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Township of Black River-Matheson rejects agreement to end 50-day lockout after union ratifies

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 13:30

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON, Ont. – At an emergency council meeting Tuesday evening, the Township of Black River-Matheson voted against ending a lockout that has so far run 50 days, shocking its employees, who earlier in the day voted to ratify a tentative agreement reached on Tuesday morning.

CUPE Local 1490, representing 15 workers in the township, expressed surprise and disappointment at the news: “Our members – who live in this community – have been without pay since August 11th,” said Sonya Moffat, president of the local. “We worked hard to give the employer the flexibility they sought so we could end this lockout. We are absolutely shocked.”

CUPE negotiators were similarly dismayed: “Responsibility for this mess falls squarely on the shoulders of the mayor and councillors,” said Linda Thurston-Neeley, Regional Director for CUPE Ontario. “Let’s be clear: this council is choosing to keep people on a picket line. They are choosing to deprive the public of key services rather than ratify a tentative agreement both parties worked to achieve. They are choosing to ignore the advice of their own negotiating team. It’s mind-boggling.”

Local 1490 indicated its negotiating committee will continue to be available should the employer get serious about ending the lockout: “We are asking the Township to come to the table with whomever has the authority to negotiate a settlement that will stick,” said Moffat. “The deal we reached addressed all the issues that had been identified in talks. If there is something else, we need to hear from them directly.”

For more information:

Linda Thurston-Neeley, CUPE Ontario Regional Director: (519) 755-4358
Tammy Robinson, CUPE National Representative: (705) 971-9455 (in Timmins)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications: (416) 738-4329

Township of Black River-Matheson rejects agreement to end 50-day lockout after union ratifies

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 13:30

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON, Ont. – At an emergency council meeting Tuesday evening, the Township of Black River-Matheson voted against ending a lockout that has so far run 50 days, shocking its employees, who earlier in the day voted to ratify a tentative agreement reached on Tuesday morning.

CUPE Local 1490, representing 15 workers in the township, expressed surprise and disappointment at the news: “Our members – who live in this community – have been without pay since August 11th,” said Sonya Moffat, president of the local. “We worked hard to give the employer the flexibility they sought so we could end this lockout. We are absolutely shocked.”

CUPE negotiators were similarly dismayed: “Responsibility for this mess falls squarely on the shoulders of the mayor and councillors,” said Linda Thurston-Neeley, Regional Director for CUPE Ontario. “Let’s be clear: this council is choosing to keep people on a picket line. They are choosing to deprive the public of key services rather than ratify a tentative agreement both parties worked to achieve. They are choosing to ignore the advice of their own negotiating team. It’s mind-boggling.”

Local 1490 indicated its negotiating committee will continue to be available should the employer get serious about ending the lockout: “We are asking the Township to come to the table with whomever has the authority to negotiate a settlement that will stick,” said Moffat. “The deal we reached addressed all the issues that had been identified in talks. If there is something else, we need to hear from them directly.”

For more information:

Linda Thurston-Neeley, CUPE Ontario Regional Director: (519) 755-4358
Tammy Robinson, CUPE National Representative: (705) 971-9455 (in Timmins)
Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications: (416) 738-4329

University workers across Ontario ask: Where’s The Funding?

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:15

University workers at Carleton University joined their counterparts at campuses across Ontario to ask: Where’s the Funding? (WTF).

The WTF campaign, initiated by CUPE Ontario’s University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC), aims to highlight both how chronic government underfunding of Ontario’s universities negatively affects quality of learning and campus life, as well as the absence of meaningful transparency requirements for university administrations in Ontario.

“We developed WTF as a light-hearted way to tackle two very serious issues at Ontario universities,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the OUWCC.

“First, successive governments from all three political parties have severely underfunded post-secondary education in Ontario and, secondly, universities in Ontario aren’t subject to the same sorts of regulations as other provincial agencies in terms of reporting how the funds they receive from governments, students and other sources, is spent,” she added.

The WTF campaign includes a website (cupe.on.ca/wheresthefunding), social media presence and a healthy dose of campus interactivity. Students, staff and other members of a university’s campus community will be encouraged to find examples of underfunded campus operations and create photographic records to upload to the campaign’s web page.

“We’re very excited about rolling out this campaign at Carleton University,” said David Simao, vice-president of Local 4600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“WTF is a great opportunity to really connect the entire campus community to one another and identify the many challenges we face – from outdated lab equipment, to overcrowded classes, to inadequate cleaning, to name just a few,” he added.

OUWCC is the voice of CUPE Ontario’s university workers, speaking on behalf of more than 20,000 members working in a wide range of disciplines at universities across Ontario.

For more information, please contact:

Janice Folk-Dawson, Chair, OUWCC, 519-766-8376
David Simao, Vice-President, CUPE Local 4600, 613-668-9010
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641

University workers across Ontario ask: Where’s The Funding? CUPE Ontario university workers launch WTF campaign to highlight impacts of underfunding, lack of transparency at campuses across province

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 12:15

University workers at Carleton University joined their counterparts at campuses across Ontario to ask: Where’s the Funding? (WTF).

