A Couple Of Thoughts On Danny’s Canada Post Post

Yesterday, dog blogger Danny Kresnyak posted some thoughts on the Canada Post lockout. Read them? Oh, you should. After an “everyone’s to blame” caveat addressing both Canada Post corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers workers, Danny settles in with some straight talkin’, tough-love advice for locked-out posties:

The job is not difficult. Some of you supervise, while others sort mail, put mail on trucks and take a leisurely stroll distributing it. Your only natural enemies are neighbourhood dogs, people who don’t shovel the walk and technological advancement. Your service is on the verge of obsolescence and you know it. Sadly, our system is still somewhat reliant on the post and you’ve been able to seize up the works.

Here’s a surprise, I have a few thoughts on Danny’s blog post myself.

First, for a post that starts out with “I have always been with labour. I don’t side with the bosses,” there sure seems to be some serious worker-bashing going on. Danny makes mail delivery in particular sound like a fraud of a job — get some exercise, enjoy the weather, and hey, get paid? Bonus! Now, while I think most of us would rather deliver mail than work in sweatshops or slaughterhouses, describing it like it’s leisure activity is misleading and the kind of thing you expect to hear from crabby John Gormley listeners. “Why the hate? Did a postman bite your dog?” asks commentator Dale. Dale: having met Danny I’m pretty sure he’s not secretly a pro-management thug but I agree that his self-proclaimed working-class simpatico seems less than robust.

Second, Danny essentially mischaracterizes the current lock-out as a strike. Nope. Right now the mail isn’t being delivered because Canada Post locked the shop doors, not because postal workers have “seized up the works.” CUPW’s labour disruption — one-day walkoffs in different Canadian cities — was a smart way of putting pressure on their employer to negotiate without “seizing up the works”. The fact that we’re in shutdown mode isn’t because of the workers — it’s because the management of this profitable crown corporation knows this is the way to force back-to-work legislation onto posties, which weakens their bargaining position.

Underlying both these points is the inescapable fact Canadians have spent the last three decades watching successive governments legislate against public interest and for private wealth. We can’t even tell when we’re being clubbed anymore. It’s probably especially hard to recognize basic, old-fashioned class warfare when you’re under 30, like Danny — you haven’t known any other Canada. If you’re university grad in your 20s in 2011, you probably have $25 K in student debt. Secure, well-paying jobs are uncommon. You have to worry about where you’re going to live — apartments are scarce, and houses and condos are over-priced. And it’s been like this your entire adult life. Combine that with the experience of growing up in a completely different technological paradigm where almost everyone has e-mail and cell phones and you’ve got a recipe for a profound generational difference in perspective between the kids and the oldsters. The kids are probably more likely to accept unionized workers being maliciously kicked around (and I said “accept”, not approve of). What else do they know?

Clearly, the postal system has to evolve and change as technology evolves and changes. Also clearly, Canada Post’s workforce of the future might have to be smaller than its workforce of the past, and getting raises above the inflation rate is probably a thing of the past.

But that’s not the issue here. Canada Post is a profitable corporation trying to cut benefits and wages, knowing full well an anti-labour government has their back.

The issue here is stepping on a group of workers who haven’t had their salaries bludgeoned down to minimum-wage levels yet. And as Danny’s post shows, even the nice people aren’t seeing it for what it is.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

10 thoughts on “A Couple Of Thoughts On Danny’s Canada Post Post”

  1. Well said! I wouldn’t want to be outside in Saskatchewan in -40 weather. Definitely not cushy! Like you said, it’s getting harder and harder for people to find well-paying jobs in this supposed “boom”… even with university degrees. It’s boggling that there is a pretty common sentiment out there that teachers, postal workers, etc should just shut up and accept diminishing pay when rent/housing has sky-rocketed. Why begrudge people in any profession/career for putting their foot down and trying to, at the very least, maintain what they have for future generations? I think it generates from a “Well, they might get a raise, so why can’t I mentality?” But in the long run, if certain professions/careers pay well, it should hopefully have a trickle down effect down the road for other professions/careers. Anyhoo, those are my 2 cents.

