Justice Deware maintains the Labour and Employment Board decision

Justice DeWare rendered her decision on the judicial review of the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Moncton. The Court validated the Commission’s conclusion by ruling that the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act is unconstitutional.

Consequently, it gives the government six months to amend this legislation to meet the requirements of Section 2 d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of association. For the time being, the interdiction to strike within a legal framework is maintained for workers in nursing homes.

“I am pleased to see that Justice DeWare has reiterated the Commission’s judgment. However, the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing homes cannot wait 6 months. That is why we are asking the government to recall the Legislature immediately to amend the law in accordance with the expectations of the two tribunals that have ruled on the matter,” said Sharon Teare, President of the NB Council of Nursing Home Unions.

To resolve the conflict, CUPE suggested using binding arbitration which most MLAs voted in favour. However, the government persists on binding arbitration with conditions and that breaks the very principle of this procedure, which must remain free and independent.

“We are asking the government to respect the will of workers and MLAs by initiating this process now so that we can finally resolve the crisis in our nursing homes,” said Sharon Teare.

Educational Assistants Condemn Education Department Funding Shortfalls

Fredericton – CUPE Local 2745, which represents over 4800 education workers in NB, including all school educational assistants, denounces the Department of Education’s mismanagement and insufficient funding issues plaguing the Anglophone-East (AE) and Anglophone West (AW) districts.

Last week, the AE district superintendent Gregg Ingersoll revealed to media how both districts lacked funds to hire EAs.  His district had a 2-million-dollar funding shortfall to hire 60 EA for next year.

“This has to be fixed immediately by the government and top bureaucrats, as it could have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable students come September,” warned Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE Local 2745.

The Union notes this will be the second year in a row where funding for EA positions falls short.

CUPE questions whether the government is using this funding issue as a lever for the contract-talk showdown on the horizon between Local 2745 and the Department of Education.

“We are already going in conciliation in July because talks are not going well. The government refuses to be reasonable in bargaining. I certainly hope they get their act together and bring a fair deal to the table before the school year begins,” said McAllister.

Educational Assistants expect the Education Minister Dominic Cardy to guarantee adequate resources for Districts, so children and workers who make inclusion possible are not left behind.  “Cardy said he believed in inclusion. We hope he stays true to his word,” concluded McAllister.

Municipal Arbitrations Work – Don’t Mess It Up

Fredericton, June 21 2019 – This Friday, CUPE’s NB Committee of Municipal Employees held a press conference to voice its opposition to “Ability to Pay” legislation for NB municipalities.


Recently, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, a right-wing think tank, and some conservative municipal politicians in Saint John and Miramichi have been lobbying provincial government to enact legislation similar to Ontario’s rejected 2012 Conservative Members’ Bill 121, the “Ability to Pay” bill.


The bill aimed to restrain arbitrators’ discretion and freedom on issuing wage adjustments for municipal workers such as police and firefighters.


Municipal employers requested to meet with CUPE locals to discuss possible changes to binding arbitration. However, most employers mentioned during meetings this was a Saint John issue only and that they did not have a particular opinion with the current process.


“The Municipal committee believes the current process works. Arbitrators are qualified professionals that use many factors in coming to their decisions. They are neutral, objective, accountable and transparent.  Decisions are based on rooted legal principles. The model does not need fixing as it works,” said Kevin Smallwood, president of the NB Committee of Municipal employees.


Binding arbitration is already a restrictive dispute resolution mechanism, which is the alternative agreed upon by all parties versus the right to strike. “Putting even more restrictions on bargaining rights unreasonably tips the balance in favour of employers,” said Marc Doiron, CUPE Firefighter and Municipal Committee representative.

“This reminds me of the situation Nursing Home workers are fighting at the moment: conservative governments are trying to impose restrictions on arbitrators instead of permitting necessary wage adjustment for people,” said Smallwood.


With significant – and growing – responsibility for public infrastructure and services, municipalities need access to fair and sustainable revenue sources from Provincial and Federal Government, rather than anti-worker laws.

NB Auditor General Validates CUPE 1190’s Position: Outsourcing Costs More

Tuesday, June 11th, Kim MacPherson, the NB Auditor General released Volume 1 of her annual report. In this report, she condemns the outsourcing of provincial work such as highway maintenance and construction work in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI).

