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Memorial service to honour Tofino paramedics

Memorial arrangements have been set for CUPE local 873 members Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka, two long-serving Tofino ambulance paramedics who were killed in an accident while on duty October 19. The service will take place at 1 p.m. on November 6 at Wickaninnish Community School. Thousands of paramedics, firefighters and police from across the country are expected to attend.

Of behalf of the CUPE National Executive and CUPE members across the country I want to extend our deepest condolences to the families of Jo-Ann and Ivan, their friends and fellow paramedics. That these two dedicated individuals served their community for 37 combined years shows how committed they were to their duty and profession. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time,” said Paul Moist.

CUPE 608 parks workers honoured for heroic lake rescue

Four municipal workers in British Columbia were honoured on October 28 with a special ceremony by Penticton city council in recognition of their heroic effort two weeks ago in saving a man from drowning. A man was nearly half a kilometre from shore, well past the buoys, swimming against the wind and in distress. The Parks crew pulled the man into the boat and brought him to shore, where fire department staff attended.

Framed certificates of appreciation were presented by Mayor Dan Ashton and chief administrative officer Annette Antoniak to Tony Molachyk, Todd Whyte, Ed Deuschle and Mauricio Cepeda in a special ceremony held in the City Yards staff room. The certificates honoured the men for “acting decisively under critical circumstances and for exceptional team work and commitment to duty” in their rescue efforts.

Atlantic Canadians support increase in Canada Pension Plan benefits

More than three quarters of Atlantic Canadians support increasing Canada Pension Plan benefits, according to a new national survey. Eighty per cent of Atlantic 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.

The Future of Pensions poll was completed by Environics Research Group in late August for CUPE and PSAC. The survey asked Atlantic Canadians their views on saving and their expectations for retirement. More than four in ten Atlantic Canadians acknowledge that they are not saving for retirement—mostly because they cannot afford to and three in ten believe they won’t have enough to live comfortably. More than 60 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.

Poll highlights are available at: http://cupe.ca/pensions/atlantic-canadians-support-increase.

CUPE denounces assassination of Haitian trade unionist Jean Filbert Louis

This week, a letter from CUPE national president Paul Moist, was sent to René Préval, President of the Republic of Haïti, condemning the assassination of Professor Jean Filbert Louis outside the offices of the Ministry of Education by a police officer on October 8, during a peaceful demonstration in Port-au-Prince. The demonstration was organized by a coalition campaigning to raise awareness and advocate the need to provide quality education for all Haitian children, and to demand that the Haitian government put in place measures to ensure decent living conditions for the people of Haiti.

Moist addresses HEU convention in Vancouver

Paul Moist received a warm welcome October 27 from the 600 delegates attending the 27th biennial convention of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) in Vancouver. He congratulated CUPE’s health services division in B.C. for its work on several campaigns - in particular the union’s Stand Up for Seniors’ Care campaign - and condemned the, “Cannibalism and contract-flipping” in B.C.’s long-term care system that has resulted in “less care for seniors and more attacks on workers’ wages and benefits.”

Referencing CUPE National’s Year of the Steward, Moist told convention activists, “You are the bedrock of your union. There’s no CUPE, there’s no HEU without the people on the shop floor who stand up to the boss.”

CUPE launches survey as PSE workers celebrate Fair Employment Week

Sessionals, teaching, research and graduate assistants celebrated Fair Employment Week on campuses across the country October 25 to 29. The event is meant to raise awareness of the challenges non-tenured academic workers face, which include achieving liveable wages and basic benefits, having sufficient appropriate workspace, and fighting privatization of education services.

To coincide with Fair Employment Week, CUPE launched a new online survey aimed at gathering information on the working conditions of contract, contingent faculty workers. CUPE is encouraging all members who are part of this employment category to take 10-15 minutes to fill out the survey at:

Ottawa patient transfer service admits to anti-union scheme

CUPE 4000 members are celebrating after scoring a major victory in an unfair labour practice dispute. In October 2009, recently organized CUPE 4000 members at Travois Patient Transfer successfully negotiated their first collective agreement. Unfortunately, in May 2010 Travois decided to close their doors and moved services out of Ottawa rather than honoring their agreement. Travois reopened in nearby Arnprior under the name Ontario Patient Transfer with a new union—the International Association of Machinists—replacing CUPE 4000.

