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Yolanda McClean lives Obamarama

CUPE Diversity Vice President Yolanda McClean was in Washington, D.C. to represent CUPE at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

McClean called the trip a “life-changing experience” where she met “amazing people, from all over the place that I met on every corner, in every coffee shop and at every rest stop.”

She met nine women who tried to fly to Washington from New York but, when their flight was cancelled, decided to rent a van instead and split the costs.  Up until then, they’d been strangers.

Imagine - none of them knew one another, but their determination became one,” she said.

You could feel excitement in the air from the time of Barak Obama’s first speech at Sunday’s concert, to the line-ups for port-o-potties, free Obama Tea (ginger and mint), even to the very exhausted as they trudged back to their homes, some close, some far away.”

What an experience!”

Budget for people, not tax cuts

CUPE wants the Harper government to choose a strong social safety net over tax cuts in next week’s federal budget.

The government must carefully consider how they will spend our public revenues,” said Paul Moist.  “Tax cuts will cripple the government’s ability to provide the social services that struggling Canadians so desperately need during a recession and beyond.  Public services need to be seen as a form of wealth that Canadians can invest in, both to care for people long term, and to create new jobs to stimulate the economy.”

In addition to supporting a strong public sector, CUPE calls for a budget that supports infrastructure, workers, relief for the vulnerable, and provides better protection for pensions and investments.

Moist calls Grand Forks library workers

Five members of CUPE 2254 got long distance support this week from Paul Moist for their three day old strike.

We are very proud of your commitment to protect the gains you’ve made for fair and just working conditions,” Moist said.  “Please know that we will be there with you until all concessions are off the table and you can return to work with the collective agreement you deserve.”

Library worker Leanne Strang said the call from Moist meant a lot.  “We’re ecstatic to feel that support from across the country - we’re just five little members, but it makes us feel so strong.”

Edmonton sells off sewage plant

Despite overwhelming opposition, Edmonton has voted to sell a key sewage treatment plant.

The 7-6 decision to sell the Gold Bar plant comes in spite of a recent warning that the selloff could create problems for the city under international trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The plant has been sold to Epcor, a city-owned utility that operates as a private corporation.  The company has been aggressively pursuing water privatization through P3 deals, particularly in British Columbia.

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PPP Canada won’t boost economy

The federal Conservatives have filled the top jobs at their privatization office, but don’t expect speedy funding of infrastructure projects to follow.

P3s weren’t the quickest or most cost-effective way to deliver public infrastructure and services before the global financial meltdown.  Now, with the private sector in the grips of a world-wide credit crunch, the schemes have even less credibility.

CUPE 3903 members reject York offer

CUPE 3903 voted 63% against a university offer in a labour board mandated vote.

This result is not a surprise.  We told York’s administration that they were wasting everyone’s time by forcing us to vote on an inadequate offer, but they insisted on putting us through this expensive and time-consuming process,” said Tyler Shipley, CUPE 3903 spokesperson.

CUPE 3903’s 3,400 contract professors, teaching, graduate, and research assistants have been on strike since November 6.

HEU launches seniors’ care campaign

HEU is canvassing the public for stories of problems in the long term care sector.  www.StandUPforSeniorsCare.ca asks the public to share stories of trouble finding long-term care beds, extra fees and charges, and cancelled surgery, and convey their concerns to the provincial government.

CUPE backs Ottawa transit workers

Paul Moist presented a down payment on a strike support donation for Ottawa transit workers before a rally of a hundred picketers on the 42nd day of their strike.

We’re here to support you and ATU has always supported us,” Moist said.  “We’re here because if Mayor Larry O’Brien can get these concessions from you, then employers are going to be looking for concessions from CUPE members too - in all cities across Canada.”

New report on PPPs in Québec universities

The Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques, a Montréal-based progressive think tank, produced a report on public private partnerships in Québec universities this week.

The report, which examines three cases in the Université de Québec network, concludes that using this type of arrangement for developing public infrastructure involves without any actual transfer of risk.  In the end, the public partner, in assuming all the risk, writes a blank cheque made out to the private partner.

The report is available (in French only) here:


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