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Rally to take place in Ottawa condemning execution of political prisoners

CUPE members were encouraged to attend a rally that took place on May 21 outside the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa to condemn the brutal execution of five political prisoners in Iran.

On May 9, 2010 five teachers, union members, and activists were executed in Evin Prison, Iran, despite the total absence of a fair judicial process.  In the Farzad Kamangar case, his appeal had not yet been reviewed by the Iranian Supreme Court and his lawyer was told that the file had been lost.  In all five cases, neither their lawyers nor their families were aware of the executions before they happened.

On May 13, Paul Moist, National President, CUPE wrote a letter to the Leader of the Islamic Republic, condemning these executions.  “It was horrifying to learn that teacher and trade unionist Farzad Kamangar had been executed along with four other political prisoners,” said Paul Moist.  “CUPE members will continue to speak out against repression and violence and stand in solidarity with our Iranian sisters and brothers.”

Real the letter from Paul Moist at: http://cupe.ca/global-justice/rally-ottawa-condemning-execution

New contract for Héma-Québec employees

At a general meeting on May 16, 66.7% of Montréal Héma-Québec employees ratified the agreement in principal of May 5.  It covers only those Héma-Québec employees represented by CUPE, the first group to reach an agreement with Héma-Québec during the current round of negotiations.

The new contract comes into effect on signing and will remain in force for five years, until 2015.  The agreement allows union members to post gains, particularly in terms of wages and parental rights.  With respect to pension funds, both parties agreed to stringent guidelines for limiting any increase in member contributions under the plan, should such increases prove necessary.

CUPE represents approximately sixty employees, more than 90% of which are women, at Héma-Québec (Montréal), including secretaries, registration attendants, call centre agents, and a volunteer liaison.  CUPE has two other Héma-Québec locals in Québec City.

TVA: the union’s response

Negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement with the TVA-Montréal television network have been something of a roller-coaster ride. 

After some twenty sessions of talks, the employer decided to withdraw most of its demands and suggested extending the current employment contract for a period of three years.  This status quo proposal was deemed insufficient by CUPE Local 687, whose clear objectives for maintaining in-house jobs at TVA require changes to the collective agreement.

The current agreement is outdated and there is a real danger if we don’t make changes.  Unless we update the jurisdiction clause in our contract, TVA has no real commitment to us and dozens of jobs could go up in smoke,” explained Réjean Beaudet, President of the TVA Employees Union.

Judicial Review

In Edmonton, a judicial decision issued this week denies over 2,000 CUPE members the ability to be represented by the union of their choice.  The decision upholds a government restructuring of healthcare that moves employees from union to union. 

The restructuring plan moved healthcare support workers in southern Alberta, currently members of CUPE, into a province-wide unit represented by AUPE.  At the same time, the province is forcing about 1,000 CUPE paramedics into a bargaining unit of technicians and lab workers represented by HSAA.

Dennis Mol, President of CUPE Alberta said, “Some of these members actually voted against changing unions only a few years ago.  Our members prefer CUPE and are disappointed that the Stelmach Government’s actions take away their ability to stay in our union.”

Red Cross puts transportation services at risk in Mississauga-Halton

The Canadian Red Cross Mississauga-Halton Branch is threatening to leave dialysis patients, and others who rely on its transportation services, without necessary rides by imposing a lockout/strike deadline on drivers and personal assistants.

Sixty-one employees who joined CUPE last year are negotiating their first collective agreement.  Red Cross management filed for a “no board” report with May 28 as the day they can lock out their transportation workers.

CUPE National Representative Helen Gibb-Gavel said, “Virtually all of these workers are immigrants and persons of colour.  No one is more aware of difficult economic conditions than these members who are trying to support their families and build a better future in Canada.  They’re asking for fairness and respect.”

Rides for dialysis patients, seniors attending day programs and others are provided by 47 drivers.  The majority earn less than $13 an hour, far less than drivers with Region of Peel TransHelp. 

The union and Red Cross meet again with a provincially-appointed mediator on Tuesday, May 25 to try to reach an agreement that will avert a lockout or strike.

Medicine Hat Educational Assistants join CUPE

Recently, 165 Educational Assistants working for the Medicine Hat Public School Board voted 78% in favour of becoming the newest members of CUPE.  The new members join custodial and clerical staff at the board as the third unit of CUPE Local 829, which also represents education workers at the Catholic and Prairie Rose School Divisions.

CUPE Alberta President Dennis Mol said the group joined CUPE because they are looking for better provisions for summer layoff and a pension plan.  “Almost every unionized Educational Assistant in the province is part of a pension plan, so that will be a top priority for bargaining,” said Mol.

Conference of the CUPE-Québec municipal sector

Some 200 people gathered in the Saguenay from May 18 to 21 for the 14th biannual conference of the Conseil provincial du secteur municipal (CPSM).  This is the largest sector of CUPE Québec, with over 28,000 members, about 70% of all municipal employees.  Many delegates were attending for the first time, which was good news for the future of the sector.

The delegates voted on resolutions, attended workshops, received training, and decided on policy and sector priorities for the next two years.  The directors of CUPE Québec and CUPE Canada also addressed the municipal sector militants. 

On the agenda were scandals in the awarding of contracts, collusion of municipal officials with private firms, the defence of public services, as well as the threat of outsourcing, privatization and PPPs.

CUPE communicators win big at CALM Awards

CUPE and HEU members, volunteers, and staff were recognized for communications excellence at the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) conference on May 15, winning 12 awards.

Among the winners were CUPE 87, winners of the Best Website Design (volunteer) award and CUPE BC, winners of The Breaking Barriers Award for “Taking Back our Province: CUPE BC’s Election Guide”.

For more information, visit the CALM website at: www.calm.ca.

:te/cope 491