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National Executive Board Highlights - December 2014

3 hours 18 min ago

Our National Executive Board met December 9-11, 2014 in Ottawa. 

These are the highlights of their deliberations and decisions.

In Memory

The National Executive Board observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the loss of members of our CUPE family. Remembered were:  Brother Mike Coleman, Local 382 (School District 61, British Columbia); Sister Joan Rowlands, Local 2033 (Roman District School Board, Newfoundland and Labrador); Sister Helen Coemtzis, member of Local 3744 (Unionville Home Society, Ontario); Sister Julie Davis, retiree and former Managing Director of Organizing and Regional Services, National Office; Sister Dea Pasini, Temporary National Representative (Ontario Regional Office) and a former President of Local 4092 (Air Canada Flight Attendants, Toronto base); Brother Kevin MacNeil, retired National Representative (Sydney Area Office); Brother Chris Sax, Servicing Representative, Barrie Area Office, who passed away suddenly on Tuesday, December 2, 2014; and Sister Zahra Mohamoud Abdille, member of Local 79, City of Toronto Public Health Nurse and her two sons Faris aged 13 and Zain aged eight were murdered.

CUPE’s 2015 Budget

National Secretary-Treasurer, Charles Fleury, presented the 2015 budget which was passed unanimously by the Board.  While CUPE will experience some revenue growth in 2015, the budget is prudent taking into account the current political and economic climate which sees us fighting back against austerity and attacks on our collective bargaining rights.  The budget also ensures we have the resources needed to continue to fight to protect our collective agreements and public services and maintains the fightback fund and fairness project budget allocations.  In addition, allocation for election spending is aimed at a level to ensure sufficient resources for our work to defeat the Harper government and elect the first-ever NDP government in the fall of 2015.  Other budget items include four 12-month temporary staff resources which are allocated to Ontario (two), Québec (one) and British Columbia (one) to meet the most urgent priorities.  In addition to these temporary positions in regions, a 12-month temporary research representative has been approved to work out of National Office in assisting regions with pension and anti-privatization files.  The National Defence Fund cost-share campaign and organizing budgets have been increased to respond to the needs in regions and in locals.

NEB Resolution  

In honour of the 56th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights on December 10, the National Executive Board passed a resolution opposing the recent changes made by the Conservative government to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and the Live-in Caregiver Program.  These changes create vulnerable and precarious working conditions for migrant workers. CUPE will write to the government to demand that the human and labour rights of migrant workers in Canada are recognized and work with migrant led campaigns that are challenging these laws.  Read the full resolution.

Stephen Lewis – Aids Free World

The Board welcomed Stephen Lewis to its meeting who provided an update of the important work being undertaken by Aids Free World around the world in fighting for gender equality, human rights, and an end to the systemic causes of the HIV-Aids pandemic.  Stephen thanked CUPE for its financial support for Aids Free World which allows for this work to take place.

Canadian Labour Congress

Fairness Works

The Board received an update on the third phase of the CLC advertising campaign promoting the work of the labour movement in Canada.  The fall campaign runs from November 24 to December 22 and features a 30-second television ad, transit advertising in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver as well as an extensive digital media campaign. All advertising in this phase of the campaign is aimed at driving people to the Fairness Works website - fairnessworks.ca – to give detail on the work of unions on important issues such as health care, child care, retirement security, human rights, and jobs and the economy.  

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

The Board received a presentation on the Domestic Violence and the Workplace survey undertaken with the support of Congress affiliates and in concert with the University
of Western Ontario.  This survey had over 8,000 union members participate making it one of the largest and most significant surveys on the subject internationally and to date.  This research has identified the scope and impact of domestic violence on workers and workplaces, but is only a first step.  Immediate next steps include encouraging use of these results by governments, unions, and employers to establish proactive practices to address the impact of domestic violence at work.   

Financial Support  

The National Executive Board approved six cost-share campaign requests, totaling $44,311.67 and seven requests for legal and arbitration support were approved, totaling $292,400.00.

Council of Canadians

The Council of Canadians awarded CUPE its 2014 Activist of the Year award for CUPE’s commitment to social justice, fighting privatization of Canada’s public services, and supporting public sector workers.  Council Chairperson Maude Barlow presented the award to the Board members along with many national staff who work on the various campaigns with the Council of Canadians.

