Statement Concerning CUPW Convention

We have been asked if the IWW plans to picket CUPW Convention this week and we have heard that members’ money has been spent on booking extra security and hotel space to keep us out. We remind all CUPW Convention delegates and members that we continue to be strong allies of postal workers. We have no intention of interfering in any way with CUPW’s convention.

The attempt by CUPW’s national officers to demonize the Industrial Workers of the World is not only absurd, it’s tragic. Your legendary union is currently being led by people complaining about being bullied by picket lines that are set up on behalf of a bullied worker they refuse to settle with. Those who are playing victim continue to use their vastly superior resources (your dues) to destroy this worker’s reputation with blatant lies while continuing to attack her mental health and silence anybody who speaks up for her.

We believe that these actions will ultimately hurt the rank-and-file CUPW members whose picket lines we have walked, and, in fact, all union members who look to CUPW for leadership. However, it is not the place of the IWW to decide whom you elect. Regardless of who you elect, they will continue to face our ongoing demand for meaningful justice for our member, Aalya Ahmad.

We are no longer very interested in meeting with the CUPW representatives who have been previously responsible for the ongoing witch-hunt and wage theft against our member. We would like to meet with CUPW representatives who are actually committed to resolving the issues, not indulging in a vendetta subsidized by their members’ dues.

We also encourage CUPW to conduct a truly independent investigation, led by neutral rank and file members, into how your Human Resources Committee has conducted themselves in this matter (including how much money has been spent). But ultimately it is CUPW members that need to hold their leadership accountable.

Also, the IWW recently received a notice of libel from a lawyer representing CUPW’s National Executive Board. This notice makes reference to a statement produced by the Women’s Caucus of CUPE 4600 that we shared on our Facebook page. The claim is that we are somehow defaming CUPW by reproducing another union group’s report on an incident involving CUPW board members’ interactions with participants in our information picket.

Our members were walking the picket and witnessed what happened to the Women’s Caucus member. Based on our members’ own recollections and the recollections of CUPE members, the account is accurate. True accounts are not libel. The CUPE 4600 Women’s Caucus has not received a threat of libel. Why are we being targeted?

The notice claims that we have made numerous defamatory statements but does not specify any. We have no idea how to respond to such vague accusations. If we or other allies of FW Ahmad have made any errors, we would correct them, but without having any idea what they feel these errors are specifically, it is quite literally impossible for us to respond in a meaningful way.

The notice attempts to target our union members individually. Going after individual (and typically low-waged, precarious and contract) union members for participating in a union campaign is extremely low. Our members are volunteering their time and dues to help an injured worker. Given the evidence presented to us, we believe the employer acted in breach of their responsibilities and the rights of our member.

The notice also accuses us of targeting the only two women executives of the National Executive Board. We strongly disagree with this disgusting characterization. We hold the entire board accountable for their actions taken against our member, our supporters and our branch. In our communications, we have named board members directly involved in the case at hand with the goal of clearly laying out the facts and circumstances of the case. This does not absolve other board members of their responsibility for holding their colleagues accountable, nor does it specifically target the members of the NEB who are women. The abusive behaviour detailed in our publications has nothing to do with the gender of the board members. People of all genders and identities are capable of abuse, and it is our collective responsibility as union members to point any abuse out and stop it.

FW Ahmad has previously received two similar threats to sue her for libel, neither of which were followed up on, as they were without merit. We expect the same result and feel that our actions have been based on the truth and are consistent with the principle of fair commentary and the right to express ourselves on this matter.

Déclaration Concernant la Convention du STTP

On nous a demandé si l’IWW prévoyait de faire du piquetage au congrès du STTP cette semaine et nous avons appris que l’argent des membres avait été dépensé pour réserver des espaces de sécurité et d’hôtel supplémentaires pour nous tenir à l’écart. Nous rappelons à tous les délégués et membres du congrès du STTP que nous continuons à être de solides alliés des travailleurs postaux. Nous n’avons pas l’intention d’interférer de quelque façon que ce soit avec le congrès du STTP.

