The Controversy over CUPW's trip to the
World Social Forum Free Palestine Event
Q: What is CUPW's position on Palestine?
The union supports the rights of the Palestinian people, stands with organizations working for peace in Israel and Palestine, and wants an end to violence on both sides. CUPW's position is spelled out in a policy in its constitution. This policy was debated and passed by democratically-elected delegates to a CUPW convention. See Appendix A for the wording of the policy.
Q: What is the controversy?
Sun media has made a number of inaccurate or misleading claims relating to CUPW's decision to use its international postal fund to send delegates to a World Social Forum (WSF) Free Palestine event in Brazil.
The Conservative government has repeated these inaccurate or misleading claims in the House of Commons. They have also fabricated one of their own. Details below.
Q: What is the international postal fund?
The fund is part of CUPW's urban collective agreement with Canada Post. The union uses the fund within specific guidelines as set out in the agreement.
The fund supports initiatives like training, health and safety work, conferences on technology and infrastructure, projects to increase engagement of women in postal unions, international exchanges between postal unions, and participation in the activities of other postal unions.
Q: Are taxpayers on the hook for sending CUPW delegates to the WSF event in Brazil?
No. While Canada Post pays for the fund, taxpayers do not. Canada Post has not received any financial assistance from the government or taxpayers for many years. In fact, the corporation has paid more than a billion dollars in taxes and dividends to the government over the last sixteen years.
Q: What is Canada Post's position?
Canada Post has raised its concerns about CUPW's delegation to the WSF Free Palestine event.
An audited report of the international postal fund’s activities is submitted to Canada Post at the end of each fiscal year. Any issues over spending will be dealt with at that time.
Q: Is the union filing a grievance if Canada Post refuses to pay for the trip to Brazil, as Sun Media and Pierre Poilievre suggested?
Reporter Jessica Murphy from Sun Media wrote an article stating the union would file a grievance, but that's not what the union told her. A CUPW representative told her the union would try to resolve any issues through consultation with Canada Post, and that it had the option to grieve if it believed there was a violation of the collective agreement.
Following this, Conservative Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre got up in the House of Commons and repeated the claim that the union plans on grieving.
The fact is there is no grievance and there has been no decision to file a grievance.
Q: Did the head of a group considered to be a terrorist organization write a letter from jail thanking people at the WSF, including members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, as MP Pierre Poilievre suggested?
Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, wrote an open letter which thanked people attending the WSF. He did not specifically thank members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers as MP Pierre Poilievre suggested.
You can view Sa'adat's letter at:
12/saadat-to-world-social- forum-the-only-choice-for- palestine-is-resistance/
Q: Did postal workers have the chance to meet supporters of a listed terrorist group and its leader, as Sun Media suggested?
An article by Sun reporter Jessica Murphy said that postal workers could "rub elbows" with "supporters of a listed terrorist group and its leader". It said CUPW's delegates had the "option of attending a session devoted to calling for the release of Ahmad Sa'adat from an Israeli jail."
The fact is CUPW did not know about this session. Furthermore, the union is on record as supporting peace and non-violence.
Q: Why are Sun Media and the Conservatives so interested in what the CUPW is doing?
The Conservatives and their friends at Sun Media want people to think that there is a need for Bill C-377. This bill would require labour unions to provide the Canada Revenue Agency each year with detailed information on financial affairs. The Conservatives argue the bill would make trade unions more accountable and transparent to their members.
But trade unions like CUPW are already transparent and accountable to members:
-CUPW's financial statements are discussed and adopted by its democratically elected National Executive Board. The statements are also sent to CUPW locals to share with members.
- Reports from CUPW's Board of Trustees are published in the union's newspaper and mailed to members' homes. These reports mirror CUPW's financial statements in many respects.
-CUPW's National Secretary Treasurer produces a report for the union's convention. This report includes a detailed statement of revenues and expenses for a six-year period.
It appears that the Conservatives understand that they have not yet convinced people of the need for Bill C-377 and are now trying to create a need by fabricating a union transparency crisis.