National President's Report - December 2014

3 hours 33 min ago

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The fall and winter period was a very full one for CUPE activists and staff throughout Canada.

On the bargaining front, members continued to walk the line in British Columbia
(Local 608, Naramata Centre).  A new dispute began in British Columbia (Local 2262 - Castlegar, BC).  Bargaining is going on in all regions (see section on Collective Bargaining / Strikes / Lockouts for more details).

In early October a total of almost 1,200 members, staff and guests gathered for our first ever National Sector Council Meeting, in Toronto.  All of the feedback we have received to date has been positive as delegates focused on sector specific issues related to collective bargaining and other key issues.

Brother Lee Saunders, International President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) fired up our crowd with a strong message in defense of public services and of the importance of solidarity within and outside of our respective unions.

In October, our nation was shocked to see two military personnel murdered for no reason other than they were wearing armed forces uniforms.  The deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and Master Corporal Nathan Cirillo, in Ottawa were marked by a moment of silence in their memory at our December National Executive Board meeting.

In addition to a very tough bargaining climate, legislation in both Nova Scotia and Quebec which affects key sectors in both provinces is receiving our full attention.

Our October 2014 membership report shows we have for the first time hit the 630,000 level as our National Union now represents 630,027 members.  Our Union continues
to grow, albeit at slower pace than previous decades. 

As another year ends, let me offer my sincere thanks to all activists and staff; together, your efforts combined, making life better for CUPE members.

Read the full report

The Cuban Five are free!

4 hours 33 min ago

CUPE joins the world today congratulating the family members of the Cuban five and the countless activists from around the world, including within CUPE who have supported and fought for their release.

The Cuban Five were in the United States monitoring the activities of the groups and organizations responsible for terrorist activities against Cuba when they were charged with espionage and imprisoned by the US. After the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Cuba had been the victim of more terrorist attacks than any other country in the world, killing 3,478 and injuring 2,099. The vast majority of those attacks originated in southern Florida, by groups tolerated and partly financed by the US government.

All 5 men, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez, have now returned to their homeland and the people of Cuba. After years of unjust imprisonment the final release of Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio on December 17th is long over due. It is also a moment to witness the strength of global solidarity movements. 

The CUPE National Executive Board passed a resolution in 2012 in solidarity with the Cuban Five, and was a signatory to a letter that was signed by nine Nobel laureates, the President of El Salvador,  Salvador Sánchez Cerén,  parliamentarians, religious and labour leaders, lawyers, intellectuals, actors and more.

We continue to support our partner union in Cuba, the National Union of Public Sector Unions (SNTAP), and all of the Cuban people who aspire to live in a just world that meets the needs of everyone.

Nanaimo city workers ratify three-year deal

4 hours 33 min ago

NANAIMO –  CUPE Local 401 and the City of Nanaimo have reached a new three-year collective agreement. The deal covers about 600 CUPE city workers and includes wage increases of 2% (effective Jan.1, 2014) , 2% (effective Jan.1, 2015) and 1+1%  (effective Jan.1 and July 1, 2016). CUPE 401 members voted to ratify the deal yesterday. The workers were without a contract since December 2013.  

The new contract includes improvements to benefits, including orthodontic benefits for children and an increase in long-term disability payments.  It also includes a new job evaluation plan that will be fully funded starting in the new year and improvements to grievance handling language and the introduction of four-hour shift minimums.  

CUPE Local 401 President Blaine Gurrie thanked mediator Grant McArthur for his participation in the final four days of talks before the agreement was reached with the city.

“We originally bargained for a five-year deal and would have preferred a longer agreement, but we’re pleased with the language improvements and the wage package we got,” said Gurrie, adding, “it’s also nice for our members to have a settlement that offers some stability after being without a contract for a year.”

For more information, please contact:

Blaine Gurrie
CUPE Local 401 president
 250-729-7557

Murray Bush
CUPE National Communications Representative
 778-554-2234

The Cuban Five are Free!

4 hours 33 min ago

CUPE joins the world today congratulating the family members of the Cuban five and the countless activists from around the world, including within CUPE who have supported and fought for their release.