La tentative des dirigeants nationaux du STTP de diaboliser les travailleurs industriels du monde n’est pas seulement absurde, elle est tragique. Votre légendaire syndicat est actuellement dirigé par des personnes qui se plaignent d’être intimidées par des piquets de grève dressés au nom d’un travailleur maltraité avec lequel elles refusent de transiger. Ceux qui jouent les victimes continuent à utiliser leurs ressources largement supérieures (vos cotisations) pour détruire la réputation de cette travailleuse par des mensonges flagrants tout en continuant à attaquer sa santé mentale et à faire taire tous ceux qui parlent en son nom.

Nous pensons que ces actions finiront par nuire aux membres de la base du STTP dont nous avons fait le piquet de grève et, en fait, à tous les membres du syndicat qui se tournent vers le STTP pour qu’il les dirige. Toutefois, il n’appartient pas à l’IWW de décider qui vous allez élire. Peu importe qui vous élisez, ils continueront à faire face à notre demande constante pour une justice significative pour notre membre, Aalya Ahmad.

Nous ne sommes plus très intéressés à rencontrer les représentants du STTP qui ont été précédemment responsables de la chasse aux sorcières et du vol de salaire en cours contre notre membre. Nous aimerions rencontrer les représentants du STTP qui sont réellement déterminés à résoudre les problèmes, et non à se livrer à une vendetta subventionnée par les cotisations de leurs membres.

Nous encourageons également le STTP à mener une enquête véritablement indépendante, dirigée par des membres de la base neutres, sur la façon dont votre comité des ressources humaines s’est comporté dans cette affaire (y compris sur les sommes dépensées). Mais en fin de compte, ce sont les membres du STTP qui doivent demander des comptes à leurs dirigeants.

Par ailleurs, l’IWW a récemment reçu un avis de diffamation de la part d’un avocat représentant le Conseil exécutif national du STTP. Cet avis fait référence à une déclaration produite par le Caucus des femmes du SCFP 4600 que nous avons partagée sur notre page Facebook. L’avis prétend que nous diffamons en quelque sorte le STTP en reproduisant le rapport d’un autre groupe syndical sur un incident impliquant les interactions des membres du conseil d’administration du STTP avec les participants à notre piquetage d’information.

Nos membres ont participé au piquetage et ont été témoins de ce qui est arrivé à la membre du Caucus des femmes. D’après les souvenirs de nos membres et ceux des membres du SCFP, le récit est exact. Les comptes rendus véridiques ne sont pas de la diffamation. Le Caucus des femmes du SCFP 4600 n’a pas reçu de menace de diffamation. Pourquoi sommes-nous visés ?

L’avis prétend que nous avons fait de nombreuses déclarations diffamatoires mais n’en précise aucune. Nous n’avons aucune idée de la façon de répondre à des accusations aussi vagues. Si nous ou d’autres alliés de FW Ahmad avions fait des erreurs, nous les corrigerions, mais sans avoir la moindre idée de ce qu’ils pensent que ces erreurs sont précisément, il nous est littéralement impossible de répondre de manière significative.

L’avis tente de cibler individuellement les membres de notre syndicat. Il est extrêmement difficile de s’en prendre à des syndicalistes individuels (et généralement peu rémunérés, précaires et contractuels) pour leur participation à une campagne syndicale. Nos membres offrent bénévolement leur temps et leurs cotisations pour aider un travailleur blessé. Au vu des preuves qui nous ont été présentées, nous pensons que l’employeur a agi en violation de ses responsabilités et des droits de notre membre.

