Dear Sisters and Brothers:
This report covers a very busy period within our union. We saw good agreements achieved after three months on the picket line in the City of Vancouver.
Our 23rd constitutional convention was held in Toronto from October 15 to 19, 2007 with delegates setting a very full agenda for our national union over the next two years. More on this later in the report.
Provincial elections were held in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Saskatchewan this fall, along with municipal and school board elections in Alberta. In terms of the three provincial elections, we did not achieve the results we wanted but I am extremely proud of the fact that CUPE was front and centre in each of these campaigns, with candidates and many activists and staff volunteering for our party, the NDP.
CUPE activists and staff were present and very active in provincial federation of labour conventions held in BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. All in all it has been a very busy fall within our union with ever present bargaining and membership servicing on top of each of the above-mentioned events.
Rather than waiting until the end of this report, let me take the opportunity to thank each of you, our activists and our staff for your commitment to the members day in and day out. Your efforts make our union what it is – Canada’s biggest and best trade union.
Following are some of the key issues our union has dealt with throughout this quarterly period.
1. National Convention
Our union’s 23rd constitutional convention was held in the beautiful City of Toronto between October 15 and 19. Attached to this report please find a Highlights Report that Brother Claude and I sent to all chartered organizations in the days immediately after the convention. It summarizes the key events of the convention.
Of particular note for me was the sheer size of the convention with some 2,054 delegates, 40% of whom identified themselves as first-time delegates to a national convention. A new generation of activists is stepping forward to assume leadership from the many sisters and brothers who are retiring after a lifetime of commitment to our union. This is a good and healthy sign. I thank those activists who are retiring and as I did at convention, I welcome all new activists to the CUPE family.
Another notable achievement at convention was the solid support that delegates expressed for our 2007-2009 Strategic Directions policy document which had as its centerpiece a commitment to fight privatization with new resources totalling $5 million over the next two years. This may sound like a lot of money, and indeed it is, but the magnitude of the privatization agenda we face being led by the Harper government causes me to say that this challenge, at this time, will define things within the public service as we know it for years to come. (A copy of the policy document can be found on the cupe.ca website).
Our National Executive Board will be shaping this initiative and together with our staff we will no doubt be working with countless numbers of locals as we brand CUPE in the forefront of the fightback against privatization and the pressing need to rebuild the public sector.
I was never prouder of our union and CUPE delegates then at national convention when we overwhelmingly supported some 20 members of UNITE HERE (Local 75) – maids, bussers and dishwashers at the Holiday Inn (King Street, Toronto) – who had been locked out by their employer. CUPE withdrew its delegate block of rooms from the hotel, and our convention delegates joined the members rally and picket lines to offer support. UNITE HERE claimed victory in their labour dispute settled at the end of November. Most of the members are immigrants and women, fighting for their rights, and to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The victory is particularly notable as it coincided with a landmark United Way report warning about growing poverty in Canada’s largest city. Wage increases of between 10.5 – 18% over three years mean for example, that a busser making $13 an hour will be earning close to $15 when the contract expires in 2010.
More details on the convention are found in the document appended to this report. On a personal note, Brother Claude and I enjoyed the great privilege of being acclaimed to our respective officers for another two-year term. We are humbled by this support and pledge to do our utmost to carry out the agenda that delegates to convention set for our union.
2. National Social Services Meeting
Approximately 150 delegates attended the first-ever National Social Services Meeting held in Ottawa, from November 21-23, 2007.
The meeting featured two very notable keynote speakers. Dr. Linda Duxbury, Expert on Work-Life Balance and Professor at Carleton University, spoke at length on generational issues facing the social services sector and their impact on recruitment and retention. Françoise David, spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, shared tips on effective communication, and her personal experiences in drawing the media to focus in a progressive and vocal way on social issues of the day.
