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Dear Sisters and Brothers:

This report covers the first quarter of 2008, an incredibly busy period for our union, including some very sad news the third week of January.

On January 20th, we lost a key leader and sister with the passing of Sister Donalda MacDonald after a courageous battle with cancer.

Sister Donalda was a fighter for women’s rights. She was a huge presence in her home province of PEI and an inspiration to members throughout Canada. She was a most worthy recipient of the Grace Hartman Award at our last National Convention. We will all miss her dearly.

Our members remain on the line in Quebec City, 11 months into the Journal de Quebec strike/lockout. Members of Local 1251, New Brunswick Provincial Correction, Custodial, Food Service Workers and Lab Assistants, began strike action on January 10, 2008; Municipal workers, members of Local 855 (City of Kawartha Lakes) began strike action on February 4, 2008; Library workers in Victoria, BC, members of Local 410 were locked out on February 17, 2008. Since the writing of this report, Local 855, 410 and 1251 have achieved settlements.

In February, Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and other health care unions in BC came to a multi-million dollar agreement with the BC government arising out of the June 2007 Supreme Court decision regarding Bill 29.

In Ontario, CUPE’s pension plan lawsuit with the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) won a significant victory with an appeal court affirming the union’s right to sue, and also affirming outside service providers may owe a special duty to a pension plan. The court also ordered OMERS must pay CUPE’s legal costs for defending its right to sue in court.

Hundreds of our over 3,000 collective agreements are open for negotiations. All across the country, activists and staff are confronting privatization in all of its forms.

The key decision of our 2007 National Convention was to fight privatization wherever and whenever it arises. To this end, I am pleased to report that the National Executive Board approved a $2.5 million budget to fight privatization in 2008.

Fighting contracting out and privatization has been a hallmark of CUPE since our founding convention 45 years ago. It is a struggle that will never end, one that demands our full attention.

Let me end this portion of my report by saluting each and every one of our activists and staff (both past and present) for leading our union in these important struggles.

1. Organizing

In the Nova Scotia region work is underway to reach members in the community care sector as well as in the university sector. Newfoundland and Labrador is pursuing a number of identified organizing projects. In addition, they are continuing to monitor the proposed health care representation vote situation closely.

In New Brunswick, La Villa Maria Inc. was certified on December 10, 2007, and Foyer Assomption Enrg., in January 2008, resulting in an additional 140 new CUPE members. 20 ambulance locals became defunct in December 2007 as a result of the transfer of public and private ambulance services to one public service company operated by Medavie Blue Cross (CUPE Local 4848). This transfer resulted in a gain of 300 members.

In mid-December, a regional organizing training session was held resulting in three members from Prince Edward Island being booked off to canvass work places for organizing drives and to develop a list of upcoming campaigns. The Maritimes region continues to work on several organizing projects.

The Independent Union of Technicians at the SAQ representing 575 members have been bargaining for the past four years and were in an open period. The Quebec region has worked hard on solidifying support and on February 9th submitted a majority of signed cards. Though the results of the vote were disappointing, it was still substantially close. We will be continuing our talks and developing close ties with this group.

Ontario has received certifications at Brock and Ottawa universities, the Primate’s World Relief Development Fund and Bayfield Home Ltd., resulting in the addition of 258 new CUPE members. The region is monitoring a number of active and potential restructuring projects as well as pursuing 30 organizing initiatives in a number of sectors throughout the region.

In Manitoba, the region received certification at the Manitoba Baptist Home Society Inc., and has been working diligently to position itself positively in the vote for the Norman Regional Health Authority, a group of approximately 350 members. Since the writing of this report, we have been successful in winning this vote – the membership gain will be reflected in the next quarterly report on organizing.

In the Saskatchewan region, the results of a decision from the Labour Relations Board has not granted us “all employee” units on the strength of existing certification orders in the Horizon School Division LRB decision. We will be requesting a Board Order for a representation vote.