L’avis nous accuse également de cibler les deux seules femmes cadres du conseil exécutif national. Nous ne sommes pas du tout d’accord avec cette caractérisation dégoûtante. Nous tenons l’ensemble du conseil responsable des mesures prises à l’encontre de notre membre, de nos partisans et de notre branche. Dans nos communications, nous avons nommé les membres du conseil directement impliqués dans l’affaire en question dans le but d’exposer clairement les faits et les circonstances de l’affaire. Cela ne dispense pas les autres membres du conseil d’administration de leur responsabilité de tenir leurs collègues responsables, ni ne vise spécifiquement les membres du conseil d’administration qui sont des femmes. Le comportement abusif décrit dans nos publications n’a rien à voir avec le sexe des membres du conseil d’administration. Des personnes de tous les sexes et de toutes les identités sont capables d’abuser, et il est de notre responsabilité collective, en tant que membres du syndicat, de signaler tout abus et d’y mettre fin. FW Ahmad a déjà reçu deux menaces similaires de la poursuivre pour diffamation, qui n’ont pas été suivies d’effet, car elles étaient sans fondement. Nous attendons le même résultat et estimons que nos actions ont été fondées sur la vérité et sont conformes au principe du commentaire équitable et au droit de s’exprimer sur cette question.

Doing Their Dirty Work

The bosses at CUPW hit a new low by dragging another union that represents some of their staff into this fight. COPE 225 was persuaded to side with the boss and amplify their lies.
It’s a shame that COPE 225 didn’t do its due diligence and investigate the situation thoroughly as we did (for months.)

Although COPE 225 sent their letter to the NEB confidentially, somehow rank and file postal workers had it and were sharing it on Facebook the next day. Great job respecting confidentiality there, NEB!

We are not going to share the COPE letter, not only because they requested confidentiality, but because it contains egregious lies that we want their executive to investigate and retract before any more harm is done to our member. If you wish to see the COPE 225 letter, contact laura.lozanski@cope225sepb.ca.

We will, however, share what we wrote to them:

Faire Leur Sale Boulot

Les patrons du STTP ont atteint un nouveau creux en entraînant dans cette lutte un autre syndicat qui représente une partie de leur personnel. Le COPE 225 a été persuadé de se ranger du côté du patron et d’amplifier ses mensonges.

Il est dommage que le COPE 225 n’ait pas fait preuve de la diligence nécessaire et n’ait pas enquêté sur la situation de manière approfondie comme nous l’avons fait (pendant des mois).

Bien que le COPE 225 ait envoyé sa lettre à l’ONE de manière confidentielle, les postiers de la base l’avaient en main et la partageaient sur Facebook le lendemain. Excellent travail de respect de la confidentialité là-bas, NEB !

Nous n’allons pas partager la lettre du COPE, non seulement parce qu’ils ont demandé la confidentialité, mais aussi parce qu’elle contient des mensonges flagrants sur lesquels nous voulons que leur exécutif enquête et se rétracte avant qu’il ne soit fait plus de mal à notre membre. Si vous souhaitez voir la lettre COPE 225, contactez laura.lozanski@cope225sepb.ca.

Nous partagerons toutefois ce que nous leur avons écrit :

End Bully Boss Culture at CUPW!

A year ago, CUPW took box-fulls of bullying complaints to Parliament Hill after a postal worker complained about the bully boss culture at Canada Post.

That didn’t mean they were “attacking” Canada Post. That didn’t mean the worker who complained of being bullied was “harassing” Justin Trudeau. So why would it be any different for FW Ahmad?

When people are bullied they want to be believed and need to have their situation addressed with compassion and a fair process. End bully boss culture at CUPW.

Mettez Fin à La Culture du Patron Tyrannique au STTP!

Il y a un an, le STTP a apporté des boîtes pleines de plaintes pour intimidation sur la Colline du Parlement après qu’un employé de la poste se soit plaint de la culture de patronage intimidant à Postes Canada.

Cela ne signifiait pas qu’ils “attaquaient” Postes Canada. Cela ne voulait pas dire que le travailleur qui se plaignait d’être intimidé “harcelait” Justin Trudeau. Alors pourquoi en serait-il autrement pour FW Ahmad?

