The National Executive Board observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the death of two sisters, one from Ontario, the other from Saskatchewan. Tammy Stewart, a member of Local 2280 was killed in a tragic car accident. Tammy Kulaway from Local 4980 was brutally murdered, sadly reminding us to re-commit to end violence against women.
NEB Resolution – Quality Public Services Charter
Board members voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to have CUPE adopt the Public Services International Charter on Quality Public Services originally adopted at the Public Services International conference in Geneva last October. By adopting the Charter, the NEB commits CUPE to work together with progressive groups and unions worldwide to promote public services, to persuade governments to embrace quality public services as a tool to eradicate poverty, and to take a leadership role to ensure that quality public services are delivered by public sector workers.
The NEB resolution calls on CUPE to encourage all chartered organizations to adopt the Charter as well. Divisions, locals, and district councils will receive a copy of the Charter, which outlines the importance of quality public services to societies where equality, prosperity, and democracy flourish, lists the conditions necessary to support governmental institutions in our fight for quality public services, affirms the absolute necessity of labour rights and the right to free collective bargaining, and commits to working with progressive organizations.
National Secretary-Treasurer, Brother Généreux, reported that the prudent approach to budgeting in 2011 adopted by the National Executive Board in December was the right approach. CUPE has a healthy bank balance in the General Fund and a surplus in the National Defence Fund. While the recession has slowed the growth in revenue somewhat, it has not slowed CUPE. In fact, the fight is on. The National Executive Board approved 22 cost-share campaign requests totalling $1,259,155.85. Twelve requests for legal and arbitration support were approved, totalling $527,749.81.
Climate for Bargaining
The National Executive Board received three detailed reports in order to discuss the current and coming challenges to bargaining both from a political and economic perspective. Brother Robert Hickes, Managing Director of Organizing and Regional Services, presented an update on the number of collective agreements currently open and the large number of challenges ahead. Brother Stan Marshall presented some recent polling on public attitudes to public services, public sector workers, and CUPE. While polling demonstrates that the public is committed to public services, we have our work cut out for us in fighting for public services in some sectors and in fighting for collective agreement improvements.
Brother Toby Sanger, CUPE’s Senior Economist, presented his quarterly report on the economy along with highlights of the federal budget, released on the eve of the National Executive Board meeting. Both reports attack the myth that public spending is increasing and must be pulled back. In the Economic Climate for Bargaining, Brother Sanger points out that the latest figures show total government spending prior to the recession was at its lowest level as a share of the economy in at least 30 years. The same is true for taxes and revenue. In the federal budget presented on March 22, a $6 billion tax cut benefiting profitable banks and the oil and gas sector was confirmed. Infrastructure spending will decline with the conclusion of stimulus spending and a host of program spending cuts were announced.
The 2011 federal budget is billed as the “low-tax plan for jobs and growth”, but there is little of substance here – either on spending to create jobs or assist seniors. At most, it included a lot of bits and pieces in a politically opportunistic (and unsuccessful) bid to stay in power.
Find out details on all this and more by accessing the federal budget analysis and the Quarterly Economic Climate for Bargaining at www.cupe.ca.
Brother Claude Généreux
After serving CUPE members for 10 years as National Secretary-Treasurer, Brother Claude announced his decision to retire. Brother Moist thanked Claude for his commitment, friendship, and the principled and firm hand he has taken to CUPE finances. The work Claude has done has strengthened CUPE’s power for all members at the bargaining table, in the legislatures, and in our outreach across Canada and around the world. There will be many opportunities to thank Claude and pay him tribute in the months to come.
The National Executive Board ratified the appointments of Brother Sylvain Blanchette, Executive Assistant to the National President, and Sister Connie Credico, Regional Director for Alberta.