  2. The youth angle is really interesting (though as an under-30 kid myself, I really can’t excuse my contemporaries for not educating themselves on this stuff). It’s probably harder for younger generations to resist what’s happening if it’s all they’ve known, and arguments made by Gormley and the like about bootstraps and just “living with it” are going to be persuasive if you have no hope for anything better.

  3. I do feel bad for anyone in the line of fire over there at Canada Post, but I do agree that a postal strike or lockout is just going to piss more people off and push people off to other alternatives. But when is it ever a good time to stand up for yourself?
    A while ago I listened to some John Gormley for fun and amusement, and got loads of it: hate for unions, hate for government workers, a mention of “the new Saskatchewan” every five seconds, hate for cyclists, hate for pedestrians, you name it. It was an ugly and illuminating experience for me: there is a LOT of this sentiment out there. I know that the show’s job is to give people that exact impression, but the truth is that I have heard actual people say the same things on a regular basis as those actors paid to phone in on that show.
    Anti-union hate and anti-gov’t worker hate always shares the same argument: “they’re not in the Real World, where you don’t get paid that much and there is no seniority or security” — in short, “I wish I had it so good”. So instead of being against the unions why aren’t you trying to join one so you can get in on the party? I don’t get it.

  4. Oh and hey, I think that the articles from the print magazine should have a comment section. The print articles are always full of conversation-starters, but where is the conversation? I’d like to see it here on the website. Commenting on the blog is cool and all but I’d like to see comments on the stories too.

  5. “Clearly, the postal system has to evolve and change as technology evolves and changes. Also clearly, Canada Post’s workforce of the future might have to be smaller than its workforce of the past, and getting raises above the inflation rate is probably a thing of the past.”

    TRUTH.

    This is the reality faced by Canada Post (INSTITUTION NOT INDIVIDUAL). This is also the situation identified by the majority of the population. The union and management need to recognize this. Assuming inflexible positions and neglecting the public’s perception hinders progress and poisons the well for further union action. I understand this is a lock-out but the “seizing up the works” is the direct result of an unwillingness to compromise.

    “Underlying both these points is the inescapable fact Canadians have spent the last three decades watching successive governments legislate against public interest and for private wealth. We can’t even tell when we’re being clubbed anymore. It’s probably especially hard to recognize basic, old-fashioned class warfare when you’re under 30, like Danny — you haven’t known any other Canada.”

    Like it or not, we live under a conservative majority. Don’t blame me, this right-wing troll voted Spooner. How did we get here? The majority of the voting population lost their sympathy around the same time they lost their pension plan. Looking for an easy answer they acted against their own interest. They decided to creep to the right. Shockingly, most of the people who hopped the Harper train are over the age of 30. Old enough to remember the “Old Canada” and recognize the class warfare that us young folk are currently on the front-lines of.

    Canada Post’s management used the rotating strikes to vilify the union. The lock-out and proposed back to work legislation are an attack on the right to organize. However, a quick scan of the on-line opinion polls spreads the blame to both sides.
    The conservative voter base grows when unions lose the moral high-ground. In this instance, the plateau is crumbling beneath their feet. Most people are simply pissed they can’t get their mail. They perceive greedy unions to be the problem and will cheer when Heir Harper sends them back work.

    There is a difference between being a union bashing right-wing troll and a pragmatist. A pragmatist assesses a situation and considers the pros and cons. A UBRWT only considers the information in line with their own opinion. I recognize and welcome the intelligent and informed points of the commenters and hope to continue in this dialogue. As far as the postal lock-out goes I predict the union will lose ground and everyone with a mailbox will suffer.

  6. I am big enough to admit when I am wrong. Yesterday, I posted the pension deficit was 3.2 million. The actual number is 3.2 BILLION. My apologies.

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