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CUPE saddened by passing of founding member Gil Levine

The Canadian Union of Public Employees lost one of its visionaries this week with the passing of former National Research Director and tireless labour activist Gil Levine.

Gil first joined the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), one of CUPE’s two predecessor unions, in the 1950s, and was present when NUPE merged with National Union of Public Service Employees (NUPSE) in 1963 to become the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

As the union’s first-ever National Research Director, Gil built CUPE’s research branch into the largest labour research team in the country – an accomplishment that remains a distinguishing feature of CUPE to this day.

“Gil has truly been the heart and soul of our union and its predecessor for over 50 years,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux in a statement. 

On behalf of over 600,000 CUPE members from coast to coast to coast, we send our deepest condolences to Gil’s wife Helen, his children Karen and Tamara, and his extended family.  He will be greatly missed.”

CUPE Aboriginal members hold Winnipeg gathering

CUPE Aboriginal members held an Aboriginal Council inaugural gathering on November 14 and 15 in Winnipeg, MB.

The gathering focused on building a partnership between CUPE and Manitoba’s Aboriginal community, maintaining CUPE support for Aboriginal people in Manitoba through education and employment, and finding new ways CUPE can support Aboriginal members.

The CUPE Manitoba Aboriginal Council was formed in 2006.  The Council encourages the participation of Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) workers in the union, and addresses issues facing Aboriginal people.

CUPE mourns loss of dedicated union leader

The CUPE family has suffered a great loss with the sudden passing of Brother Brian Cochrane on Sunday, November 15.

Brother Cochrane was former president of CUPE Local 416, representing City of Toronto outside workers.

“Brother Cochrane was a very committed union leader who led Toronto outside workers for a decade - through amalgamation in 1998 and during the 2002 strike.  Under his leadership, jobs were contracted in and many improvements were achieved for Toronto workers,” said Paul Moist, CUPE National President.

Brian’s untimely passing is a loss for the CUPE family.  On behalf of all 600,000 CUPE members, I extend my sincerest condolences to his partner Maureen O’Reilly, his mother Pauline, and his two sons,” said Moist.

Moist urges CIIT to include Afro-Colombian perspective in hearings

CUPE National President Paul Moist sent a letter to Lee Richardson, Chair of the Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT), to express CUPE’s concern that Afro-Colombian specialist Carlos Rosero of Proceso de Communidades Negras has been denied the chance to testify at a November 19 hearing concerning a Canada-Colombia free-trade agreement.

It is CUPE’s understanding that representatives of the Afro-Colombian community in Colombia have not yet taken part in any hearings, making this refusal even more problematic.

Afro-Colombians have suffered greatly from displacement from their traditional territories,” said Moist.

CUPE representatives have witnessed first-hand the situation in Afro-Colombian communities on a number of occasions - from visiting threatened rural communities in the vast river systems on the Pacific coast, to the large impoverished neighbourhoods of already displaced Afro-Colombians.”

With such important decisions to be made, it is imperative that a full range of views be canvassed.  “We are deeply concerned that this refusal to hear Mr. Rosero, while at the same time agreeing to hear from business organizations, points to a biased view among CIIT members,” said Moist.

CUPE NL at Municipalities convention

CUPE municipal workers and staff from around the province attended the Annual Convention of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, which was held in Gander from November 5 to 8.

Close to 700 municipal politicians and senior administrators from across the province gathered to set policy for the coming year.

A display booth was set up at the trade show, and CUPE NL’s delegates spoke in-depth with numerous municipal leaders from around the province about such things as regional solid waste services, waste-water management, and recycling programs.

Sign the KYOTOplus petition

CUPE members are urged to sign on in support of the KYOTOplus campaign calling for stronger action from the Canadian government on climate change.  The campaign is a simple and direct call for Canada to act co-operatively and constructively to reach a binding global warming agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009.

To sign the petition, go to: http://www.kyotoplus.ca/en/index.html

CUPE defends CRTC networks

CUPE jumped into the debate at the CRTC’s public hearings on traditional television held November 16.  Speaking on behalf of 7,000 communications sector employees in Québec, CUPE welcomed the idea of establishing a “market value”, or a price, for the broadcasting of network television by distribution companies (cable and satellite).

The system must be rebalanced to supply traditional television with an additional source of revenue.  Advertising alone can no longer ensure their survival”, said Richard Labelle,
vice-president of the Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (Provincial Council of the Communications Sector).  On the one hand, distribution companies are making record profits while traditional broadcasters, who are the content creators, are in financial difficulty.  “When a distributor supplies the signal from a specialty chain, it must pay them a royalty.  When it comes to the networks, however, there is no payment.  This aberration has gone on long enough”, Mr. Labelle concluded. 

A new repudiation of PPPs in Québec

The report from Québec’s Auditor General released November 18 is a clear repudiation of the process that led the Charest government to choose public-private partnerships (PPPs) for the construction of two mega-hospitals in Montréal.  In the auditor’s words, “Analyses of the value added by PPP Québec would not support the conclusion that their construction under a PPP format is preferable to completion in the traditional way by the public sector”. 

According to him, there have been many errors along the way and the overall process has unduly favoured the P3 option. 

Over the years we have exposed the PPP trap and its false savings”, confirmed Lucie Levasseur, President of CUPE-Québec.  “This independent report will confirm that you would have to tamper with the evaluations and the analyses to have it look as though PPPs were the most advantageous.”

According to Michel Poirier, CUPE’s Québec Regional Director, “It is the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill now unless the government makes a rational choice and opts for the traditional model”.

:te/cope 491