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Tentative agreement reached for 48,000 BC hospital and long-term care workers

A tentative agreement covering more than 48,000 hospital and long-term care workers has been reached between the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association and B.C.’s health employers.

The two-year agreement protects wages and extended health benefits, expands options for workers affected by restructuring and privatization, and provides for compensation increases for targeted job categories.

The agreement covers about 270 different jobs in every area of health care including nursing, health records, information technology, logistics and supply, diagnostic testing, pharmacy, trades and maintenance, dietary, house-keeping, payroll and more.

More information on the settlement can be found at www.heu.org

Montréal cols-bleus save hockey fundraiser

Montréal’s outside workers’ union learned last Wednesday that their rotating strike, planned for the borough of Verdun two days later, would interfere with the holding of a Québec Major Junior Hockey League game.  This would have led to the cancellation of a wrap-up ceremony for a fundraiser for children with cancer, leukemia and Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Local 301 thus decided to provide the services of three employees, including the zamboni driver, so that the event could be held. 

Earlier that same week (Monday), CUPE 301 filed a complaint with the essential services council.  The outside workers put the blame on the Tremblay administration that, according to them, misused the manual workers during the walkout.

The 5,000 or so Montréal outside workers have been without a work contract since
August 31, 2007.  On January 25, 2010, they undertook a 40-day rotating strike.  The main stumbling blocks for the discussions are job preservation and contracting out that the union feels is excessive.

Trade deal short-changes provinces, cities

The new trade agreement forged by Canada and the United States as a way to side-step U.S.‘Buy America’ provisions amounts to Canada giving away the farm for very little in return,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist.

The agreement, which opens up Canada’s municipal and provincial procurement markets to the U.S., will give American companies access to over $100 billion in Canada’s annual sub-federal procurement market.

With the bulk of U.S. stimulus money already spent, the deal does very little to resolve the issue that started the dispute – specifically, that Canada could not profit from U.S. stimulus dollars.  However, the new agreement will leave the ‘Buy America’ provisions basically intact, and only applies to the 37 states that have signed on to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).

The agreement may also open the floodgates to increased privatization of public services such as water and hydro. 

While provincial and municipal procurement was previously excluded from NAFTA, now U.S. investors will be able to launch Chapter 11 investor rights challenges if they feel provinces or municipalities are taking policy actions that harm their interests.

Buy local policies are good for the environment and for Canadian businesses, and they keep jobs and tax revenues in the community.  Why the Harper government would enter Canada into such an uneven deal for Canada is baffling,” said Moist.

CUPE fights garbage privatization in Québec City

On February 8, a significant grievance was debated before an arbitrator in Québec City.  The outside workers employed by Québec City were, in fact, challenging the decision of the municipal administration to grant 100% of household garbage collection to the private sector.  The municipal employees believe that the collective agreement signed in 2009 is very clear, and that it absolutely does not allow the City to privatize the service.  

To the outside workers union (CUPE 1638), the transfer of this service to the private sector will inevitably cause costs to rise for the taxpayers. 

The union has also launched a public opinion campaign on this issue.  The first step was an advertisement broadcast on a number of Québec City stations which began January 20.  During the week of February 15, they are going to distribute 100,000 copies of a flyer. 

As for the arbitrator…the decision is expected by April 1. 

Jack Layton:  Support and solidarity

CUPE National President Paul Moist has sent a message of support and solidarity to NDP leader Jack Layton, who is fighting a battle against prostate cancer.

On behalf of the 600,000 members of CUPE and all of CUPE’s staff, Moist reiterates CUPE’s commitment to continue to work with Layton and the NDP to build a better Canada and a better world - and assures him that our thoughts and prayers are with him in his struggle, wishing for a speedy recovery.

Read Paul Moist’s letter to Jack Layton at http://cupe.ca/news/jack-layton-support-solidarity

Retiring with Dignity

Activists from across Ontario will be coming together in Toronto on March 27, exploring how best to make sure that the interests of working people are not forgotten in the ongoing debate over pension reform.

Rather than continuing systems that will benefit the financial industry and the wealthy, Labour is pushing for a collective solution - expanding the Canada Pension Plan to benefit all workers in every sector of the economy. 

The pension summit - sponsored by the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress - will not only feature high profile speakers discussing the causes of the current economic crisis and the failures of the current pension system, but will also provide a space where the pension stories of everyday workers can be told and recorded.

For information on how to register, visit http://cupe.ca/pensions/retiring-with-dignity

CUPE delegates in Colombia for pre-election mission

CUPE Global Justice committee members Barbara Wood and Ricardo Miranda left Canada for Colombia this week as part of an international observation mission. 

The mission is being coordinated in collaboration with the Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE), a Colombian civil society organization that has been working to promote democracy in Colombia through electoral observation and analysis. 

It aims to bring international attention to the March 14, 2010 congressional elections.

Visit http://cupe.ca/global-justice for updates from the monitoring mission. 

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