The National Executive Board met in Ottawa from March 25-26, 2009.
The National Executive Board began this meeting with a minute of silence in memory of Brother Clifford Payne, a CUPE bus driver in Corner Brook, Newfoundland Labrador, who died at work; Brother Barry Doyle, CUPE’s Health and Safety Officer, who died in December 2008; and the 17 oil rig workers who died in the helicopter crash off Newfoundland Labrador.
Colombian Senator Visits Canada
The Board was honoured to welcome Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, Polo Democrático Alternativa Party, from Colombia. The Senator was in Canada to speak to a Parliamentary Committee, encouraging them to vote against the proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. He described the lack of workers’ rights in his country and urged Canadians to build alliances with Colombian trade unions to support international solidarity.
NEB Adopts Plan to Fight Concessions and Defend Free Collective Bargaining
In the last several months, attacks on our collective agreement rights and on free collective bargaining have increased as public sector employers respond to the global recession. The National Executive Board discussed the situation at length and reaffirmed an aggressive plan to fight concessions and defend free collective bargaining. The heart of the plan calls for solidarity pacts and coordinated responses to difficult bargaining situations. Your NEB is determined that no CUPE local will stand alone and that the solidarity of all locals will be called upon to respond to these challenges.
Economic Climate for Bargaining
The current issue of our quarterly publication offers analysis of economic forecasts which expect unemployment to rise toward 10% by 2010. Solutions are offered and include a focus on job creation, public pensions, improved income support programs and support for economic stimulus measures. As always, you can find the entire document at www.cupe.ca.
Cost shares which focus on bargaining support and increasing CUPE’s profile amongst our members and the general public continue to be highlights of our support through the National Defence Fund. At this meeting, the NEB approved 15 cost shares, for a total of $540,292.45. In addition, legal and arbitration support was approved for 14 files, totaling $353,108.08.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Last year, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was established as a federal Crown corporation. It will be located in Winnipeg and is slated to open its doors in 2012. This is an “idea museum” which will explore concepts and ideas around human rights issues, with the goal of encouraging visitors to take action to create positive change. The NEB decided to join the “Friends of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights” to reflect the leadership role CUPE has always taken in seeking equality and social justice at home and around the world. In addition to our donation of $250,000, we are committed to engaging in the content development, particularly around issues of workers’ rights.
National Convention 2009
As part of the preparations for the upcoming National Convention (October 5-9 in Montreal), the NEB approved a new feature of the National Convention Assistance Fund. In an effort to assist all locals in ensuring that members with disabilities have access to attendance at convention, the regulation policy has been amended. “CUPE National, sensitive to the particular barriers faced by individual delegates with a disability and the costs inherent in eliminating these barriers will, from the National Convention and National Events Assistance Fund, look after 100% of the costs directly related to the necessary equipment, or the help of an attendant, required for the full and complete participation of these delegates.” For details on how to access this part of the fund, locals should contact the National Secretary-Treasurer’s office or the Convention 2009 section at www.cupe.ca.
Continuing to Build CUPE
As part of our ongoing plan to increase the assets of CUPE, we have been able to purchase a property in Toronto and will move forward on plans to construct a new Ontario Regional Office. It’s a very exciting opportunity to develop another LEED certified building which will provide high quality facilities for our members and staff.