The Cuban Five were in the United States monitoring the activities of the groups and organizations responsible for terrorist activities against Cuba when they were charged with espionage and imprisoned by the US. After the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Cuba had been the victim of more terrorist attacks than any other country in the world, killing 3,478 and injuring 2,099. The vast majority of those attacks originated in southern Florida, by groups tolerated and partly financed by the US government.

All 5 men, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez, have now returned to their homeland and the people of Cuba. After years of unjust imprisonment the final release of Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio on December 17th is long over due. It is also a moment to witness the strength of global solidarity movements. 

The CUPE National Executive Board passed a resolution in 2012 in solidarity with the Cuban Five, and was a  signatory to a letter that was signed by nine Nobel laureates, the President of El Salvador,  Salvador Sánchez Cerén,  parliamentarians, religious and labour leaders, lawyers, intellectuals, actors and more.

We continue to support our partner union in Cuba, the National Union of Public Sector Unions (SNTAP), and all of the Cuban people who aspire to live in a just world that meets the needs of everyone.

CUPE activists

Climate talks advance slowly, but activism on the rise

6 hours 48 min ago

With 2014 about to end as the warmest year on record, it is becoming more and more urgent that meaningful action to address climate change take place. Meanwhile, it’s clear that the United Nations climate change negotiations (Conference of the Parties - COP) are not the beacon for progress on this crucial environmental issue.

The most recent COP meetings concluded in Lima, Peru days ago. Again, little movement was made toward signing an ambitious and binding international climate change treaty. That goal has gone by the wayside. Instead, governments will submit their intended contributions to cut emissions some time in 2015 leading into the next COP meeting in Paris. In Lima, some progress was made elevating work on adaptation and climate change resilience.

Labour’s central concern that workers be protected and aided in securing good work as economies transform was not incorporated into discussions in Lima.

International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow decried the latest COP for ignoring the fundamental need for a just transition strategy. “Despite numerous governments raising the importance of including a message for the world’s workers around the need for decent work and just transition in the Paris draft text, co-chairs have ignored these demands,” Burrow said.

As the September New York City march showed (where about 400,000 people demonstrated for action on climate change), a wide range of citizens - workers, environmentalists, social justice activists, Aboriginal and faith leaders and others - are increasingly mobilizing to call for a society that treats the planet fairly. In 2015, Canadians can democratically oust a federal government that has been a climate pariah. Leading into the impending federal election and next year’s COP 21 meeting in Paris, Canadians will want more than incremental movement. Real action on climate change must occur to avoid the worst impacts that are being frequently felt across the planet.

Climate talks advance slowly, but activism on the rise

6 hours 48 min ago

With 2014 about to end as the warmest year on record, it is becoming more and more urgent that meaningful action to address climate change take place. Meanwhile, it’s clear that the United Nations climate change negotiations (Conference of the Parties - COP) are not the beacon for progress on this crucial environmental issue.

The most recent COP meetings concluded in Lima, Peru days ago. Again, little movement was made toward signing an ambitious and binding international climate change treaty. That goal has gone by the wayside. Instead, governments will submit their intended contributions to cut emissions some time in 2015 leading into the next COP meeting in Paris. In Lima, some progress was made elevating work on adaptation and climate change resilience.

Labour’s central concern that workers be protected and aided in securing good work as economies transform was not incorporated into discussions in Lima.

International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow decried the latest COP for ignoring the fundamental need for a just transition strategy. “Despite numerous governments raising the importance of including a message for the world’s workers around the need for decent work and just transition in the Paris draft text, co-chairs have ignored these demands,” Burrow said.

As the September New York City march showed (where about 400,000 people demonstrated for action on climate change), a wide range of citizens - workers, environmentalists, social justice activists, Aboriginal and faith leaders and others - are increasingly mobilizing to call for a society that treats the planet fairly. In 2015, Canadians can democratically oust a federal government that has been a climate pariah. Leading into the impending federal election and next year’s COP 21 meeting in Paris, Canadians will want more than incremental movement. Real action on climate change must occur to avoid the worst impacts that are being frequently felt across the planet.

Agenda: CUPE Human Rights Conference 2015

8 hours 33 min ago
Thursday, February 5

1:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Registration

6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Plenary
  

Welcome

A critical moment: Labour and the pursuit of human rights

Our union plays an essential role in the defence and pursuit of human rights. At the bargaining table, in our communities and around the world, our actions help create fairness and raise standards. Join us as we lay the groundwork for the days ahead.

8:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Reception

Friday, February 6

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Plenary

Who are we? CUPE’s membership survey, in context

For the first time in our union’s history, CUPE has conducted a comprehensive survey of our membership, asking questions about job security, union awareness and who we are. We’ll have a look at some of the results, then our panel will help put them in context of what is happening in Canada.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Workshops

Equality and the socio-economic context

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 p.m.

Plenary

Human rights in Canada: Our history, our future

The history of human rights in Canada is still being written, and serious struggles continue to this day. Our panel unpacks the issues, and representatives from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights share the vision for the new facility.

3:15 – 3:45 p.m.

Break

3:45 p.m.

Buses leave for Canadian Museum for Human Rights

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Museum visit

6:00 p.m.

Buses back to hotels

Saturday, February 7

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Plenary
Bargaining equality: CUPE’s opportunity at the table

Human rights are never simply handed over—they’re fought for and won by committed activists. CUPE members face these challenges every day at the bargaining table. The rise of two-tier proposals and the erosion of pensions and benefits affect equality-seeking groups the most. Learn how other members have faced these challenges and won, raising the floor for all workers in the process.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Workshops
Bargaining strategies for equality

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 p.m.

Plenary

Winning equality through political action

The federal government and many provincial governments are imposing funding cuts, service cuts, and legislative changes that affect equality-seeking groups the most. But CUPE members have an opportunity to change that. Our panel explores how you and your local can play a decisive role in the next election.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Break

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Workshops

Equality and politics: Action and influence

7:30 p.m.

The great Manitoba social

Sunday, February 8

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Plenary

Conference report

Engaging members and the community

Our panel explores successful union and community campaigns led by marginalized workers to build collective power. With strong union-community solidarity, we can bargain equality gains, elect progressive candidates and achieve progressive policy changes.

Closing remarks

Agenda: CUPE Human Rights Conference 2015

8 hours 33 min ago
Thursday, February 5

1:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Registration

6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Plenary
  

Welcome

A critical moment: Labour and the pursuit of human rights

Our union plays an essential role in the defence and pursuit of human rights. At the bargaining table, in our communities and around the world, our actions help create fairness and raise standards. Join us as we lay the groundwork for the days ahead.

8:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Reception

Friday, February 6

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Plenary

Who are we? CUPE’s membership survey, in context

For the first time in our union’s history, CUPE has conducted a comprehensive survey of our membership, asking questions about job security, union awareness and who we are. We’ll have a look at some of the results, then our panel will help put them in context of what is happening in Canada.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Workshops

Equality and the socio-economic context

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 p.m.

Plenary

Human rights in Canada: Our history, our future

The history of human rights in Canada is still being written, and serious struggles continue to this day. Our panel unpacks the issues, and representatives from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights share the vision for the new facility.

3:15 – 3:45 p.m.

Break

3:45 p.m.

Buses leave for Canadian Museum for Human Rights

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Museum visit

6:00 p.m.

Buses back to hotels

Saturday, February 7

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Plenary
Bargaining equality: CUPE’s opportunity at the table

Human rights are never simply handed over—they’re fought for and won by committed activists. CUPE members face these challenges every day at the bargaining table. The rise of two-tier proposals and the erosion of pensions and benefits affect equality-seeking groups the most. Learn how other members have faced these challenges and won, raising the floor for all workers in the process.

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Break

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Workshops
Bargaining strategies for equality

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 p.m.

Plenary

Winning equality through political action

The federal government and many provincial governments are imposing funding cuts, service cuts, and legislative changes that affect equality-seeking groups the most. But CUPE members have an opportunity to change that. Our panel explores how you and your local can play a decisive role in the next election.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Break

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Workshops

Equality and politics: Action and influence

7:30 p.m.

The great Manitoba social

Sunday, February 8

8:30 a.m.

Smudge

9:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Plenary

Conference report

Engaging members and the community

Our panel explores successful union and community campaigns led by marginalized workers to build collective power. With strong union-community solidarity, we can bargain equality gains, elect progressive candidates and achieve progressive policy changes.

Closing remarks

CUPE MB welcomes new members at the Western School Division

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 21:30

WINNIPEG – Educational Assistants at the Western School Division chose to become members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees in a vote held by the Manitoba Labour Board on Wednesday.