A panel of four CUPE members addressed issues of wages, benefits, pensions, workload, stress and violence and how these factors impact on Recruitment and Retention. Thanks to Sisters Joanne Mountney (Local 3481, SK) and Jackie Dwyer (Local 2204, ON), and Brothers Guy Jolicoeur (Local 5425, QC) and Mark Stevens (1936, BC) for their participation.
The meeting also provided an opportunity for members to meet in sub-jurisdictional groups to discuss issues pertinent to their specializations.
Our thanks to Sister Rebekah Condon (Local 3501, ON) and Brother Michael Lanier (Local 1936, BC) for co-chairing the event. Special thanks to Brother Joe Courtney for his lead role in organizing the meeting, as well as all CUPE members and staff who assisted.
Sector meetings are part of our Strategic Directions policy paper adopted at the 2003 and 2005 national conventions. The Social Services sector, where we have over 50,000 members, had never met apart from the two-hour meetings held prior to national conventions. Our members in this sector are amongst the lowest paid in our union. They work in what many call the “forgotten” public sector. Delegates’ feedback on the final day asked that our union continue to lobby governments for badly needed funding and that this inaugural national meeting be the first of many.
3. Strikes / Lockouts
The following table outlines the strikes/lockouts that members experienced throughout this reporting period.
I salute the members of Locals 15, 1004 and 391 who achieved settlements with the City of Vancouver after three months on the picket lines. Vancouver City Council and the Vancouver Public Library Board somehow became convinced that our members would not stick together, or would accept concessions, but our members were not prepared to settle on these terms. The agreements achieved are good agreements and I thank our activists, staff and members for standing so tall in the face of adversity.
Our three locals at Quebecor Media (Journal de Québec) have been on the line for some eight months. Members from these locals received a thunderous welcome to the national convention where delegates were very generous in terms of donations and messages of solidarity and support. I urge every chartered organization to consider offering a donation to the members of this long-standing strike. Donations can be sent c/o National Office.
In early December, CUPE representatives from these locals attended an international conference on Quebecor held in Lima, Peru to report first-hand on their dispute. We are not the only union that has encountered problems with this global company.
In early November, over 2000 members of Locals 1975 and 1975-01, staff employed at the University of Saskatchwan and the University of Regina hit the picket lines. On November 30th, after a month on the picket line, an agreement was reached to refer the two final issues in dispute to binding arbitration. This occurred after our membership rejected an employer “final offer” by an 85% vote. This strong membership solidarity saw the issues in dispute narrow considerably and our bargaining committee agreed that in the circumstances, referral to arbitration was an acceptable route.
||# of members
|Quebec||1450||Journal de Québec||75||Apr 22/07|
|Quebec||1872||Journal de Québec||112||Apr 22/07|
|Quebec||2808||Journal de Québec||74||Apr 22/07|
|BC||410|| Greater Victoria
|Saskatchewan||1975|| University of
|1,801||Nov 2/07||30 days|
|Saskatchewan||1975-01|| University of
|584||Nov 2/07||30 days|
4. Political Action
During this reporting period there were three provincial elections, as well as municipal elections in the province of Alberta.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Conservative government of Premier Danny Williams won a resounding re-election victory, as expected. CUPE activists and staff worked hard on the behalf of the NDP and were successful in re-electing provincial NDP leader Lorraine Michaels.
In Ontario, the provincial election was dominated by the single issue of public funding to faith-based schools, a Conservative promise that did not sit well with the electorate and propelled the McGuinty Liberal government to a second consecutive majority government. A total of ten CUPE members ran for the NDP. While none were elected, all ran spirited campaigns and CUPE was front and center in the NDP campaign throughout Ontario. The provincial results yielded a total of 10 New Democrats elected.
In Saskatchewan, 16 years of NDP rule came to an end with the election of the Saskatchewan Party. The NDP maintained 38% of the provincial vote and a strong caucus of 20 members including former CUPE national representative Brother Andy Iwanchuk who was re-elected in Saskatoon and former Premier Lorne Calvert. CUPE Saskatchewan ran a strong campaign to educate members on the real agenda of the Saskatchewan Party in addition to working on behalf of the NDP.
