Dear Sisters, Brothers and Friends:
This year once again, I was very warmly welcomed at each of the nine Division Conventions held this spring across the country. Listening to the debates and issues, I was reminded of the profound difference that CUPE makes in the lives of CUPE members, their families and our communities. I come through the regional convention season with a renewed sense of the commitment of our leaders and activists and the power of our National Union.
CUPE National Taskforce on Staffing
As I reported at the March National Executive Board, at the 2017 national convention, I committed to set up a Taskforce on Staffing, comprised of NEB members and some senior staff.
The Taskforce was established and is responsible to: investigate the new realities facing our locals and chartered bodies; consider how we can better support our new bargaining structures; and assess what are some of the staffing related needs of our locals. The work of the Taskforce is well underway, and a preliminary verbal report is being presented to the NEB this meeting.
The Taskforce is considering issues such as:
- As more local’s merge into provincial structures, what are the new servicing needs?
- How are servicing assignments determined including how to balance competing demands such as: vast geographic areas, many very small locals, multiple sectors, locals with Collective Agreements expiring at the same time?
- What the supports are available for our Staff Representatives facing the emerging needs? We are considering both Servicing and Specialists Representatives and how staff can work together as a team to support new bargaining structures.
At each Division convention, I set up meetings with locals of varying sizes to interview them and to get their perspective on these questions. I met with a total of eighteen locals, bargaining councils and service Divisions from each region representing most sectors of our union. There are a few more consultations scheduled to complete the process.
The Taskforce will make recommendations to the NEB on how we allocate new staff positions in the future and how we can develop an updated servicing approach. The results of this Taskforce will be significant, and we will report back to the National Executive Board in time for the budget consultations this fall.
Carbon Off-Setting Report - 2017 National Convention
For the fourth time in its history, at the 2017 National Convention held in Toronto, CUPE hosted a carbon neutral event. In order to achieve this, we worked with CarbonZero who quantified our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With this available data, we were able to offset these emissions with payments going directly to organizations that work closely with CUPE on environmental issues.
Some interesting key results collected by CarbonZero:
- 2017 CUPE convention emitted a total of 2,142.76 carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes, compared to 4,116.91 carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes in 2015. A full 98.8 per cent of 2017 emissions were from delegate, guest and staff travel to and from convention.
- Total convention emissions were almost cut in half in 2017, compared to 2015, with a 48 per cent decrease in emissions, which is essentially entirely attributable to convention’s central location in a city well-serviced by rail, commuter rail and public transit.
- 3,555 kilograms of materials from convention were either recycled or composted in Toronto at 2017 convention. 2,041 kilograms of materials went to landfill. This works out to approximately 63.5 per cent of materials collected in the waste stream at the convention centre were recycled or composted.
CUPE National Audits
The 2018 audit season is a busy one for Secretary Treasurers and Trustees across the country. At CUPE National this is definitely the case. Our external auditors have conducted their extensive review of our finances and financial systems. Our CUPE National Trustees have also completed their annual audit.
The annual notice has been sent to all chartered bodies reminding them that in order to remain bonded by CUPE National, the insurance company requires them to submit their Trustee Report to my office by June 30 each year.
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
I was in Halifax from May 31 to June 3, as part of the CUPE delegation promoting our union’s municipal agenda at the FCM annual conference. The conference is an excellent opportunity to connect with municipal leaders and staff, exchanging views on shared priorities.
This year, CUPE hosted a workshop highlighting how municipal public services protect and advance human rights. A panel of municipal councillors shared examples of local leadership that ensures all residents have access to vital public services, services our members often provide.
Our workshop helped advance the FCM conference theme, Tools for Tomorrow’s Canada. As Canada evolves and new challenges arise, municipalities will have an even greater role to play in preserving and defending accessible public services for all. Through our trade show booth, our participation in the conference panels and workshops, and a well-attended social event we host, CUPE ensures workers’ voices are part of the national municipal conversation on infrastructure, trade, and protecting public services.
Significant funds have been dedicated to resource the restructuring campaigns this year in Ontario, Manitoba and, Saskatchewan.