Lorsque des personnes sont victimes d’intimidation, elles veulent être crues et ont besoin que leur situation soit traitée avec compassion et dans le cadre d’un processus équitable. Mettez fin à la culture du patron de l’intimidation au sein du STTP.

CUPW Management Responds to an Injured Worker by Forcing Her to Keep Working and Telling Her Her Injury is Her Fault

Our previous post showed what happened to FW Aalya Ahmad. She lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, undiagnosed at the time) and began to suffer symptoms of PTSD brought on by a co-worker’s violent outburst and management ignoring it.

CUPW completely ignored its responsibility to deal with the injury FW Ahmad suffered as a result of this workplace incident even though she made repeated pleas for help to management that day and in the days to come. (At its recent arbitration with FW Ahmad, management even appeared to have forgotten that she had filed a WSIB claim for chronic mental stress.)

Look at the documents to see what happened.

The incident happened on Monday, February 13, 2018 around 10:30 AM.

At around 10:45 AM, almost immediately afterwards, FW Ahmad went to 3rd National Vice President George Floresco with her CUPE shop steward and shares that she is “triggered by yelling and threatening gestures because of past bullying incidents…”

At 1:11 PM, less than two hours after the incident, she reported being in distress due to current and ongoing bullying to 1st National Vice President Jan Simpson, George Floresco and President Mike Palecek (who recused himself). This is what she wrote:

“Her [co-worker’s] raised voice, aggressive anger and violent hand gestures left me severely triggered as I am a survivor of physical abuse. This completely inappropriate behaviour has made this workplace psychologically unsafe and unhealthy for me. The employer’s ongoing refusal to address bullying issues in the workplace is a real problem that must be addressed.”

The next day, Tuesday, February 14 at 7:23 AM, FW Ahmad wrote to National Executive Board (NEB) members Simpson, Floresco and Palecek, again reporting distress:

“I am upset, shaken and shocked by this completely inappropriate behaviour. As a survivor of physical abuse, I am triggered by violent gestures. The anger and aggression that ___ displayed towards me is excessive, over the top, and an outburst that should not be tolerated in the workplace.”

Two days later, due to the employer’s handling of the situation, Ahmad was in a situation of mental health crisis and breakdown which she reported to her employer. She emailed the following request to Simpson, Floresco and Palecek on February 16, 2018 at 2:37 PM.

Hello,

I am severely triggered by the bullying and harassment I have reported.

As you are aware, this is not the first time for me at CUPW. My panic attacks and anxiety have returned and I have been unable to eat or sleep. My focus is completely shot and I have been unable to think clearly since Monday.

I think it would be best if I took next week away from the office as leave in order to do some self-care and try to be in a better place to deal with this trauma. I am currently experiencing the office as a hostile work environment.

I am therefore requesting special leave under Article 14.9 of the collective agreement from Tuesday through Friday of next week. I had already arranged for the 20th.

I will make myself available for the ADR as agreed on Friday.

Please advise if this leave is approved.

Thanks.
Aalya

The Human Resources Committee (National Secretary-Treasurer Bev Collins, Simpson and Quebec National Director François Senneville) responded to this injured worker as follows:

This letter is to inform you that your request of special leave is denied.

The conditions don’t warrant approval of your special leave request. The circumstances of your request are directly attributable to you.

In addition, another member in the communications department is on leave next week and due to operational requirements, leave cannot be approved.

Yours truly,
Bev Collins
cc. Jan Simpson, Francois Senneville.

They didn’t refer her to her Employee Assistance Program, suggest she use sick leave, or follow up on her reported condition. They didn’t even get the date of her request right.

They told a traumatized worker in crisis that this was her fault and that she had to come into work because of “operational requirements”.

Is that how you treat an injured worker, CUPW?

N.B. Sunday is April 28th, the National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or made ill on the job. Mourn our dead. Fight like hell for the living.

