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Lobbyists asked to mobilize in support of gun registry

Members of Parliament are poised to vote on legislation to dismantle the Canadian Firearms Registry on September 22. During the week leading up to the vote, CUPE members will join with partners including the Coalition for Gun Control and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to lobby Members of Parliament to defeat Bill C-391 and save the gun registry.

The CLC has organized a federal lobbying effort and lobbyists from CUPE and the CLC are mobilizing to take action over the next week. Lobbyists will be requesting meetings with Members of Parliament from their own riding and contacting as many CUPE members as possible, asking for their support. CUPE members are asked to call, write or email their own MP, as well as the 20 MPs listed at: http://cupe.ca/political-action/lobbyists-mobilize-support-gun-registry.

Increased CPP benefits backed by 75% of British Columbians and 66% of Albertans

British Columbians are firmly behind a raise in Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits for retirees, according to a recent opinion survey carried out for CUPE. Three out of four respondents would support federal and provincial governments implementing an increase in CPP benefits. Only 20 per cent would be opposed, while four per cent don’t know. The Viewpoints Research Ltd. survey of 1,001 B.C. residents was fielded August 17 to August 24. It has an error margin of +/-3.1 per cent. CUPE shared the poll findings with the provincial government on September 15, when the union’s B.C. Division President Barry O’Neill met with Finance Minister Colin Hansen.

The Stelmach government says it’s opposed to expanding CPP benefits for retirees, but a substantial majority of Albertans would back a CPP increase, according to another opinion survey carried out for CUPE. To date, Alberta has been the most vocal opponent of such a move. Some 66 per cent of Albertans would support federal and provincial governments implementing an increase in CPP benefits. Only 19 per cent would be opposed, while 15 per cent don’t know. The Environics Research Group survey of 931 Alberta residents was fielded from August 12 to August 24.

Universal Pharmacare could save billions

On September 13, the Canadian Health Coalition sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging the federal government to stop stalling and start working with provincial and territorial governments to bring in a universal public Pharmacare program. Paul Moist is urging federal and provincial health ministers to deal with the issue. The politicians held two days of meetings in St. John’s on September 13 and 14.

According to a new report by Professor Marc-André Gagnon, entitled The Economic Case for Universal Pharmacare, proper policies create potential savings of between ten and forty per cent of total drug expenditures. Savings could be achieved through buying in bulk, price negotiations, drug review, allowing more generics, eliminating duplication, and diminishing administrative costs linked to both public and private plans. Total savings are pegged at between 4.5 and 10.7 billion dollars. Read Prof. Gagnon’s report, which was released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at: http://cupe.ca/pharmacare/universal-pharmacare-save-billions.

Israeli military court convicts leader of the Bil’in wall protests

On September 14, a letter from Paul Moist was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging Harper to call on the Israeli government to release Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the leader of the “Popular Committee against the Wall” in BiI’in. On August 24, Abdallah was convicted by an Israeli military court of organizing an “illegal demonstration against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in and of ‘incitement’.” Abdallah is subject to up to ten years imprisonment and has been in jail since December 10, 2009.

The irony of Abdallah’s arrest is that he has been found guilty of organizing “illegal” demonstra-tions against a wall which itself has been judged illegal by the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest court, in 2004. The court also ruled that the Jewish only settlement of Mod’in lIit on Bil’in’s municipal territory is illegal. The village of BiI’in and its 1,800 residents were subjected to Israeli water cannons, rubber steel-coated bullets, tear gas and real bullets. Seventy-five residents have been arrested and now their leader has been imprisoned.

Global meeting in Colombia advocates for public services

CUPE delegates joined hundreds of public sector trade unionists from the Americas at the Public Services International (PSI) regional conference in Cartagena, Colombia September 7 to 12, 2010. Water and sanitation, energy, health and education were the focus of discussion and debate as we worked to build a common action plan to defend and promote quality public services. Delegates adopted a comprehensive action plan for the next three years.