Faced with attacks from their provincial government including upcoming representation votes in healthcare, twenty-one CUPE healthcare locals took charge of the situation and merged into one unified local. The new CUPE Local 204 was formed and represents 7,000 members working in a range of healthcare facilities such as hospitals, long term care facilities, and others located mostly in the Winnipeg area. In February I was able to meet with staff and CUPE Manitoba Division to get an update on the progress of the upcoming provincial campaign plans. At this Board meeting we will be reviewing several significant cost share campaigns to support the Manitoba healthcare sector.
Over the past year, the five CUPE health care locals in Saskatchewan representing over 13,000 CUPE members, have been building a new province wide local. I was honoured to attend the founding convention of the newly formed Local 5430 last fall. This March, I met with the local Executive to discuss upcoming campaign planning. The Local is currently involved in very difficult bargaining and at the same time, anticipating the start of government- imposed representation votes in the sector, where unions will likely be facing run-off votes against each other, instead of working together to improve healthcare for all.
Hospital restructuring votes are also taking place in Ontario where 5,000 CUPE hospital members will be affected. Our most recent victory was won at Kingston Health Sciences Centre where a successful representation vote triggered by the merger of Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital added 400 new members to our ranks, in addition to the 300 new members we gained in an earlier Scarborough Rouge Hospital representation vote.
CUPE’s organizing team is actively involved in representation votes in the sector due to mergers, amalgamations and restructuring of hospitals across the province, including St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare, Markham Stouffville Hospital, Uxbridge Cottage Hospital and others.
Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee/Ontario School Board Council of Unions
In March I attended meeting of the leadership of 55,000 CUPE school board members in Toronto. The gathering was the final OSBCC conference and the first OSBCU convention. The new Bargaining Council structure will provide strength and solidarity for upcoming rounds of central bargaining, as well as a more robust sector wide coordination.
I was very pleased to report on the extensive funding that CUPE National continues to provide to support the school board sector. Included in this funding were the significant funds needed to take the legal challenge to Bill 115 to the Supreme Court of Canada. I assured the delegates that CUPE National will continue this support as they take on important issues such as violence at work, increasing workloads, understaffing and school closures.
Ontario Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee
It was very interesting to hear about challenges in the sector and how we are taking them on. One example is that CUPE leaders in the sector are developing strategies and plans to challenge the newest version of public service erosion and service cuts in the form of the basic income pilot project. It was important to hear the arguments opposing this scheme including that this form of income distribution does nothing to address the systemic issue of poverty and that will likely result in service cuts and job losses for social assistance workers.
The sector is working hard to increase opportunities to coordinate bargaining between various sub-sectors as well as fighting to increase funding to assist in eradicating poverty wages in the sector.
OCHU Annual Conference
Hours after the successful conclusion of an extremely difficult round of bargaining, and with a tentative agreement in hand for the 100 hospital Collective Agreements across Ontario, the OCHU leadership kicked off their annual convention.
It was a real privilege to address the delegates and leaders of OCHU as they celebrated their break-through on stronger collective agreement language on dealing with violence at work. OCHU’S work in this area has been an inspiration to others across the country and has strengthened our work on this critical issue facing our members.
I had the opportunity to participate in the biannual conference of the Quebec municipal sector. Over 300 delegates gathered for a week to debate resolutions and learn from great keynote speakers. Three Mayors were invited to participate and took part in a very interesting panel to discuss controversial topics such as P3’s. It was great to see our newest municipal Local 5400 from Gatineau attending.
New BC Regional Office Opening
It is will a great sense of pride that I participated to the grand opening of the BCRO office on June 7. Accompanied by Brother Hancock, we were pleased to host over 300 guests, mostly local presidents who were participating in an All Presidents Meeting that day. We raised our glasses to this brand new CUPE owned property, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology I want to thank our team in Finance and Administration who worked day-in and day-out making sure this project was on schedule and on budget.
Nova Scotia Long Term Care Coordination Committee Meeting
Bridging into the Nova Scotia Division convention, I was very pleased to attend the Nova Scotia Long-term Care Meeting. Alongside the battles against the austerity agenda and attacks against our right to free collective bargaining and our right to strike, CUPE locals in the long-term care sector are standing strong and united as they coordinate provincial bargaining.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS FOR THE QUARTER ENDED MARCH 31, 2018
The total assets in the General Fund at March 31, 2018 were $277.7 million compared to $279.4 million at December 31, 2017 and $236.8 million at March 31, 2017. The items of significance are discussed below.