The WTF campaign, initiated by CUPE Ontario’s University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC), aims to highlight both how chronic government underfunding of Ontario’s universities negatively affects quality of learning and campus life, as well as the absence of meaningful transparency requirements for university administrations in Ontario.

“We developed WTF as a light-hearted way to tackle two very serious issues at Ontario universities,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the OUWCC.

“First, successive governments from all three political parties have severely underfunded post-secondary education in Ontario and, secondly, universities in Ontario aren’t subject to the same sorts of regulations as other provincial agencies in terms of reporting how the funds they receive from governments, students and other sources, is spent,” she added.

The WTF campaign includes a website (cupe.on.ca/wheresthefunding), social media presence and a healthy dose of campus interactivity. Students, staff and other members of a university’s campus community will be encouraged to find examples of underfunded campus operations and create photographic records to upload to the campaign’s web page.

“We’re very excited about rolling out this campaign at Carleton University,” said David Simao, vice-president of Local 4600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

“WTF is a great opportunity to really connect the entire campus community to one another and identify the many challenges we face – from outdated lab equipment, to overcrowded classes, to inadequate cleaning, to name just a few,” he added.

OUWCC is the voice of CUPE Ontario’s university workers, speaking on behalf of more than 20,000 members working in a wide range of disciplines at universities across Ontario.

For more information, please contact:

Janice Folk-Dawson, Chair, OUWCC, 519-766-8376
David Simao, Vice-President, CUPE Local 4600, 613-668-9010
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641

Save Our Health Care town hall in Campbell River

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 16:30

Health care town hall meeting in Campbell River

Protect, Strengthen and Expand Health Care: Why we need a new Health Accord

When: Monday, October 20, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Where: Campbell River Museum, 470 Island Highway, Campbell River, BC.

Speakers:

Paul Moist, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians

Lois Jarvis, Citizens For Quality Health Care representative

City of Mount Pearl locks out its municipal workforce

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:15

MOUNT PEARL, NL – The City of Mount Pearl has locked out its municipal workforce, shutting down virtually all services in the municipality.

CUPE Local 2099 President Bob Martin says, “We presented the details of the city’s so-called ‘final offer’ last Thursday to our members, and on Friday morning almost 100 of them showed up for a protest to show their displeasure with that offer. For Mayor Simms to now suggest that the union didn’t take the offer back to its members is not helpful or even truthful.”

Martin added, “Mount Pearl residents need to understand that we were more than ready to go back to the table, but the city appears to have other plans. And I want to emphasize, this is not a work stoppage, as the mayor has been saying. This is a lockout. The mayor and senior managers have basically shut the city down.”

Today’s garbage collection is cancelled and the city says there will be no recycling and bulk garbage collections.  It says recreational programs and events have been suspended.  The Reid Community Centre, swimming pool and Kenmount Park Community Centre are all closed. 

Wages are the main outstanding issues. The 140 members of CUPE Local 2099 are inside and outside workers with the City of Mount Pearl.

Download the poster: I heart public health care

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 21:00

Download the printable “I heart public health care” poster (8” x 11” PDF, 300 resolution).

Solidarity with pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 19:30

CUPE expresses our support for the protests initiated by students and supported by workers in Hong Kong.  We draw tremendous inspiration from activists who are mobilizing to demand a voice in their country.  We offer them our solidarity as they courageously stand up in the face of injustice and the violent suppression of their rights.

Activists in Hong Kong are condemning and opposing restrictive election processes being imposed in advance of elections in 2017. They are taking issue with the rigid rules on nominations which will undermine the process of holding democratic elections in the country.

Since the announcement of future elections in Hong Kong in 2008, the student movement has challenged the imposition of rules which favor the interest of the Chinese government and business elite. The protests are gaining momentum in response to the violent crackdown by the government over the past few days.

We support the call by the workers in Hong Kong for an end to police violence and repression. We support their call for the assurance that basic human rights of all protestors be recognized.  We condemn the use of arrests and violence as a tool to suppress the right of people in Hong Kong to engage in peaceful assembly and to demand a fair and democratic election system.

As larger mobilizations are planned for October 1st, we are aware that our government is planning to sign into effect the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.  We stand firmly with the people in Hong Kong whose demands for democracy remind us of the urgent and ongoing need for international solidarity.

Sign the petition 

More ambulances, paramedics the answer to response times issue

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 17:15

CUPE 873 pans Delta mayor’s bid to download provincial service, train firefighters

RICHMOND—Delta Mayor Lois Jackson’s plan to provide emergency medical response (EMR) training to local firefighters is a costly duplication of first responder services that fails to recognize key distinctions between the services and will not resolve longer ambulance wait times, say the Ambulance Paramedics of BC (CUPE 873).

Mayor Jackson’s plan, announced at last week’s Union of BC Municipalities convention, is aimed at giving firefighters a more direct role in such emergency response tasks as blood sugar tests and the use of EpiPen auto-injectors for allergic reactions.  This training cannot and should not replace the work of ambulance paramedics, says CUPE 873 President Bronwyn Barter.

“The answer for suffering ambulance response times is not sending in firefighters.  The answer is providing more BCAS ambulances staffed with paramedics,” said Barter.  “Paramedics are the medical professionals in the field and that is what the patient needs—the continuum of care.”

