Canadians reject attempts to cut flight attendant crews, cite safety as priority
OTTAWA – Canadians do not want their safety jeopardized by cuts to flight attendant crews, says a poll released this week by CUPE.
The poll shows the public would reject a bid by the airline industry to allow certain flights with full passenger loads to fly with up to 25 per cent fewer flight attendants. Most of those polled considered plans to cut cabin crews an unwelcome compromise to passenger safety and security.
“The airlines say they wish to maintain competitiveness by cutting operating costs,” said National President Paul Moist. “But it is Transport Canada’s role – and its overriding responsibility – to ensure that the safety of passengers is never compromised. This study clearly shows that voters agree that safety must come first.”
Airline executives also say such changes would bring Canada’s aviation regulations in line with those in the United States.
Current Transport Canada regulations require one flight attendant for every 40 passengers. The U.S. standard is one flight attendant for every 50 seats. However, Transport Canada’s own documents show that such a change would increase risk for passengers. Transport Canada has only released censored versions of these documents.
The poll shows:
- Seven in 10 Canadians want Ottawa to maintain current regulations;
- Only two in 10 think Ottawa should match Canadian regulations with the U.S.;
- About 50 per cent strongly oppose lowering Canada’s safety standards to remain competitive internationally; and,
- Just 9 per cent, or less than one in 10, strongly favour lowering safety standards.
Transport Canada officials now support the cuts even though the federal regulator rejected a similar proposal in 2001 because of safety concerns.
“Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon now has a choice before him,” said Pam Sachs, President of CUPE’s Air Canada Component. “He can do what Canadians want by keeping the regulations in place, or he can weaken passenger safety.”
CUPE commissioned Pollara to survey 1,011 adults by telephone between May 31 and June 1, 2006. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. For more on the poll, visit www.cupe.ca.
NDP makes major gains in Nova Scotia election
Nova Scotia’s recently minted young premier, Rodney MacDonald, has just learned a tough political lesson: Be careful what you wish for. Instead of gaining the majority he was looking for, he has shrunk his minority and given the New Democratic Party five new seats in the legislature.
Three CUPE members, although unsuccessful in their ridings, proudly represented their union in the historic election. Kim Cail picked up almost 1,100 votes in the Tory stronghold of Cumberland North. John Deveau placed a strong second with almost 1,700 votes against a Tory cabinet minister. Charles Muise got over 500 votes in Argyle, another Tory stronghold.
Former CUPE member and well-known activist Vicki Conrad is one of the new NDP members of the Legislative Assembly. In a stunner, she knocked off a popular Tory cabinet minister by just 56 votes in Queen’s. The Tories had held the seat since 1954.
The Tories’ slimmed down minority is 23 seats, NDP with 20 and the Liberals at just nine. Much of the Nova Scotia media is now calling Darrell Dexter and the NDP the “government in waiting.”
“We are extremely happy with the outcome of this election and especially proud of our three CUPE candidates,” CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh said. “Our union was a key player in the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour ‘Issues Campaign’ that was designed to get union voters out in greater numbers.”
National President Paul Moist praised NDP Leader Darrell Dexter. “Being the only party to increase its seat count places the NDP firmly as the governing option in Nova Scotia,” he said in a letter.
“This is a tribute to you personally and to all candidates who carried the banner for us yesterday,” said the letter, also signed by National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux. “Please be assured that CUPE will continue to work closely with you and your caucus to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia receive the good government they deserve.”
Real ‘Atlantica’ agenda confirms CUPE’s suspicions
SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick – CUPE Division Presidents in the four Atlantic provinces want a full public debate on the concept of ‘Atlantica’ before there are any further moves toward ‘business without boundaries’.
“Reaching Atlantica: Business without Borders” was the theme of an international conference sponsored by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). It was to push for a new free trade zone that would join the four Atlantic provinces in Canada with the New England states.