The bank balance at March 31, 2018 was $25.4 million compared to $27.0 million at December 31, 2017 and $24.8 million at March 31, 2017. The bank balance includes various internal cash reserves which are set aside for retirement payouts, future benefits funding, property management, the 2019 Convention, the Regional Building Fund and the OSBCU liability.
The total liabilities in the General Fund were $223.5 million at March 31, 2018, slightly down from $225.0 million at December 31, 2017.
The Employee Life and Health Trust for the OSBCU has been established. Of the $7 million start up monies that CUPE has been managing, approximately $1.0 million was spent on start-up costs, and $1.0 million has been transferred to the Trust leaving a balance of $5 million to be transferred into the Trust. We expect the final transfer of funds to be completed very soon. As previously reported, this amount is showing as a liability on our Statement of Financial Position until such time as all reconciliations are complete and we are in a position to transfer the funds to the Trust.
The true liability for our Employee Future Benefit costs at December 31, 2017 stood at $192.5 million, in comparison to $186.0 million at the end of 2016. The December 31, 2017 Balance Sheet has recorded (adjusted for change in accounting policy) a liability of $140.0 million leaving an unrecorded gap of $52.4 million. Thus far in 2018 we have recorded an additional $1.0 million of the liability, bringing the total recorded liability as at March 31, 2018 to $141.0 million.
The Fund Balance at March 31, 2018 is $54.2 million of which a total of $1.3 million is restricted as follows: Convention and National Events Assistance Fund, $950,000 and Regional Building Fund, $375,000. Of the remaining Fund Balance, we have invested $62.4 million in fixed assets leaving a negative unrestricted balance of $9.5 million. This means that all of the equity in the General Fund is spoken for either in terms of being allocated for a restricted purpose or tied up in fixed assets.
The preliminary operating loss (before the provision for the Regional Building Fund) for the quarter is $165,000, as compared to a budgeted deficit of $1.8 million.
Per Capita revenue is ahead of budget by $390,000 and general investment income is over by $95,000. Realized investment income on our Employee Future Benefit investment account is $492,000 over budget. Unrealized losses on that same account for the first quarter of 2018 were just under $2 million. This amount is never budgeted in advance of course due to the inability to predict the markets into the future.
Salaries and benefits are under budget by $1.3 million in total, due to the unrealized loss on the investments set aside to fund employee future benefits. If we ignore this amount of $1.9 million dollars for the quarter, Total Salaries and Benefits are over budget by $665,000. Salaries are under by $435,000, current benefits over budget by $253,000 and future benefits excluding the unrealized loss are over by $847,000. Directors and Representatives salaries are under by 1.4% ($172,000). Administrative and Technical Salaries are 4.1% ($105,000) under budget and Clerical salaries are over by 1.2% ($55,000). As is generally the case during the first part of the year, Vacation relief is under budget by 48.6% ($212,000).
Cumulatively, the other operating expenses are approximately $1.4 million under budget. Below are some of the more significant items:
- Strategic Directions, Fightback Fund and the Fairness project are $749,000 under budget collectively.
- Election Spending is $191,000 under budget due to the timing of elections that are expected to occur following the first quarter of the year.
- Strengthening Provincial Divisions is $170,000 under budget due to the number of payment requests received for the year to date.
- Equipment Leases and maintenance is $109,000 over budget due to the timing of some equipment upgrades made during the first quarter.
- As is the case annually, Operational Travel is $113,000 over budget due to the extent of meetings that take place across the country during the first quarter.
- Professional fees are $162,000 over budget.
National Defence Fund
As at March 31, 2018, we have $13.8 million in Total Assets compared to $13.9 million at December 31, 2017 and $14.1 million at March 31, 2017. The cash balance at March 31, 2018 is $1.2 million, relatively unchanged from December 31, 2017. In addition, we have investments totalling $10.7 million on the books at March 31, 2018, also unchanged from the prior period.