The Alberta region has approximately a dozen on-going organizing projects that are at different stages as well as various mapping projects in the municipal, education, library and social services sectors.

The British Columbia region has organized the Peachland Library Branch into Local 1123 and is awaiting results of a certification application for library workers at North Vancouver District Libraries. In addition, the region has a number of active organizing projects that are continuing to advance. It also held member organizers training in early March.

2. Strikes / Lockouts

































NB Board of Management Institutional Services








Jan 10/08




36 days












Journal de Québec








Apr 22/07















Journal de Québec








Apr 22/07















Journal de Québec








Apr 22/07















City of Kawartha Lakes/>/>








Feb 4/08




52 days












Greater Victoria Public Library








Feb 17/08




44 days




  • i) Locals 1450, 1872 and 2808 – Journal de Quebec  

This struggle began April 22, 2007. It is already the longest media dispute in Quebec history.

Our members recently produced the 7 millionth copy of their daily newspaper, Media Matin Quebec. This publication is very popular with Quebec City residents. Over 40,000 copies are distributed, 5 days a week.

This is a struggle we must win. This Spring, two striking members will attend each provincial Division convention to share their struggle with CUPE members from coast to coast. Our hope is for locals to adopt strikers and to send a message to Quebecor Media that our members will not accept the outrageous concessions being sought.

  • ii) Local 855 – City of Kawartha Lakes

Our 400 members commenced strike action on February 4, 2008 over the issue of contracting out and retiree benefits. The membership are firmly resolved to re-establish respectful labour relations. They overwhelmingly rejected an employment offer on March 2nd. Job action continued until March 26th, when a fair settlement was reached.

  • iii) Local 410 – Victoria Public Library 

The 250 members of Local 410 were locked out on February 17, 2008 after months of failed talks and rotating job actions by members. The key issue in dispute is pay equity and the employer’s failure to implement an over a decade old pay equity commitment.

Your messages of solidarity and donations for these members, standing up for fairness, were greatly appreciated. Local 410 voted on a new collective agreement on March 31st, and were successful in achieving pay equity, among other gains.

  • iv) Local 1251 – New Brunswick Provincial Corrections, Custodial, Food Service, Workers and Lab Assistants  

On January 20th, over 500 of our members of Local 1251 hit the picket lines after receiving a 90% strike mandate.

The key issue was wages. After five weeks on the line, an agreement was reached which saw wages rise on average 20% over the four-year term.

3. Regional Updates


Our members at First Air in Yellowknife, Edmonton and Ottawa are in the midst of what promises to be a long round of bargaining. The employer does not seem prepared to answer to our concerns around short staffing in a way that respects our members’ need for work life balance.

Our Cathay Pacific local continues to grow. They continue to work with the flight attendants’ unions in Hong Kong and England. As well, we’ve been able to provide contacts to assist in organizing the USA bases.

The Air Canada Component has begun preparations for bargaining in 2009, which they anticipate will be another challenge.

Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU)

As mentioned earlier in my report, HEU members recently voted 94% to accept the settlement that resulted from the Supreme Court Bill 29 win last June. The BC government will be introducing legislation to bring their laws into compliance with the Court ruling and remove restrictions on the union to negotiate contracting out issues. The agreement also provides new rights and options for contracted out workers and $75 million compensation and re-training funds.

British Columbia

CUPE has partnered with other unions and community activists to present resolutions to city councils asking that March be recognized as Community Social Services Awareness Month. To date, 20 plus city councils have supported the resolution. Funding to this sector was viciously cut in the Campbell government’s first term in office, and the effects are deepening in the communities.

CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill has been touring municipalities to meet with mayors, councillors, chambers of commerce and the public, to talk about local investment and alternatives to privatization.


The provincial election on March 3 was disappointing. After four decades of Tory rule, only 41% of Albertans took the time to vote. Unfortunately, they gave an overwhelming majority back to the Tories. Our party lost two of our four seats. We will be working with the rest of the labour movement to provide support to our two MLA’s and to build an “unofficial” opposition.

