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Canadians support increase in Canada Pension Plan benefits

More than three-quarters of Canadians support increasing CPP benefits, according to a new national survey released October 15. Eighty per cent of Canadians also support increasing federal payments to senior citizens and half of the survey respondents believe the government is moving too slowly in reforming Canada’s pension system. Environics Research Group completed the Future of Pensions poll in late August for CUPE and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. 

Only one in four 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. Also, 70 per cent prefer a defined benefit plan, which guarantees a fixed amount of benefit when you retire, to a defined contribution plan, where the benefits paid out depend on the performance of the investments in the fund.

Read detailed poll highlights at: http://cupe.ca/pensions/pension-poll-highlights.

Poll finds Albertans want quality public services

On October 14, with municipal elections a few days away, CUPE Alberta released results from a poll that reveal Albertans’ priorities for their municipal governments. “Albertans are saying very clearly they value quality public services over tax cuts,” said CUPE Alberta president Dennis Mol. “They don’t want cutbacks to important services that might affect the quality of their drinking water, their children’s schools, public transit or garbage and recycling schedules.”

The poll found that two-thirds of Albertans want spending on public services maintained or increased, with less than one in ten calling for cutbacks. It also found that three times as many voters would prefer increased taxes to protect public services over cuts in services to hold the line on taxes. Albertans also support elected school boards, 57 per cent would oppose any move by the provincial government to replace elected boards with appointed centralized boards, while only 19 per cent would support it.

Global Unions take action for quality public services

CUPE and union members from around the world met in Geneva, Switzerland from October 12 to 14 to launch a global campaign to win public and political support for quality public services. CUPE national president Paul Moist attended the gathering, along with CUPE economist Toby Sanger and CUPE international officer Rhonda Spence.

Led by CUPE’s global union affiliate, Public Services International (PSI), delegates from both public and private sector unions discussed an ambitious international campaign to ensure that quality public services are affordable and accessible to all. “CUPE strongly supports development of the Geneva Quality Public Services Charter and will work in coalition with others to implement the action plan,” said Moist.

CUPE nursing home workers in Nova Scotia accept new contract

Nursing home workers at MacGillivray Nursing Home in Sydney, Nova Scotia, have voted to accept a new three-year contract. Members of CUPE 1562 voted 97 per cent in favour of a 31-month collective agreement at the end of which support staff in the facility will be paid wages equal to their counterparts in Nova Scotia hospitals.

Kelly Murray, CUPE’s chief negotiator for the economic package that will flow to 3,500 long-term care workers in 36 facilities across the province, said the agreement means they can now put the wage parity issue to bed for this sector.

Peel public health nurses and Ontario Works staff endorses bargaining committee efforts

On September 30 and October 6, the 246 public health nurses and 466 Ontario Works staff, members of CUPE 966, gave mandates of 96 and 93 per cent to their bargaining committees to take whatever steps are necessary to obtain a fair collective agreement.

Both units have gone through several days of bargaining with the employer. However, little progress has been made on virtually every outstanding issue. Several outstanding issues remain for both units, including hours of work and the employer’s refusal to stop increasing workloads through attrition and restructuring.

Saint-Bruno white-collar workers to demonstrate at City Hall

Without a contract for more than four years, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville white-collar workers are eager for a settlement. This is the message they will be sending on October 18 in front of City Hall. According to the union, an agreement is within reach: the City just needs to agree to leave the workers’ pension plan within the group of demerged cities of Longueuil (Boucherville, Brossard, Longueuil, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, and Saint-Lambert).

None of these municipalities has insisted on repatriating the pension plan to their own jurisdiction. The union therefore is proposing a letter of agreement that will clearly assess the pros and cons of repatriation. This way, we hope to conclude the negotiations,” said Daniel Duval, president of CUPE 306.

Strike mandate for Terrebonne white-collar workers

At a general meeting on October 7, Terrebonne (Quebec) white-collar workers, and CUPE members, gave their bargaining committee a strong strike mandate. By a vote of 85 per cent, the employees passed a resolution providing for the use of pressure tactics, including a general strike, if deemed appropriate. The union members have been without a contract for nearly three years. After some thirty bargaining sessions, only one key issue remains: the introduction of a new pay structure.

