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The main focus of this meeting of the National Executive Board is to approve a budget for 2003, my second budget as National Secretary-Treasurer.

CUPEs Strike Fund continues to be a concern. We are taking action to address the situation so we are nowhere near a crisis. As reported at the last National Executive Board, we have made arrangements to extend our line of credit and we have received loan commitments from other unions. We have done short-term, mid-term, and long-term planning to ensure that we will be able to meet our commitments to locals involved in labour disputes next month, in six months, and into the future.
Over the short term, we are moving nearly $2-million into the Strike Fund to meet our commitments between now and February, when the National Executive Board will meet next. For the mid-term, we are moving money from the National Defence Fund and the General Fund to carry us to June. This of course means that we will have to tighten our belts, but I must stress that we are not taking one cent out of the regions to protect the Strike Fund. All the money will come from reducing national office expenditures.
The National Executive Board will have opportunities to re-evaluate the Strike Fund situation in February and in June. All our planning is based on the current level of strike activity. If the Vido0074ron strike is settled soon and strike activity abates, we will re-examine our strategies.

If the level of strike activity remains the same well into 2003, we will bring recommenda-tions to the National Convention so that members can decide whether we need to increase revenues or reallocate resources. I ran on a platform of giving Convention delegates more opportunity to have input into the way we spend our money. I cannot think of a better opportunity.

Our General Fund and Defence Fund are doing very well but we must make it a priority to keep them in good shape. We have received budget requests from across the country.

The Defence Fund requests are overwhelming. We need to do the best we can to help every region, but we also must run a tighter ship. The Strike Fund is our number one priority. We cannot afford to decimate our Defence Fund. We need to consider less expensive approaches to campaigns and mobilizing. Many of our most successful endeavors have not cost tens of thousands of dollars. We will have to make hard choices at the National, Provincial and Local levels of our union about how and where we spend money.

We have been keeping a close eye on revenues that are coming in and we are budgeting accordingly. We do not have a lot of room to manoeuvre. There should not be any positive or negative surprises in this budget. What you will see is a high level of activity. What we are presenting is not a conservative budget, it is a strategic budget.

The National Office is continuing to encourage locals to pay their per capita. Our letter-writing efforts have proven to be very effective, as you will see further down in the per capita section of this report.

We also met with a number of large locals who have had special temporary arrangements regarding per capita payments to the National Union. We explained that the National Executive Board is committed to helping locals in ways that are possible, but that it is imperative that all local unions pay their appropriate per capita.

I am pleased that we have achieved a tentative agreement with our staff representatives and specialists in the field, members of the Canadian Staff Union. It is a four-year agreement that will help us achieve some of the goals of my election platform such as long-term budget planning.
We also negotiated contract language that will help us recruit and train a new generation of staff representatives and specialists. We are looking at new ways to recruit and train staff who reflect our society, including women, members of equity groups and young people.

Bargaining continues with our other staff unions, ATSU and OPEIU.

Finally, we will have to finalize bargaining with all of our unions over the issue of pension.