After a five-month fight, in October 2010 the employer finally admitted that Travois and Ontario Patient Transfer were the same company and agreed to reopen the base in Ottawa. This Ottawa base will be once again covered by the superior CUPE contract, including the previously negotiated wage increases and protections. All former employees have been offered employment and will retain their full seniority.

New Brunswick workers vote in favour of a new contract

Members of CUPE 1190, General Labour and Trades, have recently ratified a new collective agreement. CUPE Local 1190 has 1,600 members working in general labour and trades in Transportation, Tourism and Parks, Natural Resources and other government departments. The previous collective agreement expired in December 2008.

“One of the main issues in this round of negotiation was job security. Cuts in public services and programs in the recent years have greatly impacted our members”, explained Andrew Hardy, president of CUPE 1190. “Some of them were reassigned to other duties when the government cut ferry services and the Transportation Department maintenance depots.”

West-Nipissing municipal workers vote to strike to fight discrimination and reach a fair contract

Public Works and Water and Sewer workers have delivered a strong strike mandate to their negotiating committees to fight discrimination and a blatant attack on women workers by the Municipality of West-Nipissing management and council. Members of CUPE Local 535-01, representing 45 public works employees, voted 86 per cent in favour of strike action, if a fair collective agreement cannot be reached. CUPE Local 535-02, representing eight water and sewer workers, voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike if management does not back away from concession demands, including their discrimination against the predominantly women workers in the clerical group. Other concessions
demanded by management include changes to hours of work that amount to overtime without overtime pay.

CUPE calls on Calgary to reverse cuts to libraries

CUPE Alberta president Dennis Mol is calling on Calgary’s new mayor and council to scrap cutbacks to city libraries. Calgary Libraries have announced a $2.8 million cut to services, including a reduction in hours and programs. CUPE Local 1169, which represents employees at Calgary Libraries, has started a letter-writing campaign to encourage City Hall to reverse the cuts. A standing committee of council will meet on November 2.

CUPE locals to present 1,400 signatures requesting Carleton avoid a strike

Carleton University office and professional staff, teaching assistants, contract instructors and faculty attended the University’s Board of Governors meeting on October 25 to pressure the University into reaching a fair settlement with its three largest unions.

Representatives from CUPE 2424, CUPE 4600 and the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA) presented over 1,400 signed postcards from students and university community members asking Carleton to change their approach to bargaining. “We are asking the Board of Governors to give their negotiation team a mandate that will allow them to reach a fair collective agreement with its employees,” added Wiz Long, president of CUPE 2424.

B.C. community social services employers delay over essential services discussions

As B.C. community social services negotiations were set to resume last week, the employer association finally responded to a request to discuss essential services. The unions asked for preliminary discussions in late September after the first negotiating session in nearly three months ended with no progress.

The B.C. Liberal provincial government’s Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) failed to respond to two letters from the union bargaining association until a day after a set deadline. The unions have now filed the request with the B.C. Labour Relations Board. CSSEA has not yet confirmed a date for the initial meeting. Employers continue to refuse to address key issues: employment security during a time of cutbacks and lay-offs, healthy and safe workplaces, and fair work practices.

Big chill in Ontario child welfare, warns union

The imposition of a provincial supervisor on the Huron-Perth Children’s Aid Society (CAS) by the Minister for Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and the recent removal of the agency executive director and governance board is creating a widespread anxiety in Ontario’s child welfare sector, warns the union representing 100 front line CAS staff at the local agency.

Recently, the Huron-Perth board and director came out publicly saying they refused to cut programs and services to deal with the agency’s nearly $2.1-million deficit because of the detrimental impact on services. They also announced the agency would close mid-December.

There is widespread concern that the Liberal government is backtracking on funding programs and services that support their own 2006 changes to child welfare legislation. The legislation, including keeping kids out of care and with their families in their communities, is working and has widespread support in the sector. Child welfare agencies across Ontario are reeling with deficits resulting from years of flawed provincial funding that have not been adequate to support the 2006 legislative changes. As a result, 37 CAS agencies are in deficit. Eleven agencies are taking the province to court through a judicial review of their funding levels to ensure that the ministry’s funding decisions are compliant with the law.


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