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CUPE calls for retraction from Baird

On November 19, Paul Moist sent an open letter to Government House Leader John Baird calling for him to retract a statement he made in the House of Commons regarding CUPE’s position on Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. In his letter, Moist stated, “I am deeply troubled to hear you deliberately misled the Hon. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, and thereby the people of Canada, when you stated in Question Period on November 19, 2010 that I support your government’s position in Afghanistan.”
“Our support is limited to your government’s position on controlling access to Canadian landing rights for the United Arab Emirates airline, which is aimed at protecting Canadian jobs against an unfair competition with this subsidized airline. I request that you immediately clarify my position for the members of the House of Commons and the people of Canada.”

CUPE prepares for climate change conference in Cancun

CUPE delegates will be attending the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10, 2010. CUPE has prepared a fact sheet outlining our proposals and demands, and why it is important for CUPE to be present at the event.
We support these global goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction: limiting global warming to an increase of two degrees Celsius; compared to 1990 levels, achieve an 85 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050; establishing mechanisms to ensure that targets are legally binding and that states respect their commitments; and ensuring fairness between poor and rich countries, so that the latter do their fair share.
We also request specific actions from our own government in Canada: strengthen and develop clean energy production, under public ownership, control and delivery; gradually eliminate public subsidies to the oil industry, and invest in green energy alternatives; implement incentives that would encourage workplaces and industries to act responsibly on environmental issues and climate change; and invest in training and just transition programs for affected workers and their communities, thereby maintaining and creating jobs in the new green economy.

Download our brochure, A Workers’ Action Guide to a Greener Workplace at: http://cupe.ca/environment/enviroguide.

Visit the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference Website at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php.

CUPE BC moves forward with ambitious human rights agenda

CUPE BC’s first human rights conference wrapped up on November 20 with delegates united and excited about the union’s role in advancing equality in B.C. workplaces and society at large.

On a weekend when news media were filled with stories about the full-body airport scanner controversy, CUPE delegates were exploring the human rights implications of this invasive security procedure with a workshop on racial profiling. The workshop, facilitated by the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Micheal Vonn, discussed the findings of the recently-released BCCLA special report on racial profiling in the context of policing and national security.

The workshop on migrant foreign workers had three clear recommendations: to lobby MLAs and MPs for governments to enact policies that protect the rights and welfare of guest workers; to sustain an ongoing education campaign about the plight of migrant foreign workers; and to support international solidarity efforts in which developed countries support migrant workers.
A workshop on aboriginal water issues by Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, and Don Moran, CUPE’s senior officer for aboriginal issues at the National Equality branch, revealed the need to make better use of CUPE’s success stories in aboriginal communities. Moran said that CUPE needs to form more partnerships of this nature—especially on the anti-privatization front.

University of Quebec in Montreal workers reach pay equity target

Support staff workers at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) are proud to announce that they have finally finished the process triggered by the Pay Equity Act. Results will be posted from October 4 to December 4, which will mark the final step of this lengthy process aiming to rectify the systemic salary shortfalls affecting predominately female jobs. As a result, hundreds of UQAM employees—the majority of whom are female—will see their hourly rates increase, in addition to being subject to up to thousands of dollars in salary adjustments.

Hourly rates will end up increasing in approximately 90 predominately female job categories—by anywhere from $0.04 to $6.05, depending on the case. All employees who have worked in these job categories between 2001 and today—whether active, retired, or no longer employed by UQAM—will be granted salary adjustments retroactive to 2001.

Liberals’ loyalty to Ontario farmers and local businesses questioned

Ontario’s farmers and small businesses in cities like Peterborough, London, Belleville, Cornwall and Windsor, should be very concerned that, without significant changes, new public sector purchasing legislation now being fast-tracked into law, will hurt them, says Michael Hurley, OCHU president. Intended to control procurement, use of contractors and lobbying in the broader public sector, Bill 122, the Public Sector Accountability Act, 2010, was introduced by the McGuinty government only after the auditor’s report exposed widespread improprieties when contracting out work to consultants.