Barter said that municipalities should be lobbying the provincial government to add more paramedic resources to their area:  “But instead, Mayor Jackson is saddling her municipal taxpayers with even more costs for a service they already pay provincial tax for.  Why pay double?”

Citing annual reports for B.C. municipalities, the CUPE 873 president said that the Fire EMS model is the most expensive way to deliver emergency service.

Last year, for example, the Delta fire budget was $22.7 million for a population of 99,863.  There were 5,894 responses, costing $3,851 per response.  Of those responses, 3,249 or 55 per cent were medical calls and only six per cent of the calls dealt with fires.

The Delta Fire Department has the third highest cost per capita to taxpayers, of all departments in the Lower Mainland.  This compared to a cost of just $343 per response for trained paramedics via the BC Ambulance Service.

“With a properly funded ambulance service, our paramedics and other first responders—including firefighters—will be able to work together more effectively,” said Barter.

For more information, please contact:

Cameron Eby
Ambulance Paramedics of BC
 604-815-7689

Parties near a tentative agreement in Black River-Matheson but employees remain locked out over township’s conditions on “return to work”

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 20:00

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON, ON – After two days spent in intense bargaining, negotiators for the employees of Black River-Matheson and the township reached what represented a tentative agreement late Thursday night, with the assistance of an Officer of the Ministry of Labour.

However the agreement remains unsigned and the municipal employees of Black River-Matheson remain locked out because the parties have been unable to agree on the “return to work protocol” – that is, the conditions under which the 15 locked-out workers would return to their jobs.

“For reasons known only to him, the township’s Director of Works and Operations has drawn a line in the sand over the date that employees will return to work,” said Tammy Robinson, spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents the locked out workers.

The union tabled several proposals with regards to a date for workers’ return to work, but all were rejected, Robinson said.

Members met today (Friday) at 10 a.m. for a briefing on the proposed agreement and the proposed terms for a return to work.

“In the absence of any flexibility from the township, our members are left wondering once again what other considerations are clouding the judgment of the township’s leaders,” said Robinson, noting that others have been performing the work that is normally carried out by locked-out township employees.

For more information:

Tammy Robinson, CUPE National Representative, 705-971-9455

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 647-390-9839

Bridging the fiscal gap: Ottawa candidates’ forum explores new revenue options for municipalities

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 14:45

OTTAWA, ON – On Monday, September 29, candidates running for office in Ottawa’s municipal elections will participate in a unique forum that investigates new and innovative tools for tackling the funding challenges of Canadian municipalities.

“Building a Sustainable Ottawa: Bridging the Funding Gap” will be hosted by Canadian experts in municipal policy. They will lead discussions to explore options for progressive revenues that allow cities like Ottawa to continue delivery of high-quality public services and to rebuild their ageing infrastructure.

The forum is sponsored by the Ottawa-Carleton Public Employees’ Union, Local 503 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The event is also the Ottawa launch of CUPE’s new municipal revenues guide, Building Better Communities: a Fair Funding Toolkit for Canada’s Cities and Towns.

Discussions will be moderated by senior communications strategist Kathleen Monk, well known to Canadians for her appearances on CBC’s National panel, The Insiders. Joining her on the panel are:

  • Hugh Mackenzie, Principal with the economic consultancy Hugh Mackenzie and Associates;
  • Katrina Miller, Partner at Public Interest;
  • David Thompson, Principal at PolicyLink Research and Consulting and Policy Director of the Sustainable Communities program at Sustainable Prosperity, University of Ottawa

Members of the media are invited to attend the forum.

  • Who: 70+ candidates for office in Ottawa’s 2014 municipal elections
  • (mayoral and council candidates; incumbents and new candidates)
  • What: Building a Sustainable Ottawa: Bridging the Funding Gap
  • When: Monday, September 29, 8 am to 12 noon
  • Where: Delta Ottawa City Centre, Ballroom A, 101 Lyon Street, Ottawa

For information about attending the forum, contact:

Jean-Marc Bézaire, CUPE National Representative
613-293-8163 or e-mail jbezaire@cupe.ca

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Local 503
613-292-8902 or e-mail clpoolecotnam@cupe503.com

For media inquiries, contact:

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications
905-739-3999 ext. 240 or 647-390-9839 (cell)

Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications
613-237-1590 ext. 187 or 613-222-4436 (cell)

Bridging the fiscal gap: Ottawa candidates’ forum explores new revenue options for municipalities

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 14:45

OTTAWA, Ont. – On Monday, September 29, candidates running for office in Ottawa’s municipal elections will participate in a unique forum that investigates new and innovative tools for tackling the funding challenges of Canadian municipalities.

“Building a Sustainable Ottawa: Bridging the Funding Gap” will be hosted by Canadian experts in municipal policy. They will lead discussions to explore options for progressive revenues that allow cities like Ottawa to continue delivery of high-quality public services and to rebuild their ageing infrastructure.

The forum is sponsored by the Ottawa-Carleton Public Employees’ Union, Local 503 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The event is also the Ottawa launch of CUPE’s new municipal revenues guide, Building Better Communities: a Fair Funding Toolkit for Canada’s Cities and Towns. (Download at http://tinyurl.com/krta4o8.)

