CUPE National President keynote speaker at NL NDP convention
Paul Moist was the keynote speaker at this year’s Newfoundland and Labrador NDP convention held in St. John’s from October 1 to 3. In his address, Moist spoke to delegates about the important links between the labour and political movements. Also at the convention, the provincial New Democrats honoured retired CUPE National representative Tom Mayo and his wife Mary with lifetime achievement awards for their support of the party.
A new home for CUPE in Halifax
CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux opened the union’s new Atlantic headquarters at a ceremony September 27. It is the first ever LEED-certified union building in Atlantic Canada. Généreux was joined at the opening by dignitaries such as provincial labour minister Marilyn More and dozens of members, staff and CUPE retirees.
Arbitrator restricts Regina health region’s contracting-out plans
On September 29, an arbitrator ruled that the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region cannot contract-out surgeries and diagnostic tests past 2013 because it is more cost-effective to perform the work in the public health system over the long-term. The province had asked both the Saskatoon and Regina health regions to pursue “third party contracts” to increase the number of procedures and reduce wait times.
CUPE referred the matter to expedited arbitration in August, after the health region signed a contract with Omni Surgery Centre, a private surgical clinic in Regina, to perform up to 500 knee and dental surgeries by the end of the fiscal year. The health region also announced plans to sign a four-and-a-half year contract for CT scanning and a longer-term contract for surgical procedures.
CUPE 3967 president Sinda Cathcart, whose local represents health providers in the health region, said the employer’s actions violate their collective agreement. Under article 6.02 of the agreement, the employer can only contract-out health services if it will result in significant cost-savings.
CUPE members invited to Sisters in Spirit Vigils October 4
On October 4, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will host Sisters in Spirit Vigils on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in many communities across the country. The purpose of these vigils is to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, to support the grieving families and provide opportunities for healing, and to organize for social change to end this intolerable situation.
Learn more about Sisters in Spirit Vigils at: http://www.nwac.ca/programs/sis-vigils.
VAG Board quashes motions on transparency
On September 29, the Vancouver Art Gallery Board quashed two motions put forward at the Art Gallery’s Annual General Meeting by CUPE 15 members who belong to the Gallery. The motions call upon the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) to proactively disclose annually on their website the total remuneration of each employee earning more than $75,000 a year and all payments to suppliers of goods and services. In addition, the motions called for disclosure of all expenses and costs for all advocacy related to secure the Larwill Park site for a new Vancouver Art Gallery, commencing January 1, 2010.
Paul Faoro, president of CUPE 15 and a member of the Gallery, submitted the two motions calling for transparency to the Board in mid-August. “Every municipality, Crown Corporation and school board in the province complies with B.C.’s Financial Information Act each year, but the VAG has refused to release this type of information,” said Faoro.
Massive protest march in Brussels rejects European austerity plans
On September 28, more than 100,000 trade unionists throughout Europe took to the streets in Brussels to oppose austerity measures, which, if governments do not change direction, will have disastrous social and economic results. Parallel national protests took place across Europe including a general strike in Spain and demonstrations in Italy, France, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Cyprus, Serbia, Poland, Finland and Ireland. Protests already held in Bucharest and Prague brought together more than 20,000 and 40,000 people respectively.
More than 100 events have already been registered on the World Day for Decent Work website, which tracks activities organized by trade union organizations in the lead up to and during October 7 itself. A major international conference the following week in Geneva will focus on countering the threat to quality public services posed by the growing obsession of governments to implement austerity measures without proper regard to the consequences on social cohesion and employment.
CUPE activists to gather in North Bay for regional conference
Local union presidents and CUPE activists from across Northern Ontario gathered in North Bay, from September 29 to October 1, 2010, for the Northern Ontario CUPE Conference. The theme of the conference was “Unifying the North”.
Conference speakers included CUPE National President Paul Moist, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and CUPE Northern Ontario Regional Vice-President Henri Giroux (who is also a candidate in the Powassan municipal election) with welcoming remarks from North Bay Mayor Vic Fedeli. On October 1, a panel discussion was held with MP Carol Hughes, and MPP Gilles Bisson.
Tentative agreement at the Société de transport de Trois-Rivières
In the afternoon of September 29, the Société de transport de Trois-Rivières (STTR) workers’ union reached an agreement in principle to renew the collective agreement. The tentative deal will be presented and submitted to a vote by members at a general assembly on October 3. Union representatives are waiting to hear what members decide before commenting on the content of the agreement.
In March, unionized workers voted 98 percent in favour of a strike, after being without a labour contract since December 31, 2008. As a pressure tactic to speed up negotiations, they refused to work in uniform for the entire day on September 8. CUPE Local 4115 represents a total of 120 employees at the STTR, including bus drivers, mechanics and office staff. In addition to public transit and paratransport, STTR bus drivers are also responsible for school transportation.
Port of Montreal: longshoremen ratify agreement in principle
At a general meeting on September 23, members of the Port of Montreal longshoremen’s union voted 94 per cent in favour to the agreement in principle renewing their collective agreement until December 31, 2012.
The negotiated salary clauses provide for increases ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 per cent between 2009 and 2012. To help the employers cut costs, the union agreed to a new program of voluntary early retirement. Adjustments were also provided to control the costs of the wage security program, which compensates constant availability and irregular hours.
CUPE 2424 achieves strike mandate at Carleton University
In an effort to achieve a fair contract, Carleton University workers voted 83 per cent in favour of giving a strike mandate to their bargaining representatives on September 28. Over 800 professionals, office and technical employees, represented by CUPE, have been without a contract since June 30.
Outstanding issues include pension and job security. On pensions, the union is seeking assurances in the collective agreement that the pension plan will not be eroded in the future. On job security, the union is seeking protection from any adverse effects that could arise should Carleton University decide to contract out international student services and courses.
Halton Catholic District School Board early learning professionals vote to join CUPE
On September 23, early learning professionals at the Halton Catholic District School Board have voted to join CUPE. This week’s representation vote will help ensure a successful roll-out of the province’s new Early Learning Program.
CUPE will now enter into negotiations with the Board to ensure early childhood educators entering the system will enjoy the same rights and protections as early learning professionals in other jurisdictions where PDT agreements have been reached.
Political Action Profile: Tom Baker for Halton District School Board
Tom Baker, CUPE job evaluation specialist, is a candidate for trustee of Halton District School Board Wards 2 and 4 on election day, October 25. One of the main issues he wants to address is protecting public education. According to the Halton District School Board’s 2008/09 School Effectiveness Study, many kids do not feel safe at school. In addition, results of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test show that literacy skills are stagnating. Incredibly one-fifth of our grade ten students are not on track to graduate from high school.
Political Action Profile: Henri Giroux for municipal council in Powassan, Ontario
Henri Giroux, regional vice-president for Northern Ontario and member of CUPE’s national executive board, is running for municipal council on election day, October 25, in Powassan, Ontario. He wants to defend public services and promote the community’s traditional social and democratic values. In the past, he helped to organize and participate in many campaigns supporting health care, anti-privatization, and banning bottled water, among others.