OCHU supports the intent of Bill 122 for greater transparency and accountability with respect to the use of public dollars in the provision of public health services. “However, we are extremely concerned that, if passed in its current form, the procurement policies will be created behind closed doors and will discourage hospitals and other broader public service organizations from purchasing locally, and this will hurt local economies.

Also troubling is that the legislation excludes for-profit corporations and long-term care homes that get public money from oversight. Unlike hospitals, publicly-funded private corporations will not be required to report on their subcontracting or their executive expenses. Nor will they be subject to freedom of information (FOI) requests.

Hospital staff to hold rally in Toronto to protest attack on seniors’ care

A rally was held on November 26 in Toronto to protest changes, across Ontario, to care for seniors who are being compromised by a spate of hospital bed and program cuts and the transfer of elderly ill patients to sub-standard, unregulated care in retirement homes or to languish alone in their homes. Rally speakers included Paul Moist, CUPE national president; Arlene Patterson, chair of the Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition; as well as hospital, long-term care and home care workers.

Ontario home care is in chaos, with a 57 per cent annual turnover of caregivers and with hours of care more and more difficult to access. In Windsor, a 93-year old woman, who has two months to live, has been told to move out of the hospital or pay $600 a day to remain. She is the human face of elderly patients who are demeaned as “bed blockers.” In Scarborough, Providence Continuing Healthcare is cutting 120 beds, a move that will adversely affect many programs including patient rehab, and palliative and chronic care. In Sudbury, the Regional Hospital’s Memorial site is closing—128 beds will be lost and frail seniors are being moved.

CUPE committee tackles growth of for-profit child care

The growth of for-profit child care in Canada was the top concern for the National Child Care Working Group, which gathered in Ottawa November 22–24 to examine ways to improve child care across Canada and sounded the alarm about growth of for-profit child care.
The message was clear – we need a publicly funded and delivered system in Canada to ensure quality, affordable early childhood education and care is available to all Canadian families. “We know that quality affordable child care helps ease poverty, enables parents to enter the workforce and gives our children the best start in life,“ said Randi Gurholt-Seary, co-chair of the working group.

We don’t need to look to the market for a solution – it’s the responsibility of governments. We need a system of publicly funded, publicly delivered child care for every family,” added Jamie Kass, co-chair of the working group. “It will also ensure good jobs and decent wages for early childhood educators and retain these workers in a sector where there is a growing shortage of ECEs.”

The working group pointed to PEI as an example of a province that has taken a bold step to move early childhood education into a more public delivery system through the New Preschool Excellence Initiative and vowed to watch closely to ensure the program is implemented in a way that meets the needs of children and families. The working group plans to work with community partners to ensure early childhood education and care is an issue in the coming federal election.

Saint-Bruno white-collar workers ratify new labour contract

The City of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville’s white-collar workers in Quebec voted 90 per cent in favour of their new collective agreement at a general assembly on November 23. The unionized workers struck a satisfactory five-year agreement covering the period from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2011. The stalemate was broken when the City finally agreed to leave the workers’ pension plan with the group of demerged cities of Longueuil (Boucherville, Brossard, Saint-Lambert, and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville).

Among the new negotiated clauses, are salary increases of 2.5 per cent over the first three years and of 2.25 per cent over the last two. As a result of pay equity, a new salary structure will be built (retroactive to 2007). Floating holidays, annual vacation, sick days, and weekend work premiums were also adjusted.

Cornwall paramedics and inside workers donate to Agapè Centre

At a recent meeting, the members of CUPE Local 3251 in Cornwall, Ontario, decided to make a $500 donation to Agapè Centre, which gives food, clothing and household items to people in need, primarily through the centre’s community kitchen and thrift shop. The centre relies 100 per cent on the donations from the community to help families that access their services.

This donation will help support the Agapè Snowsuit Program and will help the centre to purchase many snowsuits for local children. CUPE Local 3251 represents 432 paramedics and inside workers at the City of Cornwall. The membership decided to make a donation every three months to a community organization chosen by the members. Other Cornwall organizations that have received support from CUPE Local 3251 include the United Way Campaign and Cornwall’s Food Bank.

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