NB Day: Premier Recognizes Labour Movement’s Contribution

Edmundston – CUPE members were pleased to hear Premier Gallant recognize the importance of the labour movement in his New Brunswick Day speech in Edmundston. Gallant emphasized the valuable contribution of public sector workers to the province.

“It was certainly uplifting to hear Gallant thanking NB workers and mention the labour movement’s dedication to make New Brunswick a better place,” said Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President. “The event’s organizers did an excellent job good job, union members and citizens were well received, the event was a success,” he added.

In his speech, Premier Gallant added a special thank you to the front-line workers delivering services at the Edmundston regional hospital.

However, Gallant has yet to change his position on the Sodexo deal, since his own Health minister declared in late June that he was still going forward with the contracting-out plan, which will put over 280 health workers out of a job.

“The same front-line workers who were thanked on NB day are hoping the Premier’s acts be in coherence with his words: he must stop the Sodexo deal,” said Légère.

Grand Fall: Union dissatisfied with slow negotiations

Local 886 of the Canadian Union of public employees (CUPE) representing municipal employees of the Town of Grand Falls is dissatisfied with the slowness of the negotiations with the employer.

The Union is frustrated by the employer that insists on attacking the principle of seniority, basic element in any collective agreement. Notably, the employer wishes to exclude new workers hired on temporary contract of the collective agreement.

“Our demands are very reasonable and represent the current situations in the workplace. “I don’t understand why the city won’t move ‘, says Aldéo Cyr, president of the local and certified Manager of the water treatment.

The city representative said the Union that he wants to address not only by seniority, but wants to have full freedom to lay off municipal employees and have a free use the outsourcing of services.

“We had much better relations with the city before, but now, they want to even talk of contracting out and attack to seniority. These attacks come out of nowhere,” says Aldéo Cyr.

In the face of intransigence on the part of the municipality, the Union made a request of an Ombudsman – an independent third party – in order to unblock the negotiating process.

“We hope to settle this summer – and I hope that the city will not coach until conciliation process”, said Gérald Leblanc, Union of CUPE representative.

Local 886 CUPE represents 18 employees to the town of Grand Falls and operates including recreation, roads, public works and water treatment areas.

ANBL Should Manage Recreational Cannabis

Fredericton – CUPE Local 963, the union representing NB Liquor workers, is encouraged by the conclusions of the interim report released this week by a working group on cannabis legalization.

This government led report outlined the necessity for a public model for the legalization of recreational cannabis.

“I am encouraged, because the working group has recognized explicitly that ANBL and Local 963 workers have ‘extensive experience in retailing a controlled substance and has systems in place to support the retail environment for recreational cannabis’”, said Jaimie Agnew, President of CUPE Local 963.

As government is aiming for a completely public model, the government has, however, yet to guarantee it will go with ANBL rather than create a new Crown Corporation altogether.

“We hope they do this through our existing Crown Corporation. Our members have the skills, the professionalism to do the job right. Public control is really key to the success of any safety plan,” said Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.

“We will participate in the public consultations during the summer, and we will certainly repeat the message that ANBL is the least costly way to ensure safety, retail compliance and enforcement,” concluded Légère.

A Community Comes Together To Protect Seniority

The municipal workers of CUPE Local 1188, operating in the small university town of Sackville, New Brunswick, are still in awe by the level of community support they received in their recent victory to protect seniority rights.

At the bargaining table, Council and the Town’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) had remained steadfast: they demanded the union accept a contract which removed seniority as a consideration when a temporary, part-time or casual employee applied for a full-time position.

“The last labour conflict our local had was about thirty-five years ago, in the 1980s. The Council and CAO must have thought we were weak, ready to accept anything,” said Marcos Salib, CUPE’s servicing representative for the Local. “They wanted to use fear of a lockout/strike situation and our feeling of isolation to their advantage,” he added.