Claude Généreux, national secretary-treasurer, led the delegation that included Yolanda McClean, diversity vice-president, Sinda Cathcart, president of CUPE 3967 in Saskatchewan, Kelti Cameron, research officer for Municipalities, and Rhonda Spence, international officer. Brother Claude made a presentation to the climate change workshop about CUPE’s efforts to decrease our carbon footprint. Spence traveled to Bogotá to present on water and sanitation to a conference sponsored by Colombia’s largest water workers union.

500 Laval bus drivers join CUPE

On September 13, an overwhelming majority of members of the bus drivers’ union of the Société de transport de Laval opted to join CUPE. The vote in favour of CUPE was unequivocal. With 446 of the 497 union members voting, 396 or 88.5 per cent chose CUPE.

The STL bus drivers are joining their colleagues in the greater metropolitan area, including those with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), all affiliated with CUPE. This is a major turning point for the STL drivers who had been members of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) for 42 years. With the addition of the Laval bus drivers, CUPE now represents over 6,000 members in urban transport in Quebec.

Conciliation board report does not address hours of work issue

CUPE 2745, which represents 3,300 educational support staff in New Brunswick, is disappointed that the conciliation board report did not address the issue of hours of work for its members. Members are currently taking work-to-rule actions and have information pickets during non-working hours until the Premier comes through with his commitment toward the educational support staff.

“Our mandate remains the same – the implementation of the MacKay Report on inclusive education which recommends full-time hours for the educational support staff,” explained Sandy Harding, president of CUPE 2745. The MacKay Report, which is an independent third party report, makes a plea for full-time support staff (36.25 hours) in order to have a truly inclusive education system. The report recognizes that the teacher assistants are the primary service providers for many of the day-to-day support services to students, and points out that the limited hours of work prevent them from being included as full participants in the educational team.

CUPE 905 Aurora outside workers reach tentative agreement

On September 17, the Town of Aurora outside workers, members of CUPE 905, reached a tentative agreement with the Town avoiding strike action. Details of the agreement will be released when the agreement is ratified within the week. The key issue had been compensa-tion equity with other similar workers in York Region municipalities.

Quesnel municipal workers’ contract ratified

On September 14, members of CUPE 1050, Quesnel municipal workers, reached a three-year contract that was ratified by mayor and council. CUPE 1050 represents 114 municipal workers in Quesnel, British Columbia, who provide garbage collection, water and sewer services, as well as services at the arena, municipal works yard and district office. The three-year contract includes a bonus of $1,000 in lieu of retroactivity for 2010, 1.5 per cent in the second year, and 2 per cent in the third, as well as benefit improvements.

Political Action Profile: Sandy Harding candidate for the NDP in New Brunswick

CUPE NB vice-president is running as an NDP candidate for Saint John East in the New Brunswick provincial election on Election Day, September 27, 2010. As a CUPE activist, Sandy Harding has stood on the steps of the New Brunswick Legislature on many occasions asking for better working conditions for the province’s education support staff. Now, she believes the time has come to stand in the Legislature to advocate the same for all New Brunswickers. Harding has been a tireless voice for labour and education as the provincial president of CUPE Local 2745, vice-president of CUPE NB and a member of the CUPE National Executive Board.
To learn more, visit the Sandy Harding NDP Website at: www.sandyhardingndp.com.
Follow Sandy Harding for Saint John East on Facebook at:

Negotiations stalled at TVA Publications

Advertising sales representatives - members of CUPE Local 687 - are negotiating to reach their first collective agreement with TVA Publications in Quebec. However, the negotiations with TVA Publications are now at a standstill and union members have asked the Minister of Labour to appoint a conciliator.  Talks with the employer began last May when the union proposal was tabled. Since then, scheduled meetings between the two parties have not taken place. At a meeting scheduled for September 14, the employer was still not ready to respond to the union’s proposal. The dozen advertising sales representatives involved in this negotiation are part of the same local union as the 800 employees of TVA-Montréal (CUPE 687).

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