At a time when many are talking of the merits of so-called strategic voting, I am incredibly proud of our union’s efforts on behalf of the NDP campaigns.
Municipal and school board elections were held in Alberta on October 15th. We were very proud that eleven CUPE members and three former CUPE activists put their names forward for public office. Six were elected and we offer them our congratulations! A number of locals including 30, 37, 38 and 474 supported labour-friendly candidates with cost-share campaigns. Many other locals were active in coalition work to elect politicians who will be a positive force on our behalf. This is especially important in the face of an onslaught of P3s in Alberta.
Along with the renewed focus that our union will commit to fighting privatization over the next two years, we must never forget the importance of political action and fighting the neo-conservative agenda on a multitude of fronts.
In the coming year, our union will also need to look at responding to the Harper government’s wrecking ball – it has gutted support for women’s organizations and advocacy; has reduced literacy program funding; and has continued to show a total lack of commitment to a national universally-accessible child care program in this country. We also face outrageous unfair labour rights and no human rights protection for temporary foreign workers – this is a serious domestic issue as well an international one, and we must continue our commitment to building international networks to collectively fight for justice. All of these issues affect CUPE members and every Canadian working family.
CUPE will continue to be political active on all of these fronts and to dedicate resources to strengthen our response.
This quarterly reporting period has again been a busy one on the organizing front.
The Atlantic Region has two temporary organizers working in the region. In Nova Scotia, they have primarily been targeting the Community Services facilities and talks are underway with the university sector about organizing teaching assistants. In Newfoundland/Labrador, the temporary organizer has met with a number of groups and will be targeting casual workers at two specific sites.
In the Maritimes Region, some 16 organizing projects are underway, one of which has now been certified – CUPE Local 4244, Chipman Municipal Ambulance Service. The region wishes to acknowledge the initiative of their member organizers and extend their congratulations for their work.
The Ontario Region has faced five representation votes arising from the reorganization of Community Care Access Centres. Though we have incurred losses, in Central West, CUPE picked up 98 new members; in Mississauga Halton, 100 members; in Erie, 29 members; and in Southeast, another 29 members. CUPE also won in a representation vote giving us 238 long-term care workers who were formerly with LIUNA.
In the Windsor Harrow Day Care Centre, 12 members were certified in late August. As well, a forum was held in the Ottawa region at which numerous contacts in a variety of child care centres were made. Other child care initiatives are underway in Southern Ontario.
The potential for organizing new locals in Manitoba looks promising. The primary focus will be on social services. Currently a campaign is being planned to organize a not-for-profit residential care agency and strategy meetings are occurring for three child welfare agencies, two of which are aboriginal. The region is also continuing its work with Local 4701 and 3473 to address common issues faced by teaching assistants in the hope that this will lead to unionization. The region is also experiencing some growth in the municipal sector.
At the time of our last report, the Saskatchewan Region was still waiting for a decision from the Labour Relations Board application that would see CUPE potentially sweeping in a number of unorganized members as a result of the restructuring and reduction of education divisions. Almost a year later, the Board denied our application. On a positive note however, the LRB did provide us with four options available (three of which would cause us some concern) but the fourth option would appear to give us an opportunity to achieve our goal of all employee units without having to sign the unorganized. The LRB in Saskatchewan will provide an automatic certification if a union can show, by way of signed cards, a majority support (50% plus one). In eight of the 13 new divisions, we have newly merged locals that represent 70 to 80 per cent of the total number of employees in those divisions. Since receiving the decision of the LRB, we have embarked on a massive re-signing of all our members in each division which, if successful, will give us the required 50% plus one in each of the divisions and allow us to make application for all employee units. Our target date of completion on this endeavour is December 20, 2007.