“We are honoured to welcome our newest members to CUPE” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba, “CUPE is a strong union for school sector support staff, and we look forward to representing the Educational Assistants at the Western School Division.” CUPE will now represent approximately 64 Educational Assistants at the Western School Division, in addition to over 5,000 school sector support staff in communities across Manitoba.

CUPE Manitoba represents over 25,000 members in Manitoba, including school divisions, municipalities, health care, social services, crown corporations, and post-secondary education.

For more information, contact:

David Jacks
CUPE Communications
 204-801-7339

City and striking Castlegar workers to meet Monday

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 18:00

CASTLEGAR – The City of Castlegar has agreed to return to the bargaining table with CUPE Local 2262. The city and union are scheduled to meet for mediated talks on Monday, December 22.

The move follows more than five weeks of picket lines in the first civic strike in Castlegar’s history. No bargaining has taken place since talks failed to find a resolution in September. The 34 CUPE Local 2262 civic workers have been without a contract since February 2013.

For more information, contact:

Leford Lafayette
CUPE 2262 President
 250-608-9983

Murray Bush
CUPE National Communications Representative
 778-554-2234

City and striking Castlegar workers to meet Monday

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 18:00

CASTLEGAR – The City of Castlegar has agreed to return to the bargaining table with CUPE Local 2262. The city and union are scheduled to meet for mediated talks on Monday, December 22.

The move follows more than five weeks of picket lines in the first civic strike in Castlegar’s history. No bargaining has taken place since talks failed to find a resolution in September. The 34 CUPE Local 2262 civic workers have been without a contract since February 2013.

For more information, contact:

Leford Lafayette
CUPE 2262 President
 250-608-9983

Murray Bush
CUPE National Communications Representative
 778-554-2234

Transportation electrification

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 20:15

Last October 8, CUPE Local 301 inaugurated the installation of two electric vehicle charging stations. The union, through its Environment Committee, took advantage of the “Brancher au travail” subsidy program of the Quebec Department of Energy and Natural Resources (Ministère de l’Énergie) to achieve one of the principles of the energy policy declaration adopted at the 30th Convention of the FTQ.

According to some sources, it is believed to be first time a union in Quebec, or in the rest of Canada, for that matter, has offered a service of this type for its members and the environment.

CUPE Local 301 invites its affiliates and partners to do likewise!

Photo: Local president Michel Parent with the nozzle of a charging station

Newspaper article and Web site only

SCFP Québec, SCFP/CUPE, FTQ

Pension Town Hall

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 16:15

REGINA – Monday night over 150 people attended a town hall to learn about the recently submitted joint proposal to amend the Regina Civic Employee’s Superannuation and Benefit Plan (the plan). The presentation is available here.

During the evening, one point was discussed repeatedly: the need for you to continue to participate in our campaign to save our defined benefit plan. Though the Employee and the Employer Sponsors believe we have amended the plan to address all of the Superintendent’s concerns and bring the plan into compliance with the Pension and Benefits Act, we still need the approval of Cabinet in order to implement the amendments. We need to ensure that we have the government’s support, and your help is needed to achieve this. 

Please take a moment to visit Regina Civic Pension Plan - Honour Our Deal’s website and send a letter to the Minister of Justice (responsible for pensions), Regina MLAs and the Superintendent. This letter will be posted on the FCAA website and will help to gain the support of our government.

We also ask that you contact your MLA to discuss the request we have made for permanent solvency exemption and an extension to the amortization period for our going concern deficit. Solvency exemptions have been provided to all other defined benefit plans in the province. Other plans have been listed as “specified plans,” and we need Cabinet’s approval to add our plan to this list. Cabinet’s approval for an extension to our going concern deficit is also needed in order for us to pay our current deficit over a 20 year period rather than a 15 year period. Once we receive Cabinet’s approval, we will be able to implement the amendments to the plan, and the plan will be in compliance with the Act.

On Migrants Day, PSI reiterates its commitment to decent work and social protection for all

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 22:00

Many workers involved in the delivery of public services such as health and social care, municipal services and public administration, among others, are facing hardship and loss of jobs as a result of austerity cuts, unfair trade, repressive regimes and attacks on labour rights. With unemployment on the rise, along with a reduction of public services, workers are often forced to leave their home countries in search of a ‘’better life” elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of them end up risking their lives in crossing borders and, even when they succeed, they might face situations of exploitation, abuse and precarious work.