Discussions will be moderated by senior communications strategist Kathleen Monk, well known to Canadians for her appearances on CBC’s National panel, The Insiders. Joining her on the panel are:

  • Hugh Mackenzie, Principal with the economic consultancy Hugh Mackenzie and Associates;
  • Katrina Miller, Partner at Public Interest;
  • David Thompson, Principal at PolicyLink Research and Consulting and Policy Director of the Sustainable Communities program at Sustainable Prosperity, University of Ottawa

Members of the media are invited to attend the forum.

  • Who: 70+ candidates for office in Ottawa’s 2014 municipal elections
  • (mayoral and council candidates; incumbents and new candidates)
  • What: Building a Sustainable Ottawa: Bridging the Funding Gap
  • When: Monday, September 29, 8 am to 12 noon
  • Where: Delta Ottawa City Centre, Ballroom A, 101 Lyon Street, Ottawa

For information about attending the forum, contact:

Jean-Marc Bézaire, CUPE National Representative
613-293-8163 or e-mail jbezaire@cupe.ca

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Local 503
613-292-8902 or e-mail clpoolecotnam@cupe503.com

For media inquiries, contact:

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications
905-739-3999 ext. 240 or 647-390-9839 (cell)

Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications
613-237-1590 ext. 187 or 613-222-4436 (cell)

Fiche d’information : Les membres du SCFP méritent de gagner au moins 18 dollars l’heure

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 20:45

We will achieve real gains through bargaining, especially by improving wages and benefits for our lowest-paid members and members in precarious jobs. We will fight 
to achieve decent living wages for all CUPE members and commit to bringing the lowest paid members to a minimum rate of $18 per hour with a defined benefit pension plan by 2018. […] Gains for CUPE members will help to raise the bar for all working people. 

We will fight for an economy where everyone has a chance to have a secure job, making a decent living, with good benefits and a good pension. Good jobs and decent wages are what we need to grow an economy that works for everybody 

Strategic Directions 2013-2015

The income gap between the wealthiest one per cent and the rest of us is stark. In Canada, the top one per cent (approximately 272,000 people) earn on average $380,000 a year. That is almost ten times the average annual pay of either a public sector worker ($49,655) or a private sector worker ($49,407). But this shocking gap is not the end of the story. In the 99 per cent there is also a significant gulf between those earning over $150,000 and those at the bottom working for pay at, near or even below, minimum wage.

Nearly one in ten Canadian workers earn wages that are at or below the poverty level. A single person making less than $23,647 a year or a family with two children and two adults having an income of less than $43,942 a year is considered to be living in poverty. 

Ten per cent of CUPE members’ jobs are paid less than $18 per hour.

The 10 Lowest Income Jobs in CUPE Collective Agreements
  • Residential care workers and residential support workers 
  • Cooks 
  • Early childhood educators and assistants 
  • Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers 
  • and dishwashers 
  • Food service workers 
  • Janitors, caretakers and building superintendents 
  • Labourers 
  • Lifeguards 
  • Light duty cleaners (housekeeper/cleaner) 
  • Recreation program leaders and instructors 
Raising the Floor Low income, inflation and meaningful wage targets

Price inflation for basic goods such as housing, fuel and food hits hardest at the lower end of the income scale. In the same way that increases in flat taxes such as the GST and PST are regressive because they take more of percentage of lower income workers’ pay, inflation takes a heavier toll on working families trying to make ends meet. 

CUPE is fighting to raise wages for the lowest earners so that inflation does not threaten to push members into poverty. 

Inflation from 2013 to 2014 was 2.36 per cent. 

Pay equity 

On average, public sector workers earn about 0.5 per cent more than private sector workers. This is almost entirely because women in the lowest paid occupations earn higher incomes in the public sector than they do in the private sector. But there is still work to do to close that gendered wage gap. Implementing and maintaining pay equity plans where pay equity legislation exists will help keep women’s wages at a fair scale. Where pay equity legislation is not on the books CUPE locals can negotiate gender-neutral job evaluation plans into their collective agreements.

Raising all wages, lifting all workers

Many collective agreements cover both well-paid workers and workers who earn near-poverty wages. For these agreements, per cent increases in wages widen the gap between the highest and lowest wages over time and do not make the necessary gains to lift the lowest income earners out of near-poverty wages. Special increases to the lowest wages are a more effective and equitable way to raise wages. Flat rate wage increases provide another way to share wage increases more fairly.

Raising the floor for the lowest wages will require bargaining to set this floor in our collective agreements at or above $18 per hour. 

The benefits of setting a wage floor are two-fold. First, the floor will act to push up all wages in the collective agreement. Second, bringing up wages for the lowest paid will put pressure on all employers to pay workers in low-wage occupations fair wages. If CUPE bargains to raise the floor, it does so for all workers and helps reduce overall income inequality. 

CUPE Research will develop a bargaining tool kit to assist CUPE locals with arguments to achieve $18 per hour.

