National Executive Board Highlights - March 2008
The National Executive Board met in Ottawa March 17-19, 2008.
PPP Canada Inc.
The Board resolved to step up efforts to oppose the federal government’s plan to impose privatization on local communities and provincial governments. The 2008 federal budget established a new agency "PPP Canada Inc." with a $1.25 billion P3 fund to provide "loans, loan guarantees, non-voting shares and repayable contributions" to P3 projects. CUPE will work with locals, divisions, politicians, coalitions and community leaders and our pension plan trustees to expose the myths surrounding public private partnerships.
In order to support members who face extraordinary attacks on their rights by governments and employers, the NEB established a Fight-Back Fund with an investment of $2.5 million from the 2007 General Fund surplus. This fund will operate in addition to the support offered from the Strike Fund and Defence Fund. While we have always supported members who engage in political fightbacks including job action, this decision establishes a specific fund for this purpose. The National Officers will make recommendations to the NEB for expenditures from the fund.
Global Justice Fund Strengthened
The Board received the annual report of the Global Justice Fund and in its role as the Fund’s Board of Directors, approved projects to support a small peoples’ radio network in Guatemala and to co-sponsor a second national workshop with the South African Municipal Workers Union to organize women workers. The NEB designated some of the 2007 surplus to be used to strengthen the Global Justice Fund.
Two new CUPE properties will be developed. Land purchases in Fredericton, New Brunswick and Victoria, BC were approved. Our design plans will reflect CUPE’s commitment to wellness, accessibility and environmental considerations.
New Equality Director
Sister Anne McGrath’s appointment to the position of Equality Director was ratified. Sister Anne has worked in the social justice movement for many years, both as a CUPE member and on staff in Research, Job Evaluation, the National President’s Office, and more recently as our Acting Equality Director.
Locals across the country continue to engage in campaigns that fight privatization, prevent cuts to public services, increase respect for their members, build bargaining support, and contribute to strong communities. Twenty-six cost shared campaigns were approved, totalling $1,127,278.74. The Legal and Legislative fund supports locals at arbitrations and court proceedings. At this meeting, the NEB approved 23 requests, for a total of $498,591.20.
Economic Climate for Bargaining
The March 2008 edition includes analysis of the average real wage gains. Collective agreements in 2007 provided workers with their largest real wage gains in 20 years. Workers in most provinces achieved base wage increases approximately 1% above inflation. However, in Alberta where the economy is the hottest, wage increases continue to lag behind inflation. Other topics that deal with women’s wages, the economy and the job market will provide bargaining committees with the arguments they need at the table. You can access all of this at www.cupe.ca.
The NEB saluted and thanked two activists who attended their last NEB meeting.
Brother Mario Gervais, General Vice-President, Quebec, will be retiring at the end of March. Although we know that this is the "official" date, we also know that he won’t be far from the CUPE action. Brother Mario’s commitment, focus and sharp wit will be missed by all of us.
Sister Lin Pennesi has represented our support staff union, COPE, as their President and representative to the NEB. Sister Lin has also decided to move on to retirement. Her dedication to CUPE and her members is truly appreciated.
In preparation for the May 2008 CLC convention, the NEB confirmed submission of 27 resolutions that focus on CUPE's priorities. The Board also passed a motion to support the four incumbents for the top officer positions, including CUPE Local 4400 member, Sister Marie Clarke-Walker.