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Western Canadians support increase in Canada Pension Plan benefits

More than three quarters of western Canadians support increasing Canada Pension Plan benefits, according to a new national survey. Eighty per cent also support increasing federal payments to senior citizens and four in ten believe the government is moving too slowly in reforming Canada’s pension system. Western Canadians are sending a clear message to federal and provincial politicians who are currently studying ways to improve the CPP.

While many have set up a Retirement Savings Plan or a Tax-Free Savings Account, 35 per cent in British Columbia and 30 per cent on the Prairies acknowledge that they are not saving for retirement—mostly because they cannot afford to. Only one in four western Canadians is fully confident that they will be able to save enough to live comfortably in retirement, and three in ten believe they won’t have enough to live comfortably, with lower income being the most pessimistic.

Read The Future of Pensions Poll at: http://cupe.ca/pensions/pension-poll-highlights.

Généreux tells HEU convention CUPE committed to defending Medicare

CUPE National’s Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux told more than 600 delegates at the Hospital Employees’ Union convention in Vancouver that CUPE will keep up the fight to protect public Medicare. He also acknowledged HEU’s leadership role in the living wage and seniors’ care campaigns in British Columbia, and spoke about the continued importance of mobilizing young workers and fighting to preserve Canadian pensions.

Our union has committed the resources so that we are now able to continually campaign to preserve and improve health care at every level in our hospitals, in the community and in long-term care. Most importantly, no matter what is thrown at us by the forces who would like to chip away at Medicare, to privatize our health services, we’re winning more battles than we’re losing,” Généreux said at the event on September 28.

City of Indianapolis pays $29 million to escape contract with Veolia Water

Veolia Water is no longer in the business of providing water services to the City of Indianapolis. In an agreement announced on October 28, water services in the city have been put back in public hands and will now be operated by the public utility Citizens Energy Group. However, Veolia Water will walk away with $29 million paid by the city to end the contract which they have held since 2002. Over the past several years a number of problems have plagued the city’s water system including a boil-water alert affecting more than a million people. Consumer complaints more than doubled in the first ten months of Veolia’s contract.

Here in Canada, the City of Winnipeg has recently entered into a deal with this same company that would hand over the design, construction and partial operations of its wastewater treatment facility upgrades to Veolia Water, a private multinational corporation based in France. Details of the agreement have not been made public. A recent poll commissioned by CUPE, showed that 78 per cent of Winnipeg residents believe that all the details of the 30-year deal between the City of Winnipeg and Veolia Canada should be made public. Two-thirds oppose the deal altogether.

CUPE supports Community Social Service Workers Appreciation Day

Community Social Service (CSS) workers make a difference in our communities – every day. November 6 was an opportunity to stop and say thank you for that important work as communities across Canada celebrated Community Social Services Appreciation Day. CSS workers are the people who are in daily and direct contact with children, people living with disabilities, homeless people, those with addictions, new Canadians, families in crisis, women experiencing abuse and others facing traumatic situations.

CUPE will continue to call on governments at every level to strengthen our social safety net rather than consistently starving the very services for which demand keeps rising. The federal government must show leadership and restore funding for social services, ensure accountability for how the funds are spent and work with the provinces to develop a national human resources strategy for community social services.

Saskatchewan education workers meet to discuss cuts and bargaining plans

Education workers from across the province met in Saskatoon November 5-6 to discuss the impact of education assistant cuts on student learning, review bargaining gains and develop the next steps in their union campaign to secure provincial bargaining rights. CUPE, which represents about 80 per cent of school support workers across the province, wants the right to bargain one provincial agreement for all 6,500 CUPE members working in pre-K to12 education – a right teachers have enjoyed since the 1970s. Education assistants, secretaries, school bus drivers and other school support workers represented by CUPE are currently covered by one of 26 collective agreements with local school divisions, down from 58 contracts prior to school amalgamations in 2006.

The wage difference for education assistants or school secretaries can be as much as five dollars per hour from one division to the next. In addition, some school workers have 100 per cent employer paid extended health benefit plans, while others only have partial coverage. A new research report by CUPE shows school mergers have resulted in significant wage and benefit improvements for education workers.

Kingston hospital food fight heats up

A community group is appealing to Kingston residents to support local farmers and merchants, protect the regional economy and the environment, and stop a deal with Compass from being approved. Kingston General Hospital (KGH) is planning to buy almost all of its food from Compass Group, a giant multinational company that prepares food in a factory in the Toronto area. That means millions of dollars that could be spent with farmers, merchants and workers in the Kingston area will disappear down the 401 highway.
A community rally was held on November 3 at the KGH main entrance. The rally kicked off a month-long media campaign that includes radio, TV and print media advertising. To find out more about the campaign and how you can help keep KGH food local, go to the Kingston Food Fight website at: http://www.kingstonfoodfight.ca/.

Cutbacks stalled by library workers campaign in Calgary

A proposal for huge cutbacks to the Calgary Public Library system has been largely scrapped after library workers fought back to protect their services. CUPE 1169 President Rh’ena Oake said that Calgary Public Library is the second busiest public library in Canada after Toronto, yet ranks 21st in funding. However, last September, the Calgary Public Library system was given orders to trim $2.8 million from its annual budget. The cuts would have resulted in a dramatic reduction of service hours and the inability to open a new multimillion-dollar branch planned for 2011.