“For years and years, CUPE 1190 has said to DTI managers and MLAs of all stripes that outsourcing was a bad strategy for the province. Public sector workers, our members, can do it better and cheaper,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE 1190.

Back in March 2016, CUPE 1190 held a press conference asking for an in-depth investigation of outsourcing in the Department. Contracts were being awarded to companies despite clear evidence public sector workers did it better and cheaper. Outsourcing for the winter program and the summer maintenance were both denounced at the time.

MacPherson found decisions to outsource were ideological and were made for « […] economic development reasons to support the private sector. This led programs to be knowingly outsourced at a higher cost ».

“Conservatives and Liberals are both to blame in this report, as this practice has been going on for too long in DTI. I hope Premier Higgs will bring work back in-house, make everything transparent rather than try to score political points,” said Wiggins.
“This is what happens when you think of public services as a burden rather than an asset. Our roads become more dangerous, workers lose good jobs, lives are put at risk, and everybody except companies and their political friends end up footing the bill,” said Wiggins.

Workers Want to Halt Murray Beach Provincial Park Privatization

Murray Corner –  Local community leaders and unionized park workers are rallying together to denounce the upcoming privatization of Murray Beach Provincial Park.

Robert Gauvin, Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, has already quietly begun the process to turn the operation of Murray Beach Provincial Park over to the private sector in 2020.

“After the closures of visitor information centres in Cape Jourimain and Aulac, selling off Murray Beach Park is the worst idea the Minister of Tourism could have for South-East New Brunswick. Gauvin is saying to vacationers: “Drive off to PEI or Nova Scotia, nothing to see here,” said Wiggins.

CUPE Local 1190 is calling on the government to change its decision to privatize the Park and save the much-needed Park jobs.

“The Minister must back off from selling this provincial jewel, which needs investments and proper promotion, not privatization,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE Local 1190, representing park workers.

CUPE Local 1190 is also wondering why the community and the workers were not even consulted on this important decision.

“Employment in the area is already hurting. Government needs to realize the park is a great public asset for tourism and our local economy. Instead of looking to make a fast buck, Gauvin should see long term, keep the Park and put it front and centre of a regional revitalization plan,” added Wiggins.

CUPE Local 1190 represents over 1,700 general labour and trades workers throughout New Brunswick, in over 8 Departments, including Provincial Parks.

3 Days and 3 Nights: CUPE Occupation Ends

May 4th, 2019 – Fredericton – This morning, at 10:30 am, the NB Council of Nursing Home Unions’ (NBCNHU) bargaining team ended its occupation of the Social Development building in Fredericton with their members’ support.

“After exactly 3 days and 3 nights inside the building, I can say our message has been heard and amplified by ordinary New Brunswickers who care for seniors and their caregivers,” said Sharon Teare, President of the NBCNHU.

“I am saddened to see how Premier Higgs and Dorothy Shephard have taken pride in refusing something as simple as a phone call to us,” said Teare “this is a matter of respect and decency.”

Over the past three days, Higgs and Shephard have made their priorities clear. Nursing home workers have followed the Premier across the province to make themselves heard, and to beg him to reach out to the team. “The lack of respect shown to nursing home workers is astounding – the Conservatives prefer touring the province to fundraise for the next election rather than engage in meaningful discussion with elected union leadership”, said Teare.

Nevertheless, the bargaining team has achieved securing bargaining dates for next week and Kris Austin has committed to meeting the bargaining team on Monday. The Union hopes he will support binding arbitration without restrictions after understanding the workers’ point of view.

As workers’ constitutional right to strike continues to be unjustly suspended, they are preparing for upcoming collective actions to keep pressure on the government to secure decent care for seniors.

Occupation of Social Development begins

Fredericton, May 1st – As many celebrate May 1st, International Workers Day, the NB Council of Nursing Home Workers’ bargaining team held a sit-in in the Fredericton Office of Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard.

“The Bargaining team wants to talk to Minister Shephard, and get a commitment that she would produce the “enhanced offer” document she has talked about so much,” said Sharon Teare, President of NBCNHU.

Since February 2019, the employer has only bargained for 128 minutes. And as of March 29th, CUPE is still waiting for a response from the employer on the Union’s package.

