Sisters and Brothers:
I am honoured and pleased to submit to you my fortieth and final quarterly report. As we prepare for our National Convention, we are faced with some challenges in the current economic climate but also have many things working in our favour.
One of our greatest financial challenges in 2011 continues to be the solvency ratio of the CUPE Employees’ Pension Plan. While the plan is in good shape as a going concern, the Actuarial Valuation that must be filed by the end of this month shows the solvency ratio to be below 100%. For the first time in CUPE’s history we will have to make special payments under these regulations in addition to the current service costs of close to $10 million a year. All this will have an impact on the 2012 budget.
We go into this National Executive Board meeting with 96% of the annual budget for cost-share programs under the National Defence Fund already allocated. Some may view this as a financial challenge, but in our union we see it as evidence of activism and militancy as members fight back against the ever-growing assault on public services and public sector workers. We are bringing additional requests to this NEB that will take us over budget, with one more Board meeting still to come in this fiscal year.
I have no doubt that the campaigns waged by our locals and divisions are absolutely necessary. The reality is we must fight back, especially in Canada’s largest city where a right-wing mayor has decided to fight our members on every front. The costs of getting our message out to the public and mobilizing members across many locals in hundreds of work sites are high but worth every penny.
We will consider these requests knowing that overall our union remains on a sound financial footing. Total assets in the General Fund stood at $135.2 million at March 31, 2011. We continue to make progress on recognizing our obligations for employee future benefits and our investment monies reserved to these expenses grew slightly in the second quarter. We now have booked $47.3 million in our General Fund.
In 2005 the National Executive Board approved an investment plan for CUPE’s internal funds. This has become commonly referred to as the “Roadmap.” We then reviewed our investment policies. Our constitution is clear on what can and cannot be done.
We have had strong cash balances across all funds for quite some time now. It is customary to review these policies periodically and as such, we will be looking to conduct such a review in the coming year.
I am particularly proud that I will leave this office knowing we have built the capacity to survive further economic and financial challenges. We have real assets in the equity we have in our buildings. Construction on the new Ontario Regional Office in Markham is underway. Plans are being developed for a new building next door to our National Office in Ottawa. It’s hard to believe that we are outgrowing our new National Office so quickly. The new building will house the Ottawa Area Office and give us more room to grow.
As our National Executive Board meets, election campaigns are well underway in many provinces along with municipal votes in British Columbia. We are making an unprecedented investment in efforts to mobilize our members to vote for parties and candidates who recognize the value of public services and the workers who provide them. As well, we have been able to use our financial well-being to assist our party, the NDP, in some provinces by acting as guarantor for loans to finance their campaigns. With good campaign plans and hard work, we can build on the successes we saw in the last spring’s federal vote.
I have finalized this report after the untimely passing of Jack Layton. As Paul’s and other reports will go deeper in acknowledging Jack Layton’s legacy to all of us, I will only say in my report that this country is not the same as it was before summer.
Internally, we continue to build our capacity among both staff and members. The Union Development Department is working constantly to provide education programs for members and to make better use of member facilitators in delivering those programs. New courses have also been developed for staff training. Staff can also look forward to having easier access to CUPE information, forms and tools as our Technology Department continues its work on a CUPE Intranet.
Capacity building also applies to local financial operations and the work our Per Capita Department is doing to help avoid arrears, short payments and over payments. It is important that locals file Trustee Reports annually and ensure that their National Representatives are copied on those reports. This is one of the best ways we have to identify problems early.