October 15, 2001

SUSPICIOUS OBJECTS IN THE MAIL
and the
U.M.O., - 1860 MIDLAND AVE.

Employees should be aware that items they handle, sort, lift, deliver and pickup, can contain Dangerous Goods and Prohibited Items, as defined by the CPC Postal Guides / Acts.  

In addition to these daily problems, recent events around the world have brought heighten security to mail and it’s contents. Canada is no stranger to terrorism, and many postal employees have had to deal with dangerous events. In the past Street Letter Boxes (SLB’s) were a target of some of these groups, and many of our employees deliver to embassies with very high security concerns.

Recently, the “National Undeliverable Mail Office” (UMO) at 1860 Midland Ave. had events around these terrorist acts, which required the Metropolitan Toronto Police and Toronto Public Health to be involved. 

CPC now collects all damaged / suspicious mail and ships it to Scarborough, to one location. There are problems with this, as in many cases the other mail is contaminated and where the item was mailed / found is never known. The UMO regularly has incidents requiring assistance from the Police or Health & Safety officials.

On September 26, an employee opened a letter and was covered with a blue powder. The employee was taken to the Hospital and later released. The police were called to investigate. On September 27, another employee discovered about 15 envelopes addressed to the White House and other USA agencies. The Police Bomb Squad was called and the items were removed. There was an emergency Joint Health & Safety Committee Meeting, once the Local was informed.

Canada Post Spokesman John Caines has recently been quoted in the Press that CPC employees are trained to spot suspicious packages and envelopes. While some employees may have received some minimal training (a 5 minute Health & Safety talk) sometime in their career at CPC, not all employees are trained.

When the Local asked for Dangerous Goods and Prohibited Items Training to be given to all Scarborough Local members through the Joint Health & Safety Committee, it was denied. CPC does not train delivery employees in dangerous or prohibited items, as the theory is that it will get stopped at the location where the mail enters the system, the corner drug store or postal outlet. The Local has asked for this training to be given to collection, delivery, and sortation employees in the past, but it was denied.

CPC says that they have increased mail searches of incoming International Mail. This is a token effort; the problem is more likely out going mail to the USA and internal domestic mail to local media and embassies, if there is any danger at all. Searching incoming foreign mail will not increase security in domestic or outgoing mail.

The collection / delivery or sortation employee is the first person to risk exposure before it gets to a “target”.

If you find suspicious mail, do not move it, do not send it to the UMO, notify your supervisor, contact the Local, and seek medical attention if you feel you have been exposed.

You have rights under the Collective Agreement, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and Canada Labour Code; you will not suffer adverse consequences for delivery or work refusals unless they are frivolous.

You should be very careful in doing you job, each and every day.

In Solidarity

Mike Duquette
President
Scarborough Local