Montreal white-collar workers remember a great woman
On behalf of the white-collar workers of Montreal and Town of Mont-Royal (TMR), Monique Côté, president of Syndicat des fonctionnaires municipaux de Montréal, expresses her profound sadness over the death of Vera Danyluk and extends her deepest condolences to the family and friends of this remarkable woman.
“Whether as head of the former MUC (Montreal Urban Community) or as mayor of TMR, Ms. Danyluk always—throughout all these years and despite the many complex challenges she faced—managed to maintain an excellent relationship with our union. She was a woman of integrity and principle. She made Montreal a better place and she will be missed dearly,” stated Côté.
Strategic investments needed to strengthen Canada’s economy
The federal government’s next budget should make helping families struggling with unemployment, record debt and stagnant wages its top priority. Presenting to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance pre-budget consultations, CUPE senior economist Toby Sanger warned that an austerity budget would be misguided because the economy is weaker than expected and cuts to stimulus programs would hurt, not help our economy.
“We’re urging the government to cancel further corporate tax cuts and use that money to protect vital public services instead,” Sanger said. Other key budget measures proposed by CUPE include supporting green job creation, protecting transfer payments to the provinces for programs like health and education, and cancelling the $16 billion sole source jet contract and restoring funding for poverty and environment programs.
Hundreds gather in Ottawa to protest trade deal
On October 22, more than 200 people attended the rally to protest the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The same day, negotiations took place in Ottawa and the EU pushed for full access to purchasing and contracting in municipalities, municipal organizations, school boards and publicly funded academic, health and social service entities.
Working with together with the Council of Canadians, other unions, First Nations organizations and the Trade Justice Network, CUPE will continue to fight to ensure public services are owned and operated by democratically elected governments and run on a not-for-profit basis.
For more information, read CUPE’s CETA fact sheet at: http://cupe.ca/updir/New_trade_deals_undermine_local_power.pdf.
Support for half-million public workers facing termination in Britain
CUPE leadership recently offered a show of solidarity with UNISON, Britain’s public services union who have recently come under attack as the recently elected Cameron government tries to tackle Britain’s deficit by slashing public services. Approximately half a million British public employees face layoff.
“The management of public deficit/debt is a responsibility all governments have, but the ‘slash and hack’ approach by your government’s actions is not acceptable” the letter stated. “CUPE members stand with you in solidarity as you mount your campaign to preserve public services.”
Read the letter to UNISON at: http://cupe.ca/communications/support-half-million-public-workers.
National Women’s Committee tackles workplace issues
Violence against women was high on the list of several topics for discussion at this year’s second meeting of the National Women’s Committee (NWC) held October 14 and 15 at the CUPE National office in Ottawa. Rashida Collins and Michelle McGuire, guest speakers from the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), spoke about how their Sisters In Spirit campaign is working to address violence against Aboriginal women, who are victimized at much higher rates than the rest of the population.
Other important discussions at the committee meeting included:
• Monitoring of the recommendations from the National Women’s Task Force
• Promotion of the Women Breaking Barriers workshop in all regions
• The Living Wage/Decent Work campaign
• CUPE’s recent pension campaign
Victoria conference tackles health care privatization and proposes public solutions
More than 300 health care workers met in Victoria, B.C., last week for a conference to tackle some of the key issues facing health care and share experiences about life on the front line. The keynote speaker at the conference was Frank Dobson, former British Secretary of Health, who will talk about lessons learned from increased privatization in the U.K.
In his speech, Dobson warned that private care does not cost less, the private sector did not reduce waiting lists - innovations in the public system do, and administrative costs are higher in private health care.
“[In the UK] Private providers were charging the taxpayer, on average, 11 per cent more per operation than the National Health Service [public] hospitals got for the same operation,” said Dobson. “There is another huge problem with the new competitive market. Its worst impact is on the overall cost of the service. Before the Tory government in the 1990s introduced an internal market, the administrative costs of the NHS amounted to just 4 per cent of total costs - far lower than any other health care system in the world, far lower than any private sector health care provider. Now, the lowest estimate of the transaction costs of the new [market] system is 12 per cent.”
