The Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch (GMB) for much of the past year has investigated and subsequently taken up a case involving well-documented harassment and denial of the rights of our member, FW Aalya Ahmad, by her former employer.
Our demand to this employer, made last autumn, is that they make her whole in terms of substantial wage theft, and that they right the wrong immediately.
As usual, the boss has been slow to respond and does not want to meet with our member’s representatives. We regret to inform you that the boss in this instance is none other than executive members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
We are requesting that FW Aalya Ahmad immediately be made whole in the amount of $26,883.96, with an additional amount in compensation for her pension buy-out to be determined, broken down as follows:
- Severance: $13,835.52
- Payout of Annual Leave: $7,332.82
- Payout of Top-Up to LTD to 100%: $3,872.54
- Payout of Unpaid Pension Credits: $1,667.80
- Payout of Unpaid Bilingualism Bonus: $175.28
- Compensation for Pension Buy-out Penalty (to be determined)
More on the case
To be clear, we do not hold the rank-and-file members of CUPW accountable for the very serious harm done to our member. In fact, FW Ahmad has been involved in recent and ongoing solidarity actions in response to the back-to-work legislation imposed on CUPW. She remains on good terms with many rank-and-file postal workers across the country.
We are certain that CUPW rank-and-file members would not condone the actions of their executive members, who have probably by now spent far more on legal fees fighting our member than they would spend to make her whole. However, this is an organization that takes in around $40 million in membership dues annually and is freely spending their members’ money on harassing our member in very serious ways, including threats to sue her for libel for writing about what was done to her.
The employer belatedly responded to our follow up to the attached demand letter late last year (which at first they ignored entirely) with a letter stating that they are only recognizing FW Ahmad’s shop union, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1979, as representing her in her workplace-based claims, and therefore they are refusing to meet with IWW representatives.
In fact, CUPE and CUPW have an arbitration scheduled for April 2019 on the matter of the employer’s failure to forgive FW Ahmad’s sick leave credit deficit as they are supposed to do upon a worker being declared medically unfit to return to work.
It makes little sense for members of the executive board of CUPW to spend tens of thousands of dollars more of CUPW members’ dues in such an anti-worker and wasteful way. Nor does it make sense to draw down the resources of the one of the local unions representing staff working at the National Office of CUPW by forcing this matter to arbitration.
CUPW should do the right thing and make our member whole on this matter immediately. In any event, CUPE has made it clear they are only covering FW Ahmad for the sick leave credit issue. It is also quite clear that there are multiple components to the quantum of wage theft, as covered in the demand letter of the Ottawa-Outaouais IWW branch.
How you can help
We are asking that individuals across the country help us by:
- Reading the attached demand letter (a PDF can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Following up with the Ottawa-Outaouais GMB with any questions or comments (email@example.com)
- Expressing solidarity with our member by sending a letter demanding redress for FW Ahmad to the CUPW National Director in their region who sits on the National Executive Board (NEB) of CUPW, as well as to their region’s Education and Grievance Officers.
All NEB members have received our demand letter, subsequent follow-up, as well as FW Ahmad’s human rights complaint. They cannot claim to be ignorant of these charges.
It is no small matter to confront an organization like this and we need your support. It is the full intention of the Branch to escalate our activities if we cannot settle the matter and at that time we will also ask for the solidarity of IWW members and postal workers everywhere.
If you have any questions about the case, please get in touch the Ottawa-Outaouais IWW GMB representative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can also be made to FW Ahmad’s legal defence fund, supporting the litigation of FW Ahmad’s human rights tribunal matter, at https://www.gofundme.com/aalya
Template letter that you can use
You may contact the CUPW National Headquarters by emailing email@example.com
Sisters and Brothers of CUPW,
We have been informed to our dismay by members of the Ottawa-Outaouais IWW Branch that CUPW appears to be engaging in a very serious and prolonged wage theft against Aalya Ahmad, in addition to longstanding issues of harassment, a human rights complaint, and constructive dismissal from her job.
The well-documented and incontrovertible injuries of PTSD suffered by our member as a result of the Union’s actions are shocking. It is outrageous that CUPW did not have the decency to wait for arbitration and human rights complaints processes to unfold as requested by our member’s doctor to protect her health, but instead chose to spend its members’ money on hauling her into small claims court on the same day its members were being legislated back to work. This for an amount far exceeded by the quantum of wages owed to her and probably dwarfed by what has been spent on investigations and other legal processes against her.
We understand that your National Board of Directors is well aware of this situation but has yet to resolve anything. We do not understand why your Board would not immediately take steps to right this wrong, particularly as FW Ahmad has been and continues to be such a strong defender of the rights of your members.
The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW Branch has shared with us the letter of demand it sent to your Union. We understand that the response from CUPW has been to dismiss it.
We support members of CUPW in its fight against the unconstitutional and classist back to work legislation enacted by the government under the direction of the Federal Liberal Party of Canada and its leader, Justin Trudeau. We will continue to act and speak out in solidarity with postal workers because class solidarity is fundamental to our organization and personally important to all of us.
Our issue is not with postal workers, it is with the specific union bosses who have engaged in intimidation, harassment, gaslighting and other attacks against our member. As many of you know, mental health is becoming a prominent issue in our society. We feel that this aspect of work safety is both long overdue and specifically factors into the issue at hand. We find it totally unacceptable that a fellow worker’s mental health is put at risk by the leaders of a union who are supposed to be committed to protecting workers.
Union employers must be held to the highest of standards and must treat their staff as they would expect their members to be treated. The documented facts of FW Ahmad’s case are disturbing, to say the least, and we stand in full solidarity with the Ottawa-Outaouais Branch’s demands.
We believe in strong unions that defend workers. In order for them to be strong outwardly, they must be strong internally as well. Please help us hold the people responsible to account. Demand fair treatment of Sister Ahmad as a step along the road to a stronger union. We ask that you immediately reply to us and let us know what steps you will take to make this right. We are fully prepared to take solidarity action for our member. FW Ahmad’s injuries are an injury to us all.
- Aalya Ahmad is owed nearly $27,000 by her former employer (CUPW)
- The former employer has been slow to respond, has not fully acknowledged the complaints made against them and has rebuffed our requests for a meeting.
- We are asking for your support in a letter writing campaign to the Executive Members of the CUPW
- The general membership of the CUPW is not being blamed for grievances against the Executives. The Ott/Out IWW will continue to support them in their endeavors.
Due to privacy reasons, the name and personal email of one of the individuals involved in the case has been redacted from the attached document found below.