Fact sheet: Two-tier bargaining - how to recognize it and reject it

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 20:15

We are committed to ensuring that the next generation of workers enjoys the benefits that CUPE members have already won. We cannot build solidarity between generations if we accept two-tier contracts. Our union opposes all moves toward two-tier wages, benefits or pensions. 
Strategic Directions 2013-2015

Two-tiered collective bargaining (or “orphan clause” bargaining as it is known in Quebec) is a divisive practice through which employers try to get union members to agree to different scales of compensation. Collective agreements which include two tiers may mean that new hires receive lower wages, less job security, longer probationary periods, different pensions and benefits, or a combination of all four of these measures. These differences may be temporary or permanent, but either way two-tier bargaining is concession bargaining. Eventually all workers in the bargaining unit lose.

With two-tier provisions, some new hires may eventually achieve the same pay rates as more senior employees but it takes years to achieve parity. Sometimes the effects are permanent. In these cases, newer – and most often, younger workers, women workers, racialized workers and workers with disabilities – will never achieve the same collective agreement benefits. Two-tiered clauses provide new hires with worse working conditions, wages and benefits than those negotiated for more senior colleagues in the same jobs, for no reason other than their date 
of hire. Two-tier bargaining is unfair to new hires and weakens  the union because it undermines union solidarity. Unions are built on the principle of fairness and there is nothing fair about people doing the same job for different wages. Eventually today’s new hires will be in the majority and they will have no interest in fighting for higher wages or protecting the benefits of those who agreed to give them second tier status. Once a union accepts two-tier provisions, subsequent rounds of bargaining are often spent trying to remove those tiers or finding ways to compensate lower-tier workers, making overall gains even harder to achieve. Once successful in establishing a second tier, the employer will try to shift work to workers who cost less, away from workers who enjoy full pay and benefits.

Common two-tier offers

Pensions: Employers often try to replace defined benefit (DB) pensions with defined contribution (DC) plans for new hires. This split compromises the retirement security of both current and future members. DB plans that are closed to new members cost more as plan members get older and then employers typically come back looking for either increased contributions or reduced benefits (or both) from the members in the DB plan. 

Job security: Weaker job security language for new hires is another two-tier tactic. Employers argue that it will not affect anyone who is already part of the union. But such proposals are designed to chip away at the size of the bargaining unit. Once the union is smaller, it is weaker and everyone’s job security is at greater risk. To protect all workers’ job security we need the energy and activism that new and young workers bring. 

Job losses: Employers will claim that without two-tiers some workers may lose their jobs. But accepting two tier deals does not protect jobs. Consider the case of the United Auto Workers. They had 700,000 members at the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) in the US during the 1970s. In difficult bargaining in the 1980s and 1990s, the UAW accepted two-tier concessions in exchange for promises of job security. Today, they have only 110,000 members left at these companies. As Sam Gindin has argued in The Toronto Star, an autoworker hired at a Big Three company today will be working at a lower inflation-adjusted wage than he or she would have earned a half-century ago.

As governments try to implement austerity measures, pushing two-tier provisions is increasingly on the table in the Canadian public sector. Employers often say it is a question of resources, but it is not the case that governments cannot afford to offer the same wages and benefits that existing workers have. Since the 1990s, Canada has steadily lowered overall tax rates, but governments can make a different choice. By raising revenue through job creation, raising corporate taxes, closing loopholes and a variety of other measures, governments can offer good wages and benefits to workers.

When unions have agreed to two-tier clauses it has led to animosity between union leaders and members, and between members themselves. Two-tier contracts do not protect senior workers for long as employers seek further concessions and exploit the weakened union. 

We must all fight for our jobs before we bargain by engaging the public in conversations about the importance of our work and building public support for our members. Another solution is to encourage worker-friendly governments to bring in legislation that prevents two-tier agreements. But the best solution is to make sure that all current union members – the people who decide whether to accept or reject a tiered collective agreement – understand the true cost of such agreements, both for new hires and for themselves.

Guidelines for bargaining
  • Work with CUPE staff to identify other ways of dealing with the cost issues. For instance, in certain circumstances locals might consider accepting slightly lower wage increases across the board rather than agree to different rates for new hires.
  • Educate members about the solidarity costs of tiers – members who vote to accept tier agreements cannot expect new workers to support the union in the same way in future rounds of bargaining, where things they value may be on the table.
  • Lobby and engage public sector employers and elected representatives about fairness, especially as it applies to public services and public service workers. It is because of good collective agreements that women working in the public sector now have a smaller gender wage gap. 

Fact sheet: Pension bargaining priorities

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 18:30

CUPE cannot achieve gains at the bargaining table without collective political and social progress. What we want for ourselves – decent pay, dignity, respect, equality, safe workplaces, a healthy environment, and excellent public services – we want for all workers and peoples in Canada. 

CUPE Strategic Directions 2013- 2015

Canada is heading towards a retirement income crisis. Study after study shows that Canadians without pensions are not able to save enough for retirement on their own, yet governments and employers are moving backwards on retirement security. The federal government has refused to expand the Canada Pension Plan and has unilaterally increased the age of eligibility for Old Age Security.

Employers in both the private and public sectors are attacking decent defined benefit plans and shifting massive amounts of risk onto plan members. The result of these attacks will be significantly lower retirement living standards for future generations of Canadians. Many will simply slip into poverty. We can do better and CUPE members are leading the fight for decent retirement.