Just prior to the election, CUPE Alberta released “Doing the Math: Why P3s for Alberta Schools Don’t Add Up”. It clearly shows that the urgent need in Alberta for education infrastructure could be met with a public model much more efficiently than with a P3 model. However, the provincial Education Minister announced he didn’t intend to read the report!

Bargaining across the province continues to be challenging as our valid expectations to keep up with inflation are not being met by the public sector employers.

We have teamed up with other unions in the Local Authorities Pension Plan to challenge recent changes to the rules governing decision making at the pension plan. Details of the campaign can be found at www.savemypension.ca


As predicted, the newly elected Saskatchewan Party is showing its true colours. Just weeks after being sworn in they introduced legislation to strip unions of our organizing and bargaining power. The Essential Services Act will virtually remove the right to strike from most public sector workers. Remarkably, they have just fired all three Labour Board Chairs. We are expecting other attacks as the balance of power tips in favour of corporate agendas and right wing ideology.

And just as predictably, CUPE members will fight back. Briefs have already been submitted, coalitions are responding, and CUPE is on the front line. Much more information is available here.


Positively Public - the Winnipeg Way” is Local 500’s campaign to address the right wing mayor’s agenda to privatize public services. He was proposing to eliminate the business tax, taking $65 million out of city revenue. Our efforts, along with those of the Winnipeg District Labour Council, have educated and mobilized the community. People attending Town Hall meetings have criticized the plan, and the mayor seems to be backing down from some of the more extreme proposals.

Local 500 was able to negotiate a collective agreement earlier this year which included wage increases and employment security provisions.

The Provincial Health Care Council held its bargaining conference in January, ratified proposals and are now preparing to meet with the employer.

Members in the long-term care sector are looking forward to a recently announced infusion of $40 million from the provincial government. The funding is targeted to hiring nursing care staff and to increase hours of care.


The McGuinty government has announced that it is halting the competitive bidding process for home care contracts across the province. The move comes less than two weeks after a huge home care rally in Hamilton, supported by CUPE Ontario, CUPE Local 4800 and other unions. The rally was held to protest the disqualification of two organizations from the bidding process. It is anticipated that this victory will help to move the government’s policies away from the direction of making a market out of the health care system.

More than 400 CUPE school board sector members attending a sector-wide emergency meeting in Toronto on January 21st unanimously agreed to participate in a provincial common issues negotiations process, which began at the end of January. It recognized that the provincial process is the culmination of years of sector-wide initiatives.

CUPE Ontario has also mounted a campaign to end discrimination at OMERS against paramedics. Unlike police and fire, paramedics (who also have public safety occupation designation), are not allowed to retire at 60 years of age with a full pension. The campaign is also supported by SEIU, OPSEU and the CAW, with a major focus on mayors and councillors.

CUPE Ontario continues to spearhead a campaign to establish staffing and care standards in Ontario’s long-term facilities. One of the key features of this initiative is to raise the standard of care to an average of 3.5 hours of care each day. This is the standard of care that Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick are striving to achieve. After numerous promises by the government to reinstate standards that were removed by the previous conservative government, they are now running another consultation in which all indications are that no minimum standard of care is being considered.


The collective agreement at Laval University, Local 2500, was settled with wage increases of 15.25%, over five years. The sector is gearing up to achieve the same kind of agreement in the other universities.

The Provincial Municipal Sector Council (PMSC) is getting ready for the launch of the third and last phase of its campaign to underline the value and the commitment of its members to citizens of Quebec municipalities and to denounce the falsehoods surrounding PPPs. The theme is: “Public Private Partnerships: a trap for taxpayers”. This province-wide campaign will give a boost to our local fights against the multiplication of PPPs in our municipalities.