The Alberta Region reports gaining 20 new members as a result of an application on behalf of Local 3483 – Black Gold School Division. The region has four on-going organizing projects in various sectors, and an equal number of projects on hold for the time being. The region is also paying particular attention to the challenges posed with possible de-certification applications and the open period in the health care sector.
The British Columbia Region is reporting six successful certifications – Local 338 and Best Cleaners (138 members); Local 439 and Cardinal Transportation (48 members); Local 3999-22 and Okanagan Boys and Girls Club at two sites (total of 6 new members); Local 389 and Village of Lions Bay (6 members); and Local 338 and Lakeview Irrigation System (6 members). As well, they have two certifications pending, and six upcoming projects they are working on.
For the year 2007 (period ending November 30th), the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) reports having organized 33 new certifications on behalf of approximately 1,871 members. The most interesting, is the type of certification and membership. Very briefly, these are:
- Contractors who primarily provide care services to facilities;
- Owner-operators – not contracted services, some P3 sites;
- Contractors who primarily provide support services to facilities;
- Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) Liberations;
- First Nations;
- Facility Sub-sector;
- Non-profit Addiction Services;
- Certified and contract terminated – members laid off, new contractor not yet organized.
Current complex organizing projects in community living services, contract care providers and owner operators remain primary targets.
For the period of January 1st to December 10th, 2007, CUPE has successfully received 57 new certifications for a total of 2,872 new members.
The Airline Division held their biannual Conference on October 14th, the day before our national convention. They welcomed Canjet as the newest CUPE airline local to their fold. Ongoing issues of airline security, safety, bargaining priorities and coordination were debated.
Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU)
The fallout of the Supreme Court victory over Bill 29 continues. HEU has been meeting with government and health authority officials to negotiate redress for our members who were affected by Bill 29, restore our collective bargaining rights, improve delivery of health care and stabilize labour relations. It is expected this process will take several months, understanding that the Supreme Court gave the BC government one year to fix the problems they created. Workers in long term care continue to choose HEU as their bargaining agent as organizing continues at a fast pace.
A sell out crowd attended the CUPE BC Occupational Health and Safety Conference in mid-November. They heard a sobering message from the NDP critic that WCB inspection and enforcement is at an all time low and workers disabled are seeing unprecedented attacks on their WCB benefits and pensions. Action plans were formulated and health and safety activists will continue to be heard from.
BC is another province that continually battles P3s. Our researchers and activists take every opportunity to demand that decision makers examine these projects for transparency, accountability and the public good. All of their presentations are available at www.cupe.bc.ca
As reported earlier, we were successful in getting a number of labour-friendly candidates elected in municipalities and school boards. These will be critical in the weeks and months to come, as public-private partnerships are being proposed in all corners of the province. CUPE Alberta is attending the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Conference and will be discussing the pitfalls of P3s and offering our expertise to the debate.
Tough bargaining continues in order to respond to the hot economy. A provincial election is expected in the spring as the new premier, Ed Stelmach, seeks endorsement for his actions and plans, including a controversial increase in royalty payments. The next debate will be how to spend that income and we will be campaigning hard to have it invested in public services which have been miserably neglected.
Only one major victory was scored in this quarter. Canada’s football team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders finally won the Grey Cup! Congratulations.
Unfortunately, this came in the wake of the defeat of our party, Lorne Calvert’s NDP. We expect major battles coming quickly under the right-wing Saskatchewan Party, but of course we know our CUPE activists will be up for the challenges. Plans are already underway to strategize and work with the NDP MLAs and our coalition partners.
Local 4606, Parkland Health Authority, is faced with a representation vote, due to the employer wanting to amalgamate their operations and deal with only one union. The vote will be held in mid-December and members will be choosing between CUPE, Operating Engineers and the MGEU. Our campaign is being coordinated out of our brand new Dauphin Area Office.
