By Greg McMaster
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Letter Carriers Union of Canada were formed after wildcat strikes in 1965, primarily over low pay for postal workers and letter carriers, led by local leaders of the Canadian Postal Employees Association and the Federated Association of Letter Carriers, including Willy Houle and Clement Morel in Montreal, Alex Power and Bob McGarry in Toronto and Scarborough, and Ray Endres and Larry Nozaki in Vancouver.
Efforts were made in Edmonton to get the locals to join the strike. In Local 15 of the FALC, Bill MacDonald moved a motion to join in, but was ruled out of order. Bill, who had been a Railway Mail Clerk in the 1950s between Calgary and Revelstoke, bought a copy of Bourinot’s Rules of Order, which the local still has, from Audrey’s Books.
The CPEA had a mass meeting at the Labour Hall on 105 Ave., but the idea was nixed by regional officials. A mass walkout from the meeting was led by Eddie Robinson, which was on the front page of the Edmonton Journal.
When the Post Office Department, which was part of Treasury Board, brought in mechanized sorting machines in 1974, they wanted to pay the coders at a lower rate, and there were walkouts, led in Edmonton by Sandy McGuire (MacDonald), resulting in the coders being paid at PO4 rates.
Bill MacDonald became President of LCUC Local 15 in the mid-seventies, and Sandy remained an activist in the Edmonton CUPW Local.
The inside workers in CUPW also went through the historic 1978 strike, where they defied anti-strike legislation, resulting in RCMP raids on offices across the country and the jailing of National President Jean-Claude Parrot for defying Parliament (which resulted in him becoming a hero of the labour movement, and gave rise to a new wave of activists, including many women, in both locals in Edmonton, and elsewhere).
We went through the 42-day Mat. Leave strike in 1981, the violent strikes of 1987, with school buses of scabs and cops attacking picket lines, and the merger of the unions in 1989, including the maintenance workers from PSAC and IBEW.
Since then, we’ve continued as a strong local, of which I was proud to be Local President in the 1990s.