1.   Expanding the Canada Pension Plan

Since 2009, CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress have pushed for secure retirement for all Canadians, phased in by doubling CPP benefits and requiring just a modest increase in workers’ and employers’ contribution rate. This common sense plan is affordable and has garnered significant support from the provinces, the public and a wide array of experts. CPP expansion would have the added benefit of reducing pressure on workplace pension plans. Most provinces are ready to amend the CPP but the federal Conservatives have blocked CPP expansion. CUPE must educate our members and the public on the importance of CPP expansion. We must make pensions a major issue in the next federal election.

2. Reversing the cuts to Old Age Security

Without consulting the public or the provinces the federal government increased the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. This decision will have huge repercussions, particularly for future generations of Canadians living in poverty. Experts agree that the program was sustainable before Ottawa imposed the age eligibility increase.

3.   Resisting attacks on defined benefit plans

Over the past several years, CUPE locals in every jurisdiction and sector have faced unprecedented attacks on their defined benefit workplace pension plans. Under the guise of austerity, public sector employers are increasingly attacking pensions, proposing massive benefit cuts or even an outright conversion to target benefit or defined contribution plans. These other plans do not offer the traditional secure defined benefits and shift the bulk of risk from employers to members.

Typically, such changes can only be made on a go-forward basis, but governments are increasingly looking at ways to implement these conversions retroactively. These changes allow employers to walk away from promises made to employees by rewriting them as mere goals. Under-delivering would then become legal.

4. Expanding Workplace Pension Coverage

Some workplace pension plans have restrictions setting minimum hours or earning thresholds, effectively excluding part-time workers. Pension plan texts and collective agreements should be examined for ways to bring part-time workers in. Many CUPE units have been successful in expanding the coverage of their workplace plans in this way. Nonetheless, a number of CUPE workplaces still do not have decent workplace pension plans – they may be stuck in RRSP or defined contribution type plans – and many members have no plan at all. If these workers are unable to bargain a defined benefit plan, they can consider participating in the union-run Multi Sector Pension Plan or the Nursing Homes and Related Industries Pension Plan – target benefit plans that provide decent pensions for workers who have not been able to achieve a DB plan.

Guidelines for bargaining

Protect defined benefit character of plans. Defined benefit plans were established and built up through hard bargaining and have a track record as the best way to provide a secure and predictable retirement income.

Resist two-tier outcomes. Shifting from a defined benefit plan to a less secure plan for new hires will create two tiers of worker within the same bargaining unit. The eventual split between tier one and tier two workers could threaten union solidarity and strength.

Bring pensions to the bargaining table. If necessary, collective agreements can be amended to include language that effectively gives the union a veto over all plan changes. Pursue joint trusteeship to remove employers’ right to change plans unilaterally.

Always look critically at employer/consultant arguments. Employers and their paid consultants often present an overly negative picture of a plan’s funding status in order to justify drastic, permanent pension cuts. These arguments are often exaggerated, and their conclusions should always be critically examined and challenged.

Look for past contribution holidays. During the 1990s, when many pension plans were in surplus, employers took significant “contribution holidays,” using surplus funds to pay their own pension contributions. Showing a history of contribution holidays can be very helpful in pushing back against local pension cuts.

Make any unwanted changes temporary and prioritize contribution increases over benefit changes. Changes to a plan that are ultimately undesirable can be set to expire at a set date or specified funding level. Minimize permanent concessions to the plan by making undesirable changes temporary. Our pension benefits are so important that, if facing a difficult choice, it is often better to pay a bit more to protect these benefits than to lose them altogether.

Build coalitions with other unions in the same pension plan. Often several unions represent workers in the same pension plan. Working together, sharing resources and information, and creating a common front can often lead to better outcomes.

Make use of CUPE pension resources. CUPE has many researchers and national representatives with pension expertise, along with two pension specialists in the national office who are able to assist with pension issues. CUPE can also turn to external legal and actuarial advice when needed. Contact your national representative to access these resources.

Challenge the public perception that all defined benefit plans are unsustainable and unfair. Defined benefit pension plans are the most efficient way to use current earnings to fund retirement. CUPE has a proven track record of working with employers to ensure that defined benefit pension plans are sustainable. Remind people you talk to that pension plan members pay a significant portion of the cost of their pensions and that these plans are a part of their negotiated total compensation. For CUPE members, an average pension for a 30-year employee is a modest $18,000 per year. Good pension plans also have significant benefits for the economy as a whole and save governments at all levels important funds from social and income support programs for seniors.

CUPE donates to Ebola victim aid fund

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 18:15

CUPE stands in solidarity with the people of West Africa and the front line health care workers who have been providing care for those affected by the Ebola virus, at great risk to their own health. On behalf CUPE members, CUPE is making donations of $10,000 to the Public Services International Aid Fund and $10,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières.

On August 8 the World Health Organization declared the current Ebola epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern.” The virus has already infected thousands of people, roughly half of whom have died, and continues to spread in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Front line health care workers face multiple challenges in this epidemic, including understaffing, lack of or shortages of protective equipment, heat-stroke from long hours in protective equipment, and 16-hour work days. Since the beginning of this crisis hundreds have contracted the Ebola virus, with virtually half succumbing to the illness.

