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Feminist strategy looking forward

Every Canadian woman… not already suffering from the cuts to social programs and health care is about to feel the sting of those cuts,” said Donalda MacDonald, CUPE regional vice-president from Prince Edward Island.

MacDonald was referring to cuts to resources for women by the federal Conservatives. She joined representatives of women’s and human rights organizations, the private sector and Parliamentarians at a roundtable on women’s human rights in Ottawa on December 11.

The roundtable was sponsored by The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) and highlighted the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

CUPE has called on the feds to reverse their decisions on childcare, pay equity, the Court Challenges Program, Status of Women Canada, and to respect the Canada’s CEDAW commitments.

Clean Air Act lacks teeth

CUPE’s national environment committee spoke out against the Harper government’s new environmental legislation. The committee says the proposed Clean Air Act is not tough enough on greenhouse gas emitters and does not set strict enough targets for reductions.

At its meeting in Ottawa last weekend, the committee acknowledged that the proposed act addresses air quality but does not take climate change head-on. Government cutbacks on the environment also signal Harper’s lack of leadership and commitment to tackling climate change.

The committee is disappointed that the proposed act looks too deep into the future with target dates for emissions reduction. It also condemned the legislation for putting too much emphasis on individuals, while industry receives “compliance options”.

Transsexuals demand equal health care access

Members of Ontario’s transsexual community gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto to express disappointment over an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling that public funding for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) should be provided to only the three complainants assessed when the procedure was delisted.

Transsexual activists had launched a human rights complaint to get SRS and related medical procedures “re-listed” as a procedure covered by Ontario’s health care system.

I cannot begin to express my disappointment over this decision,” said Martine Stonehouse, a member of CUPE 4400 and one of the original complainants. “Transsexuals must be recognized as equal persons in Ontario deserving of equal rights and equal access to healthcare and our medical needs.”

CUPE BC calls for Goodyear Tire boycott

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill is encouraging members to support a national boycott of Goodyear Tire.

At the British Columbia Federation of Labour’s recent convention, delegates approved an emergency resolution supporting the struggle of 15,000 striking Goodyear workers in Canada and the USA.

The workers, members of the United Steelworkers, have been on strike since October 5 at 15 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. facilities across North America. They are fighting major contract concessions.

School board workers want cuts to stop

School board workers want quality education services that help students succeed and an end to crippling program and staff cuts.

That was the message in CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan’s presentation this week to the new Dufferin-Peel Catholic board trustees.

CUPE represents more than 45,000 school board workers, including more than 1,100 with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic system.

Jobs and justice for Creston health care workers

An agreement between the Hospital Employees Union in British Columbia and Golden Life Management Corporation means that two workers fired from a Creston care home have been offered their jobs back.

The workers were fired during an HEU organizing drive at Crestview Village last September. Under the terms of the agreement, they can be reinstated with back pay. Golden Life management has also admitted that they interfered with workers right to join a union.

New job evaluation plan for Quebec City outside workers

CUPE has just put the finishing touches on a massive job evaluation exercise for outside workers in Quebec City.

Three activists worked on this colossal project for two years. The evaluation results mean CUPE 1638 members will receive retroactive pay of between $4,000 and $6,000 this month—a surprise present from Santa.

After the amalgamation of several municipalities into the new Quebec City, it became necessary to review all job titles, descriptions, and wage scales to make them consistent and uniform. The evaluators whittled some 300 individual job titles down to 77. The number of wage categories was also reduced, from as many as 19 down to 12.

Halifax contractor clears sod, not snow

Media reports that a private contractor using improper snow removal equipment caused major damage to private property in Halifax came as no surprise to CUPE Nova Scotia.

The union, which represents some 450 outside workers with Halifax Regional Municipality, says it has been raising this concern with council for a long time.

We even told council back in June that using Bobcats to do sidewalks was not advisable,” said CUPE 108 contracting out committee chair Dave Carr. “The equipment that HRM owns is much better suited to do this work, but council has chosen to contract it out.”

CUPE thinks HRM residents, especially those in the 20 or so homes that got their lawns ripped up, will agree that reliance on contractors has resulted in poorer-quality services.”

Edmonton City workers ratify contract

The 2,000 ‘outside’ employees of the City of Edmonton have ratified a contract that will give them wage increases of 12 per cent over three years.

The CUPE 30 members voted 64 per cent in favour of the deal. An earlier vote was against the settlement.

Grande Prairie bus drivers get big wage increase

Bus drivers in the Alberta boomtown of Grande Prairie will receive wage increases of more than 24 per cent over three years.

CUPE 787 president Randy Wald said the employer knew it needed to increase wages because of a labour shortage.

They are hoping to get more bodies driving buses,” said Wald. “And they are hoping more money will do that.”

CUPE 30 takes councillors to task over sick leave

The union representing 2,000 outside workers in Edmonton is upset at remarks made about the sick time taken by city employees.

Last week, two councillors said city managers have to clamp down on sick leave. They claimed there was an increase of ‘weekend sickness’ even though administration admitted there was no evidence of staff taking more sick days on Fridays or Mondays.

The union counters that the increase in sick time is due to overwork, pointing out that Edmonton has an attendance management policy and can crack down on people who actually abuse sick time.