CUPE health care workers put Medicare improvements on front burner
With front line caregivers attending from across the country, CUPE’s health care sector meeting kicked off in Victoria with a pledge to protect and improve public Medicare services for Canadians.
“Medicare is very affordable. Government budgets are strained because they’ve cut taxes too deeply,” said Paul Moist. “Pharmacare, more home care and better long-term care are high on CUPE’s priority list, as are efforts to win equal pay for mostly women health workers, and adequate pensions.”
Meanwhile, front line care providers and CUPE staff shared their experiences at the event including details on the New Brunswick success story of winning pay parity with hospital-based colleagues in the province, common front bargaining gains across the broad public sector in Quebec, the fight against rampant cuts in Ontario, and efforts to advance the professional issues of LPNs which were instrumental in defeating a raid by the registered nurses union in B.C.
Wearing purple to support LGBT youth
CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock and staff members at the B.C. regional office wore purple October 20, in honour of Tyler Clementi and other LGBT youth who have committed suicide in recent weeks and months due to homophobic abuse in their homes and schools.
“The point of wearing purple is, on one hand, to show that homophobia is not okay and, on the other, to remind LGBT youth that times will get better,” said Hancock. “To all young people coming to terms with their sexual orientation, it’s important to remember that, even if times are tough right now, you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, regardless of your sexuality.”
CUPE sponsors Thriving and Beyond 2010 mental health care conference
CUPE was a proud sponsor of Thriving in 2010 and Beyond, a conference hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association from October 22 to 24, 2010 in London, Ontario. The event brought together Canada’s mental health care leaders to address how we can ensure every person living with a mental health condition has the services and supports needed to not just survive, but thrive.
The Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario, made the opening keynote address. Other speakers and panellists included Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada; Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; and the Honourable Chris Bentley, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Ontario.
CUPE Local 4000 Ottawa Hospital workers win arbitration decision
On March 11, 2010, CUPE Local 4000 and the Ottawa Hospital signed a Memorandum of Settlement as a new collective agreement. Last week, an arbitrators’ panel decided in favour of CUPE Local 4000’s position that this settlement was a binding contract. This agreement includes most of the local language plus the Central Agreement negotiated by the 20,000 members of Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
CUPE Local 4000 represents more than 3,600 part-time and full-time workers at the various Ottawa Hospital campuses. Ottawa Hospital is comprised of three campuses (the Civic, General and Riverside), as well as a number of institutes and centres including the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre and the Rehabilitation Centre.
CUPE’s position has always been that the Ontario government’s Bill 16 announcing a compensation freeze in its last budget would not change our position to negotiate in good faith without outside interference; “we are happy that this arbitration panel has confirmed our position,” added Serge Lalonde, CUPE national representative.
Early Childhood Educators vote to join CUPE 5200
On October18, Early Learning Professionals at the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) voted unanimously to join Local 5200 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The 30 Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) are part of the newly introduced Early Learning Program (ELP) that is being rolled out in schools across Ontario.
In recent weeks, 600 ECEs across Ontario, including in neighbouring Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, voted to join CUPE to represent their professional interests. CUPE will now enter talks with school boards to ensure that the ECEs have the same rights and benefits as other school board workers.
Sherbrooke’s blue-collar workers reject inadequate offer
Sherbrooke workers have voted unanimously against the City’s most recent offer. While they were pleased with many aspects of their employer’s proposal, they also pointed out some serious shortcomings. For instance, the City wanted to sign a seven-year contract, deemed to be far too long by blue-collar workers, considering the current context of aggressive and anti-union human resources policies. Moreover, the city refused to grant an occupational health and safety clause, as it did for unionized workers at Hydro-Sherbrooke.
The City and union have met with a conciliator three times since September 24. Last spring the blue-collar workers voted 98 per cent in favour of holding a strike, if necessary. They have been without a labour contract since December 31, 2007. Sherbrooke’s 400 blue-collar workers are members of CUPE Local 2729.