“The Chambers of Commerce, whether local, regional or national, do not speak on behalf of the citizens in this country,” said CUPE PEI President Donalda MacDonald. “We elect governments to work on behalf of all citizens, not just the elite business community.”
“The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has outlived its usefulness,” said CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh. “AIMS is saying that local land rules are too restrictive; that the federal minister should not appoint people to port commissions; that we have to take the operation of ports out of the public’s hands and let business do it. But Canadians want to have a say in how public facilities are operated.”
CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Wayne Lucas said Atlantica will be exposed. “We will engage labour councils and federations of labour and other social justice groups to hound the authors of Atlantica. This is a fight to defend our Canadian values.” CUPE New Brunswick President Daniel Légère was concerned with the statements of an official of Premier Bernard Lord’s government at the conference. “I was startled that Trevor Holder, Minister of Environment, bragged about supporting the free trade concept in 1988, contrary to the rest of the eastern provincial bloc, and continues along this path in supporting the concept of Atlantica.”
“We are very concerned with any talk of harmonizing regulations with the United States. Rick MacMillan, the region’s General Vice-President. “Our experience has been that it always results in the lowering of standards for Canadians. Atlantica needs a full public debate, not a shady back-door lobby from the corporate elite.” He said CUPE members across Canada will be watching closely.
CUPE staff vote to defend services, reject contract offer
TORONTO – Front line workers with Community Living Toronto (CLT) – who provide services and supports for individuals who have a developmental disability – voted this week to defend quality services for clients and to reject an employer contract offer attacking their workplace rights.
The vote came after CLT abruptly ended contract negotiations with CUPE 2191 on June 1st and applied for a ‘no board’ report, a process that triggers a countdown to a lockout or a strike.
“We believe CLT made the wrong decision to trigger labour instability and to move toward a disruption of services for vulnerable people. We want to reassure the parents and families of the individuals we support, that unlike the CLT management, our goal is to reach a fair negotiated settlement and avoid turmoil,” said Fred Hahn, the President of CUPE 2191 and the newly elected Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario.
CLT has tabled bargaining proposals for increased “flexibility” in staffing by undermining collective agreement protections such as hours of work, work location, and recognition of workers’ specialized skills.
CLT’s proposal would “negatively impact both clients and workers,” Hahn said. “Under the employer’s scheme, workers would have no workplace stability, their family lives would be disrupted and their ability to schedule educational upgrading and shifts for other jobs would be severely hampered. The proposals would also adversely affect continuity of care for clients as workers are shifted from one work location to another.”
An employer study found that developmental service workers earn 25 per cent less than comparable social service occupations. The study also indicated that low wages and heavy workloads impede experienced workers from staying in the field and are a barrier to students choosing developmental services as an occupation.
Lower wages also means many workers maintain more than one job, including 70 per cent of the members of CUPE 2191. As a result, agencies struggle with high staff turnover rates and developmental services college programs have closed because of low student enrolment.
In the past year, more than 40 CUPE locals have reached fair negotiated settlements with their employers and are now lobbying together to push the province to increase funding that is directly tied to workers’ wages and staff training and retention.
“Other community living employers are choosing to fight provincial underfunding for the sector, not their workers. We care deeply for the people we support and their families.
Protecting our hard-won contract rights is directly tied to the quality of services and supports we can provide clients and families. Attacking our working conditions is a direct attack on services and supports,” Hahn said.
CUPE represents 7,000 developmental service workers in Ontario. About 1,100 are members of CUPE 2191. They provide residential, vocational, and behavioural counselling supports to over 5,000 people accessing services through CLT.
Tentative deal between CUPE and OHA helps ensure labour stability
TORONTO – The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have negotiated a tentative three-year collective agreement for hospital employees. The settlement, covering 18,000 hospital employees at 56 hospitals, helps ensure significant labour stability over the next few years during an anticipated period of change in Ontario’s health care system.
