Stirring the Pot...

by - Saturday, June 04, 2011

Canada Post is on strike... well, roving strikes across the country.  I've done a bit of reading into the issues (I used to be unionized, and I was on the pre-bargaining committee once, but I would definitely not call myself a die-hard union person by any means...) - granted what I've read is all in the newspapers, but most of the time they are quoting both the employer and the workers... and here's my take.

(Remember, to some of you that are not regular readers and come across this blog via search engines, these are my thoughts... you are more than welcome to have your own, but if you choose to comment, please be respectful - if not, I will delete your comment.  This is my blog, and while public forum, I choose what goes and what doesn't.)

Currently the average starting wage for a mail carrier is $23.00 an hour.  For a job that requires absolutely no post-secondary education or previous experience.  Really? I make only a few dollars more than that and I a) have a university degree, b) have more than ten years experience in my field and c) am put in a position where passing on wrong information can cause great monetary expense of those that I give information to.

A mail carrier needs a) no formal education, b) no experience to start at a $23 base wage, and c) delivers mail to the wrong house all the time, if what shows up in my mailbox is any indication.

Now yes - I've chosen my job, and I could be making more money if I wanted to, but mail carriers also make the choice to a) work in all conditions, b) submit themselves to the physical nature of the job and c) choose the job they applied to.

Apparently there is also an issue with sick time (we won't even go into the fact that they can get up to seven weeks of holiday) - the workers are upset that while the can carry over their 15-days of sick time year-over-year and bank them, they don't get get paid out at retirement.  Seriously?  You don't earn sick time, so why should you get paid out for it??  Use it or lose it in my opinion.

I haven't been quiet on Twitter with my thoughts on this work action.  I've been told by a couple of people that I should a) be happy that these are GOOD JOBS (her capitalization) and I should want to keep good jobs in my community and b) that I should work a week as a mail carrier and see what I say at the end of that week.

My responses to the first person is that I support good pay for good work.  I do not support well paying jobs just for the sake of being well paying.  While people with good paying jobs help drive the economy, I believe in getting paid adequately for a days work based on a combination of expectation, experience, education and honestly - how hard the job is.

To the second question - how about I do your $23/hr job for a week and you do a $23/hr job in my field for a week and we see who comes out on top.  I may have sore feet at the end of the week, but I bet there will be less collateral damage from any errors I make compared to any you make.

And please, stop mangling my mail.

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  1. The thing with wages is that postal working is one of the jobs that women can get on par with construction jobs and their wages. I do think we should support living wages in the community for all kinds of people and all kinds of demands. Men have a fair number of options for jobs that are horribly hard on their bodies (it goes far beyond just tired feet to be a postal worker) that will give them a living wage. Being a postal worker is one of those few options really actually open to women.

    As for education and work, despite working at a university I don't think that everything should be tied to schooling in order to determine wage. I think that creates an elistist society. I think there should be jobs that people can get into in order to go to work, support their families, and not put themselves into loan debt.

    Bottom line, the ability of workers to organize themselves and engage in a pushing match with management is part of how everyone is given a voice. Do I know of requests that are over the top? Of course. Just like I know of people on welfare who make me mad and people who win in court who shouldn't. Doesn't mean the entire process is without reason. And as you well know, part of getting through negotiations is pushing for more in one area to attemt to have the end results you actually want.

  2. If more folks realized that Canada Post Corp. wants to drop the starting salary from $23 to $17.50 I think the union would get more support even from those who are less fortunate. Don't get similar wages? Join a union!