Potential Canada Post strike not good news for local businesses

Canada Post says the union that represents its workers could issue a strike notice this week after months of contract negotiations "have reached an impasse," but the Canadian Union of Postal Workers says it's determined not to strike. The uncertainty leaves local businesses wondering how to ship.

Canada Post says there could be a strike by its workers

Canada Post says talks with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) “have reached an impasse.” (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

The next two weeks are among the busiest of the year for the folks at Fenigo – a Waterloo-based litterless lunch retailer.

But owner Jana Campbell says a possible strike at Canada Post could affect her customers hoping to have lunch boxes and supplies before the start of school on Sept. 6.

"We are watching the situation because we ship a lot," Campbell said.

About 70 per cent of her business involves shipping to customers across the country. When Canada Post warned of possible service disruption earlier this summer because of an ongoing labour dispute with workers, Campbell said they switched to a courier service for about two weeks.

But couriers cost, on average, 15 per cent more than Canada Post, and they won't always deliver to smaller communities, she said.

"The biggest concern for me is that the parcels will get stuck in the system," Campbell said. "I am worried about those parcels, especially at this time of the year when everyone wants their lunch bag for the first day of school."

Talks have 'reached an impasse'

Last week, Canada Post said talks with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) "have reached an impasse."

The corporation said the two parties have made "little progress on significant issues" and "CUPW's demands, worth more than a billion dollars, would make Canada Post products and services completely unaffordable."

Canada Post said the union's 60-day strike mandate expires this Thursday and CUPW is looking to extend that mandate - something the federal corporation does not support.

Canada Post warned Canadians a 72-hour strike notice could be issued this week by the union.

On its website, CUPW said it met with officials from the federal government on Friday to discuss major issues.

"We prefer to reach an agreement without a strike and we have never made any threats or ultimatums," a statement from the union's chief negotiators said.

Service disruption hurts business

Destiny Medeiros runs the home-based business A Little Touch of Love by Destiny, where she personalizes items including mugs, Christmas ornaments, wooden signs and wall decals. She has many local customers, but she also ships some of her products to customers in Ottawa and B.C.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has said it wants to reach an agreement without a strike. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Not knowing what will happen with Canada Post means she may need to hold off on accepting orders from people who can't come pick it up. It was something she had to do in July when there was a threat of strike action.

"It put delays on shipping until we knew what was going to happen," Medeiros said. "For a $20 mug or $18 tumbler, who wants to pay $30 to $40 with a courier service? I sure wouldn't and I have lost out on several orders and money for my family."

The threat of a postal service disruption puts lives on hold, she said.

"I guess we just sit on the edge of our seats and wait to see the outcome," she said.