Local 500 and its coalition partners continue to campaign against the latest scheme of right-wing Mayor Sam Katz in the City of Winnipeg. He intends to eliminate the business tax, and make up for it by cutting public services to the tune of $65 million.
Central bargaining within the school board sector may soon become a reality in the province. The Ministry of Labour has indicated that it will look at some form of centralized bargaining with stakeholders which would initially comprise key issues identified by the parties. This is indeed a historic move. Congratulations to the Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC) for their commitment and efforts.
Ontario CUPE child care representatives, in conjunction with our coalition partners, have continued to be successful in profiling the value of a not-for-profit, universal child care system. They have also been vocally denouncing the threat of the multinational for-profit child care centres escalating in Canada. The coalition continues to mobilize support for the passing of Bill 303 federally.
CUPE has continued to partner with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care for the 7th Annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day held on October 24, 2007. Over 180 municipalities issue proclamations in recognition of the value of this work and workers. This year’s day allowed the coalition to highlight the fact that so many of these workers live in poverty because the Ontario government fails to live up to its commitment to fund pay equity.
Local 1983 (Montreal Transit Corporation) is in bargaining to renew the collective agreement of its 3,850 members, which expired on January 1, 2007. The MTC wants to impose the same financial framework (0-2-2-2) that the City of Montreal is trying to impose on its municipal employees. Ninety-seven percent of the members voted to take strike action at an opportune time.
On the P3 front, we are continuing our interventions against privatization of urban transit. Our members have already handed out thousands of brochures to transit users, and we have multiplied our meetings with MLAs to fight to keep urban transit in public hands.
Ninety-four percent of the members of Local 4545 (650 outside workers) approved the agreement in principle with the City of Laval. This agreement contains no concessions and provides improvements to the working conditions of temporary workers and, especially, the creation of 80 new regulars positions. This was one of the major issues in this round of bargaining.
The federal government has injected several million dollars into funding for higher education, and at the same time the provincial government has announced tuition increases. This will result in almost one billion dollars of new revenues. In this context, we must ensure that this money will not go into bricks and mortar, but rather into those sectors where our members are present.
Following an earlier government announcement of a single public sector ambulance service, the New Brunswick Emergency Medical Services (EMS), signed a 10-year service agreement with the province of New Brunswick. The new service will come into effect on December 16, 2007. The interim provincial executive of Local 4848 and national staff have been working diligently with Medavie Blue Cross to ensure a smooth transition of services.
Local 1252 (New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions), which represents over 6,500 members have now entered into negotiations to renew their collective agreement. An intensive lobbying campaign has been initiated in which one of their focuses will be to lobby all MLAs within the province.
The town of Sackville has approved the privatization of their water treatment component. Local 1188 challenged the town’s process in the courts and the judicial review was heard by the Queen’s Bench and rejected. The local, along with community activists formed a coalition and are now in the process of developing a political plan of action in preparation for May 2008 municipal elections.
Labour Day in Nova Scotia provided the backdrop for the launching of a seven-union coalition campaign against the MacDonald government’s plan to take the right to strike away from 32,000 health and community care workers. Some 9,000 CUPE members would be affected by the Bill. We currently have the support of both opposition parties to defeat the Bill which is not expected to go beyond the second reading.
NSSBCU (Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions) representatives are very close to finalizing the details of an agreement with the government on provincial wage rates and classifications, as well as a process for provincial bargaining. In short, we are on the verge of signing an historic document on behalf of thousands of CUPE school board workers in Nova Scotia. Congratulations!
A successful biennial Nova Scotia Federation of Labour convention was held in late October. CUPE was well represented with Sister Betty-Jean Sutherland being re-elected as Vice-President, and Brother Danny Cavanagh and Sister Liz Paris elected to the Executive Council.