Throughout 2014, Public Services International has worked with its affiliates worldwide in defending quality public services for all, and promoting decent work and social protections for migrant workers. In collaboration with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) “Decent Work Across Borders Project” for health workers, we have developed various migrant information kits, which are powerful tools for information, outreach and organising of migrant workers. Amongst other initiatives, in partnership with Global Unions and civil society organisations, we have lobbied for rights-based labour migration policies at the Global Forum on Migration and Development and at various global and regional events.

In 2015, PSI will continue with these initiatives, as it looks at enhancing efforts in organising migrant workers, developing the PSI Passport Card, which is an organising tool, reforming the labour recruitment industry and lobbying for rights-based global and regional governance of labour migration.

“PSI and the trade union movement stand in solidarity with all migrant workers everywhere,” says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary.

“As public service workers, we continue to defend quality public services, which are the foundation for decent working and living, and for social justice. Public services fight poverty, promote equality and ensure that no member of society is left in precarious conditions.”

“Quality public services are key to maintaining solidarity and cohesion in society,” stresses Pavanelli.

CUPE Ontario calls on the Harper government to repeal dangerous sex worker law

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 19:45

TORONTO, ON – Pursuing the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17, Ontario’s largest union is calling on the Harper government to repeal its dangerous new law, ironically named the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.”

“This new law will drive sex work underground and put sex workers in greater danger. The Prime Minister should fix his mistake and repeal the law. In the meantime, we are calling on Premier Wynne to instruct police not to enforce it,” said Hahn.

The Harper government introduced the law after the Supreme Court deemed existing laws unconstitutional because they increase harm to sex workers. But the new law re-introduces problems and criminalizes the purchase and advertising of sexual services, and limits the ability of sex workers to screen clients or assess potential risks. The preponderance of research on sex work clearly demonstrates that the criminal restrictions contained within the law will increase violence against sex workers.

“It took a decade of work and tragic violence to repeal the last flawed law. The Supreme Court decision in Bedford was absolutely clear: Criminalizing sex work is dangerous. This new law will make sex work more dangerous. It prevents sex workers from taking steps to protect themselves. It prevents them from negotiating and enforcing workplace health and safety standards and prevents redress from labour abuses and discrimination,” he said. “Sex workers deserve the same protection as all workers, including the right to earn an income without being criminalized, the right to a healthy and safe work environment, and the right to freely associate with other workers.”

CUPE Ontario has a strong tradition of fighting for workers’ rights in the workplace and in our communities. Precarious workforces need strong support and CUPE Ontario stands with sex worker groups in calling on the Harper government to repeal this regressive and dangerous law.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications
 416-576-7316

Liberals fail to learn: Hydro privatization a boondoggle in the making

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 15:45

TORONTO, ON – Pursing the Liberal government’s privatization plan for Hydro One’s electrical distribution assets is a costly mistake, cautions Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“The auditor general just revealed the Ontario government wasted $8 billion on privatization schemes, and the same week, the government signaled they’re heading in the same direction with Hydro One’s distribution assets,” said Hahn. “It’s time the Liberals learned: Privatization doesn’t work. It costs the public money, and in this case will drive up hydro rates. That’s bad for the residents and it will drive away business and jobs.”

Hydro One distribution generated $452 million in “profit” last year, a portion of which provided much-needed revenue for the provincial government. “It doesn’t make sense to sell off revenue-generating assets,” said Hahn. “By keeping them public, we’ll continue to generate revenue for public infrastructure and services for generations to come. Selling them off is bankrupting our future. We need a government with long-term vision, not one that just goes for a quick buck.”

The government’s track record on the hydro file does not inspire confidence, he added, noting the more than $1 billion squandered on the gas plants P3 scandal and the $2 billion spent on smart meters, which the auditor general criticized in her report last week. “After years of corporate tax cuts that didn’t create jobs, and after squandering billions on failed privatization schemes, Ontario can’t afford more privatization contracts,” Hahn said. “They divert public revenue into private profits. Let’s learn from past mistakes. Stop the privatizing. Stop P3s. Invest revenue from public assets into public services and public infrastructure that benefit all Ontarians.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications
 416-576-7316

Ontario Auditor General rings alarm on P3’s – and Nova Scotia should listen up

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:00

TRURO – A new report from the Auditor General of Ontario is ringing the alarm bell on the cost to taxpayers of P3 projects – and the McNeil Liberals better take heed.

