CUPW Postal Strikes

Since 1965 the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (previously Canadian Postal Employees Association) has been involved in approximately 19 major disputes over several complex issues.

Postal Strikes, CUPW

Since 1965 the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (previously Canadian Postal Employees Association) has been involved in approximately 19 major disputes over several complex issues. The "big strike" of July 1965 was one of the largest Canadian "wildcat" strikes and the largest involving government employees; it played an important role in gaining collective bargaining rights for civil servants. The 1968 strike and the 1970 rotating 24-hour walkouts were mainly the result of wage grievances; the latter secured an increase above the Trudeau government's guidelines. Strikes in the 1970s centered on wages and the threats posed by automation. Demands included legal guarantees of job security and maintenance of existing job classifications, as well as firm controls over the use of casual and part-time employees.

In 1974 and 1975 CUPW, under Joe DAVIDSON, undertook long, bitter strikes which were successful in obtaining major protections concerning technological change. In 1976 and 1977 postal service was disrupted by a series of illegal regional strikes following a labour board decision that management had introduced changes without the promised consultation. A national strike in 1978 met with back-to-work legislation: union president Jean-Claude PARROT was jailed for refusing to comply, and relations became strained between the union and the CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS. There was a strike-free settlement in 1980 which provided a reduced work week to compensate for the adverse effects of automation. In June 1981 workers struck over demands which included one for 17 weeks' paid maternity leave. CUPW became the first federal civil service bargaining unit to win this concession.

On 16 October 1981 the post office became a CROWN CORPORATION, something CUPW had been urging in the hope that it would streamline negotiations by placing the union under the Canada Labour Code. The corporation inherited a bitter legacy of mistrust, although negotiations brought a new agreement without a strike in 1985. In 1987 and 1991 the union engaged in rotating strikes against the government's plan to privatize postal counters. Both strikes were ended by special legislation. In 1995 the union negotiated a settlement without a strike which required Canada Post to keep open the postal counters.