The disconcerting attack had initially shocked and reduced morale amongst members – a few were contemplating signing a two-tier contract. However, the “Seniority Matters” campaign and member education grew internal confidence: members’ fear developed into anger, then indignation turned into resolve.

CUPE NB along with the Regional Action Committees engaged other CUPE locals in the area and gradually reached beyond immediate supporters. Firefighters, bakery workers, nurses, retail workers and other Regional Labour Council partners mobilized in Sackville. Ordinary citizens started to ask more and more questions to the Towns’ councilors as awareness and support grew.

Within six months, from December 2016 to May 2017, the Local had escalated pressure through all the hoops of a campaign: lobbying, leaflets, petitions, strike education, radio ads, lawn signs, public rallies, town hall meetings & more.

“Council thought they could drive a wedge between members as they sweetened the deal to exclude the current workers from the seniority attack,” said Pam Hicks, Secretary of Local 1188.

In the end, the Council withdrew its ultimatum and has ratified a six-year contract with the Union. The deal provides for improved clothing and tool allowances, contains wage increases, wage adjustments for precarious workers – and most importantly – maintains all seniority rights.

“Sackville workers leave us with a great example of how we can successfully apply CUPE’s National Executive Board Bargaining Policy on fighting concessions and two-tier contract provisions to motivate and mobilize the workers,” said Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President. “Because of the new bargaining policy, there now is heightened awareness of the need to bring in the Division early in the process,” he added.

“Local 1188 members understand that they are part of a big movement. Being part of a union comes with many benefits, but also many responsibilities towards our fellow workers – including future workers. Together we build on past victories and make gains for those who will come after us,” concluded Légère.

Seniority matters! Fairness for Sackville municipal employees

Seniority allows for positions to be filled by the most senior worker qualified to obtain a position. It does not stop the Employer from choosing who they want as employees.

The town of Sackville wants to remove this longstanding clause to loyal part-time and temporary future employees hired by them.

Unions maintain fairness, equality and equal opportunity for all members after hiring!

Privatization in Healthcare: Expect Superbugs and Reheated Food

FREDERICTON: Both Vitalité and Horizon Health Networks are about to sign a 10-year deal to privatize management and operation of hospital food service, environmental services and patient transportation.

“We were informed that 280 full-time equivalent positions will be affected in the decision to sell off publicly run services to Sodexo, a French multinational corporation,” said Norma Robinson, President of New Brunswick Council of Hospitals Unions, CUPE Local 1252.

CUPE 1252 is very concerned by Sodexo’s grim track record: in other provinces and in the USA, they have been highly criticized, sued for overcharging governments and even kicked out of universities, jails, schools, and other institutions where they operated.

“It’s outrageous because we are already running a barebones operation. To save money and turn a profit, this company will inevitably cut corners. This will mean more hospital-borne infections and “superbugs”.  This government is putting sick people, seniors and our most vulnerable citizens’ health at risk,” said Robinson.

Less healthcare cleaning and infection control staff frequently results in more cases of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), C. difficile and other infections caused by bacteria and viruses encountered in healthcare facilities.

In past meetings with the previous Health Minister, CUPE 1252 had been reassured that no privatization of these services would happen – because there were no solid guarantees to find savings without loss in quality and services.

“The health of patients and workers should matter: by keeping these services in-house, we can avoid costly and dangerous problems,” said Robinson.

“Despite past cuts, the Union did its best to make sure hospitals were meeting their cleanliness targets. Front-line workers and their supervisors were meeting on a regular basis to raise cleanliness standards in facilities,” said Robinson.

CUPE 1252 is also concerned that more frozen food systems will be implemented: “Is this the food New Brunswickers deserve when they are sick and dying in a hospital bed?” asked Robinson.

Keep Rural Stores Open: NB Liquor Union

Fredericton – The union representing NB Liquor workers, CUPE Local 963, asks the government to stop the planned closures of NB Liquor stores in Lamèque, Petit-Rocher and Cap-Pelé.

