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Labour tells Harper to lead in climate talks, focus on building a green economy

CUPE is joining both private and public sector unions in issuing a rare joint call to
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, demanding he lead the global effort to reach a fair, ambitious, and legally-binding international agreement as the high level segment of
UN climate talks begin in Copenhagen.

Canada has received extensive criticism in the past days for obstructing negotiations and for allegedly weakening its own emission reductions targets for domestic industry.  Canadian labour unions are calling on the federal government to negotiate strong science-based emission reduction targets based on a 1990 base line as well as just transition language for affected workers.

In the absence of strong and ambitious federal emission reduction targets, our government has given itself a free ride to take the path of least resistance on dealing with climate change,” says CUPE President Paul Moist.  “Nothing is holding this government accountable to make meaningful green public investments and, in the meantime, public services are suffering from a massive infrastructure deficit.”

Read daily blog updates from CUPE staff and members in Copenhagen:


Journal de Québec, a long dispute

A year after a key ruling that Québecor/Sun Media had used illegal workers during the
16-month lockout at Journal de Québec, CUPE has released a 23-minute documentary
on the conflict - the longest labour dispute in the history of any Canadian French-language daily.

The documentary recounts the story of 252 Québec City newspaper employees and how they changed the way labour disputes are conducted, with the publication and distribution of an alternate daily paper supplanting traditional picket lines.

Instead of 252 people on a picket line, we had 40,000 new ‘pickets’ five times a week,” said Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer, describing the strategic value of MédiaMatin’s 40,000-copy daily run.

See the video: http://cupe.ca/mediamatin

CUPE supports fired Mexican electrical workers

On October 10, 2009, Mexican President Felipe Calderón ordered federal police to seize power plants operated by the Mexican Electrical Union (SME), while simultaneously liquidating the state-owned Light and Power Company, and firing the entire work force
of 44,000 employees.

CUPE, along with other unions and human rights groups around the world, denounced the government’s actions and demanded that the government follow the law and negotiate with SME - and recently accompanied an emergency delegation to Mexico to observe the situation first-hand and to explore ways that we can assist.

CUPE represents thousands of members in the energy sector, and is extremely concerned about this attack on working people and public services.  We have been working with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. and Mexico to build a strong movement for public control of energy.

Read researcher Shelly Gordon’s report from Mexico: http://cupe.ca/global-justice/clc-afl-cio-delegation-pledge-support

BC paramedics in new talks for a new deal

Contract talks between ambulance paramedics (CUPE 873) and the BC Ambulance Service this week highlighted one key area of agreement – that the provincial model is the only option for a viable and sustainable ambulance service in B.C.

The talks are for a new agreement, which will take effect after the current “contract” legislated by the Liberals expires on April 1, 2010.

After protracted negotiations earlier this year, CUPE representatives say they are hopeful the employer’s bargaining team now has a mandate to negotiate a new contract.

The two sides were close to a deal when VANOC demanded the province end the seven-month legal strike by B.C.’s 3,500 ambulance paramedics to ensure the 2010 Games.  The ensuing legislation, Bill 21, marked a shameful first in Canadian labour history – the first time a government legislated workers while they were in the middle of voting on a contract offer from that same government. 

Nova Scotia hospital workers vote 85% for job action

The last of the strike votes for CUPE hospital workers across Nova Scotia have now been tabulated.

CUPE Acute Care Coordinator Wayne Thomas says, “Eighty-five percent of our members have supported a possible strike in early 2010.”

Of the 4,129 hospital workers in CUPE, 3,283 voted with 2,781 voting to support their bargaining committee’s position in this round of contract talks.

Eighteen groups of CUPE hospital workers across the province outside the Capital District held votes.

Earlier this month, CUPE announced there would be no job action in the hospital sector before January 11, 2010 because of the H1N1 pandemic.

Vancouver Cathay Pacific workers join CUPE

Customer service agents working for Cathay Pacific in Vancouver will be represented by CUPE, following a December 15 green light from the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.  These 55 newly organized workers are joining forces with 220 flight attendants in Vancouver and 140 more in Toronto within the Cathay Pacific Component of CUPE.

The certification covers ticketing sales agents, baggage service agents, lounge services agents, gate departure and gate arrivals agents, and any other customer service agents employed by Cathay Pacific Airways Limited at Vancouver International Airport.

CUPE local wins holiday pay issue

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that part-time employees are entitled to holiday pay for statutory holidays even when they aren’t scheduled to work, in a legal challenge from CUPE 2764.

Read more about the ruling:


Bargaining begins for BC facilities health care workers

Bargaining for a new collective agreement to represent health care workers in B.C.’s hospitals and long-term care facilities is set to begin on December 17 and 18 in Vancouver.

Judy Darcy, HEU secretary-business manager and spokesperson for the Facilities Bargaining Association, is pleased that negotiations will start this week.  “We welcome the opportunity to begin bargaining before the New Year,” says Darcy.

“There is a lot to discuss with employers about improving health care delivery to
British Columbians, providing job security and maintaining benefits for our members, and increasing compensation for LPNs, nursing unit assistants and certain other occupations with significantly greater responsibilities, educational requirements or recruitment and retention problems.”

The Facilities Bargaining Association is comprised of 10 unions including the
Hospital Employees’ Union – the largest union in the sector – the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

:te/cope 491