Under Liabilities we have accounts payable and accrued liabilities of $1.0 million compared to $2.1 million at December 31, 2017. There is also $6.1 million in cost-sharing campaigns’ liability, up from $5.6 million at the end of the previous year. Finally, there are small liabilities owed to the General and Strike Funds at the end of this quarter.
Cost-shared campaigns approved by the National Executive Board in the first quarter totalled $1,494,681 against an annual budget of $3.5 million. However, there were $207,000 in unused funds from prior years campaigns that were closed out during the quarter. Major Organizing expenses were $426,187 against the annual budget of $3.6 million. National Strategic Initiatives totalled $583,656 against the annual budget of $2.9 million. Spending on Regional Strategic Initiatives totalled $122,179 with a budget for the year of $2.1 million.
National Strike Fund
Total assets in the National Strike Fund as of March 31, 2018 were $97.8 million, as compared to $99.3 million as at December 31, 2017, and $94.9 million at March 31, 2017. These assets consisted of $2.6 million in cash, $1.9 million in per capita receivable and $93.3 million in investments.
Under Liabilities we have accounts payable and accrued liabilities as well as a payable to the General Fund totalling $485,000, up from $446,000 in December 31, 2017 and $439,000 million at March 31, 2017.
At March 31, 2018 the Fund Balance was $97.3 million, compared to $98.8 million at December 31, 2017 and $94.4 million at March 31, 2017.
Revenue into the Strike Fund, including investment income, was $3.1 million as at March 31, 2018 and expenditures totalled $3.7 resulting in a deficit before unrealized losses of
$545,000, before taking into account unrealized investment losses of $970,000.
STRIKES, LOCKOUTS AND SETTLEMENTS
Local 5317 – Viterra Inc., 51 members locked out since January 30, 2018.
Local 2424 – Carleton University, 900 members on strike from March 5 to April 4, 2018.
Local 3903 – York University, 3,000 members on strike since March 5, 2018.
Local 234 – City of Cornwall (outside workers), 126 members on strike from May 17
to June 11, 2018.
Local 3251.01 – City of Cornwall (public libraries), 24 members on strike from May 17
to June 11, 2018.
Local 5734 – City of Cornwall (EMS paramedics), 106 members on strike from May 17
to June 11, 2018.
Local 3251 – City of Cornwall (inside workers), 185 members on strike from May 23
to June 11, 2018.
PER CAPITA ARREARS
For the quarter ended March 2018 the total arrears were $6,057,870 which was a decrease of $1,834,370 or 23.24% from the previous quarter ended December 2017. Total arrears have decreased 20.36% as compared to March 2017.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) REPORT
In the upcoming months, the IT Branch’s primary focus will be on the following: implementation and stabilization of the new automated Expense Statement System called Moniroo, launching new releases of the Member Relationship Management System (MRMS), continuing to move to stronger Information Management across CUPE via the CUPEcloud, and further enhancements of CUPE’s IT infrastructure for staff.
Convention Registration System
Development work is continuing on the next major release scheduled for the end of the year. Release 4 will see the introduction of the new Events Management (EM) module. EM will replace the current Convention Registration System and eventually the Conference systems.
The CUPEcloud project is moving along very well. The naming convention is being used more and more throughout the organization and the file cleanup is well underway with over half a million outdated or unnecessary files deleted. Office 365 groups are increasing in popularity and their uses vary considerably. We are seeing them being used to collaborate with CUPE’s external members (i.e. National Committees, other organizations), as document repositories for area offices with no access to shared network drives or for special projects that require collaboration on project documents and working with a shared calendar or mailbox.
Upcoming in June, educational sessions on the CUPEcloud project initiatives, OneDrive for Business and Office 365 groups are being offered as part of the various regional staff training sessions delivered across the country.
IT Infrastructure & Operations
Building on the rollout of the Skype For Business with telephone capability at CUPE Regional offices, CUPE IT has completed its roll out Skype for Business to all other offices (except those in Saskatchewan). Removal of legacy phone systems has been completed for BCRO, Fraser Valley and Barrie with all Regional Offices scheduled for completion by end of summer. New meeting room technology continues to be deployed including new Microsoft Surface hubs and Polycom Treo phones. These new technologies will be replacing antiquated video conferencing systems and could allow CUPE to reduce travel and conference calling costs.