 Replacing profitable stores and handing over the work to the private sector through screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-21-25-pmagency stores is an attack on rural New Brunswick. The Petit-Rocher store alone has made over 1 million dollars in profit last year, yet NB Liquor’s CEO wants to go forward with closures. It’s deplorable,” said Jamie Agnew, President of CUPE Local 963.

“Agency stores are not going out of their way to promote and build-up our local brewers or distillers who are fighting for shelf space with alcohol conglomerates” said Agnew.

“Removing the stores will not only hurt regions during tourist season, it will mean a reduced product selection throughout the year,” said Agnew.

 Agnew states that the regional MLAs need to be involved in the decision: “Good paying jobs with benefits should not be replaced by precarious jobs,” he added.

 This week, CUPE has sent letters requesting a meeting to discuss the issue with Cathy Rogers, the Minister responsible for NB Liquor.

CUPE Local 963 represents over 500 liquor store and warehouse workers across New Brunswick.

CUPE 1190: Unnecessary Cuts Lead to Dangerous Roads

Fredericton – CUPE Local 1190, representing New Brunswick highway workers, held a news conference today to outline its concerns about reductions by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to the Winter Maintenance Program.

Andrew Hardy, CUPE 1190 President, shows the hotline ad

Andrew Hardy, CUPE 1190 President, shows the hotline ad

At the conference, CUPE Local 1190 officially relaunched their “Bad Road Hot Line” for tracking road conditions following the reductions to the Winter Maintenance Program.

“We are asking the government to reverse past cuts: reducing the Winter Maintenance Program in a province like New Brunswick is really not an option,” said Andy Hardy, president of CUPE Local 1190.

Hardy listed several reductions that have resulted from pasts cuts in the Winter Maintenance program:

  • 26 plows and graders will not be available to plow the roads; this on top of the 29 pieces of heavy equipment that were parked in 2013, which means DTI is now working with 55 fewer pieces of equipment;
  • 70 less operators in the Winter Maintenance Program since 2013-2014;
  • No spare operators will be available in some divisions around the province;
  • Reduced sand and salt budgets.
  • $6.2 million have been given to the Quebec consulting firm PVA, money that’s leaving the province and could be used on New Brunswick roads.

“CUPE Local 1190 members take a great deal of pride in keeping our roads safe and clear, but with each round of budget cuts, this is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Hardy.

This year, a window of opportunity will open to undo privatized plowing and P3 highways: the Moncton-Fredericton highway P3 contract with MRDC expires on January 1st, 2017, and will be up for renegotiation.

Hardy était entouré du vice président de la section locale 4848, Bill Cameron, qui représente les ambulanciers paramédicaux, et Brien Watson,Président de la section locale 1253, qui représente les chauffeurs d’autobus scolaires.

From left to right: Bill Cameron, CUPE 4848; Brian Watson, CUPE 1253, Andrew Hardy, President CUPE 1190; & David Perkins, CUPE National Representative.

“Private sector plowing costs more and is less efficient than public sector highway work. This government has a chance to make a deal for our citizens’ safety. It’s time to bringing the work back in-house” concluded Hardy.

United we are strong! Binding arbitration changes scrapped

Fredericton – April 08 2016 – After having mounted pressure against changes to binding arbitration, CUPE NB is relieved that the provincial government has scrapped its planned changes to labour laws in Bill 24.

“The law would have seriously gamed the bargaining process in favor of employers,” said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB. “At the 11th hour, the government has realized it had nothing to gain by turning the arbitration mechanisms in a lose-lose system” said Légère.

“I am proud to say that on this issue, both the government and the opposition listened to the concerns of CUPE and other members of the NB Federation of Labour” said Légère.

“Now that this is behind us, I hope government will foster a constructive relationship with unions to make our work laws more progressive. The promise of re-instating the labour-management decision maker’s committee is a small step in the right direction” explained Légère.