Moncton – During a press conference held this morning, CUPE representatives denounced the GNB Finance and Treasury Board’s decision to oust all CUPE representatives from the Standing Committee on Insured Benefits (SCIB). SCIB is an employee and employer-composed board made to oversee provincially negotiated benefit plans covering over 90,000 provincial public sector workers, retirees, and family members. Vestcor administers the benefit plans, many of which are carried by Medavie Blue Cross. Benefits range from health, dental, travel, life and death insurance, many of which members pay premiums on.
“A Director with GNB’s Finance and Treasury Board who also chairs SCIB has no right to unilaterally remove all CUPE representatives from SCIB”, said Iris Lloyd, President of CUPE Local 1253 and worker representative on SCIB.
Recently, Treasury Board demanded that all SCIB board members sign a highly restrictive non-disclosure agreement (NDA), even specifying that only Vestcor could release information to plan members.
“Treasury Board has demanded that all elected worker representatives cease to share information with their general membership. We cannot accept this, as this would go against our obligations towards our members and retirees,” said Bryan Harris, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1252 and himself one of the ousted worker representatives on SCIB.
“Treasury Board is mistaken to think we, as worker representatives, have no obligations to share information and decisions with the very people who put us on that committee,” said Sandy Harding, CUPE Maritimes Regional Director. CUPE remarks that every single benefit has been the result of bargaining table negotiations. “Their decision to exclude workers’ voices makes no sense, other than wanting to hide information from the 90,000 plan participants and the public,” added Harding.
The Auditor General has recently criticized SCIB for lacking transparency. “Workers agreed with many of the Auditor’s findings, and the recent issue of increased health premiums raised many flags. In retaliation, Treasury Board reacted by doubling down on secrecy,” said CUPE Researcher Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, who also is an alternate for workers’ voice for CUPE on SCIB.
“We demand the Treasury Board comply with the Auditor General’s findings for more transparency. They need to get rid of the NDA, and reintegrate CUPE workers’ voice on SCIB,” said Ross-Marquette.
SCIB was formed in the early 1990s with a signed agreement between unions and the government to talk about benefit issues at one table. Every month, CUPE members and retirees pay premiums on many benefits. “Members have skin in this game. Without their voices, SCIB loses its purpose,” said Iris Lloyd.
“Treasury Board should recognize their mistake or get ready to set up a series of individual tables between unions and employers to oversee each of those bargained benefits,” concluded Harding.