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CUPE reaches out to parents at Ottawa child care centre

National President Paul Moist joined supporters of child care workers at an information picket outside Ottawa’s Andrew Fleck child care centre this week.

The workers, members of CUPE Local 2204, are facing major concessions in an extremely difficult round of bargaining that resumes July 26.

Moist was clear that CUPE does not want a disruption at the centre, but said the severe concessions the employer wants are sending bad signals.

Up to now, the relationship has been very positive,” Moist said. “Parents value the work of the child care professionals, so garnering parent support is critical to try to stave off a disruption here.”

Moist stressed that wages aren’t the issue– it’s concessions. The employer wants to eliminate bumping rights for senior employees and cancel pregnancy and parental leave benefits, among other concerns.

Once you get a chance to explain to parents that we’ve already tentatively agreed to a 1.5 per cent wage increase, parents understand the situation in a new way,” Moist said.

About 50 parents got the message that child care workers want a fair collective agreement, not one that rolls back existing rights and benefits.

Rachel Besharah is the president of CUPE Local 2204, which represents child care workers across Ottawa. She hoped for a balanced resolution when the two sides resume bargaining.

We’d like to balance the interests of the members while recognizing the concerns the employer has around seniority and bumping procedures. We need to do this without infringing upon members’ seniority rights,” Besharah said. “We have a long standing relationship with this employer that’s been healthy and productive and we’d be very sorry to lose that.”

CUPE Ontario hospital workers ratify central contract

Workers at University Health Network, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Hospital for Sick Children and thousands of their colleagues across Ontario have voted 97 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement that brings labour stability to the hospital sector as the threat of restructuring looms on the horizon.

The next few years will be a period of rapid change with many challenges for Ontario hospitals,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), which negotiates with the Ontario Hospital Association on behalf of 32,000 members across the province.

With the stability of a three-year contract that includes wage increases, job security improvements and other contract improvements, our members will now face challenges presented by the local health integration networks (LHIN).”

LHINs would particularly affect the jobs of trades, maintenance, dietary, custodial, materials management and clerical staff. These are the areas of the hospital most vulnerable to restructuring and consolidation.

The effect on patient care is foremost in our members’ minds,” Hurley said. “LHINs are supposed to localize health care management, but we are concerned that moving food preparation farther from the hospital, for example, will have a negative impact on patients. It’s the same with custodial and maintenance services. We need secure, hospital-based staff to avoid the spread of infectious disease.”

Members will meet in early fall to plan their next steps in a campaign to ensure that hospital services remain public and not-for-profit.

B.C. CUPE member reaches human rights settlement with city

In a pre-emptive move designed to avoid an embarrassing loss, the City of Kelowna has reached a human rights settlement on same-sex spousal benefits with a local CUPE member less than a week before her complaint was to go before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

Meredith Clements, a member of CUPE Local 338 working at a local RCMP detachment, first asked her employer for spousal benefits when she was hired in 1999. The employer turned her down. Clements applied again in 2001 and in 2003, and was denied both times.

After B.C. marriage law changed in the summer of 2003 and benefits were legally extended to same-sex partners, the union filed a grievance with the employer on her behalf. The grievance was settled in the fall of 2004 before the case went to arbitration. Shortly afterward, Clements filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.

Terms of the settlement reached yesterday are unavailable, as both Clements and the City are subject to a non-disclosure agreement.

In an interview with local CBC radio, Kelowna’s Human Resources Manager Rick Baker said that the City would now treat all couples the same. But he did not comment on why the settlement took so long or why Clements was repeatedly denied. Same sex spousal benefits have been available in most municipal contracts in B.C. since 2000.

The settlement is especially good news for lesbian and gay CUPE members who live outside the Lower Mainland.

It’s too bad the settlement took so long, but Meredith Clements deserves credit for pushing ahead with the case,” said CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill. “This will really make a difference for gay and lesbian members and their partners.”

CUPE makes case for keeping Winnipeg park public

Gary Swanson, President of CUPE Local 500, and CUPE National Representative Nicole Campbell made a presentation to a Winnipeg City Council committee this week challenging a report that recommends adopting a not-for-profit corporation model for running the city’s Assiniboine Park.

Among other things, their presentation questioned the analysis and assumptions of the report along with the recommendation to shift authority for the park to an independent governance body.

