The National Executive Board took a full day and one-half away from the regular NEB meeting in order to have a focused discussion about the current attack on labour from the federal government as well as many provincial governments and employers. Board members and senior staff put away the pens and the agendas and engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on improving and strengthening CUPE’s responses in the context of our Strategic Directions paper passed at our national convention in November.
The National Executive Board observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the losses in the CUPE family and the broader labour movement. Sister Madeleine Parent, a trailblazer of the women’s movement and union activism died at the age of 93. CUPE is also mourning the death of former CUPE staff members, Sisters Jennifer Williams and Marie Craig. Board members paused to remember the workers killed on the job: USWA members at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake British Columbia who were killed in an explosion at the Sawmill in January; and Teamsters members at VIA Rail killed in a derailment in February.
NEB Resolution – Retirement Security
The National Executive Board re-committed to increase the fight for the retirement security of all Canadians when it passed a resolution to mount a campaign against the Harper government’s planned cuts to Old Age Security Benefits.
Speaking from a conference of business elites in Switzerland in January, Stephen Harper announced his government’s intention to cut Old Age Security Benefits. Since that time it has become clear that the government intends to follow through on this threat to income security even though it has also become clear that there is no financial crisis in the Canada pension system that requires this action. In fact, as the NEB asserted in its resolution, the only crisis is with retirement incomes in Canada and that can be easily fixed with an increase to the Canada Pension Plan.
The National Executive Board approved eighteen cost-share campaign requests, totaling $1,043,131.08. Eight requests for legal and arbitration support were approved, totalling $383,894.99. The Board also adopted unanimously a motion to transfer $4 million of the projected 2011 surplus to the employees future benefits unfunded liability. A portion of the surplus will also go to funding various fightback initiatives in 2012.