Prepared for the 20th Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics
May 30th to June 2nd, 2012, Brighton, U.K.
By Katherine Steinhoff and Geoff Bickerton
Canadian Union of Postal Workers
On June 2, 2011, following eight months of collective bargaining negotiations, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) initiated a series of rotating work stoppages conducted in various communities in Canada. On June 14, Canada Post Corporation (CPC) initiated a nation-wide lockout of 48,000 postal workers which completely stopped the delivery and processing of mail. Immediately following management’s implementation of the lockout, the Canadian government announced it would introduce back-to-work legislation. The government claimed that the labour disruption was causing major economic damage.
It took about two weeks for the legislation to be adopted by the Parliament of Canada. During that period CPC maintained the full-scale national lockout, effectively denying postal service to the entire population. The only exception was on June 20, 2011 when postal workers delivered pension and social assistance cheques nation-wide as part of an agreement with Canada Post which had been negotiated in March 2011 as a result of an initiative of the union.
What was the economic impact of the postal strike and lockout? What impact did the suspension of postal services have on the financial well-being of Canada Post Corporation, the mailing industry, the public, seniors groups, rural organizations and the many small businesses and charities that claim to depend on the postal service? What evidence exists, if any, to support the numerous public statements made by postal management, politicians and business representatives that the impact of the service disruption was so great as to justify the denial of the rights of postal workers to free collective bargaining?
This paper examines these questions.