Local 429, covering some 10,000 inside workers at the City of Montreal, signed a four-year collective agreement, in force from 2007 to 2010. We achieved important gains, despite the difficult financial context imposed by the City.

New Brunswick

Negotiations continue for Local 1252 New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions. One of the main issues is the incorporation of the recently completed job evaluation study into the wage schedule. The Council, with over 7000 members, represents the largest group of members in New Brunswick.

With the contract for our New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions expiring in the fall of 2008, preparations are in the process of being completed. The Council has increased their numbers in the past 6 months as 5 new locals have been added to the fold. Our Union Development Department will be conducting a joint clear language seminar for both the Nursing Home Council and the employer in March. The expectation is that clear language will be used for this round of negotiations.

CUPE New Brunswick made their presentation on the provincial budget to the Minister of Finance. The government has announced that they are moving on P3 initiatives. The Division outlined the flaws of P3s and highlighted the value of good public services in strengthening the social and financial well being of all New Brunswickers.

We continue to make positive strides in bringing new members into CUPE. With 10 active organizing projects underway, credit has to be extended to the member organizers and staff who are involved in these projects.

Nova Scotia

Following dramatic improvements in the last round of negotiations in the area of pensions for our hospital workers, reports from our union trustees, who sits on the board of the pension plan, indicates that positive progress is being made to incorporate joint trusteeship of the province’s second largest pension fund.

The Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions are continuing discussion with the government with regards to provincial bargaining. It is anticipated that an announcement will be made in the near future in which the parties will highlight the agreement of a framework for provincial bargaining.

CUPE Nova Scotia Women’s Committee held their 1st ever Women’s Conference, March 7-9, 2008. President Emeritus Sister Judy Darcy was the keynote speaker and delegates participated in a National Women’s Day march and rally on March 8th.

Prince Edward Island

Local 501 (UPEI Security Police) have been in contract negotiations since the fall of 2007. One of the key issues is the local’s right to strike and the government’s pursuit of binding arbitration. The union has been arranging meetings with the Minister of Labour on this issue.

The locals in the education sector are developing a year-long campaign in preparation for the next round of bargaining. This is a first for the education locals who are looking forward to promoting the education sector with a common message.

A delegation of CUPE PEI and staff made a presentation to the Minister of Finance regarding the upcoming provincial budget. The presentation focused on the government’s appetite for P3 initiatives, contracting out, and also highlighted the impact of tax cuts on public services.

Newfoundland and Labrador

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador is teaming up with Oxfam Canada and the Council of Canadians in asking the City of St. John’s to officially recognize World Water Day (March 22nd) by showing leadership amongst Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities in support of public water. The specific request is that the City of St. John’s establishes a policy declaring that all future city hosted events will serve public tap water rather than bottled water.

It was mentioned in my last report that the new CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador website was up and running and the “go to” place for our activists and members seeking information on their union however the site address was incorrectly reported. The site can be reached here .

Local 569 – St. John’s outside workers are actively pursuing the city for the introduction of a “wet-dry” solid waste program which would be publicly owned and operated by CUPE members.

4. Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)

  • i) Convention – May 26-30, 2008

The 25th constitutional convention of the Canadian Labour Congress will be held in Toronto between May 26th and 30th, 2008.

The convention agenda is once again organized by themes:
  • Jobs and the Economy
  • Climate Change
  • Organizing
  • Political Action
  • Women’s Economic Equality
  • Medicare (Pharmacare)

I sincerely hope that many CUPE locals will make the CLC convention a priority.  

  • ii) Women’s Economic Equality Campaign: Equality! Once and for all!  

In response to the Harper government’s assault on funding for women’s advocacy groups, the CLC has launched a year-long campaign to focus on women’s economic equality. The kick-off was on March 7th, with media conferences and teach-ins across Canada on Saturday, March 8th.

CUPE is committed to participating fully in this campaign from coast to coast.  

