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Rise UP for Your Rights Conference 2010: taking back our future

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is planning a conference to develop a strategic response to federal attacks on a broad range of human rights to be held in Ottawa in December 2010 and CUPE members are invited to sign up. CUPE will also be represented by all of our co-chairs from our National Equality Committees and some staff advisors. The national conference will: develop strategic responses to the Conservative attacks on the communities, advance targeted political activism led by these communities, and highlight the growing presence and need to address the unique issues of these communities within the labour movement and labour force. To sign up and for more information, go to: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/rise-up-for-your-rights-conference.

Terrebonne white collar workers “in concert” at the Île-des-Moulins

Concerned that negotiations have been bogged down for more than two-and-a-half years without a contract, white-collar workers in Terrebonne, Quebec are about to make themselves heard. During previous negotiations, the city had agreed to settle the issue of pay equity and to adopt a new salary structure. However, the municipal government is now reneging on that commitment. On July 28, CUPE 2326 members marched along Saint-Louis Street to the entrance of the Île-des-Moulins, followed by a union rally and a concert by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

Stop the violence: Stolen Sisters campaign

On April 21, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) released a report called “What Their Stories Tell Us”. This report includes findings from the Sisters is Spirit initiative which brought together five years of research related to more than 580 Aboriginal women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada. The federal government announced as part of its 2010 budget that it would allocate $10 million dollars towards the issue of violence against Aboriginal women, to raise awareness and implement new policies. NDP Members of Parliament Jean Crowder and Irene Mathyssen developed a petition calling on the government to ensure that NWAC receives financial support to continue its work on the initiative. CUPE members are asked to sign a petition at: http://cupe.ca/aboriginal/stop-violence-stolen-sisters-campaign.

Are McJobs part of Canada’s retirement system?

On July 21, Statistics Canada released new information on labour market activity among seniors. The report shows an increasing number are working out of financial necessity. “The climbing number of seniors entering the labour force out of financial need only drives home the urgency for meaningful pension reform in our country,” said Paul Moist. As Canada’s premiers prepare to meet in Winnipeg next month for the Council of the Federation, Moist urges the leaders to keep pension reform on the front burner. Read the report at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2010107/article/11296-eng.htm.

UN passes Human Right to Water and Sanitation resolution

On July 28, the United Nations General Assembly agreed to a resolution declaring the human right to “safe and clean drinking water and sanitation”. It also called for increased financial, technological and capacity-building support to countries in the global South; to build the public services that will make this human right a reality. For more than a decade, the water justice movement has been calling for UN leadership on this critical issue. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has blocked efforts at the UN to recognize these basic human rights for years and continues to do so. The resolution had 124 countries vote in its favour while 42 countries – including Canada – abstained.

On July 21, CUPE published an article calling for a push for Canadian Action in conjunction with the Council of Canadians’ Blue Planet Project, an online action to build support for the resolution. In addition, CUPE signed an open letter supporting the UN resolution, sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, and members were asked to support the resolution by sending emails to Prime Minister Harper.

Paul Moist calls for end to human rights violations in Philippines

Three teachers in the Philippines were assassinated earlier this month and CUPE members are asked to join Paul Moist to take action to protest the killings. On July 26, a letter from Paul Moist was sent to the President of the Republic of the Philippines calling for an end to human rights abuses and an end to extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. Specifically, CUPE requests that the President ensures: an impartial investigation on the extra-judicial killing of Mark Francisco and other activists since the election; demilitarization of the area pending investigation and disarm military-backed vigilantes; extended protection and assistance to the families of the murdered activists; and a review of the government’s counter-insurgence program as per the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Philip Alston.

Lockout ends at Port of Montreal

Longshoremen of CUPE 375 have signed a back-to-work protocol with the Maritime Employers Association and union members adopted the agreement on July 23. The 900 longshoremen were locked-out by their employer since July 19. The agreement provides for the resumption of work on Saturday, July 24 and both parties resumed bargaining on July 26. To facilitate bargaining, they have agreed to a suspension of all means of pressure (from both sides) until September 3. With mutual consent, this could be extended by 45 more days. The longshoremen of the Montreal harbour have been without a contract since December 31, 2008. CUPE is the largest union in the dock-working industry in Quebec. The longshoremen at the ports of Montreal, Quebec, Matane, Contrecœur, Sorel-Tracy, Trois-Rivières, and Bécancour are all affiliated to CUPE.

Fight to stop the casualization of work at McMaster University

On July 25, CUPE members were asked to help stop the casualization of sessional faculty at McMaster University by sending emails to administration in support of CUPE 3906. The union has been in contract talks with the university administration for the last three months, but management filed for a ‘no board’ report triggering a strike/lockout deadline of August 11. Management wants to casualize sessional faculty by dividing courses into smaller sub-units taught by different instructors. If management gets their way, sessional faculty could become one-month employees. In addition, McMaster management wants to continue to keep sessional faculty at the lower end of the wage scale by offering no increases to wages or benefits for two full years. The online email action is available at: http://cupe.ca/takeAction.php?action=showAction&actionID=219.

Municipal employees ratify tentative agreement with Town of Fort Frances

On July 20, members of CUPE 65 ratified a tentative agreement reached with their employer, the Town of Fort Frances. Under the new collective agreement, the 80 members will receive wage increases totaling 3.5 per cent over the life of the two-year agreement, along with improvements to benefit and vacation entitlement language. It also contains improvements for part-time employees, including a sick leave benefit plan and recalculation of vacation entitlements for present and future employees who worked as seasonal or part-time employees prior to obtaining full-time employment with the town.

Agreement with the Montreal Municipal Housing Bureau

On July 22, the Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal [SFMM (CUPE-FTQ)] reached an agreement with the Montreal Municipal Housing Bureau for renewal of the collective agreement of its approximately 225 workers. Their labour contract had expired on December 31, 2008. The parties also agreed on a new job evaluation plan, now under study. The union executive plans to present the contents of the agreement to its members in the fall and to recommend adoption at that time. The details of the agreement will be released following those consultations. The SFMM (CUPE-FTQ) represents more than 10,000 white-collar staff working in the Montreal public and para-public service.

CUPE 4186 and 4299 conclude Early Learning Program agreements

CUPE 4299 reached a groundbreaking agreement with the Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest that will help ensure a successful rollout of the new Early Learning Program (ELP) in September. The letter of agreement, signed on July 20, is the first signed by CUPE in Ontario to incorporate the terms of the recently negotiated Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) agreement. CUPE 4186 also reached a similar agreement with the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) on July 22 and their new ELP rollout is also slated for September. Both of these PDT agreements have been incorporated into the current collective agreements between their school district boards and CUPE, and will be in effect until 2012.

AIDS: treatment and respect for universal human rights are two sides of the same coin

When it comes to an effective plan to tackle the AIDS epidemic, respect for universal human rights and prevention are inseparable from treatment strategies. Fighting stigmatization and investing in prevention and education are also big parts of the equation. This is the message made by CUPE delegates who attended the 18th International AIDS conference in Vienna, from July 18 to 23. CUPE was represented by Sue Roth, member of CUPE 1063 and CUPE’s Global Justice Committee; Gloria Lepine, member of CUPE 3550 and CUPE’s National Aboriginal Council; Michael Butler, executive assistant to the national secretary-treasurer; Trevor Gray, a member of CUPE 4308, working for the Prisoners HIV/AIDS Support Action Network in Toronto; and Victor Elkins, Hospital Employees’ Union member representing the Canadian Labour Congress.

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