“I fear she is not getting good information with what has happened at the table,” said Teare. “This is why we are here, ready to stay as long as we can until Shephard shows-up, or security forces the Committee to leave,” added Teare.

The Committee started their sit-in at 10 this morning and have been visited by media and over a hundred CUPE members expressing their solidarity.

Meanwhile, off-shift nursing home workers in all 46 nursing homes have held solidarity pickets in front of their workplace, to show their support for the Bargaining team.

Nursing Home Workers React to NB Court of Appeal Decision

Fredericton On April 25th 2019, the NB Court of Appeal rendered a decision in the matter of the Province’s appeal of Justice Garnett’s decision to not grant a Stay on the matter of the right to strike for nursing home workers. Reasons for the decisions are to be provided at a later date.

The Province was successful in its appeal and a Stay on nursing home workers’ right to strike has been granted at least until the judicial review of NB Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act commences. This review is to be heard on May 24th, 2019.

“I am very disappointed to see how the courts have successfully been used as a delay tactic by the government. They are not taking their constitutional responsibilities towards nursing home workers,” said Sharon Teare, president of the NB Council of Nursing Homes Unions.

CUPE feels that the government is only delaying the inevitable, as the Labour and Employment Board has recognized the unconstitutional nature of the ESNHA because of a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

“Premier Higgs’ lawyers know full well what the Supreme Court of Canada said in the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan [2015] case. You cannot deny workers their fundamental rights to fair collective bargaining, which either includes the right to strike or binding arbitration in the case of essential service designations,” said Teare.

Nursing Home workers asked for binding arbitration on the issue of wages, specifically because real wage improvements are a necessary first step to address recruitment and retention crisis.

Until the courts reconfirm the unconstitutional nature of the ESNHA, unfettered binding arbitration is the only appropriate remedy for workers, residents and employers at this time.

Brien Watson Elected CUPE NB President

Fredericton, April 15 2019 – On Saturday, close to 350 public employees and elected union leaders voted for Brien Waston as President of the NB division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees during CUPE NB’s 56th annual convention.  Stephen Drost was elected as the Division vice-president.

Five candidates ran in this election: Andrew Hardy, Norma Robinson, Stephen Drost, Serge Plourde and Brien Watson.

Brien Watson – CUPE NB President

Daniel Légère, outgoing CUPE NB president, had announced a year ago that he would not reoffer.

“I have been President for 14 years. I want to take on other challenges and dedicate more time to my grandchildren,” said Légère.

“I am honoured CUPE members put their confidence in me. My misson is clear : build our members’ power, obtain better wages, working conditions and fairness for New Brunswickers,” said Brien Watson.

“Our Bargaining Forward campaign is now well under way. I am confident Watson has all it takes to not only maintain but to grow the movement. Brien has what it takes to motivate members and build the strength to break government’s wage restraint mandate,” said Légère.

Cuts in Tourism are Not an Achievement: Local 1190

CUPE Local 1190, which represents provincial park and tourism workers, denounces the 8 million dollar cut made by Premier Higgs and Minister Gauvin to the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

The only detail Gauvin has issued was that cuts would be entirely borne by Tourism, and mainly in advertising and promotion.

“Without advertising, how will tourists know about everything our province has to offer?”, said Brent Wiggins, president of CUPE Local 1190.

At a time when the dollar is forecasted to sink to a record low of 62 USD, Local 1190 believes the smart move would be to invest in workers and by producing ads targeting Americans.

“I fear that with 8 million less, it will reduce traffic in our parks, and this will in turn decrease revenues for NB. For every public dollar invested in promoting New Brunswick as a tourism destination, there is an estimated return of $3.19 to the province,” said Wiggins.

“Tourism staff are those who make or break your experience in parks and attractions. Workers in our provincial treasures such as Kings’ Landing and the Village Historique Acadien are underpaid; they earn on average $14/hour. Part of this 8 million could have been reallocated to fix the casual workers rates. They are currently only paid 80% of the wage that a full-time employee earns, even if they are doing the same work. This is a shame,” said Wiggins.

Local 1190 represents over 1,500 employees, including tradespersons, operations workers, maintenance repair workers and labourers working at the Departments of Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as Tourism, Heritage and Culture.