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Learn, organize, and act for public water

On March 22, water activists are mobilizing to mark World Water Day.  It’s an opportunity to re-energize CUPE’s work protecting public water systems and community water resources.

Our union has a long history of stopping water privatization by building grassroots coalitions.  When we come together – workers, environmentalists, citizens’ groups, indigenous organizations, faith groups, young and old – we are unbeatable.  Just look at the recently-opened water treatment plant in Vancouver, or Whistler’s new state-of-the-art sewage treatment system.  Both remain public thanks to community activism against privatization.

Together, in CUPE and with our allies, we will continue to protect water resources and services – for future generations, and for the planet.  Public water is a human right!

Eliminating racial discrimination

March 21 is the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination.  On the day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa.

Events and activities worldwide, which mark the day, aim to remind us of racial discrimination’s negative consequences.  It also reminds us of our obligation to combat racism in all its forms.

Racism contradicts and undermines our union struggle for equality, inclusiveness, and social justice.  Intolerance, hatred, and discrimination lead to the denial of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, endangers peace and economic and social security.

CUPE welcomes 250 new members in Québec

CUPE now represents some 250 or so family and intermediary resources at Québec’s Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle (CRDI).  The Labour Relations Commission declared this victory by Canada’s largest union on March 19, during the counting of representation votes. 

This is a real vote of confidence in the Regroupement des ressources résidentielles de Québec.  The people in this CUPE team are committed to defending and improving the future for these men and women who work under difficult conditions and whose devotion is all too often not well recognized”, stated CUPE Representative Serge Morin.

It is the end of a long saga that began in 2001, and which finally ended when the right of these individuals to unionise was legally recognized. 

B.C. health care workers ratify two-year agreement

Hospital and long-term care workers have voted 77% in favour of a new two-year collective agreement with B.C.’s health employers.  The agreement protects wages and extended health benefits.  It also expands options for workers affected by restructuring and privatization through expanded seniority rights, improved severance provisions, and additional re-training funds

In addition, the agreement provides special wage adjustments for targeted job categories where educational requirements and responsibilities have increased, and where there are recruitment and retention issues.

The agreement covers 48,000 workers and was reached between the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association and the Health Employers Association of BC on February 6.  Ratification votes were held across the province over the past three weeks.

Québec Common Front condemns delays in bargaining

The Common Front of some 475,000 Québec public and para-public sector workers denounced the slow pace of negotiations and the government’s inertia, while the goal is still to reach collective agreements by March 31. 

On March 16, spokesperson Dominique Verreault stated, “We are shocked by the attitude of the government and the employers’ bargaining committees, which are making a settlement by the decrees’ expiry date virtually unreachable.  We had hoped for a settlement by that date, as had the president of the Treasury Board or so she said.  It is deadlocked, totally deadlocked”.

Ottawa sanitation workers approve job action to win fair contract

Forty workers at BFI Canada, who collect residential and commercial garbage and recycling for approximately 25% of Ottawa, have voted over 90% in favour of strike action if a fair collective agreement is not reached with the employer.

Bargaining has stumbled on wages, hours of work and overtime, and has come to a complete halt over benefits such as healthcare insurance and long term disability.  BFI workers handle an average of 15 tons of garbage per day - roughly 600-900 bags per man every day - and injury rates average 35% every year.  The union is seeking the same kind of agreement that other workers in this industry have in Ottawa.

Our members are determined to be treated fairly and are united.  Our goal is to get a fair contract similar to what other workers in the industry have already received,” said Daniel Sauvé, president of CUPE 1338-02.

French Radio-Canada services saved

We have received confirmation that the French-language sales offices in Moncton, Sherbrooke, and Trois-Rivières will be staying open.  This is excellent news for the French service of the SRC and its establishment in the regions”, said a pleased Jacqueline Turgeon, President of the Syndicat du personnel administratif de Radio-Canada (CUPE Local 675), on March 18.

This decision puts an end to the employer’s moratorium on a previous decision reached last year, to close some offices including French-language sales offices in the Atlantic region.  At the time, CUPE and several civil society organisations reacted strongly, even filing complaints with the Commissioner of Official Languages. 

Free Trade won’t strengthen Colombia’s democracy

Canadians who were part of an international election monitoring mission to Colombia say systematic human rights abuses, corruption and escalating violence casts doubts on whether the country’s May presidential vote will be free and fair.

CUPE member Barbara Wood travelled to Colombia as part of an international election monitoring mission, and travelled to an area in Colombia where there were 569 selective assassinations in 2009 – the highest number ever recorded.  “The victims were primarily local politicians and community, indigenous, and union leaders,” says Wood.

Wood says her group’s findings show the free trade deal being pursued by Ottawa is not the way for Canada to be supporting democracy in Colombia.  “Instead, Canadian politicians should be carrying out an independent human rights assessment and demanding fundamental reforms in that country before moving forward with the trade deal.”

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