Prince Edward Island
CUPE Local 805 and CUPE PEI’s Planning and Priorities Committee are in the process of developing plans of action in response to the provincial government’s announcement that they will be looking at alternatives to fund new initiatives for the Charlottetown Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The province has also indicated that they are looking at a public-private partnership for the construction of a new long-term care facility project. CUPE is in the process of arranging a meeting with the Premier to discuss the pitfalls of P3s.
With the recent announcement that the provincial government will be reviewing the workers compensation system, the Labour Minister has committed to meet with CUPE to review our brief which identifies areas of concern with the current system.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Provincial bargaining in the health care sector is now underway in Newfoundland and Labrador. Exchange of proposals have taken place and there are high expectations on the part of all public service workers for a substantial wage increase. In the last round of negotiations, the William’s government utilized legislation to resolve the collective agreements in the last round of negotiations.
CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador Division, along with a team of activists who had been trained in the process of creating and developing a cupe.ca co-hosted website for the Division has now completed their task! This is the last CUPE Division to have finalized such a project – have a look at http://www.n.l.cupe.ca
Throughout the fall period there has been a fair amount of media and internal labour movement discussion on the CAW’s deal with Magna International. The deal, known as the “Framework for Fairness” outlines an agreement to pave the way for the CAW to organize 18,000 Magna employees in the auto parts sector over the next number of years.
Within the above deal the parties have agreed that contract disputes will be settled by Final Offer Settlement (FOS) Arbitration, as opposed to the normal strike/lockout equation. The deal also adopts new terms and processes for the selection of worker representatives, moving away from traditional terms such as Shop Stewards.
The CAW National President outlined this arrangement at a recent meeting of the CLC Executive Council. He was questioned on the deal, no Executive Council members spoke in favour of it. In the weeks following the CLC meeting, during a CBC radio interview the CAW President indicated that CLC Heads of Unions supported the Magna Deal. I communicated directly with Brother Buzz Hargrove to correct him. The Canadian Director of the Steelworkers Union wrote the CBC and his letter was read on the air, again to correct the record.
CUPE’s longstanding collective bargaining policy supports free collective bargaining with the unfettered right to strike for all members. In light of the attack being waged on Nova Scotia health care workers by a government seeking to end the right to strike, the NEB advanced a resolution submitted to our recent convention on this subject matter. A copy of this resolution is appended to this report. CUPE represents approximately 9,000 Nova Scotia health care workers. Of interest in the Nova Scotia situation is that we are in a four-union coalition opposing this move to eliminate our right to strike and the CAW is part of this coalition.
While the CAW is free to agree to whatever arrangement they see fit to pursue with an employer, the controversy starts when they sell this publicly as a new and innovative strategy, and when they suggest broad support for this strategy within the labour movement. There is nothing new or innovative in foregoing the right to strike, nor is there support for this deal outside of the CAW.
The CAW-Magna Deal has been extensively debated within Ontario. Our delegation to the recent convention of the Ontario Federation of Labour appropriately supported a resolution affirming labour’s position on the full right to strike as a fundamental tenant of free collective bargaining rights for all workers.
Federation conventions held this fall in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and BC have not debated this issue as it has not been the news story that it has been in Ontario.
While I do not expect any of our over 3,000 employers to table such an arrangement with any CUPE local, our response will be to reject outright any such proposal, consistent with our national policy.
The CAW are a strong union with a rich history of struggle. They have been a good friend to CUPE notwithstanding the odd disagreement that has occurred from time to time. In the mid 1990’s in Ontario they supported our resistance to the Mike Harris government in the Ontario Days of Action campaign.
As mentioned, we are working in coalition with the CAW in Nova Scotia right now, defending the right to strike for health care workers. Earlier this year I spoke at a 30,000 person rally the CAW staged in Windsor, in defence of manufacturing jobs, of which over 280,000 have been lost since 2002, and still our governments refuse to pursue an industrial strategy that defends jobs and communities.
