Canada Post can't Shut Out Union Representatives: Arbitrator Awards Rare Damages to Postal Workers

OTTAWA, Sept. 8 /CNW/ - The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is celebrating the landmark decision by an arbitrator to award significant "punitive and preventative damages" after union representatives were barred from speaking to union members at Canada Post employee meetings held last year.

It is rare for arbitrators to impose heavy financial penalties but in this case, over $30,000 has been awarded to CUPW and its representatives who encountered a hostile reception from management at the meetings and who were banned from Canada Post's premises. The arbitrator, Guy Dulude, strongly condemned what he called "malicious schemes" on the part of Canada Post to "silence the Union and exercise undue influence."

"Freedom of speech and freedom of association are the laws of the land and this decision upholds them," said Ken Mooney, CUPW's regional grievance officer in the Pacific. "We're pleased that Canada Post and other employers won't get away with such blatant intimidation tactics."

Mr. Mooney was one of the union officers present at a regional employee forum staged at the Vancouver mail processing plant on June 25th 2009 by Canada Post's management at Canada Post, including then-CEO Moya Greene. When he got up to the mike to speak following the managers' remarks to the assembled postal workers, Ms. Greene cut him off. The next day, June 26th 2009, at the Richmond Delivery Centre, security guards physically prevented the union representatives from entering another employee forum and management called on the RCMP to remove them, which the RCMP refused to do.

Postal workers who spoke up in support of Mr. Mooney at the meeting were subsequently disciplined for "disruptive behaviour" and Mr. Mooney was banned from Canada Post's premises for five months. The arbitrator's decision overturned the ban, condemned Canada Post's actions, and ordered Canada Post to pay Mr. Mooney $5000 in damages.

"They tried to tell us that the forums were designed to meet with employees, not the union. In response, members said: 'we are the union!' So we're very proud to be celebrating this decision," said CUPW National President Denis Lemelin.

For further information:

Aalya Ahmad, CUPW Communications, (cell) 613-327-1177