The City argues that accepting the proposed new structure would be unfair to other employees. CUPE 2326 counters that, in addition to normal salary increases or salary adjustments, other groups have gained new positions, which has changed their pay structure with precisely the same result. In addition, the union recently has attempted to resolve the impasse by offering to finance much of the cost of the new structure from their own salary increases.

Richmond Hill outside workers ready to strike

Outside workers in Richmond Hill, Ontario, have voted 100 per cent to strike. Members of CUPE 905 are seeking the same wage increase as other municipal workers in the Region of York and a one-time market adjustment to meet the municipality’s job evaluation requirements.

There are approximately 100 full-time and seasonal workers in this unit. They are responsible for maintaining roads, parks, recreation centres. They also work to ensure that municipal water is safe and that wastewater (sewage) disposal is also done in a safe and reliable manner. On October 1, the union asked for a conciliator to join the negotiations in hopes that an objective third-party might assist with gaining a fair contract.

Rally sends a strong message to Kelowna community social services employers

On October 6, a rally in Kelowna, British Columbia, by community social services workers and their supporters outside a provincial meeting of the Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) sent a strong message to the employer that CSS workers deserve fairness and respect, and they need a settlement after a full year of contract negotiations.

“Morale is nearing an all-time low, and we simply don’t understand why the employer refuses to address, or even discuss, our needs for healthy and safe workplaces, fair practices and employment security,” said Michael Lanier, president of CUPE 1936. Community social services unions and CSSEA will go back to the bargaining table on October 26, 2010.

Tentative agreement for Boucherville white-collar workers

On October 6, white-collar workers in Boucherville reached an agreement in principal with their employer, renewing their tentative agreement until December 31, 2015. The CUPE members have been without a labour contract since December 31, 2006. The agreement, considered extremely satisfactory by the negotiating committee, will be discussed and put to a vote by members at a general meeting in the coming weeks.

The employer wanted the pension plan under its direct supervision, while the union preferred to keep it within the group of the demerged cities of Longueuil (Boucherville, Brossard, Saint-Lambert and Saint-Bruno-de Montarville). To break the impasse, a letter of understanding on the subject will be signed to continue the discussion.

None of the cities that entered into an agreement with us this year have demanded a transfer of the pension plan. The letter of agreement we’ll be signing with Boucherville is, in our opinion, a model for successful negotiations in Saint-Bruno,” said Daniel Duval, president of CUPE 306.

Strike deadline looming for food services at former Nortel building in Ottawa

After trying to bargain for some sick time and family benefits since March 2010, a strike is looming at the food services of the former Nortel building at Moody Drive and Highway 417. The strike deadline was October 15, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.

The collective agreement expired at the end of March 2010 and no progress has been made at the bargaining table. The employer did not respond to the Ministry of Labour mediator’s request for a meeting last week, so the union has asked for a ‘no board’. CUPE 3190 represents 24 food services employees at Compass Group of Canada Ltd.

Stop sexual violence against women in conflict: Sign the international petition!

CUPE members are encouraged to sign the Say NOUNiTE petition, a campaign organized by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), urging governments to adopt the initiative laid out in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 to make women’s participation in the peacemaking process a priority.

Say No – UNiTE End Violence against Women is specifically calling for governments to: prosecute those who command and/or commit sexual violence and exclude them from armies and police forces after conflict; ensure that women participate in peace negotiations and all post-conflict decision-making institutions; and increase the number of women in troops, police forces and civilians within international peacekeeping efforts.

Sign the online petition at: http://www.saynotoviolence.org/make-women-count-for-peace.
Show your support on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SayNO.UNiTE.

CUPE staff helps Camosun students in need

At the CUPE 2081 membership meeting this week, the staff at Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, voted to donate canned goods, non-perishable items, toiletries and money to the student society food banks. The $2,000 donation will go to food banks at the Lansdowne and Interurban campuses of Camosun. CUPE was responding to a call for help from college students, whose food banks were unable to meet students’ needs.

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