PROPERTIES AND LEASEHOLDS
As previously reported, staff moved into our new premises in the BC Regional Office in February of this year. As we continue our transition into this new collaborative work environment in Burnaby, we are pleased to report that the staff are adapting well to the new technology and office layout concept. This state of the art design, set in a superior quality property, creates a new standard for CUPE offices, with a modern, flexible and respectful work environment which encourages exchange of ideas and collaboration.
We are presently at various stages of development on several new leasehold improvements and renovations projects in Barrie, Bathurst, Winnipeg, Trail and Yarmouth.
We are working on building system repairs and modifications in several properties. As part of our budget submission for 2018, we have included capital expenditures in several of our buildings. This will be the first year of our 15-year capital expenditure program designed to uphold the value of our real-estate portfolio, extend its useful life and ensure it continues to meet our operational requirements.
We are presently negotiating the details of a new lease in extended Premises in Yarmouth and negotiating a renewal in our existing Premises in Corner Brook. We are looking at options and strategies regarding several leases including Nanaimo. Medicine Hat, Victoria, Prince Albert.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
The All Committees’ Meeting took place at the beginning of March and was a huge success. The meeting brought together all the members serving on a national committee (both seasoned committee members and members who are participating for the very first time), staff advisors and NEB members. The All Committees’ Meeting provided members with a chance to participate in a plenary session and in individual committee meetings.
We are now planning CUPE’s third Sector Council Conference that will take place at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, from November 5 to November 8, 2018. The delegate hotels for this event consist of the Lord Elgin Hotel, Delta Ottawa City Centre, Fairmont Chateau Laurier, Les Suites Hotel Ottawa and the Residence Inn by Marriott. The Westin Hotel will be the headquarters hotel and will be the hotel which will house our members and guests who require an accessible room. Our registration goes live on the CUPE.ca website in June 2018. We anticipate a successful turnout and full house for this conference.
In mid-May, CUPE also visited TCU Place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in preparation for the 2019 Bargaining Conference which will take place March 18 - 21, 2019. Registration goes live on the CUPE.ca website in Fall 2018. CUPE is very excited to bring a large national program to the prairies!
In addition to the Sector Council Conference taking place in November, CUPE continues to plan a number of other meetings including branch meetings, committee meetings, training and orientation sessions and of course, the National Executive Committee and Board meetings. CUPE staff continue to provide opportunities for discussion and education for their staff and members alike.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
CUPE’s entire education program is now on our automated system MRM-ED – from when a member registers for a workshop on cupe.ca, to attendance, to all workshop materials, and ending in the generation and distribution of certificates. The system is making it easier to plan and deliver workshops across the country, and to collect detailed information about participant education history, member facilitator participation, numbers of workshops and participants nationally and by region, etc.
In collaboration with IT, we continue to identify and implement improvements to the system.
Local Executive Training (LET)
Feedback on the LET workshops has been extremely positive. New and more experienced local executive members are now able to access timely and practical training in everything from individual leadership skills to the skills and training they need to be effective in their specific executive role.
New Parliamentary Procedure tools – developed in collaboration with the Communications Branch, the National President’s Office and CUPE parliamentarians in different regions, are now in distribution.
Using our Power at Election Time
This workshop gives participants a chance to learn about election issues and ways to get involved during an election. Offered most recently in Ontario as part of the run-up to the provincial election, it is a generic workshop that can be used in the pre-election period of any municipal, provincial or federal election.
International Solidarity Education
The Department works in collaboration with National Services’ International Solidarity Officer on these issues.
Together, they’ve updated the six-hour International Solidarity course. First aimed at committee members, it is now designed to be offered to all members. The course explores global capitalism, austerity and neo-liberalism, as well as the concept of solidarity action to build a stronger labour movement. It is being delivered in an innovative way at the Saskatchewan weeklong school. the course called “The Big Picture” includes this workshop along with “Labour History” and “Creating Racial Justice”.
We look forward to scheduling this new workshop in all regions!
The Department is also developing a new pre-departure training for participants on the upcoming tour to Palestine. This training was piloted in 2016 with the CUPE delegation to the Philippines and includes topics such as the context and the history of the region, the Canadian context, how to build strong relationships, anti-oppression awareness and solidarity action.
