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CUPE ratifies deal with Sodexo Canada

Maintenance employees at Acadia University have a new collective agreement with Sodexo Canada.  The workers, members of CUPE Local 4198, ratified the agreement on August 5, 2010.

The three-year contract includes across the board hourly wage increases of $0.40 in the first year, $0.75 in the second, and $1 in the third.  It also includes increases of $0.50 per hour for forepersons and an increase of $0.25 per hour in the second year for utility workers.  The deal also provides for additions to call-in pay, as well as increases in vacation, bereavement, and sick leave accumulation.

CUPE National Representative Naomi Stewart said, “This was a very productive round of bargaining.  Both sides were very determined to reach a deal.”  She added, “There was a real sense of cooperation at the table, which resulted in reaching a deal that’s good for all parties involved.”

CUPE members ask City of Quesnel to get back to the table

CUPE 1050 members turned down the City of Quesnel’s final offer with a resounding ‘no’ vote.  The BC Labour Relations Board announced the result of the vote on August 12.  CUPE 1050 represents 114 municipal workers in Quesnel who provide garbage collection, water and sewer services, and services at the arena, municipal works yard, and District Office.  Talks broke off May 26 and they have been working without a contract since June.

Municipal workers turned down the initial offer and instead of being willing to negotiate and work things out, the City forced a vote on the exact same contract that had been rejected,” said CUPE 1050 acting president Curtis Galbraith.

The City’s final offer was for zero per cent in the first year, one per cent in year two, and two per cent in the final year of the three-year contract. 

The bargaining team representing municipal workers is calling on the City to work towards an agreement that is appropriate and fair to workers providing services in Quesnel.  The City had applied to the BC Labour Relations Board for the final offer vote following a vote by Council approving a lock-out.

Private for-profit education grows in Canada

CUPE members at universities across Canada are questioning the decision by administration to sign deals with Navitas, allowing it to set up private, for-profit programs on their campuses.

Navitas, an Australian-based multinational corporation, describes itself as a leader in the development of educational services and learning solutions.  They offer English language training, high school studies, university preparation, and university programs in eight countries.  Navitas keeps its costs down by operating in public university facilities in Canada and hires casual staff to teach in the programs.

In April 2010, an external review of the Simon Fraser University (SFU) contract with Navitas was conducted.  The review examined the extent to which “the qualifications and working conditions of FIC instructors are comparable to those of SFU sessional instructors.”  On this point, the review noted that, “there is no provision for collective representation through an association or union.”

In Manitoba, a provincial bureaucrat left her job at the Council on Post Secondary Education and was hired by Navitas to run a private school on the U of M campus, as part of a confidential deal.  As written in an article by the Winnipeg Free Press, the confidential deal between the U of M administration and Navitas has drawn criticism from faculty, students, and members of the university’s board of governors and senate, who are upset that the university administration negotiated the deal without informing the campus community.

Navitas has pursued similar arrangements with McMaster University, University of Windsor, and Dalhousie University.  They are also pursuing a deal with Carleton University.  We can only expect the pressure to grow as Navitas aggressively seeks new markets while its Australian base seems to be in decline.

The University and College Union (UCU) in the U.K. prepared a campaign brief about Navitas, explaining how the firm operates.  Read the UCU campaign briefing on Navitas and the External Review of SFU-IFC External Operations at: http://cupe.ca/post-secondary/private-for-profit-education-grows.

CUPE Saskatchewan organizes special workshop for members

CUPE Saskatchewan is putting on a two-day workshop in Regina on August 30-31 for all CUPE activists in the province.  The purpose of the workshop is to develop a strategic plan for the union as it heads into 2011 – an election year.

The workshop will provide leaders and activists an opportunity to discuss some of these changes and develop plans for responses.  High on the list of issues to be addressed will be the Public Services Essential Agreement Act (Bill 5) and the Act to Amend the Trade Union Act (Bill 6).  Both bills were passed into law less than six months after Wall took office and have had significant negative effects on CUPE’s ability to organize and bargain effectively.

Also of great concern are recent cuts to education assistant (EA) positions across the province.  The government continues to push school boards toward a “professional-based” model, which would hire more psychologists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other similar positions, all at the expense of EA positions.  One government report suggests that as many as 75% of the province’s EAs could be cut.

Members wishing to attend are encouraged to contact the CUPE Saskatchewan office at (306) 757-1009 or cupesask@sasktel.net.

CUPE Local 1860 partners with Choices for Youth

When CUPE Local 1860 at the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC) was approached by Choices for Youth with an idea to help at-risk youth, the local didn’t hesitate to respond.  Choices for Youth is a community-based, non-profit agency that works with young people who are at-risk and those with barriers to employment.  Ten young workers are employed in the current project.

Following a presentation by the program’s coordinator Rosalind Curran, Local 1860 members voted unanimously to endorse the idea.  Working in conjunction with the housing corporation, the local joined the Train for Trades project.  The one-year initiative will include renovations to 40 public housing units in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and provides much needed experience for the individuals involved.

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