is if we learn to organize and engage ourselves. There are no heroes that work here. It’s just you and me. But that’s enough. I am working to support our officers and stewards throughout the local. I ask each and every member of our local to do the same. When you go back to work this week, I also ask that you reach out to a coworker and in some small way share a little hope. I ask that the hope you share is that of workers walking in solidarity to change the world.
Canaadian Union of Postal Workers