World leaders’ responses to this epidemic have been inadequate. When coupled with non-existent or patchwork public health capacities in West Africa we are facing an emergency that should concern people in every country. It is time for the UN to convene a special debate on the global response to Ebola and to address the necessity for mitigation measures. CUPE believes that Canada should take a leadership role and call for UN action now. CUPE also supports the call for the urgent deployment of bio-disaster response teams, from states with this capacity.

“We have called on the Prime Minister to increase Canada’s financial contributions so that front line workers have access to the equipment they need, to facilitate the service of additional medical personnel and to start the logistical planning necessary for the deployment of DART and our field hospitals, especially those that have teams of personnel trained to staff and operate isolation units,” said CUPE National President, Paul Moist.

CUPE members understand the sacrifices being made by thousands of frontline health care workers.

We are keeping those workers in our thoughts.

CUPE’s National Executive Board adopted a statement on September 24, 2014 supporting frontline health care workers caring for victims of this epidemic.

CUPE locals and members are encouraged to make their own donations.

CUPE donates to Ebola victim aid fund

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 18:15

CUPE stands in solidarity with the people of West Africa and the front line health care workers who have been providing care for those affected by the Ebola virus, at great risk to their own health. On behalf CUPE members, CUPE is making donations of $10,000 to the Public Services International Aid Fund and $10,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières.

On August 8 the World Health Organization declared the current Ebola epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern.” The virus has already infected thousands of people, roughly half of whom have died, and continues to spread in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Front line health care workers face multiple challenges in this epidemic, including understaffing, lack of or shortages of protective equipment, heat-stroke from long hours in protective equipment, and 16-hour work days. Since the beginning of this crisis hundreds have contracted the Ebola virus, with virtually half succumbing to the illness.

World leaders’ responses to this epidemic have been inadequate. When coupled with non-existent or patchwork public health capacities in West Africa we are facing an emergency that should concern people in every country. It is time for the UN to convene a special debate on the global response to Ebola and to address the necessity for mitigation measures. CUPE believes that Canada should take a leadership role and call for UN action now. CUPE also supports the call for the urgent deployment of bio-disaster response teams, from states with this capacity.

“We have called on the Prime Minister to increase Canada’s financial contributions so that front line workers have access to the equipment they need, to facilitate the service of additional medical personnel and to start the logistical planning necessary for the deployment of DART and our field hospitals, especially those that have teams of personnel trained to staff and operate isolation units,” said CUPE National President, Paul Moist.

CUPE members understand the sacrifices being made by thousands of frontline health care workers.

We are keeping those workers in our thoughts.

CUPE’s National Executive Board adopted a statement on September 24, 2014 supporting frontline health care workers caring for victims of this epidemic.

CUPE locals and members are encouraged to make their own donations. Find more information about the PSI Aid Fund here and about MSF here.

Leaked CETA text shows deal favours corporations, not Canadians

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 16:00

A new study says Canadians stand to lose far more than they gain from a proposed trade deal with the European Union.  

Long kept under wraps, the text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was recently leaked. Analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the trade and investment deal works for large multinational corporations - not for people, or the planet. 

Read the full CCPA study.

The study, Making Sense of CETA, finds the deal will: 

  • Bypass the temporary foreign worker program, allowing EU corporations to bring certain types of workers into Canada, without the checks and balances of having to prove a shortage of Canadian workers with the needed skills or knowledge
  • Limit the power of provincial and municipal governments to use their purchasing decisions to create local jobs, protect the environment and support local economies
  • Enshrine a new system of corporate rights, allowing multinationals to sue governments for their policy or legislative decisions - endangering current and future public services and locking in privatization
  • Drive up health care costs by delaying the availability of lower-cost generic drugs


Sign the Trade Justice Network’s call for transparency and a full debate on CETA.

“No wonder Stephen Harper’s been keeping this deal under such close guard. It’s handing over the keys to our public services and our legislatures and city halls. It’s not too late to scrap this damaging deal,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist 

A groundswell of European opposition threatens to derail the deal. Elected representatives in several countries are demanding the removal of CETA’s controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rules, which give corporations sweeping new powers to challenge domestic decision-making. Legislators are calling on the EU not to finalize any deal. 

The wave of opposition disrupts a carefully-staged photo-op for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and EU officials, planned for Friday, Sept. 26 on Parliament Hill. It’s the third time Canadian and European officials have held an event to try and convince the public that CETA is a done deal. 

Demonstrators will take to the streets on the same day in Ottawa, London and Brussels to call for transparency and democracy. The Ottawa protest is being organized by a coalition of marine transportation workers that includes CUPE dockworkers in Quebec. 

“This ceremony is a charade. Prime Minister Harper wants everyone to pack up and go home. But the reality is that CETA is in jeopardy,” says Moist. “It’s not a final document that’s ready to sign - it’s being taken apart and challenged by elected representatives in Austria and Germany.” 

Progressive legislators have taken a strong stand against CETA’s most damaging provisions. Their challenges take aim at the ISDS rules, and could unravel the entire deal. CETA will have to be ratified by 28 governments in Europe, and translated into multiple languages - a process that could take another two years. 

“Canadians can only wish we had the same level of transparency and debate here in our Parliament. CETA’s corporate rights rules are anti-democratic. We demand an open and democratic debate on CETA before negotiations are finished. It’s the only way to ensure Canada signs a deal that truly is about trade - not about special corporate rights,” says Moist. 