Member Facilitator Training
We are currently recruiting and selecting member facilitators in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta for a training session that will take place in September. Ontario will also train new member facilitators early in 2019. We remain committed to increasing the diversity of our member facilitators and have developed new selection tools and strategies to support this commitment.
As mandated by the Strategic Directions document, in collaboration with CUPE’s economist and the Human Rights Branch a new popular economics module for the Steward Learning Series has been completed. The module connects the dots between damaging economic policies, growing inequality, and the workplace problems stewards contend with.
New Equality Education
This summer will see the launch of a revised Steward Learning Series. The Department has successfully piloted three revised equality modules – Solidarity with Indigenous Workers and Disability and Ableism in the Workplace were piloted in Regina in March, and “Challenging Racism in the Workplace” was piloted in Ontario in April.
As you may be aware, the Government of Ontario has finalized its new funding rules for defined benefit pension plans under the Pension Benefits Act.
Brother Brian Edgecombe and myself, co-chairs of the CUPE Employees’ Pension Plan (CEPP), have had discussions with the Settlors, CUPE, CSU and COPE Local 491 and the Plan’s professional service providers to discuss the Ontario new funding rules and review its impact on the CEPP contribution requirements.
Some of the main changes impacting contribution requirements for the CEPP are:
- elimination of solvency special payments if the solvency ratio of the Plan is above 85% (the CEPP is above 85%);
- the funding of a new provision for adverse deviation (PfAD) depending on the going concern funded ratio of the Plan (the CEPP is above the required level of the PfAD); and
- the funding of a new PfAD on the current service cost (additional contributions are required under the CEPP). A PfAD serves as a new reserve or new funding cushion for both normal cost and going concern liabilities.
The next actuarial valuation that will need to be filed with government authorities is at January 1, 2020, however, the trustees of the CEPP have recently elected to file a new valuation at January 1, 2018. This valuation will be filed under the new funding rules.
The Trustees are currently conducting an election for the vacant positions of Retiree Trustee and Alternate Retiree Trustee. Brother Barry Thorsteinson’s term will be ending December 31, 2018 and Brother Raymond Arsenault, who was Alternate Retiree Trustee, passed away on May 10, 2018. Brother Arsenault served on the Board of Trustees on three separate terms and will be missed by his fellow trustees.
The Board of Trustees will hold its next JBT meeting June 20-21 to discuss ongoing issues and activities of the pension plan.
The Auditors of the CUPE Employees’ Pension Plan have completed the 2017 Pension Fund audit and the 2017 Financial Statements will be filed with the Regulators in June.
The 2017 Report to Members is underway and will be posted on the CEPP website in July/August. The Pension Plan staff are currently working on the preparation of the 2017 Pension Plan Annual Statements for all plan members. The statements will have to include additional disclosures following the Ontario New Funding Rules. Active plan members will also have access to their 2017 annual statements through the Plan’s website at www.cepp.ca for pension estimates purposes.
Sister Grace E. Scantlebury, Ontario Regional Office – April 1, 2018
Brother Albéric Mbayahaga, Administration Branch, National Office – May 1, 2018
Sister Lynn McDougall, Atlantic Regional Office – June 1, 2018
Brother Herbert J. Mason, Fraser Valley Area Office – June 1, 2018
Sister Jeanette Coffen, St. John’s Office – August 1, 2018
Brother Steve Wells, Administration Branch, National Office – August 1, 2018
Sister Louise Ferland, Quebec Regional Office – September 1, 2018
Sister Donna-Marie Carlaw, Kingston Area Office – September 1, 2018
Sister Joanne A. Ouzas, Kitchener Area Office – September 1, 2018
Brother Brian P. Farewell, St. John’s Area Office – May 1, 2019
Across the country our dedicated financial officers are completing audits and reports and ensuring that all CUPE finances are accountable and transparent. I commend them for their commitment to building CUPE’s strength.
As the summer season begins, many CUPE activists and members will be participating in community events to raise our profile and to take on issues in our communities.
I wish you all a very good summer season, and I hope it includes some time to relax with family and friends.