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Canadian Union of Postal Workers
PredecessorCanadian Postal Employees Association
Formation1965; 59 years ago (1965)
TypeTrade union
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Canada
Membership (2006)
Jan Simpson
Affiliations Edit this at Wikidata

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW; French: Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des postes [STTP]) is a public-sector trade union representing postal workers including letter carriers, rural and suburban mail carriers,[1] postal clerks, mail handlers and dispatchers, technicians, mechanics and electricians employed at Canada Post as well as private sector workers outside Canada Post. Currently comprising upwards of 50,000 members, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has historically been labeled as militant because of some of the actions undertaken since its inception in 1965 to help guarantee rights to all postal workers.[2] According to former president Jean-Claude Parrot, "We succeeded to get the support of the membership because we earned our credibility with them...we got that reputation [of militancy] because we earned it."[3]


CUPW's national office in Ottawa

The CUPW currently has approximately 54,000 members[4] and has a long, vibrant history originating in 1965 when the union was formed out of the Canadian Postal Employees Association (CPEA).[5] The CPEA was itself formed out of the merging of the Dominion Postal Clerks Association, the Dominion Railway Mail Clerks' Federation, and the Mail Porters Association in 1928.[6][7]


The CUPW's first major strike was an illegal wildcat strike in 1965 (before public sector workers had the right to strike or even form unions) and is the largest illegal strike involving government employees. The action succeeded in winning the right to collective bargaining for all public sector employees. Other major industrial actions included a strike in 1968 and a campaign of walkouts in 1970 that resulted in above average wage increases. Further strikes in 1974 and 1975 succeeded in gaining job security in the face of new technology at the post office. A 1978 strike resulted in CUPW president Jean-Claude Parrot being jailed when the union defied back-to-work legislation passed by the Canadian parliament. CUPW's defiance of the law caused a temporary rift between it and the more conservative Canadian Labour Congress. In 1981, after another strike, CUPW became the first federal civil service union in Canada to win the right to maternity leave for its members.

In 1981, Canada Post was transformed from a government department to a crown corporation, fulfilling a long-standing demand by the union. It was hoped that by becoming a crown corporation governed by the Canada Labour Code, relations between Canada Post and its union would improve. While strike action has been less frequent, there were rotating strikes in 1987 and 1991 against plans to privatize postal outlets, both of which were ended by back-to-work legislation and also saw attempts by Canada Post to break the strike using strikebreakers.

In 2003, CUPW successfully completed the organizing of approximately 6,000 Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) into the Union and won a first collective agreement for these workers. This collective agreement is separate from the CUPW collective bargaining agreement. The two collective agreements have major differences. These differences stem from the RSMCs formerly being contractors as opposed to employees of Canada Post. For instance, RSMCs are paid in a contract style system as opposed to hourly, RSMCs are typically expected to find their own replacements during absences, and RSMCs may hire assistants who are not employed by Canada Post. Also in 2003 saw the first of many rollbacks for the Urban Postal Unit when the contract that was reached included the elimination of severance pay. Members ratified the Urban Mail Operations agreement by a vote of 65.4 per cent.[8][9]

On June 3, 2011, CUPW began labour actions against Canada Post with a series of rotating strikes. On June 14, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. EST, Canada Post announced a lockout of CUPW members. The lockout ended June 27, 2011, after Parliament passed a law rendering illegal any further work stoppage.[10]

CUPW's last collective agreement was signed in 2012 and expired January 31, 2016. The RSMC collective bargaining agreement expired in December 2015.

The last agreement between Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Urban Postal Operations, expired January 31, 2018.

Failing to reach a new agreement, the union began a series of rotating strikes across the country on October 22, 2018.[11]

Other postal unions

In 1989, the Canadian Labour Relations Board forced most Canada Post employees under one union. Until that time CUPW, had represented only "inside employees" with the Letter Carriers Union of Canada representing "outdoor employees" and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers representing smaller units of specialized workers within the post office. After a vote, CUPW was chosen to be the sole union representing the combined bargaining unit.

However, three smaller trade unions remain at Canada Post. The Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association covers 12,000 rural workers, the Association of Postal Officials of Canada has 3,400 supervisors and the Union of Postal Communications Employees represents 2,600 technical workers.[12][13][14]

The CUPW put forward several merger proposals to the Canadian Postmasters but, to date, they have been rebuffed.[15]

Worker groups

The union represents different types of workers within Canada Post divided into four groups:

Private sector

The Canadian Union Of Postal Workers represents workers outside Canada Post such as cleaners, couriers, drivers, warehouse workers, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, printers and other workers and total 536 members in separate bargaining units.[20]

Outside causes

The union is also noted for supporting political causes. It spends funds in participating on issues such as child care, Cuba, abortion, Colombia, anti-racism, anti–North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), anti–global capitalism, marijuana decriminalization, campaigns for women's equality and human rights.[21] CUPW has also protested the Vietnam War, supported the disarmament movement, opposed South Africa's apartheid regime and opposed the bombing of Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.[22] The CUPW also supports the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)[23] against the state of Israel "...until such time that it respects international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."[24]


1974: Joe Davidson
1977: Jean-Claude Parrot
1992: Darrell Tingley
2002: Deborah Bourque
2009: Denis Lemelin
2015: Mike Palecek
2019: Jan Simpson


  1. ^ "Collective Agreements-Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers".
  2. ^ "This Week in Canadian Labour History". Canadian Labour Congress.
  3. ^ Hudson, Erin (2011-09-08). "Pushing the envelope | The McGill Daily". Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  4. ^ "Union Structure".
  5. ^ TERMIUM®, Government of Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Translation Bureau (2009-10-08). "CANADIAN POSTAL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION [1 record] - TERMIUM Plus® — Search - TERMIUM Plus®". Retrieved 2018-05-12.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Thomson, Anthony (1977). "Early Unionization in the Canadian Post Office" (PDF).
  7. ^ Bercuson, David Jay (1974). Confrontation at Winnipeg: Labour, Industrial Relations, and the General Strike. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 9780077350215. Confrontation at Winnipeg: Labour, Industrial Relations, and the General Strike.
  8. ^ "CUPW - 2003-09-29 - Postal Workers Ratify two Landmark Collective Agreements". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-01-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Angry postal workers rally before returning to work". 2011-06-28.
  11. ^ Vomiero, Jessica "Canada Post union workers to begin rotating nationwide strikes Monday morning" Global News; October 21, 2018. Jessica By Jessica Vomiero
  12. ^ "About us". CPAA. Archived from the original on 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  13. ^ "About APOC". Association of Postal Officials of Canada. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  14. ^ "About Us". UPCE. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  15. ^ Maheux, Daniel L. (2010-03-01). "Bargaining Unit Review". The Canadian Postmaster. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  16. ^ "Agreement Between the Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers" (PDF). CUPW.
  17. ^ "Agreement between the Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Agreement Between the Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Agreement between the Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers" (PDF).
  20. ^ "CUPW - Our Members". Archived from the original on 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2006-03-07.
  21. ^ "Campaigns and Issues".
  22. ^ "CUPW - 2008-04-29 - Q & A: Working toward a just peace for Palestine and Israel - CUPW & Resolution 338/339". Archived from the original on 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  23. ^ "BDS Movement". BDS Movement. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  24. ^ Bleakney, Dave. "What is Happening in Palestine? Nakba – 70th Anniversary of the Palestinian Catastrophe". CUPW. Retrieved 2018-05-12.