  • iii) Canadian Construction Workers Union (CCWU)  

The CLC Executive Council passed the following motion at their February 11-12, 2008 meeting:

To assist Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) affiliates to confront raiding challenges conducted by the unaffiliated Canadian Construction Workers Union (CCWU), the CLC will:
  • 1) Include the CCWU in its anti-raiding of CLC affiliates strategy;
  • 2) Work with the OFL in its anti-raiding work to coordinate these efforts.  

Because Ontario leaders of CLC affiliates have highlighted an urgent need for action and assistance from the CLC.  

  • iv) Political Action  

The CLC has recently trained 100 activists in weeklong courses held in 4 provinces. This doubles the number of activists trained as campaign managers for political work at all levels.  

5. “Know your Medicare Rights” Campaign 

CUPE has teamed up with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) to launch “Know your Medicare Rights”, a campaign aimed at enforcing Canada’s Medicare laws.

The Canada Health Act is not enforced by the federal government and increasingly, Canadians’ rights are being eroded by block fees, extra billing, facility fees, tray fees and fees for enhanced services, all of which are violations of our Medicare rights.

Our rights aren’t worth much if we don’t fight to defend them. Please publicize our website.

 6. Federal Scene

While there was much speculation about a spring federal election, the Harper government survives due to the support of the federal Liberals led by Stéphane Dion.

The Liberals propped up Harper in extending Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan by two years, and by supporting the federal budget.

The budget was really last fall’s economic update which cut corporate taxes and the GST by 1%. The most recent budget offered no support for communities devastated by manufacturing job loss, no significant money for the massive infrastructure deficit in Canadian cities, and no new investments in health care, including our long-sought national Pharmacare program.

7. Retirements

My sincere congratulations and thanks to the following CUPE staff who have announced plans to retire. On behalf of our entire union, thank you for a lifetime of commitment to the membership and for making our union better through your hard work and dedication.

  • Sister Liz Henderson, National Office (February 1, 2008)
  • Brother Robert Matthews, Atlantic Regional Office (February 1, 2008)
  • Brother Clifford Hay, Maritimes Regional Office (March 1, 2008)
  • Brother Roger Neeley, Ontario Regional Office (March 1, 2008)
  • Sister Charlene Avon, Peterborough Area Office (March 1, 2008)
  • Sister Linda Morin, Dalhousie Area Office (March 1, 2008)
  • Sister Christine Carrière, Quebec Regional Office (June 1, 2008)
  • Sister Ginette Quesnel, National Office (July 1, 2008)
  • Sister Susan Keeley, Calgary Area Office (September 1, 2008)
  • Brother David J. Reynolds, Saint John’s Area Office (October 1, 2008)

8. In Memoriam

I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Brother Bill Baker, a long-time Ontario activist, president of Local 1, Toronto Hydro for 18 years. I would also like to offer my condolences to the family of one of our CUPE retirees, Sister Heather Lomax, who passed away on February 3, 2008. Finally, I offer sincere condolences to the family of former National Representative Brother Paul Jordison (Ontario) who passed away on March 7, 2008

9. Personal 

On January 9, 2008, many of you may have heard about the incident aboard an Air Canada flight over the Rockies where the plane dropped thousands of feet in a matter of seconds.

Three of our members, flight attendants Shirine Eltaher, Christine Boisvert and Christopher Weaver, attended to all passengers’ needs during this very serious event. On your behalf, I have written our thanks to these members.

I am pleased to report that CUPE staffer Brother Matthew Firth (Senior Officer – Health and Safety) has been appointed to the Council of Governors of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Congratulations Brother!

My sincere congratulations to Sister Shelina Hassanali (Local 4731 – Alberta), who ran for the NDP in the recent Alberta election. While not successful, Shelina carried the message that many Albertans are being left behind and how public services in Canada’s wealthiest province are badly frayed.

In closing, I thank each and every one of you, our staff and activists, for your commitment to our members day in and day out. I wish each of you all the best in 2008.

In solidarity, PAUL MOIST

National President