Finally, while I believe the Magna Deal is a serious matter, it is not the primary autoworker story this fall. That distinction falls to the UAW and their recently-concluded bargaining with GM, Ford and Chrysler in the US. These deals include new two-tier wage structures, benefit concessions and the union assuming responsibility to administer retiree benefit provisions. It is a certainty in my view that both private and public sector unions will see Canadian employers attempting to secure similar concessions, emboldened by the achievements of the Big Three Automakers in the US.
Our goal will be to resist any such concessions and to support other CLC affiliates should they need our support in any way.
My sincere congratulations and thanks to the following CUPE staff who have announced plans to retire. On behalf of our entire union, thank you for a lifetime of commitment to the membership and for making our union better through your hard work and dedication.
Sister Marilyne White, Peel Area Office (November 1, 2007)
Brother Henri Massé, Québec Regional Office (December 1, 2007)
Brother Jean Thébeau, Maritimes Regional Office (January 1, 2008)
Sister Susan Yuile-Assaly, Cornwall Area Office (January 1, 2008)
Sister Julie Davis, National Office (February 1, 2008)
Sister Rose DeSantis, Airline Division – Toronto (February 1, 2008)
Brother Clifford Hay, Maritimes Regional Office (February 1, 2008)
Brother Randy Sykes, National Office (February 1, 2008)
Brother Barry Thorsteinson, National Office (February 1, 2008)
Sister Judith Wilkings, Ontario Regional Office (February 1, 2008)
Sister Lizette Dubé, Sherbrooke Area Office (March 1, 2008)
Sister Joanne Harvey, Ottawa Area Office (February 29, 2008)
Brother Kenneth Hopper, National Office (March 1, 2008)
Brother Jean-Pierre Daigle, Trois-Rivières Area Office (April 1, 2008)
Brother Maurice Boisvert, Québec Regional Office (May 1, 2008)
Sister Louise Guerrette, Moncton Area Office (May 1, 2008)
Brother Claude Hétu, Québec Regional Office (May 1, 2008)
Brother Andrew Huculak, Saskatchewan Regional Office (September 1, 2008)
9. In Memoriam
I offer my most sincere condolences to the family of Brother Dave Saunders who fell ill at convention and passed away shortly after the convention. Brother Saunders (Education Representative – Ontario) was a dedicated trade unionist for 30 years as both as a member of Local 1600 at the Toronto Zoo and as a CUPE staffer.
I would also like to acknowledge and offer my condolences to the family of one of our CUPE retirees, Brother Ewald Ahsmann, who passed away on August 22, 2007.
Many of you may have read about the kidnapping of a one-day old child from the Sudbury General Hospital. Thankfully the child was found and returned to the family. What wasn’t widely reported was that a CUPE member, a health care worker in the Sudbury Hospital, Sister Luba Valic, (Local 1623), reported the abduction after noticing that the person carrying the baby was not following proper hospital procedures. Sister Valic’s keen eye noticed this and reported the incident. This action on her part led to the authorities being notified. Thank you, sister, for a job well done.
A former member of the National Executive Board, Brother Leo Cheverie (DVP-Aboriginal) was recently awarded the 2007 Alumni Award by the World University Service of Canada. The award recognizes exceptional contribution to international development through support for WUSC programming. Congratulations Brother Leo, well done.
I want to thank those of you who took the time to send cards and messages to Sister Donalda MacDonald whom I reported on in my last report. Sister Donalda, President of CUPE PEI and GVP – Atlantic/Maritimes, is battling cancer and she advises me her treatments are going well and she is feeling stronger every day.
I also salute our activists on PEI who held a fundraising benefit for Sister Donalda which raised over $17,000 to assist with extraordinary expenses she has incurred. Thank you sisters and brothers for your compassion and support for Sister Donalda.
In closing, most of you will receive this report early in 2008. I hope each of you had the opportunity to spend some quiet time with family and friends over the holiday season. I thank each of you for your activism and commitment to our union and I wish you all a healthy and happy 2008.