Book Review: William A. Pelz, A People’s History of Modern Europe

The People’s History of Modern Europe is a book that provides an alternative reading in European history focusing on the struggles of common people as well their conflict with those in power. “A People’s History of Modern Europe offers a concise, readable alternative to mainstream textbooks and surveys while suggesting a different understanding of the development and trajectory of European history. That
is, history is presented as moving through conflicts between contending groups rather than as the result of brilliant insights by upper-class rulers and thinkers” (p.viii).

In his introduction, William A. Peltz refers to a famous experiment conducted in 1999. Participants were shown a video presenting two teams of three persons each, one team in black and the other in white, as they moved around and passed basketballs to each other. The viewers were asked to count the number of passes made by the team dressed in white. During the video, a person in a gorilla suit walked across the screen pounding her chest for 5 seconds. In test after test, around 50 percent did not notice the gorilla. In fact, many participants insisted that there had been no gorilla even when told and shown the video a second time. For his purposes, Peltz argues that the common people are the “gorilla” that scholars and students often fail to see (p.x), one of the problems that the writer tries to address.

Another one is class bias (p.xi), “…most history has been written as if only kings, queens, generals and later big businessmen—in brief, the rich and powerful—are the only fit subjects for history” and sexist bias (p.xi), “…women [are] dismissed or trivialized in particular. This is not because there is any body of evidence to support the thesis that women are unimportant, but rather because it suits the ruling-class males who dominate the status quo”.

That’s what Pelz’s History is for, an easy to read history book that provides and insight on the great numbers of political revolutions that took place in Europe from the Middle Ages on-wards in an effort to intercept the expansion of capitalism and modern industrialism in what it turned the atrocious system that we live in today.

https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo23469121.html

Handling Harassment Complaints Like a Boss

The people currently managing the business of CUPW seem to have a very special idea of what defines harassment. Their smear letter against FW Ahmad demonstrates that in several ways. For example, the letter insinuates that our peaceful info picket is harassment. (Picketing = Harassment? Maybe you should have told people that before they went to picket postal plants in solidarity with your members.)

The smear letter also raises the allegations of harassment around FW Ahmad and claims that CUPW’s Human Resources Committee (elected officers, not actual HR specialists) dealt with those appropriately. The IWW would like to respond with a more thoroughgoing accounting of the events that ultimately led us to where we are today, unbelievably.

(N.B. All names and identifying information of staff involved in these correspondences are redacted except those of FW Ahmad, who has given her consent, and the elected officers involved who need to be held accountable for their actions).

In the smear letter, the high-priced lawyer they hired to write it claims that after a workplace conflict:

“CUPW immediately took every action necessary to appropriately address these allegations pursuant to its anti-harassment policy (our emphasis).

They did not follow their anti-harassment policy at all. Look at what happened and then look at the steps that are supposed to be taken in the anti-harassment policy.

The Conflict: Can You Spot the Harassment?

Aalya’s job was doing media work for CUPW, which often required very quick turnaround in order to respond to the media and get CUPW’s messages out.

When the union was meeting with then Minister Judy Foote in February 2017, Aalya was tasked with drafting a media release at the end of the day and sending it for translation and then out to a co-worker for formatting and getting it on the newswire early the next morning. To do this, she used an old release as a template and inserted new text. This was not unusual.

Early the next morning, the co-worker complained to George Floresco, Third National Vice President, that Aalya had inappropriately done her work and formatted the document by leaving the co-worker’s initials on it from the old template.

Floresco then publicly demanded an explanation from Aalya in an email to the whole communications team, which included several elected officers (an unnecessary escalation.)

In sum:

Aalya attempted to resolve the issue and promised it would not happen again. 

The co-worker demanded Aalya meet with them and another administrative assistant. Aalya asked to make it a process meeting with all people responsible for handling media.

