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BC health care workers settle Bill 29

BC Health care workers who lost their jobs when the BC government gutted their collective agreements in 2002 would get access to more than $75 million in compensation and training under a series of deals negotiated with the province.

In January 2002 the BC government passed Bill 29, which legislated away unions’ contractual protection against contracting out and forced its hospitals to contract out cleaning, food and laundry services.

More than 9,000 health care workers lost their jobs.  Unions whose members lost their jobs took the province to court.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court struck down parts of Bill 29, ruling that the BC government violated the union members’ Charter-guaranteed right to freedom of association.

There are four agreements, covering various parts of BC’s health care sector.

HEU is recommending acceptance of the agreements covering its members in the Facilities Bargaining Association and the Community Bargaining Association.

CUPE BC is supporting the agreement negotiated by the Community Bargaining Association but is asking its members in the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association to vote against that agreement because it lacks language on consultation that the other agreements have.

Neither CUPE nor HEU has members in the fourth agreement, which covers registered nurses.

Alberta expands flawed P3 school plan

The Alberta government announced plans to build 14 new P3 schools in Edmonton and Calgary this week.

This announcement comes just two weeks after the release of a major research document outlining that these P3 arrangements are actually more expensive than following a public model.

The report argues that if the government were to do the borrowing itself, it could afford to build more schools.

Journal de Québec workers seek arbitration

Staff at Le Journal de Québec, locked out since April 2007, have asked for binding arbitration in their dispute with Québecor.

The 252 CUPE members have been publishing MédiaMatinQuébec, a freely-distributed daily newspaper instead of the traditional picket lines.

The dispute is over the company’s demands for layoffs and massive restructuring.

Vancouver parks board heeds union, public opposition on P3 observation tower

Vancouver’s parks board has nixed plans to build an observation tower as a public-private partnership after much public and union protest.

CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro joined a large number of residents at a Park Board meeting last week to denounce the plan.

The $10 million proposal included charging $10 admission to see an unobstructed view of the Vancouver’s North Shore mountains, the harbour, downtown, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Fraser Delta and Mount Baker.

CUPE Ontario gives McGuinty government three step plan to fight poverty

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan gave the provincial government a three-step plan to fight poverty at pre-budget consultations this week.

The three steps:

* end low-wage policies like Mike Harris-era rules on union certification and competitive bidding in home care.

* end all public sector user fees and taxes for families under the low-income cut off.

* open up the public sector in various tri-partite agreements to address aspects of poverty like job training and mentorship for young people at risk.

Ryan said these agreements could extend to areas such as affordable housing.

CUPE mourns the loss of Céline Cloutier

CUPE 1500 and CUPE Québec are mourning the loss of activist Céline Cloutier who died this week in a car accident.

A union educator, Cloutier delivered a course on psychological harassment.  She was also responsible for her local’s human rights committee.

She had been involved with CUPE for about 12 years.

Celine Cloutier will remain in our memories as a dynamic activist, sincere, lively and entirely devoted to the defense of workers.

She was 46.

CUPE 3908 sets up student bursary at Trent University

CUPE 3908 has used an Ontario government program to set up a $50,000 endowment to provide student bursaries.

The local, which represents part-time teaching staff and teaching assistants at Peterborough Ontario’s Trent University, donated $25,000 and the province, through its Ontario Trust for Student Support matched the funds.

The money, once invested, will provide four $500 bursaries to students who are also members of CUPE 3908 each year.

CUPE Local 3908 supports accessibility of post-secondary education,” said CUPE 3908 president Karen Sutherland. “These bursaries are offered in the spirit of solidarity and to commemorate the unification of Local 3908’s two units under one, new executive”.

:te/cope 491