Sisters and Brothers:
As CUPE members are well aware, this has been an incredibly eventful summer. We continue to face challenges in bargaining as provincial governments embark on each of their own version of wage restraint in the wake of last year’s recession. As always CUPE is very good at fighting back. Public sector workers certainly did not cause the recession, and shortchanging public services and the workers who provide them is not the answer to recovery.
As a result of our strength and solidarity, our members have negotiated good wage increases in New Brunswick and Quebec in the context of government announced restraint. Similarly in Saskatchewan, health care workers across the province recently ratified an agreement which preserves seniority rights in the area of lay-offs, provides improved shift differentials and full retroactivity on the wage rates for members (including retirees and those on lay-off). This agreement was achieved after two years of difficult negotiations made so by the Saskatchewan government’s essential services legislation that deemed more than 80 per cent of CUPE’s health care providers essential and unable to strike.
Our success in these situations bodes well for current challenges in Ontario, where the government has invited us to a “consultation process” at the same time it announced that they expect zero compensation increases over the next two years. Of course, we question the legitimacy of this consultation process when the government has stated so clearly that it has already set its policy course. One thing remains crystal clear: we will not allow any interference on our collective bargaining rights.
The same fights are taking place all across the country. Whether it be increased threats of privatization as is the case in British Columbia or a very difficult bargaining climate as is the case in many other provinces and sectors, CUPE members are poised to fightback and protect our rights, our jobs and our public services. And our Defence Fund demonstrates that CUPE members are indeed fighting back. Below is reported the second quarter Defence Fund results revealing that the NEB has
approved cost-share campaigns totaling over 80 per cent of the annual allocation. In front of the National Executive Board for approval at this meeting are an additional 16 cost-share campaigns, which will bring us close to our annual $2.3 million budget, leaving a surplus of $90,000 for the rest of the year. Locals continue to fight privatization through our cost-share program, as well as campaign to support bargaining.
Overall, our finances continue to be strong in spite of the difficult bargaining climate. As I reported to you in December and again in June, our revenue stream is being affected by the recession and subsequent attack on the public sector. The first quarter results reported to you in June revealed our revenue was under budget by close to $1 million.
However, in our budget deliberations for 2010 we had planned for this slow down in, revenue growth. Now, our second quarter results demonstrate that we are largely on track. For the second quarter, our budget projected a deficit of $1.6 million which will even out to a balanced budget by year end. We end the second quarter with a much smaller deficit than planned, in fact just under $5,000. This result demonstrates two important factors with our budget. The first is that the revenue stream is moving to meet our expectations for the year as it is up slightly from the first quarter. The second factor is spending. Our spending on big ticket items such as Anti-privatization and Strengthening Provincial Divisions tends to be spent in the second half of our fiscal year. Therefore, we are well under budget on the spending side. Add to this the fact that our Fightback Fund shows under spending, when in reality this Fund will not be spent unless a government moves to restrict our rights to free collective bargaining with legislation. That is the reason the fund was set up by the National Executive Board and it will be protected so it is there when CUPE members need it.
All of this points to the fact that getting our financial house in order, which we have moved steadily forward on over the last ten years, has ensured that we are ready for tough times and that CUPE remains strong to defend our right to decent wages and benefits, our jobs and our services.
At this meeting of the National Executive Board, our elected Trustees will report their findings on our financial administration and management. Similarly, I will report on savings achieved through our policy of owning versus leasing properties and our progress on the “road map” to provide for the unfunded liability for Employee Future Benefits.