UPDATE 10 (August 17, 9:30 AM ):  It’s been quiet for some time, but we’re now hearing rumblings from both Canada Post and CUPW. What it comes down to is this: CUPW’s strike vote will become invalid on August 25. That means they can issue a 72-hour strike notice at any time before then, but after that date, they’ll need to hold another vote. Both parties could agree to extend that time period to allow negotiations to continue – but that’s already happened once, and talks appear to be somewhat stalled. As we near that August 25 deadline, it’s absolutely possible that we might see a strike notice issued. That doesn’t necessarily mean work disruption, but it could end in one.

UPDATE 9 (July 8, 2:30 PM): In an effort to avoid a lockout on Monday, CUPW is proposing a 30-day cooling off period to Canada Post management to give negotiations another chance. They’ve also offered to withdraw their complaint to the CIRB in an act of good faith. Canada Post has accepted the offer on the condition that the two parties attend binding arbitration if they can’t reach a conclusion in 30-days.

UPDATE 8 (July 7, 11:00 AM): It’s been a busy few days on this front. As announced today, Canada Post extended a 72-hour lockout notice period that could have ended operations as early as Friday. Yesterday, CUPW filed a formal complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) that Canada Post has failed to negotiate in good faith. Now, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, has asked Canada Post and CUPW to submit to binding arbitration to resolve the dispute. While Canada Post has accepted the offer – and extended their 72-hour notice – CUPW has turned it down. This means that work could come to a halt starting on Monday.

UPDATE 7 (JUNE 29, 9:45 AM): In a surprising turn of events, postal workers have asked Canada Post management for a two-week extension on the cooling-off period. If the request isn’t granted, their contract could be terminated, and a strike or lock-out could begin, as of July 2nd. This is unusual at this stage of the process, but it does indicate a willingness to keep talking. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE 6 (June 27, 10:30 AM): Canada Post has tabled offers for the negotiations under way with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). In response, CUPW has issued a statement indicating that these offers do not sufficiently address many of their demands. As we get closer to the July 2nd deadline for a lockout or strike, this kind of disagreement in the negotiations process could signal bad news. In the event of a disruption, Canada Post won’t operate, deliver or accept new items.

UPDATE 5 (June 24, 9: 30 AM):  We’ve been hearing mixed messages on both sides, and nothing is confirmed one way or the other. We’re still in the 3-week cooling-off period. But the good news is that both parties still appear to be talking, which means they’re that much closer to a resolution, rather than a lockout.

UPDATE 4 (June 14, 8:30 AM): The formal conciliation period ended on June 10 and the parties are now in a 21-day “cooling-off” period. A disruption is still a possibility. It would appear that negotiations are ongoing. For fundraising purposes, Canada Post has indicated that June 23 is the latest you can drop mail to ensure delivery by June 30, so keep that date in mind when planning your contingencies.

UPDATE 3 (June 10, 3:30 PM): Today is the last day of the conciliation period, and Canada Post has indicated that both parties have long way to go before reaching any consensus. The earliest date that a work disruption could occur is July 2, so we can expect standard mail delivery at least through June.

UPDATE 2 (May 30th, 11:30 AM): According the CBC, Canada Post is warning some of its major clients to make contingency plans ahead of a possible strike. Talks appear to be moving slowly. Again, nothing here is confirmed – but it’s good to make sure you have your own contingency plans in place (and Margaret has some great suggestions below!).

UPDATE 1 (May 25th, 2:00 PM): Canada Post released an update statement which indicates that there’s nothing new to report yet. So far, no news is good news.

You may have heard that Canada Post is in contract negotiations with their letter carriers – both urban and rural.

Talks between all parties remain in progress. And for now, it’s business as usual. According to the info we have at this time, if a strike does happen – and that’s an ‘IF’ – the soonest would be early July.

Contrary to what some may say, snail mail remains the lifeline for most non-profits. They depend on Canada Post to keep donations coming in the door.

Being proactive is key in order for them to remain afloat in the event a work disruption does happen.

If there’s a Canada Post strike, what can you do to mitigate the impact?

1) PLAN AHEAD. Have a look at your mail plan and adjust accordingly – and where possible. Assuming the earliest strike date is early July, aim to have appeals drop at Canada Post no later than mid-June.  You don’t want your mail languishing in the warehouse for the duration of the disruption.

2) GIVE DONORS AN ALTERNATIVE. If you have an appeal dropping soon, include a buckslip with a short message to let donors know about the strike and how they can support your charity during this time. Something like:

There is news that a potential Canada Post mail strike could happen this summer.  In the event you have a question or concern that you’d like to share and you are unable to reach me by regular mail, I invite you to contact me directly by telephone [your phone number] or email [your email].

And when you send your next gift to the XYZ Foundation, you have options in addition to the mail.  You can call our helpful staff toll-free at [your phone number] to make a gift over the telephone.  Or you can visit us online at [your website] to make a secure gift on our website.

3) SPEAK UP. If your next appeal is not scheduled for some time, consider sending out a voice mail broadcast to your constituents before the start of summer thanking them for their support, give them a heads up about the strike, and letting them know how they can remain in touch with you.

4) GO DIGITAL. Now is the perfect time to put the email addresses donors have provided to good use. An email can be used to relay this same message as above to your donors. Don’t forget to include a link to your donation page!

5) BE PATIENT. When the disruption is over, it’s best to wait a short time before rushing to drop an appeal. I recommend allowing time for the postal workers to get back into routine and clear the backlog.

I encourage you to sign up here to receive the most up to date information.

Most of us have weathered postal disruptions in the past. With the proper planning and strategies, we will do it again!