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The National Executive Board met in Ottawa on June 18 and 19, 2008.

New Board Members

Brother Daniel Légère and Sister Lucie Levasseur have been elected from the Board to serve as General Vice-Presidents, replacing Sister MacDonald and Brother Gervais.  Congratulations to both!

These elections resulted in Regional Vice-President vacancies in New Brunswick and Quebec.  After writing to all chartered organizations in the respective provinces for nominations, the National Executive Board elected Sister Sandy Harding (Local 2745) as the Regional Vice-President for New Brunswick and Sister Nathalie Stringer (Local 4094) as the Regional Vice-President for Quebec.  Both sisters were welcomed and sworn in at this meeting.

NEB Resolves to Campaign for E.I.(U.I.) Reform

The federal government’s 2008 budget introduced damaging reforms to the employment insurance system, including establishment of an arms-length “Employment Insurance Financing Board”.  This crown corporation will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.  They have also used the EI surplus of $54 billion to pay down the deficit and cut taxes instead of improving benefits for the unemployed.

The NEB adopted a resolution to continue our work with the Canadian Labour Congress to push for reforms to improve accessibility and benefits for unemployed workers; establish an online action to lobby our politicians; include this issue in political campaigns and to monitor the Employment Insurance Financing Board to ensure workers’ interests are represented in rate setting and surplus investment.

International Solidarity

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first national global justice working committee meeting.  The Annual International Solidarity Report was received at this meeting.  It will be sent to all chartered organizations this summer.  You are encouraged to order extra copies should you wish to distribute to your executive or membership.

The NEB also heard of two significant upcoming events involving trade unionists in Columbia.  CUPE is working with other public sector unions to bring to Canada a trade union sister whose life is being threatened to protect her.  Watch for announcements about her visiting your area.

The other event will occur in July when National President Brother Moist will travel to Columbia to participate in hearings that will receive information about the challenges facing trade unionists in Columbia.

These actions, and the many others that are documented in the IS Report, show that international solidarity is an issue for all of us.

Financial Matters

The Board received and adopted the 2007 Audited Financial Statements.  As is our usual practice, the outside auditors attend the NEB meeting to present their reports.

The purchase of a building in Brandon, Manitoba was approved.

Twenty-three cost share campaigns, totaling $566,927.74 were approved which will assist locals, councils and divisions to campaign against privatization, to support public services and increase our bargaining power.  The NEB also approved twenty-one legal and arbitration requests, totaling $223,752.38.

Air Canada Cutbacks

The NEB called on Federal Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon to intervene after Air Canada announced it will be cutting 2,000 jobs (500 of which are expected to be CUPE flight attendants).  Although the company claims the cuts are necessary due to high fuel costs, airline industry experts are suspicious as there is no evidence the company is in financial difficulty.  CUPE members have already made significant concessions to benefit the company, while the CEOs make exorbitant salaries.

CLAC Campaign Report

The Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) has been organizing and raiding for a number of years.  In the last decade, they have been able to gain membership by collaborating with employers and right wing governments.  The Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates have a comprehensive campaign to identify CLAC worksites and to educate workers about the dangers of joining CLAC.  Brother Hassan Husseini presented details of the campaign to the NEB.  Visit www.clc-ctc.ca for details.  If you wonder why we should be involved, consider that CLAC agrees to collective agreement language that allows employers to pay overtime at 20% less than the regular hourly rate!

CUPE, Carbon Taxes and the High Cost of Gas

As each political party is clamouring for the attention of Canadians on the issues of the high cost of fuel and the necessity to protect the environment, the National Executive Board has decided to examine the questions in some detail.  At the September NEB meeting, significant time will be set aside to receive information and discuss the role we can play to assist CUPE members in dealing with this complex area.

In the June 2008 issue of “Economic Climate for Bargaining”, our senior economist offers a primer on carbon taxes, credits and offsets and describes the impact such taxes would have on different household income groups. 

Have a safe and enjoyable summer break!

:jvp/cope 491