Call to Action: FW Ahmad vs Executive Members of Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)

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).

Demands

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 (wagetheft@ottawaiww.org)
  • 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 wagetheft@ottawaiww.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 feedback@cupw-sttp.org

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.

Sincerely,

___________.

TL;DR

  • 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.

Further Reading

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.

Sept 16th Anti-Oppression Workshop with Thane Robyn

Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch are hosting an open Anti-Oppression Training Workshop by trainer Thane Robyn of Robyn Media.

This event is taking place on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg people.

Venue is fully wheelchair accessible.

Facebook Event

Registration Form

GoFundMe

More Info

Sept 16th 1-3 PM

Bronson Centre (211 Bronson) Room 222
3hr Training will include 3 segments with breaks for coffee and snacks

1. Anti-Oppression 101
2. Anti-Oppression Application
3. Anti-Oppression Community Building

Suggested donation is $15.
No one turned away for lack of funds.

Candle-Light Vigil for Charlottesville Victims of Right-Wing Terrorism.

Ottawa-Outaouais IWW members will be offering our support and  solidarity to those injured and killed resisting the violent right wing terror attack yesterday in Charlottesville with a candle-light vigil at 7PM tonight at the Human Rights Memorial (161 Elgin.)

An IWW contingent counter-protesting the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville were attacked by a white supremacist who drove through the crowds with their vehicle injuring many and killing one protester. Additionally, there are accounts of white supremacist groups terrorizing the streets with drive by shootings using vans and assault rifles.

We encourage everyone to come out and show your support for the victims and opposition to violent right ring terrorism.

Facebook Event

A fundraiser has been setup to cover the medical costs for the many victims.

Go Fund Me

Stand With Lac Megantic Defendants

From the Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch

Whereas, the railroad and the government has sought to blame the employees for the natural result of the combined reckless work rules and policies that undercut safety and even basic common sense.

Whereas, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board’s 18 causes for the disaster are all company policy driven.

Whereas, the MMA (Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway) has declared bankruptcy and will face no charges for their own negligence.

Whereas, two railroad workers face criminal charges and a life sentence for a tragedy caused by unsafe railroad management policies.

Whereas, the Ottawa – Outaouais IWW stand in solidarity with all workers facing unsafe work conditions and persecution from bosses and state agents.

Be it resolved that, the Ottawa – Outaouais IWW fully endorses the Railroad Workers United hardingdefense.org campaign to have all charges dropped against railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie.

Solidarity with the victims. Solidarity with the workers. Hold the bosses to account!

More Info

Donate Here

Railroad Workers United

Twin Cities GDC Fundraiser Event

May Day 2017

Rally and March
When: 3 pm – 7 pm, Monday, May 1
Where: Minto Park, 315 Elgin St, Ottawa. Gather at 3:00 pm. This is not a permitted march

Free Feast
When: Starting at 5:00 pm, Monday, May 1
Where: Location TBD. Family friendly.

Make Me Bad May Day
When: 8 pm – 11:30 pm, Monday, May 1
Where: Cafe Nostalgica, 601 Cumberland St, Ottawa
A musical evening, featuring: Apparatchiks, Himig Masa, Jordan Armstrong AKA New Age Hippie, Sky Sky, and Omar Saghir.

UPDATE: PARTY & OTHER NEWS

Help the Wobblies Fight Constellation Brands

Ottawa folk-duo Moonfruits are hosting a party and benefit concert for Miles and the IWW.

[Le français suit.]

We’d like to invite you to our home on Riverdale Ave (#518) for a House Concert – and sing-along if you’re up for it – to raise funds for Miles Krauter and the IWW (the Industrial Workers of the World) in their fight against Constellation Brands, most likely known to you through their Wine Rack stores.

Moonfruits & Special Guests will be singing and leading songs throughout the night. We’ll be passing the hat and running a prize draw to raise funds for Miles. There will be no entry fee.

Drinks and snacks will be on offer but feel free to bring along your beverage of choice as well!

Based on evidence gathered from former managers and co-workers, the IWW firmly believe that Miles Krauter was fired because of his unionizing efforts at the Wine Rack. With the help of the IWW, he is taking the fight for reinstatement and back pay all the way to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) in Toronto. Funds raised will help offset the transport and accomodation costs of bringing witnesses and themselves to the OLRB. Any funds raised that exceed those costs will go to the Wine Merchants of Ottawa UNITE Union Drive.

See you there! And by there, we mean here!

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On vous accueille dans notre maisonnée sur l’avenue Riverdale (#518) pour une soirée chantante afin de recueillir des fonds pour Miles Krauter et le SITT (Syndicat Industriel des Travailleuses et des Travailleurs) dans leur lutte contre Constellation Brands, que vous connaîteriez certainement par leurs magasins Wine Rack.

Moonfruits ainsi que des invités spéciaux vont démarrer la soirée. Le chapeau va être passé et un tirage de prix va être offert en guise de cueillette de fonds. Il n’y aura pas de frais d’entrée

Des boissons et collations seront offertes mais ne gênez-vous pas d’emmener votre consommation de choix.

