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Parliament votes for anti-scab law

The House of Commons has voted in favour of Bill C-257, a law that would make it illegal for employers covered by the Canada Labour Code to hire scabs.

While the bill, sponsored by the Bloc Québecois, has many steps to go before becoming law, yesterday’s second reading vote is an important step. Normally, government members use second reading - their first opportunity to vote on a bill - to defeat private members’ bills they oppose.

This is an encouraging step,” said National President Paul Moist. “Let’s hope Parliament moves on with the next stages of the legislative process without delay.”

Survey paints a bleak picture of Alberta seniors’ care

A new CUPE Alberta survey paints a grim picture of seniors’ care in the province.

The union asked members working in Alberta seniors’ facilities about working conditions and environment, staffing issues and resident care. Almost 600 responses were collected between June and September 2006.

Among the findings: Sixty-six per cent of respondents reported little or no time for staff to give ‘one-on-one’ attention to residents; 49 per cent reported not enough time to meet resident care needs; 53 per cent said staffing levels are a serious problem.

CUPE Alberta president D’Arcy Lanovaz said the report shows how little improvement there has been since the auditor general looked into the matter last year.

View the survey at www.alberta.cupe.ca/download/seniorscrisis.pdf.

Ontario school boards in dire financial straits

A CUPE Ontario report shows that Ontario school boards will be in the throes of a widespread financial crisis by the end of the current school year.

With too little provincial money to meet basic operating costs and to respond to local needs, school boards will be faced with massive program and staff cuts to meet balanced budget legislation in 2007-2008.

The impact on the quality of students’ education and on labour force stability will be tremendous, warn public education advocates. They pinpoint structural flaws in the education funding formula that create a continuous cycle of cuts.

In an emergency meeting in Toronto this week, the leadership of CUPE’s school board sector approved an aggressive action plan to mount pressure on the Ontario Liberals to fix the education funding formula.

CUPE BC joins “Troops out” rallies

CUPE BC is urging members throughout British Columbia to join thousands of other Canadians on October 28 (Saturday) in a national day of action to call for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

The union is calling for a strong contingent of CUPE members to march in towns and cities throughout British Columbia to protest the Stephen Harper government’s support for U.S. President George W. Bush’s military strategy in Afghanistan.

This day of action has been endorsed by the Canadian Labour Congress and the CUPE national executive board.

Ontario Liberals failing families

In a year that saw the cancellation of dedicated federal funding for childcare, the Dalton McGuinty government has failed thousands of families waiting for child care spaces.

CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan called on the province to invest an estimated $60-million windfall it will receive from taxes that parents will pay on Stephen Harper’s new $1,200 universal child care benefit.

Ryan spoke at the 6th annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day at Toronto City Hall. The day was founded six years ago by CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), and has been proclaimed by municipalities across the province.

CUPE Nova Scotia questions timing of health care white paper

With 5,600 Nova Scotia hospital workers poised for possible job action, CUPE is questioning the health minister’s timing of a ‘white paper’ on health care.

By raising the spectre of more private health care, is Health Minister Chris d’Entremont trying to send a message to hospital workers that their jobs could be threatened?”, asked CUPE NS president Danny Cavanagh.

Meanwhile, CUPE’s chief negotiator said an offer from d’Entremont to send all of the issues in the hospital dispute off to interest arbitration is like asking the unions to give up all of their bargaining power.

Strike looms at Carleton University

Teaching assistants (TAs) at Carleton University in Ottawa have voted 81 per cent in favour of giving their bargaining committee a strike mandate if contract talks with the administration fail.

Management fails to recognize the importance of protection from tuition fee increases,” said Jessica Squires, president of CUPE 4600. “Tuition fee hikes represent pay cuts for our members, making it difficult to make ends meet.”

The university workers are also seeking health and dental benefits, and better assistance for international students, as well as job security for non-Anglophone students.

Contract instructors, also represented by CUPE 4600, as well as faculty and librarians are also experiencing difficulties trying to negotiate contracts with the administration.

Pugwash residential care employees reach tentative agreement

Employees of Sunset Residential & Rehabilitation Services, a residential care facility in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, have reached a tentative agreement with the agency.

More than 100 members of CUPE 972 will vote on the package October 28. Details of the agreement cannot be released until after the vote.

Nipissing social service workers poised to strike

Social service workers in the District of Nipissing, Ontario, have voted 85 per cent in favour of strike action if contract talks fail to reach a fair settlement.

This is not about wages – we want to bring benefits in line with what similar workers in surrounding areas enjoy,” said CUPE national representative Monique Drapeau.

The 75 workers offer social services in several Northern Ontario communities. Conciliation talks are set to resume November 13.

Nova Scotia residential services employees ratify new deal

Employees of Highland Community Residential Services in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, have ratified a new contract with the agency and averted a strike.

The deal was ratified on Saturday, October 21, by a strong majority of the members of CUPE Local 2330.

Rainy River paramedics join CUPE

Fifty paramedics with the Rainy River, Ontario, District Social Services Administration Board have voted to join CUPE. The representation vote between CUPE and the Canadian Auto Workers was held October 25.

Toronto child care workers join CUPE

Child care workers with Kids and Company Child Care in Toronto have voted to join CUPE. The 110 new members work in eight child care centres located throughout Toronto.

CUPE 2081 president “loses it” for the United Way.

CUPE 2081 president Jerry Oetting is losing it for the United Way. Oetting is collecting money for the charity with a weight loss pledge drive.

At the official weigh-in held October 20, Oetting tipped the scales at 313 pounds. Donors can pledge a dollar amount for every pound he loses between now and November 17.

CUPE 2081 represents workers at Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia. All proceeds will go to the Camosun College 2006 United Way Campaign. For more information, e-mail whitehead@camosun.bc.ca.