Ballistic Missile Defence
President Bush’s recent visit to Ottawa sparked demonstrations, rallies and a very successful candlelight vigil as Canadians spoke up for peace and against missile defence. CUPE National Executive Board members endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to reject the US ballistic missile defence system and urging the government to allow a full debate on the issue in Parliament. The resolution states that the BMD initiative is no more than an escalation in the global arms race and the beginning of the weaponization of space. CUPE members can send a letter to Mr. Martin from the action centre on CUPE’s web site (cupe.ca).
NEB members carefully reviewed and adopted a proposed 2005 General Fund Budget which reflects necessary adjustments to cover all projected cost increases, as well as provisions for seven new staff positions (five national representatives in Ontario and one in BC, as well as an economist position at National Office), an increase to the Strengthening Divisions program, a further allocation to professional fees (legal), the allocation of some short-term temporary staffing resources to update the analysis of collective agreements and complete the entry of data into the new computerized collective agreement data base (CAIS), and a number of other adjustments to programs and other expenditures. The budget also included an increase in the base budget to further address the issue of CUPE’s unfunded liabilities for employee benefits. This is a first step of a long-term plan to address this issue.
2005 National Defence Fund (NDF)
Exciting Strategic Directions initiatives will be funded out of the approved NDF envelopes including:
- a grassroots membership survey;
- a meeting of CUPE members who serve as pension trustees;
- a national meeting of representatives of CUPE locals in the electricity sector to assist in the development of a comprehensive policy and strategy for responding to the current challenges in this sector;
- lobbying and political action initiatives at a federal level;
- funds to advance CUPE’s strategy of increasing coordinated bargaining in key sectors;
- special support for community-based fightback campaigns across Canada; and
- support for CUPE grassroots participation in upcoming municipal and provincial elections.
As well, the budget provided for an increased cost-share campaign budget, and an allocation for major organizing.
The National Executive Board members received a discussion paper that sets out proposals for moving forward CUPE’s Rebuilding Strong Communities initiative which is intended to counter privatization by promoting investment in quality public services. Through this initiative, CUPE will advance specific proposals for making communities financially and environmentally sustainable. The plan will include campaigns to demonstrate the critical importance of public services and social programs to the health of communities and citizens, and will highlight the tremendous contribution of CUPE members to keeping our communities strong. A full description of Rebuilding Strong Communities and the plan for moving it forward in 2005 will be posted on CUPE’s web site (cupe.ca).by end of January.
NEB members also adopted a strategy for responding to the federal government’s proposal to invest significant funds in child care and to start building a new national child care program. The strategy, set out in a policy paper entitled CUPE’s Response to the Child Care Challenge, calls for the development of specific provincial plans in early 2005 to address the three key elements of our strategy: (a) political action, to ensure that all levels of government build the kind of public child care system that will give families the child care they need, and that will address the needs of workers in the sector; (b) internal reorganization, so that CUPE is better able to represent child care workers effectively, (c) organizing, so that CUPE maintains our predominant position in the sector and is well positioned to organize the large number of child care workers who will be hired through the expansion of the public child care system.
Membership Survey – The Strategic Directions Document adopted at the 2003 National Convention called for a national random survey of our members to help determine issues of primary concern. This project, which will be coordinated by the firm NOW Communications, will involve a series of focus groups as well as a telephone opinion poll of a random sample of members. The focus groups and telephone poll will be carried out by Viewpoints. Local unions are being contacted to participate in the project with the assurance that it will be carried out in accordance with approved privacy policies. The results of the survey will be shared throughout the union.
NEB Sub-Committee to Review CUPE’s Structure
Emanating from on-going discussions on the structure of CUPE and the many unique challenges local unions face and how best to provide financial and servicing assistance, NEB members established a five-member committee to study this on-going concern with a view to bringing forth recommendations on how best CUPE can meet the varied demands and needs of its chartered organizations. The sub-committee will be reporting back to the National Executive Board in 2005.
Ratification of Appointments
Congratulations to Brother D’Arcy Lanovaz, newly-elected Regional Vice-President for Alberta who was sworn in at the December 2004 National Executive Board meeting. Brother Lanovaz replaces Brother Bruce McLeod who was recently hired as a full-time national representative in Alberta. Best wishes to both as they assume their new responsibilities.
Join us also in offering congratulations to Brother Duncan Haslam who has formally been appointed as Assistant Regional Director for Ontario.
Staff Retirees Association
NEB members approved a recommendation that would see CUPE provide a start-up financial contribution for 2005 to the CUPE Staff Retirees Association, followed by a one-time contribution for each retiree who enrolls in the Association commencing 2006. The Association, whose main goal is promoting communication and sharing information among retired staff members, will hold its initial membership drive in early 2005.
On behalf of the National Executive Board, best wishes to each and every one of you for a healthy and prosperous New Year.