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Edmonton sewage plant stays public

Edmonton city council has postponed its decision on transferring one of the city’s main wastewater treatment plants to EPCOR, a city-owned utility that operates as a private corporation.

The Keep Drainage Edmonton coalition, which included CUPE and many community allies, argued the handover of the Gold Bar wastewater treatment plant could mean higher fees and less oversight, service and accountability.

Now, the city will have to hold public consultations in January.

EPCOR is wholly owned by the City of Edmonton but operates as a corporatized entity at arm’s length from elected officials.

The company has been aggressively pursuing water privatization through P3 deals, particularly in British Columbia.

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Canadian Blood Services unions meet in Ottawa

Unions at Canadian Blood Services (CBS) met in Ottawa October 26-28.

The second meeting of CBS unions included NUPGE staff and affiliates from Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, CUPE locals and staff from CUPE National, New Brunswick, Alberta, BC (HEU) and NSUPE.

OPSEU 477 president Sean Allen said “We were quick to acknowledge the importance of continuing to meet, share valuable information, and develop common strategies.”

The unions discussed bargaining climate, negotiations, grievances, arbitrations staff shortages, workload, CBS re-structuring and its impact on donors and the blood supply.

The next gathering of CBS unions will be in spring 2010 in the Maritimes.

Manitoba sues Air Canada over flight attendant base

The Manitoba government is taking Air Canada to court to keep the Winnipeg flight attendant base open.

Provincial trade minister Andrew Swan announced this week that the government has applied to provincial court for a ruling that the base closure - which threatens hundreds of jobs in Winnipeg - violates the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which requires the corporation to maintain operational and overhaul centres in Winnipeg.

When the federal government privatized Air Canada in 1988, Manitobans were assured jobs, including those of flight attendants, would be maintained in Winnipeg” said Swan.  “Air Canada’s decision to close the flight attendant base seems inconsistent with what was contemplated.”

Keep Ottawa city services: CUPE

CUPE leaders urged the people of Ottawa to consider the high costs of privatization at a press conference this week as ‘Rock for Public Services’ rolled into town.

CUPE Ontario will host Rock for Public Services, a free concert featuring Trooper, The Cooper Brothers, and Bowser and Blue at the Ottawa Civic Centre, November 1.
CUPE has been touring the province with free anti-privatization-themed concerts.

The Ottawa event comes as council prepares to unveil a new budget, which will likely call for deep cuts to public services and jobs.

CUPE backs Petro Canada boycott

CUPE announced support this week for the CLC’s call to boycott Petro Canada in support of CEP members locked out of the company’s Montréal refinery since November 2007.

The CLC is asking union supporters to:

• cancel their Petro Canada credit cards; and
• avoid buying gas and heating oil from Petro Canada where alternatives exist.

Campus-wide strike on the horizon at York

Two CUPE locals are closing in on identical strike deadlines at Toronto’s York University.

Teaching assistants and sessional lecturers (CUPE 3903), and custodial and maintenance workers (CUPE 1356) are both up against an administration demanding concessions.

York University set this in motion when they decided to request a no-board report and threaten us with a lockout,” said Jack McCann, president of CUPE 1356.  “This is the first time in our 37-year history that our local has had to take a strike vote and our members came out in large numbers to give us an overwhelming mandate.”

And while CUPE 3903 negotiator Graham Potts says a settlement is still possible before the strike deadline, “our strike preparations continue.”

Montreal emergency dispatchers rally in Laval

Montréal’s emergency dispatchers took their message to early morning commuters in the suburb of Laval this week.

The members of CUPE 3642 have been without a contract since December 2003.  They earn 32% less than their colleagues at Montréal’s 911 service, and between 40% and 60% less than emergency dispatchers in Alberta, BC and Ontario.

Quebec’s essential services legislation puts severe limits on the local’s right to strike. 

People respond well to our message,” said CUPE 3642 president Martin Doyon.  “They realize that we’re doing work that saves lives, that is very demanding, and we’re doing it for miserable wages.”

Sign up for the Women’s Bargaining Conference

CUPE members from across the country will gather in Montréal, Québec February 10-13, 2009 for the National Bargaining Women’s Equality Conference.

This is our opportunity to develop a Canada-wide bargaining agenda to move forward on raising women’s wages, obtaining and improving pensions for women, improving work-home life balance, bargaining secure jobs and protection from workplace violence.

Register online before January 11, 2009 at www.cupe.ca/forms/wbc.php

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