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CUPE to donate $50,000 for disaster relief in Pakistan

CUPE will contribute $50,000 towards emergency aid in Pakistan. On the recommendation of Public Services International (PSI) and the Pakistan Workers’ Federation, CUPE will send its donation to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Government of Canada has promised to match donations dollar-for-dollar.

It’s important for CUPE members that we do our share to provide assistance during this tragic humanitarian crisis in Pakistan,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “We are calling on all CUPE locals to make donations as well. We also invite other organizations, government agencies and the international community to do what they can.”

Virtual post-secondary education: privatization and profit

Growing evidence from the U.S. indicates the for-profit virtual university is no solution and Canadian universities, faculty and potential students should be more aware of the potential pitfalls of privatized post-secondary education. U.S.-based corporation EduMetry now has a toehold in Canadian universities, using outsourced labour from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and India to grade post-secondary exams and assignments through its Virtual TA services.

New Brunswick is the Canadian base for MeritusU, a subsidiary of the Apollo Group. Recently, Apollo has underwent scrutiny when the U.S. Government Accountability Office report (August 2010) found that staff at some controversial colleges encouraged potential students to fudge their income on loan forms and give misleading information about costs. Another school with a troubled past is University Canada West, a private institution owned by the Eminata Group in British Columbia. The university was teetering on bankruptcy when the company sold it in 2005.

According to a fact sheet provided by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education regarding the closure of Lansbridge University, the company failed to maintain financial security as required by the degree authorization regulations and the terms and conditions of consent. The school also failed to comply with the condition that limits a student’s financial obligation to 12 months and several other infractions. New Brunswick announced, on August 20, that Lansbridge University would no longer be able to operate as a post-secondary degree-granting institution in that province.

Read the fact sheet from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education: http://cupe.ca/t/Ecp.

Read the article For-Profit Colleges Misled Students, Witnesses Say: http://cupe.ca/t/5g8.

Nova Scotia nursing home owner trying to introduce ‘two-tier’ benefits for employees

On August 25, CUPE Nova Scotia stated that the province’s largest private nursing home operator is attempting to ratchet down working conditions in the sector with a ‘two-tier’ system of benefits. Contract talks to reach a first collective agreement at two new Shannex nursing homes have reached an impasse as a result.

Both Parkland at the Lakes, which employs some 80 nursing home workers in Dartmouth, and Bissett Court, which employs another 55 workers in Cole Harbour, are insisting on treating employees differently by attempting to negotiate two different sets of benefits for employees working in the facilities.

As a result, CUPE has applied for the services of a conciliation officer to assist the parties in arriving at a settlement. But I can state categorically that as the largest union in the country with over 600,000 members, we will never agree to a system that sees one group of workers treated differently than another group of workers in the same workplace,” said CUPE long term care coordinator Kelly Murray.

Montreal white-collar workers lament lack of political courage

At a recent meeting with the city council, elected officials of Union Montréal and Projet Montréal did not hesitate to dismiss the idea of exploring alternative solutions to the City of Montreal’s financial problems.

Although the city manager and director of finances have stated, both publicly and in committee, that economies of scale would be easily achievable and would provide Montreal with income in the tens of millions of dollars on a recurring basis, these same elected officials argued against the establishment of an ad hoc committee with a mandate to study those potential savings and the effects of the duplication of services and the super-fragmentation of the City.

There is an obvious lack of political will,” said Monique Côté, president of the Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal (SFMM, CUPE-FTQ). “These elected officials prefer to make the citizens pay and reduce services – a quick and easy solution – rather than work to address the real problems. When will they stop wasting the taxpayers’ money?” she asked.

The SFMM is currently conducting a campaign – Montréal, fais une ville de toi! – to make taxpayers aware of the serious weakening of the municipal public service, emptied of its staff and public expertise. The division of powers between the central city and its 19 boroughs has affected the quality of public services, which now differ from one borough to the next, and has created inequities, ensuring that Montrealers are not getting their money’s worth.

CUPE municipal workers welcome mediation

Quesnel, B.C. municipal workers, CUPE 1050, are pleased their employer has agreed to engage the services of a mediator. Members met on August 22 and voted to renew their strike mandate that expires at the end of August. Mediation is scheduled to begin in September. Talks broke off May 26 and they have been working without a contract since June.

Glenna Casavechia: activist initiates Nova Scotia school zone program

On August 19, CUPE activist Glenna Casavechia joined the Nova Scotia transportation minister to unveil a new school zone signage program rolling out across the province. Casavechia is an executive member of CUPE 4814, which represents school crossing guards throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality, and she’s been on a crusade to get motorists to slow down and pay attention in school zones. The signs – which are being made available to municipalities free of charge – remind motorists that they will face hefty fines if they are caught speeding in school zones.

CUPE Cup awarded to top lifeguard team in B.C.

Lifeguards tested skills against other teams from B.C. at the 11th annual lifeguard competition held on August 14. CUPE 403, Township of Langley municipal workers, were sponsors of the event that is open to lifeguards 16 years old and up from British Columbia.

CUPE 403 president Paul Albrecht said, “It’s important that young and casual workers know that CUPE supports them and understands their workplace issues.” CUPE 403 has also been running open houses for young, casual, and new members at their office.

Members of CUPE 386 from Coquitlam’s City Centre Aquatic Complex – aka “The Flipflops” – won the CUPE Cup for the second year in a row. The home team, CUPE 403 members from Walnut Grove Community Centre, won both the best rookie team and the fitness competition.

Political Action Profile: Joel Bentley for Windsor city council

CUPE national representative Joel Bentley is seeking election to city council (Ward 1) on election day, October 25, in Windsor, Ontario. Among the ideas Bentley is taking to the doorstep is advocating for new funding models for municipalities. Bentley is also pledging to improve parks and community centres in the neighbourhood, as well as addressing overcrowding issues, particularly at Bellewood Public School.

Since 2005, Bentley has worked as a national representative servicing several locals at the University of Windsor, some municipal employees at the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society, as well as some social service and childcare locals. Prior to becoming a national representative, he was the president of CUPE 1001, representing groundskeepers, maintenance, custodial, housekeeping and food services employees at the University of Windsor, his alma mater.

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