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St. John’s outside workers ratify contract

In early June, City of St. John’s outside workers ratified a new, four-year contract with the municipality, which came into effect on July 1.  The deal includes wage increases, of 4.5%, 4.5%, 3.5%, and 3.0% over four years.

The city workers will also vote on participating in a dental plan, a benefit that hasn’t been available until now.  Two other groups, CUPE Local 1289, and city management staff may also be required to participate in voting on the dental plan. 

The union was also able to achieve some other modest improvements including: a sanitation worker wage increase of $0.30 per hour prior to general increases, a shift premium increased by $0.35 to $1.00 per hour, an increase in meal allowances from $5 to $10, and a change to the first class operator rate.

Three-year deal ratified by United Way workers in Victoria

The 15 CUPE members working at the United Way of Greater Victoria have ratified a three-year collective agreement.  The deal includes 2.5% wage increases in each of the three years. Improvements were also made to long-term vacation, benefits, and job evaluation.  

CUPE 50 President John Burrows said, “Relationships like the one we have with the United Way of Greater Victoria should be a model for other union employers.  The level of respect shown at the bargaining table made this agreement possible.”

Defend civil liberties

CUPE members were encouraged to show their opposition to the excessive force used against G20 protesters at the Day of Action for Civil Liberties in towns and cities across Canada.  The rally at Queen’s Park, Toronto took place on July 10.

During the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27, more than $1.2 billion was spent on security to suppress dissent.  More than 900 people were detained based on dubious charges, in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

CUPE partners with the Métis Nation to celebrate Back to Batoche

After many successful meetings with Robert Doucette, President of the Saskatchewan Métis Nation, CUPE’s Aboriginal Council, CUPE Saskatchewan and CUPE National are forging ahead to sign a partnership agreement with the Métis Nation.  This event will take place on July 21 at the 125th anniversary of Back to Batoche Days in Saskatchewan.

During this year’s event, CUPE members will be paddling the Saskatchewan River for three days, finishing at Batoche.  CUPE expects to be joined on the last leg of the river by Métis elders, community groups, and others.  The Aboriginal Council of CUPE Saskatchewan organizes the annual canoe trip to Batoche that began in July 2003.

CUPE and the Métis Nation are also working together on a document about the history of the Métis.  CUPE Researcher and writer of the document, Cheryl Stadnichuk, says that this is more than history, this is an educational tool which will help people realize the great contributions the Métis made to Canada.

Agreement with the City of Sainte-Julie

At a general meeting held June 30, the white-collar and blue-collar employees of the City of Sainte-Julie voted by 89% to endorse their new collective agreement.  The approximately 125 members of CUPE Local 1690 had been without a contract since December 31, 2008.  They signed for a period of six years, from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2014.

The agreement provides wage increases of 16.5% over six years.  Also, in 2011, the white-collar workers’ schedule will be adjusted to 4.5 days (Monday morning to Friday afternoon) from late May to late September.  As this adjustment is based on the rearrangement of hours worked, the measure will not cost the City anything.  Starting in 2014, it will apply year round.  Beginning in 2011, a new municipal client service will be offered Friday afternoon and evenings for citizens of the municipality.

Employer concession demands could disrupt Ottawa garbage pickup

Businesses, light industry, apartment, and condominium residents could face disruptions to garbage collection as soon as July 23 unless the company contracted to provide the service presents a serious contract offer.

On July 6, members of Local 1338 (representing 65 waste haulers and landfill employees) voted more than 95% in favour of taking job action to push back crippling benefit clawbacks proposed by their employer, Waste Management Canada.

The union sent a letter to local businesses and industries in Ottawa, Kanata, West Carleton, Stittsville, Gloucester, Rideau and other area communities warning them of the potential impact of a labour dispute and encouraging them to have contingency plans in place. 

Given the employer’s insistence on putting forward major concessions to short- and long-term disability plans, as well as dental and drug benefits, it does not appear Waste Management is serious about negotiations.

City council votes ‘not in public interest’ to sell Toronto Hydro

With a large audience of CUPE members looking on, an overwhelming majority of Toronto city councillors voted July 6 to maintain the City’s publicly owned and operated electrical utility.  The audience included members of Local One and representatives of CUPE locals 416, 79, 4400 and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.

The motion approved by council reads: “Toronto City Council unequivocally indicate(s) that as Toronto Hydro is a necessary instrument to achieve Toronto’s environmental, economic development and financial objectives, it is not in the public interest to sell all or any part of it.”

Citing a recent Nanos poll that showed 66% of Torontonians oppose selling the utility, councillor Michael Thompson said, “The people don’t want Toronto Hydro used as the band-aid to stop the bleeding of the city.”

Stop governing in secret: release the SuperCorp papers, says CUPE Ontario President

The Premier of Ontario should end his new infatuation with secrecy and release the White Paper and CIBC/Goldman-Sachs report recommending selling shares in a new “SuperCorp”, said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.

The new “SuperCorp” would combine Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and the Ontario Lottery Corporation.  Collectively, they generate approximately $4 billion in annual revenue that the province needs for vitally necessary social services, education and health care and other services.

CUPE Ontario is deeply concerned that Ontario is secretly preparing to combine its most profitable public assets… for a sell-off of shares to private investors while the public is kept unaware of the details,” said Hahn.  “Selling off 20 per cent of “SuperCorp” will lose Ontario $1 billion in revenue every year.”

Beyond the loss of revenue, CUPE Ontario warns that selling shares in SuperCorp will reduce Ontario’s ability to use the Crown corporations as levers of public policy as privatizing even a portion of the assets will make boards of directors accountable to new corporate stakeholders.

2,000 more workers join CUPE

From March to May, more than 2,000 new workers joined CUPE to improve wages and conditions and to make their workplaces better.

New members include police and outside employees of the Town of Kensington, PEI; Canadian North airlines flight attendants; protective services employees and special constables for the Toronto Transit Commission; educational assistants working with children in the Medicine Hat, Alta school division; and health care workers at residential care facilities in Surrey and Parksville, B.C. 

So far this year, that brings the total number of newly organized CUPE members to 4,000 up to the end of May.

CUPE members benefit from hospital disability insurance plan settlement

Forty-one thousand CUPE members working at hospitals in Ontario will benefit from a recent settlement to share millions of dollars of gains made in the 1990s when the insurance company that provided the disability income plan changed its corporate structure.

The outcome resolves a class action lawsuit launched by CUPE, the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, Service Employees International Union, and the Canadian Auto Workers.

An agreement on how to share the proceeds was recently achieved by the five unions and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA).  It covers current and former workers who were employed as of December 29, 1997 by OHA member facilities that were part of the Hospitals of Ontario Disability Income Plan (HOODIP).

Current employees who were covered by HOODIP in December 1997 will receive a holiday for their disability plan premiums for a period of time, as will OHA member hospitals.  Former employees will receive a $100 cheque.

For more information go to: http://www.ochu.on.ca/demutualization.html

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