Selon des témoignages de gérants et de collègues de travail, le SITT croit fermement que Miles Krauter a été congédié de son emploi au Wine Rack après que son employeur ait prit conscience de sa campagne de syndicalisation. Avec l’aide du SITT, Miles poursuit la lutte pour le rétablissement d’emploi et la paie rétroactive jusqu’à la Commission des relations de travail de l’Ontario à Toronto. Les fonds recueillis iront vers le transport et l’hébergement de témoins et de membres du SITT impliqués. Tout surplus ira à appuyer la poursuite de la campagne de syndicalisation de Wine Merchants of Ottawa UNITE.

Au plaisir de vous accueillir chez nous!

WINE RACK FIRING UNFAIR!

Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
MEDIA RELEASE
January 8, 2016
For Immediate Release

MUST NEGOTIATE WITH THE IWW OR FACE BOYCOTT

OTTAWA—The Industrial Workers of the World are picketing Wine Rack to defend a member unfairly fired on September 6, 2015.

Our member engaged in his legally-protected right to organize and was publicly engaged in a card-signing campaign by another union in efforts to certify a bargaining unit for Wine Rack locations in Ottawa, Ontario.

Wine Rack is owned by parent company Constellation Brands, a US-based multinational corporation with two billion dollars of profit in 2013. Front-line employees of Wine Rack are paid minimum wage and given only conditional yearly increases lower than the rate of inflation, compounding the difficulties posed by a part-time and unpredictable schedule for workers.

According to the Labour Relations Act, all workers have the right to form, select, and administer a union without interference from the employer. In response to our member’s organizing efforts, Wine Rack manufactured a spurious reason to terminate his employment without following their established disciplinary processes.

The IWW will continue to picket Wine Rack to demand fair treatment for our member until our demand for our member’s reinstatement on the job with back pay is met. All employees deserve to be able to organize without reprisal.

The IWW is calling on Ottawans to not cross our picket line and to respect a boycott of Wine Rack locations until management meets with our union to negotiate.

This is yet another instance of arbitrary firings and disrespect for the Labour Relations Act happening here in Ottawa. Workers can win these fights when they unite and take action. The IWW is a member-run union for all workers and is dedicated to organizing on the job.

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For more information contact John Bainbridge, IWW Representative, at  (613) 797-9955.

In November, We Write Letters in Solidarity

Prisoners Who Need Our Support

After the 2014 release of all the G-20 prisoners, there remain two long-term prisoners who deserve our support.

Please send a letter to Fellow Worker Marius Mason and our union’s friend, Leonard Pelletier.

Remind them who is out there for them.

Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Coleman I
P.O. Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521

Case information: http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/

Marie Mason #04672-061
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Case information: http://freemarie.org/

Please address letters to “Marie (Marius) Mason.”

Under no circumstances mention any illegal acts. Letters that mention other Green Scare prisoners may be rejected.

Marius has a list of 100 pre-approved people he can write to; this means he will be able to receive your letter but until your name is added to his list he cannot write back.  Marius can request people to be added/removed but this takes time and is not always granted.

GDC Local 6 Endorses Canadian’s Fight Against Deportation

General Defense Committee Local 6 appeals to all GDC locals and IWW branches to hold fundraisers for the legal defense of Fellow Worker Deepan Budlakoti.

The Canadian government is attempting to strip him of his citizenship, even though he was born in Ottawa, Canada and held a Canadian passport. Both of his parents, immigrants from India, are Canadian citizens.

Deepan ran into some trouble with a break-and-enter in 2009; he was arrested, convicted, served a four-month prison sentence, and released. The next year, the Canadian government decided to deport him as a non-citizen. The police then set an undercover police officer to entrap Deepan for trying to buy two hunting rifles. They also charged him separately with trafficking drugs; lacking the funds to mount a defense, Deepan pled guilty and served nearly 4 years in jail.

Over that time, the government has continually attempted to deport him. After serving his time, he is detained by immigration officials. Only when India refused to issue this Canadian citizen travel documents for deportation did the Canadian government release him on April 10, 2013 under strict conditions.

Since then, the Ottawa-Outaouais GMB has tirelessly sought to win justice for him in two wage theft cases, which have been resolved successfully.

To fight deportation, Deepan has launched a Charter of Rights challenge in the federal government to keep from being deported from his home and native land.

Deepan is on the spearhead of an attempt by the government to use criminal history, even for people that have served their sentences, as cause for stripping them of their citizenship and deporting them. By dehumanizing convicts, immigrants and the children of immigrants in this way, it is then a short step for the government to apply this practice against its critics and political enemies who run afoul of the law during protests, direct action and civil disobedience.

We urge all IWW and GDC members to take the following steps to support Deepan and the fight for all of our freedom:

Please make your presence felt and engage in whatever actions you see as necessary to raise funds and awareness about Deepan’s campaign for justice across Canada and across the world.