CUPE 1169 launched an aggressive campaign, including radio, letter writing and social media tools to raise public awareness of the reduction of library services. The result – in view of the outpouring of support the cutbacks have been reduced to minor levels with little impact on service or staff. Oake said, “The support our Local received has been encouraging, and exemplifies the power of collective work within the labour movement.”

CUPE certified as bargaining agent for Ferryland Emergency Services workers

CUPE has been certified as the bargaining agent for the employees of Ferryland Emergency Services Ltd., Nfld.  The bargaining unit will be comprised of all Emergency Medical Responders and Primary Care Paramedics with the company.

CUPE National Representative Brian Farewell said, “We are extremely pleased that these workers have chosen CUPE as their union and look forward to meeting with the employer to negotiate our first collective agreement. “This is the first private ambulance operator group to be organized by CUPE in this province,” said Farewell.

Edmonton long-term care workers join CUPE

About 100 employees at Edmonton’s St. Thomas Health Care Centre are the latest members to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees. On October 29, the employees voted by a 71 per cent margin to form a union. CUPE Alberta president Dennis Mol said the employees came to CUPE to resolve issues around scheduling, favouritism and an inconsistent application of discipline. The group of employees includes health care aides, housekeeping, maintenance, food services and administration.

Region of York long-term care facilities ratify new collective agreement

Members of CUPE 905, employed at long-term care facilities in the Regional Municipality of York, have ratified a new collective agreement. There are two long-term care facilities in the region and a number of assisted community living residences.

A highlight of the new contract is more hours of face-to-face contact with the LTC clients —something CUPE has been working hard to ensure. “The focus of both parties was to make the ministry plan work in the best interests of our clients,” said Lorne Trevors, CUPE National Representative. “We are also going to work on a collaborative approach to develop a new staffing model, enhanced training, and employment opportunities with more permanent positions.”

Richmond Hill information picket great success

CUPE Local 905 outside workers in Richmond Hill held an extremely successful information picket on November 3—with over 200 members on the line. Conciliation begins on November 5.

We were joined by our brothers and sisters from other units in 905,” said Todd Field, Unit Chair for Richmond Hill outside workers. “We are a huge composite local and it’s a great show of solidarity when we get support from other towns in the Region of York.

Elliot Lake municipal workers to enter conciliation talks

CUPE 170 received a 100 per cent strike mandate from City of Elliot Lake municipal workers, Ontario, in support of their bargaining committee’s efforts to negotiate a fair collective agreement on behalf of 56 inside and outside workers. Two days of conciliation talks have been scheduled for November 18 and 19, with the assistance of a Ministry of Labour conciliation officer.

We have asked for a provincial conciliator to assist with the negotiations that have so far been difficult to resolve,” said Don Gillis, president of CUPE 170. “We want to assure residents we will do everything in our power to settle our contract without a strike – all we are looking for is fair treatment, like other employee groups with the city.” A strike or lockout would affect office and clerical functions at City Hall, snow removal services, swimming pool operation, airport maintenance, parks and recreation services, as well as water and wastewater treatment.

Mile One employees sign new, four-year deal in St. John’s (Nfld)

Employees of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment have voted to accept a new, four-year collective agreement. The 46 members of CUPE 569-01 have ratified their new contract by 84 per cent. The deal includes the following wage increases of 4.5, 4.5, 3.5 and 3.5 per cent from January 2010 to January 2013.
The parties were unable to reach agreement on implementing the results of a CUPE Job Evaluation (JE) program. However they used the results of the JE to implement wage adjustments for ticket sellers, the staff accountant, senior ticketing agent and electrician classifications.

150 CUPE activists and staff in Truro for three-day conference

Close to 150 CUPE activists and staff from across Nova Scotia went to Truro from November 4 to 7 for the union’s first-ever All Committees Conference. CUPE Nova Scotia president Danny Cavanagh said, “This is a really good example of where unions are doing their part for the local economy. This is a large gathering for a community like Truro and these conference delegates will be pumping their hard-earned dollars into the local economy.”

It’s also a timely reminder to local businesses – such as restaurants, gas stations and other stores and services - that decent-paying, unionized jobs have a vital role to play in our province’s economy,” said Cavanagh. He explained that unions are the second largest users of hotels, behind business groups.

B.C. community health sector launches campaign

CUPE members who work in community health launched a campaign on November 1 to raise public awareness and understanding of the services they provide in communities across British Columbia. The campaign includes a 30-second online video spot, two radio ads and an online banner, which all direct the public to the How CUPE HELPS website that introduces visitors to CUPE members and the services they provide.
Services that CUPE members provide vary from applying fluoride varnish to the teeth of children who are at risk, to helping seniors so that they can live independently in their own homes. CUPE BC represents over 1,000 community health workers who provide diagnostic, clinical, inspection, advocacy, home support, counselling, prevention and rehabilitation services in B.C.’s communities.

Visit the campaign website at: http://www.howcupehelps.org/

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