The National Executive Board observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the loss of six members of our CUPE family. Brother Reynold Sokolik, Local 716; Brother Rick Malcolm, Local 417; Brother Fred Taylor, 1st president of CUPE Ontario; and Brother Patrick Young, Local 387. Those who died serving the public on the job were Brother Ivan Polivka, Local 873 and Sister Jo-Ann Fuller, Local 873.
NEB Resolution – Support for USWA Local 1005
The National Executive Board passed a resolution unanimously to contribute $10,000 to the USWA Local 1005 strike fund. Nine hundred (900) members of USWA 1005 have been locked out by their American employer since November 7, 2010 for refusing company concessions to their pension plan. US Steel wants to have all new hires enroll in a defined contributions pension plan rather than the current defined benefits plan. It also wants to remove indexing for all current and future retirees under the existing defined benefits pension. The NEB resolution also calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Human Resource and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley to extend employment insurance benefits to those locked out, and for changes to the rules governing foreign takeover’s to better protect workers.
National Secretary-Treasurer, Claude Généreux, presented the 2011 budget which was passed unanimously by the National Executive Board. Due to the economic downturn, revenue growth in CUPE is lower than it has been in the last number of years. At the same time, CUPE needs to ensure we have the resources in order to continue to fight to protect our collective agreements and public services. This year’s budget walks the line between prudence and boldness. With just $1,109, 270 in new revenue after base budget increases are taken into account, new spending totals $1,039,723. Additions in 2011 include new servicing representatives in the Maritimes, Ontario, and British Columbia, a research representative in Manitoba, and a temporary servicing representative and a secretary in Quebec. In addition, we will hire a translation quality control position at national office on a temporary six month basis, as well as a property manager in Ontario to manage the new Ontario Regional Office building. Also, in 2011 we will face elections in five out of ten provinces, a potential federal election and a municipal election in British Columbia. Therefore, the elections spending budget was increased by $150,000 to $800,000 representing a one-time increase to resource these important elections.
The National Executive Board approved 24 cost-share campaign requests, totaling $503,019.69. Twenty requests for legaland arbitration support were approved, totalling $441,326.52.
Economic Climate for Bargaining
Brother Toby Sanger, CUPE’s Senior Economist, presented his quarterly report on the economy illustrating that the outlook for 2011 continues to weaken with growth now expected to average 2.3%. This is not the time for governments to pull back on economic stimulus measures. However, the federal government and other conservative politicians are pushing the notion that cuts to public spending and fiscal austerity will boost economic growth which will only lead to further inequality. However, there is strong evidence to show that growing income inequality helped cause the recent economic crisis. And, more progressive taxes and higher wages can both reduce deficits and also reduce economic instability. To tackle deficits, governments should focus instead on increasing revenues through economic growth and fairer taxes: just a few of these could net the federal government over $20 billion a year. The report also summarizes recent developments for the economy, jobs market, inflation, and wage settlements. Find out details on all this and more by accessing the quarterly report at www.cupe.ca.
The National Executive Board discussed the impact of the decision of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) to withdraw its membership from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). This decision has a far-reaching impact to labour activists in every region. CLC President, Ken Georgetti, has ruled that since NUPGE has withdrawn, NUPGE affiliates are out of federations of labour and labour councils as of January 1, 2011. The NEB endorsed the position of the national president to work hard in the interim to encourage NUPGE affiliates to reconsider their decision and return to the CLC in the interests of a unified and strong labour movement in Canada. Disagreements within the labour movement can only be resolved if we all sit at the same table.
The National Executive Board ratified the appointment of Michel Bibeault to the position of Regional Director, Quebec. In addition, the National Executive Committee ratified the appointments of: Karen McNama, Assistant Regional Director, Ontario and Linda Craig, Assistant Regional Director, Quebec.
Finally, the National Executive Board extends best wishes to all CUPE members and staff for a safe and happy holiday season.