Sisters and Brothers:
I am pleased to present my report on the financial statements for the first quarter of 2012, with an attempt to keep it as current as possible where actions and activities involving members and staff are concerned.
Since my last report, I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of local leaders and activists at Division conventions that began with Saskatchewan in the last week of February and ended with Ontario in the last week of May. Thank you all for your warm welcomes, hospitality and willingness to help me learn more about your local and regional issues.
It is no surprise that CUPE members right across Canada are facing the same issues, with governments all singing the austerity tune even in regions where working people are driving growth and prosperity. Not only are employers tabling proposals that would see a decline in pensions and benefits, but they are increasingly ready, especially in Ontario, to impose final offers or new terms and conditions of employment as strike or lockout deadlines loom.
Complicit in this attack on workers are governments at every level. In Saskatchewan, the Wall government has released a consultation paper as part of a review of 15 different pieces of labour legislation. Some of the questions reflect the same desire to stifle union political activity as we see in Bill C-377, the private member’s bill currently before the House of Commons.
Of course, it takes a lot more than threats, intimidation and heavy-handed legislation to keep CUPE members down. Members are campaigning to promote the work they do and the ways that it helps to keep communities strong. Again at this meeting, the National Executive Board will consider a large number of requests for cost-shared campaigns. We are still within the budget allocated for cost-shares; however, if all requests presented at this meeting are approved, there will be $270,000 available for the rest of the year.
Members are also responding to the attack on workers with increasing job action. After several years of few strikes or lockouts, we have seen thousands of members on the streets in the first part of 2012, mostly in Ontario. In Regina, Saskatchewan, members of Local 1594 at Regina Public Library staged a short walkout and rally in late May and are refusing to collect library fees fines in order to minimize disruption of the public’s use of the library.
As public sector workers, it is important that we maintain a link with the community to highlight our common interests. In Quebec, through the FTQ, CUPE members have joined in solidarity with students, first protesting tuition fee increases and then in common cause against Bill 78, which restricts the ability to protest.
We also have to work internally to ensure we are ready to face increasing demands for so-called accountability, such as that contemplated in Bill C-377. That is a message I have tried to get out in my remarks to division conventions. Most of our National representatives have attended or are attending staff training at this time of year. In Alberta and Ontario, course offerings included 1.5 days on “What Reps Need to Know About Local Finances.” Union Development has also revised the training for local financial officers. All of these efforts should help to get our locals in good financial shape.
As Bill C-377 makes its way through the parliamentary process, we have written to all of our suppliers to let them know that this proposed law would force us to report all of our contracts and other dealings worth more than $5,000. A similar letter has been prepared for the outside legal firms that CUPE uses. I continue to represent CUPE on the CLC working group on Bill C-377, although the travel required by the spring
convention schedule has meant that Sister Anne Gregory, from our Legal department, has attended in my place.
On the internal front, I am pleased to welcome Sister Marie-Andrée Bourgouin to our team. We will ask the National Executive Board at this meeting to approve her appointment as Managing Director of Human Resources, effective May 28, 2012.
In April, I was able to attend the joint meeting of all our National committees. We heard a stimulating panel discussion that helped to show the commonalities among the differences in the tasks our committees have set for themselves.
The financial statements that follow continue to show our union operating on a sound financial foundation. There are some points that I would like to highlight:
- With the completion of the new Ontario Regional Office, our Regional Building Fund is now depleted. We start again at zero to grow the fund by $1 million per year in anticipation of the next large capital project.
- While we remain on course with our roadmap for meeting Employee Future Benefit expenses, the endpoints are moving. As we have made progress, the actuarial liability has grown. We will revisit this matter with the NEB before the end of the year.
- These matters aside, we are showing a surplus from 2011. The National Executive Board will discuss at this meeting how the unrestricted surplus should be allocated to meet the challenges confronting our members.