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.