Swanson and Campbell also encouraged the City to keep the park a public service with governance control and operational authority vested in the City’s administration.

CUPE Local 1418 ratifies tentative agreement

CUPE Local 1418 members (rehabilitation and therapy and recreation and cultural program officer group), have ratified the tentative agreement reached last month with the New Brunswick provincial government.

This has been a lengthy negotiation process for the members”, said Anne Hogan, President of CUPE Local 1418. “We have been without a collective agreement since August 2004. A two-year negotiation process is not acceptable and in the future, we hope the government would expedite the process”, she added.

The five-year collective agreement provides for a 15 per cent wage increase.

CUPE Local 1190 and N.B. government reach tentative agreement

Members of New Brunswick’s CUPE Local 1190 will vote as soon as possible on a tentative agreement reached earlier this week.

The local has been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement with the provincial government since early 2004.

It has been a long and frustrating process,” said Andy Hardy, President of CUPE Local 1190. “We have been without a contract since December 2003.”

The main issues were wages, job security, and a winter maintenance program. Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until after a ratification vote by its members.

CUPE Local 1190 represents around 1,700 members who work in many departments such as transportation, tourism, natural resources, supply and services, and community colleges.

CUPE Local 4549 reaches tentative agreement

CUPE Local 4529, which represents workers in the Municipality of the County of Annapolis, N.S., has reached a tentative agreement with the employer.

The union voted in favour of the negotiated agreement on July 13. CUPE National Representative John Evans is pleased with the tentative agreement.

There are significant gains for the part-time workers and a fair economic adjustment for everyone else, as well as improvements to the cost-sharing of benefits,” he said.

CUPE Local 4549 represents employees who work in water and waste water treatment as well as maintenance technicians.

Cape Breton Transition House Association workers vote to strike

The mostly female staff of Cape Breton Transition House have unanimously voted to reject their employer’s offer after another frustrating day of conciliation with management.

CUPE Local 3008B has been without a contract for 27 months. “We are very disappointed,” said CUPE National Representative Kathy MacLeod. “We were unable to achieve even the most basic of medical plans. Some of these women have worked here for 25 years and still have no medical plan. We also wanted to see some increases to the pension plan and to the wages of our public education position.”

These women are feeling a lack of respect coming from management,” MacLeod added. “They have been extremely patient and understanding, but the employer has to show them some movement on these basic items.”

Transition House serves women and children in need.

CUPE upset with Alberta school trustees for lockout notice

CUPE Alberta is upset with Livingstone Range School trustees for issuing lockout notice to employees.

Without providing a single reason why, trustees are provoking and escalating a dispute in our schools that could easily run into the school year,” said CUPE Alberta President D’Arcy Lanovaz. “By issuing lockout notice, trustees are turning their backs on their employees, on the public, and on the students who depend upon support staff.”

The union is asking trustees to limit the growing use of contractors and casual employees in the school system.

For years, Livingstone Range trustees have put our children’s safety and welfare in the hands of casual and contracted out persons,” said Lanovaz. “We believe school work should not be treated casually. Permanent employees have the experience and the knowledge to keep students well cared for and properly educated.”

Lanovaz said the union is willing to negotiate with trustees at any time, but accused trustees of preferring to duck responsibility.

The problem is these trustees won’t come to the table. Instead, they’ve hired an Edmonton based management consultant at hundreds of dollars per hour to stonewall employees. In Lethbridge, where trustees were more involved, bargaining went smoothly.”

Compass/HEU talks resume July 31

Negotiations covering 700 Hospital Employees’ Union members on Vancouver Island who work for Compass Group will continue later this month with the assistance of a labour board mediator.

HEU’s Compass/Vancouver Island Hospital Association bargaining committee wrapped up three days of talks with some agreement on language but no progress on monetary issues.

The union tabled wage proposals in April, but Compass has so far not responded with its own position. The mediator will meet with HEU’s committee and Compass for three days starting July 31.

HEU’s bargaining spokesperson Heather Compton says that the tone of negotiations this week was much improved over previous sessions with the employer.

The committee is hopeful that we are able to continue this dialogue at the end of the month with the mediator’s assistance,” says Compton.

In the meantime, HEU will be reporting to members on progress at the bargaining table at a series of meetings next week.