CUPE supports Indigenous Adoptee Gathering

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 18:00

From the 1960s up until the late 1980s, child welfare authorities in Canada took approximately 20,000 Aboriginal children and placed them in non-aboriginal homes. This has become known as the ‘60s scoop.’  Many see this as part of the oppressive, colonial system that supported the expansion of the residential school system in Canada, with devastating effects on Aboriginal families and communities. 

On September 20 and 21, 2014 in Ottawa, approximately 100 people from every territory of Canada, and as far away as New York and New Zealand, attended the Bigiwen Indigenous Adoptee Gathering on unceeded Algonquin Territory. CUPE National Aboriginal Council Senator Dale Whitford attended the event on behalf of CUPE. 

Adoptees gathered to share stories about their common experiences, which included being cut off from their culture, language and sense of belonging.  As the organizers for event have stated: “Many adoptees felt isolated in their adoptive communities and many suffered tremendous physical, sexual, spiritual and emotional abuse. This experience essentially erased their connection to the land and their Indigenous identity. Indigenous adoptees have faced further barriers connecting with their heritage; accessing their adoption records which have been sealed so they can’t find their birth families or nation; many do not speak their Indigenous language; and many are struggling with the lasting effects of the trauma.”

CUPE’s participation in the gathering was an important aspect of our work on connecting with community organizations to speak out on common goals and human rights issues. CUPE National Aboriginal Council Senator Dale Whitford stated “This is such a huge issue that has never come forward like this before – we need to educate our members on this issue as it affects many of our own members among the union’s Aboriginal membership.”

Agenda: National Sector Council Conference

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 16:00

Monday, October 6, 2014

3:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Concourse Level

Registration

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

Learning from each other: CUPE’s first sector council

Kick off a week of exchanging information and learning best practices. CUPE National President Paul Moist gives us the big picture – our challenges, plans to surmount them together, and a sneak peak from our national members’ survey.

Paul Moist, CUPE National President

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Meeting rooms as assigned           

Sector meetings

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

LUNCH

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

The Fairness Project and bargaining

Fairness is what unions are all about. By using the fairness model to mobilize for bargaining we gain support and raise the standards for all workers. When we stand together we all win: better working conditions, better wages and benefits, and a better society.

Charles Fleury
CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer

Host:
Kathy Johnson, CUPE Organizing and Regional Services

3:00 – 3:15 p.m. 

Break

3:15 – 4:45 p.m.
Meeting rooms as assigned

Sector meetings

4:45 p.m.

Adjournment

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Foyer

Reception

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Meeting rooms as assigned           

Sector meetings

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

LUNCH

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

LEARNING FROM OUR ALLIES

Lee Saunders, AFSCME President, shares stories of threats his members have faced and how they resisted.

Guest speaker:
Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

Protecting pensions, saving retirement

Pensions are a frequent employer target these days. Pressure is mounting on workers to accept cuts to pension benefits or insecure and inequitable plans. We must push back. Learn about CUPE’s track record of creative solutions and get inspired by other union success stories.

Host:
Mark Janson, CUPE Research

3:00 – 3:15 p.m. 

Break

3:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Meeting rooms as assigned

Sector meetings

5:00 p.m.

Adjournment

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

Reception
Hosted by CUPE Ontario

Thursday, October 9, 2014

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

Raising the floor

Employers are sneaking around hard-won contract gains – replacing full-time jobs with part-time and casual staff at reduced wages, rolling back benefits
and sick leave, and trying to bargain two-tier
collective agreements. These tactics hurt everyone, but affect equity-seeking groups most of all. We’ll discuss the importance of solidarity and strategies for pushing back at the bargaining table, protecting workers’ rights and moving towards equality.

Host:
Linda Craig, Assistant Regional Director, SCFP-Québec

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.

break

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Grand Ballroom, Lower Concourse

The digital imperative: Connecting
on-the-ground and online organizing

Digital media is the new reality. Online tools are
revolutionizing grassroots mobilizing. Every
successful campaign uses them. But the same old organizing principles still apply. Betsy Hoover, Obama’s 2012 Director of Digital Organizing, gives us her insights on successful strategies and a
vision of what’s possible when we embrace
digital organizing.

Guest speaker:
Betsy Hoover, Digital Partner, 270 Strategies

Closing remarks
Paul Moist and Charles Fleury

12:00 p.m.

Adjournment

  Plenary and Sector Meeting Locations

Plenary sessions will take place in the Grand Ballroom, located on the Lower Concourse level of the Sheraton Centre Hotel. 

Sector meetings will take place in the following rooms:

Sector

Room

Location

Airlines and other federally regulated workplaces

Maple

Mezzanine

Child care

Sheraton A + B

Lower Concourse

Education

Osgoode

Lower Concourse

Emergency services

Cedar

Mezzanine

Energy

Linden

Mezzanine

Health care

Sheraton E + F

Lower Concourse

Library

Chestnut East

Mezzanine

Municipal

Birchwood

Mezzanine

Post-secondary

Sheraton C

Lower Concourse

Provincial government
and crown corporations

Chestnut West

Mezzanine

Social services

Sheraton A + B

Lower Concourse