That warning comes today from CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh, who says, “This is just the latest in a series of Auditors General who have made it quite clear that these so-called ‘Public-Private Partnerships’ are costing taxpayers a bundle.

“In Ontario alone, P3’s have cost the public at least $8 billion in unnecessary spending over the last decade,” according to their top bean counter.

Cavanagh says the McNeil Liberals should implement an immediate moratorium on privatization and P3 projects and reveal all the costs related to any P3 contracts we now have on the books, like the dozens of P3 schools.

CUPE has long argued that when service delivery is public, the priority is on quality service delivery. In corporate hands, the priorities shift to profits, which come either through higher costs or by cutting corners on staffing, service levels and safety. “The premier is preaching fiscal restraint. We keep getting told there’s no money for services, there’s no money for poverty reduction. We have to cut everything to reduce the deficit. By providing full disclosure on past P3 projects here, we are convinced we will learn the same lesson they learned in Ontario. Shouldn’t fiscal restraint start with this,” asks Cavanagh.

CUPE is Nova Scotia’s community union, with 19,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province, every day.

Ontario Auditor General rings alarm on P3’s – and Nova Scotia should listen up

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:00

TRURO – A new report from the Auditor General of Ontario is ringing the alarm bell on the cost to taxpayers of P3 projects – and the McNeil Liberals better take heed.

That warning comes today from CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh, who says, “This is just the latest in a series of Auditors General who have made it quite clear that these so-called ‘Public-Private Partnerships’ are costing taxpayers a bundle.

“In Ontario alone, P3’s have cost the public at least $8 billion in unnecessary spending over the last decade,” according to their top bean counter.

Cavanagh says the McNeil Liberals should implement an immediate moratorium on privatization and P3 projects and reveal all the costs related to any P3 contracts we now have on the books, like the dozens of P3 schools.

CUPE has long argued that when service delivery is public, the priority is on quality service delivery. In corporate hands, the priorities shift to profits, which come either through higher costs or by cutting corners on staffing, service levels and safety. “The premier is preaching fiscal restraint. We keep getting told there’s no money for services, there’s no money for poverty reduction. We have to cut everything to reduce the deficit. By providing full disclosure on past P3 projects here, we are convinced we will learn the same lesson they learned in Ontario. Shouldn’t fiscal restraint start with this,” asks Cavanagh.

CUPE is Nova Scotia’s community union, with 19,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province, every day.

The Where’s the Funding (WTF) Road Show touches down in Windsor

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 19:45

CUPE Ontario’s university workers join local campus representatives to highlight underfunding and lack of transparency

It’s a question you hear all the time on campus, especially when you break it down to its three-letter acronym – WTF or Where’s the Funding?

Today, university workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), brought their travelling Where’s the Funding (WTF) Road Show to the University of Windsor’s student centre this morning, highlighting chronic campus underfunding and the lack of transparency required of Ontario’s universities.

“This is a really light-hearted campaign about very serious issues,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the Ontario University Workers’ Coordinating Committee (OUWCC), which speaks for the more than 25,000 university workers represented by CUPE in Ontario.

“Ontario’s universities have the lowest per capita funding in Canada. That means larger class sizes, overcrowded lab spaces and substandard cleanliness and maintenance on campuses. At the same time, the billions of public dollars Ontario’s universities receive come with few accountability requirements for administrations,” said Folk-Dawson.

“When you see needed repairs and maintenance left undone for months or years, coupled with a stubborn refusal by administrations to account for the funds they receive, it really is enough to make you go, ‘WTF’?” she added.

The WTF campaign also has a website, cupe.on.ca/wtf that has a wealth of resources available to the public to help them identify and highlight examples of underfunding on their own campus, as well as a Tumblr page that encourages people to find their own examples of campus underfunding.

The WTF Road Show will continue this week with stops in Guelph and Hamilton, and future stops expected in the New Year.

For more information, please contact:

Janice Folk-Dawson
OUWCC Chair
 519-766-8376

Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications
 416-821-6641