Canada Post Union now led by Caribbean woman

By Lincoln DePradine

Jan Simpson

When Jan Simpson was brought to Canada as a three-year-old from Barbados, she hardly could have imagined that one day she’ll create history in this country and become one of Canada’s most prominent trade union leaders.

Simpson, a postal worker from Scarborough, is the newly elected National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

She has signaled that her immediate priorities include continuing the fight against back-to-work legislation and getting Canada Post back to the negotiating table with the federal government.

“Our members need a new contract,’’ said Simpson, the first Black woman to lead a national union in Canada. “This arbitration has gone on for far too long. Our members need safe working conditions, fair wages and equality for all.”

The Simpson-led CUPW executive committee also includes Julee Sanderson as First National Vice-President and Bev Collins, who was re-elected as National Secretary-Treasurer. They were among a record number of women chosen to head CUPW after elections held last week at the union’s convention in Toronto.

Simpson began her career at Canada Post in 1985 and later became a union activist, breaking down many barriers in the process. She was the first Black woman elected to CUPW’s national office and to the national board.

“I am truly honoured to be a part of a progressive union that values diversity and continues to challenge the status quo,’’ said Simpson.

She wants changes made to postal operations in Canada and vows to bring her concerns to candidates seeking political office at this year’s federal elections.

“The post office of the future,’’ according to Simpson, “must include new and expanded services like postal banking, services for seniors and climate-friendly delivery models. The time for change is now.”