This is the third successive, freely negotiated agreement between CUPE and OHA – a first in a sector where contract negotiations are routinely resolved through arbitration. The tentative settlement features contract improvements and a wage increase in each of the three years of the contract that runs from Sept. 29, 2006 to Sept. 28, 2009.
“Both CUPE and the OHA recognized that a negotiated collective agreement is in the best interests of hospital employees and, as a result, our patients,” said OHA President and CEO Hilary Short. “The hard work of CUPE and the OHA has resulted in this voluntary agreement and set the stage for an even more productive working relationship over the next several years.”
“The next few years will be a period of rapid change and many challenges in the hospital sector. CUPE’s hospital membership was clear they wanted contract improvements and a speedy resolve to bargaining in order to focus efforts on continuing to provide quality public health services,” said Michael Hurley, the President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), which represents 32,000 Ontario hospital employees.
The tentative settlement covers trades, maintenance, dietary assistants, custodial, materials management and clerical staff, and 3,600 nurses. Both parties have agreed to ratification no later than July 14, 2006.
Cornwall council holds key to settlement
CORNWALL, Ontario – Representatives of CUPE 3251 are encouraged by progress made in mediation talks last week on behalf of 125 municipal workers, but Cornwall city council still holds the key to a settlement without a strike, according to CUPE National Representative Bob Manny.
“We spent a long day in mediation and made a lot of headway, but we’re not quite there yet,” Manny said. “Some outstanding issues couldn’t be settled without management seeking approval from Cornwall council, and we understand that management negotiators will meet with councillors at an in-camera session on Monday, June 12, to seek clarification.”
“We have scheduled a meeting Monday evening with our members, to show them what’s on the table,” Manny said. “Hopefully council will approve the few outstanding items before then, because Monday night our members will vote on the package, and that will determine whether we’re looking at a settlement or a strike.”
CUPE 3251 members work in water treatment, sewers, social services, social assistance, Ontario Works, building inspections, office and clerical services, bylaw enforcement, child care, pools and the aquatic centre, engineering and city construction projects, and other city services.
New building could mean job loss for Calgary library workers
CALGARY – Construction of a new downtown library will result in layoffs, says CUPE 1169, representing about 600 mostly female Library Board employees.
The board is treating full-time and part-time employees differently, said CUPE 1169 President Rh’ena Oake.
The library is raising funds for a new building. During construction, the library will pare down its downtown operations. All full-time staff will be sent out to branch locations, but part-time employees will not be given the same consideration.
“Some of these employees have been with the Library Board for years,” Oake said. “It amazes me that the board would cast these people aside after they have put so much into our libraries.”
The issue is a major sticking point in the negotiations for a new contract between the union and the board. CUPE applied this week for mediation.
“The library funding is going to remain the same during the closure, and they are pledging to provide the same level of service, so I don’t know why they can’t treat all employees the same,” Oake said.
Other issues include the fact that employees don’t get paid for the time it takes to close branches.
“Library workers have to stay in the building until the last patron leaves,” Oake said. “But sometimes a patron can linger after closing hours. What the public probably doesn’t know is that employees only get paid up to the closing time. The library expects us to stick around and close the building for free.”
CUPE BC member wins $12 million
CUPE 407 member Ken Garbe recently fell off the back of a truck and hurt his knee. But thanks to a lucky lottery ticket, the pain will be a lot easier to bear. This week the Vancouver School Board worker woke up to find himself $12 million richer.
Garbe, a 52-year-old single parent, was the sole winner of the jackpot in the June 7 Lotto Super Seven draw. Now, after 25 years working for the VSB, he plans to retire, travel, buy himself a new house and buy his son a new truck.
“The guy’s a heck of a musician who’s a very, very good harp (harmonica) player, but I don’t think he’ll be playing the blues much longer,” CUPE 407 President Mike Potts said. “He mentioned this morning that he needs a bit of time, but that he is going to rent a hall or a boat to throw a party for the brothers and sisters of CUPE 407.”