The co-worker then proceeded to storm into Aalya’s office and verbally abuse her, which shocked and traumatized her. Aalya indicates repeatedly that she is triggered by the behaviour.

Aalya went to George Floresco in person after this incident with another colleague acting as her shop steward to see if the conflict could be mediated.

Aalya also complained in writing about the behaviour of the co-worker to her other supervising officers by email. Nothing was done and nobody contacted her about her complaint.

The co-worker refused to engage in peaceful resolution or problem solving and filed a complaint in which she puts down Aalya’s work, insists on their own preferred process for media distribution, and asks to not work with FW Ahmad again.

Their complaint is presented to FW Ahmad via a letter from the Human Resources Committee that describes the situation as a harassment complaint filed against Aalya, completely ignoring Aalya’s own complaint about the co-worker’s aggressive behaviour.

The letter advises FW Ahmad that they were immediately hiring a third party investigator for this complaint.

So, did they follow their harassment policy as they claimed they did in the smear letter?

“STEP A (Initial) The employer, CUPE, and COPE shall appoint a harassment complaint coordinator . . . Anyone with an allegation of harassment shall first contact their respective harassment complaint coordinator.”

There were no harassment coordinators appointed in the workplace. The complete policy was not posted, and the contents of it were not made known. Nobody was trained on it.

The co-worker went directly to management who did not refer them to their union.

Management immediately jumped to Step C. FW Ahmad’s complaint was ignored by CUPW completely at this point.

“STEP B (Problem Solving) . . . it may be deemed appropriate by the complainant and their respective harassment complaint coordinator to involve the employer in a problem solving initiative. . . When the respective harassment complaint coordinator and the complainant determine that problem solving will not take place, or that, once begun, problem solving initiatives have concluded unsuccessfully, the harassment complaint coordinator will advise the employer that a grievance may be filed.”

The co-worker’s complaint also skipped this step completely. They refused to engage in problem solving. No grievance on her issues was ever filed.

FW Ahmad’s complaint was never acknowledged as such, and only referred to as “a counter-complaint’ or a “concern”. She also did not file a grievance at this point.

“STEP C (Grievance – CUPE and COPE) When a grievance is filed, the employer will consult with a representative of the bargaining agent to select an investigator. Every reasonable effort will be made to reach an agreement on the investigator.”

No grievances were filed by either staff person regarding their conflict.

CUPW immediately appointed its own investigator without any consultation and informed FW Ahmad of the complaint and the expensive external investigation that would commence the next day after the incident.

When questioned about the process, Jan Simpson, First National Vice President, told FW Ahmad that they didn’t need to consult with her union and, as mentioned above, said the administrative assistant’s union had also not been involved.

So, yes they acted swiftly. But in the complete opposite direction of what they were supposed to do and only for one party involved. More to come.

Response From CUPE 1979 to CUPW’s Statement

Official CUPE 1979 response may be downloaded below.

In addition to support from our Fellow Workers in Halifax, Hamilton and Toronto, our Branch is glad to see FW Ahmad’s former CUPE local step up to address the recent piece of lying garbage put out by her former bosses. We thank CUPE for doing the right thing by their former member and protecting her reputation. See their letter below.

The IWW also notes that CUPE 1979 did the right thing and settled with FW Ahmad when it too was named in her human rights complaint. She asked the local to take training on the duty to accommodate, mental health first aid and understanding mental health so it could better help its members in the future. The local agreed to do that – a win-win.

So why does CUPW keep refusing to mediate the human rights complaint even though FW Ahmad is willing? Why is it pushing her to a public hearing at a significant cost to CUPW members?

Maybe CUPW bosses should think about their union’s reputation. All they’ve done is accuse us of shaming them. They should be ashamed of what they have done. But if this goes all the way to a Human Rights Tribunal hearing, they risk bringing even more shame on the union they claim to represent.

You say to the bosses at Canada Post, “Negotiate now!”. So why won’t you mediate with this former employee?