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Paul Moist speaks to Ontario Division convention

Paul Moist spoke to almost 1000 delegates at the Ontario Division convention in Niagara Falls this week.

Moist’s speech drew applause and a standing ovation when he pledged the union to “fight privatization wherever it happens anywhere in this country”.

In his speech, Moist:

• offered support to CUPE protestors from the University of Toronto charged following a demonstration against tuition fee hikes;

• praised CUPE members in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan who voted a per capita increase to hire a full time president;

• congratulated locals at Carleton University and Kawartha Lakes whose strikes beat back concessions;

• pledged support for Ontario school board employees who are bargaining centrally with the Ministry of Education;

• decried Ontario health minister George Smitherman’s cynical offer to wear adult diapers for a day;

• called on the McGuinty Liberals to end competitive bidding in home care; and

• denounced the government for forging ahead with the P3 hospital in Brampton, despite cost overruns and delays.

Ontario to cover sex-change surgery costs

CUPE transgender activists were pleased with reports this week that Ontario’s health care program would once again cover sex reassignment surgery.

I’m very excited about this announcement”, said CUPE National Pink Triangle Committee member Martine Stonehouse.  “It comes at a time when we had basically given up on this Government and its long list of broken promises”.

Stonehouse, a CUPE 4400 member, was one of three people who took the province to court over its decision to de-list sex reassignment surgery.

The government’s announcement doesn’t say how and when the procedure will be re-listed.  “But we have opened the door”, Stonehouse said.

CUPE backs library meeting in Vancouver

CUPE was a big part of the Canadian Library Association conference in Vancouver last week.

Libraries are at the forefront of making books and other media accessible to all levels of readers,” says Paul Moist.

CUPE represents the majority of unionized workers in municipal and other public libraries as well as school, university, and libraries in other public institutions.

BC law implements TILMA, flouts democracy:  lawyer

A CUPE-commissioned legal opinion says the BC law that implements the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) with Alberta violates the Canadian constitution and gives cabinet too much power.

Steven Shrybman says Bill 32 “confronts basic constitutional norms, including the rule of law and democracy”, by trumping the authority of both judges and parliaments.

Shrybman says the law:

• sets out fines and other penalties for governments that legislate in the public interest;

• sets up “ad hoc tribunals” to rule on private claims against governments - something normally reserved for the courts; and

• gives the provincial cabinet power to change laws and regulations.

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill calls Shrybman’s report “the most damning indictment yet” of TILMA.

Unions fight BC election spending law

Seven BC unions joined forces this week to launch http://www.justshutupbc.com/, a website to protest the province’s Bill 42 which severely limits how unions can participate in election campaigns.

The law puts extreme spending limits on third party issue-oriented campaigns in the lead-up to the May 2009 provincial election.

Alberta health mega-board won’t work: CUPE

The Alberta government’s plan to merge all health authority boards into one mega-board is a step in the wrong direction, Darcy Lanovaz says.

Merging into one super authority will create catastrophic bottlenecks for Albertans when they’re at their most vulnerable”, the president of CUPE Alberta said.

Lanovaz also pointed out that the board’s interim head is from the private insurance industry.

This raises alarms about a move towards two-tiered healthcare in this province”.

Wage premiums, job evaluation mark Newfoundland agreement

CUPE Newfoundland members have voted 95 per cent in favour of the agreement reached recently with the province that will increase wages 21.5 per cent.

The four year deal also includes:
• shift differential increases
• standby premium increases
• a job evaluation plan by 2010
• clothing allowance improvements for Housing and School Board employees
• an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for school board employees

CUPE defends CHRC newsroom before the CRTC

Veteran radio broadcaster André Proulx spoke to CRTC commissioners instead of his listeners this week.

The 41 year veteran of the Québec City radio station went before Canada’s broadcasting regulators to ask them to keep the station’s newsroom open.

The station, recently acquired from Corus by Groupe Cadrin-Tanguay-Roy wants to eliminate its newsroom, in violation of the station’s license.

CUPE representatives pointed out that with the threat to TQS’s news services, the lockout at the Journal de Québec, Global, and TVA’s newsroom cutbacks and now the threat to CHRC, local news is an endangered species in Québec City.

:te/cope 491