The New Brunswick Government Recognizes the Important Contribution of Public Services Employees

FREDERICTON – For the first time since the beginning of the celebrations of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Government publicly recognized the important contribution of its public services employees. During the celebrations of New Brunswick Day in Cocagne, on Monday August 4th, the Premier David Alward acknowledged the role of the public sector workers.
“In the last decade, it is the first time the leader of the Provincial Government has made the effort to say those words publicly during New Brunswick Day, which is notable”, said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.
New Brunswick public sector workers in education, health care, social services, highway, and municipalities are on the front line everywhere every day delivering good services for all New Brunswickers, even during times of natural or unnatural disasters.
More than one hundred CUPE members and their families joined the celebrations in Cocagne, distributing brochures and promotional items, along with iced cold public water.

CUPE 1251 members applaud the Liberals’ commitment to Binding Arbitration

FREDERICTON – During the special one-day session of the New Brunswick legislature held Tuesday, July 29th in Fredericton, the Liberal Party made a commitment to binding arbitration for correctional officers in New Brunswick. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1251, which represents 500 Provincial Correctional Officers, Human Services Councillors and Custodians, is pleased to hear such a commitment from the Official Opposition. The Union is now calling on the Conservative Government to do the same.

“It has been more than 3 years now that we have been without a contract. Our officers are the lowest paid in Canada, and because of that we have a serious retention issue. In the last five years, we have had hundreds of our workers leave our provincial correction institutions”, said Everett Godfrey, President of CUPE Local 1251.

“We have some of the lowest amount of officers per inmate ratios in Atlantic Canada working in our jails designed with an inmate ratio of up to 30 inmates to 1 officer and no protective barrier.”

According to Liberal MLA Bernard leBlanc, the issue “needs to be addressed immediately”.

“Over a year at the negotiating table and four rounds of conciliation, the provincial government failed to negotiate an essential Public Safety contract. This contract needs to be sent to binding arbitration for safety reasons”, concluded the President.

CUPE 1251 members demand a fair collective agreement

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Everett Godfrey, President of CUPE 1251.

FREDERICTON: Hundreds of CUPE members from across the province gathered in front of the Legislative Assembly this morning to support Provincial Correctional Officers, Human Service Councillors and Custodians.

CUPE Local 1251 members have been without a collective agreement for almost 3 years.

“We demand a fair collective agreement for our members”, said Everett Godfrey, President of CUPE 1251.

“So far, negotiations with the government have been difficult. The major stumbling block is wage parity. We have a retention issue, our correction officers in New Brunswick are the lowest paid in Canada and our goal is to bring our wages in-line with our counterpart in the Atlantic province,” added Godfrey.

“Another important issue at the table is the right of casuals; we want to protect the right that the casual employees currently have under our collective agreement. All casuals are to be treated the same.”

“Today, we are calling upon the government to negotiate in good faith. Correctional officers put their lives on the line every day to protect society from convicted criminals and work in dangerous environment. Violent incidents happen on regular bases in prisons and correctional officers want some respect from our employer,” concluded Godfrey.

Delegates at the CUPE convention will vote later this week on an emergency resolution calling upon all CUPE New Brunswick to support CUPE 1251 in its efforts to defend free collective bargaining and resist concession on casual rights.

Canadian Blood Services workers ratified collective agreement

Saint John – The Canadian Blood Services workers, members of CUPE Local 1655, have ratified a new collective agreement last week.

“CUPE Local 1655 reached a tentative agreement with the help of a special mediator that addressed the rates of pay and the issue of the hours of work which were the stumbling blocks during this round of bargaining”, explained Mike Davidson, CUPE Representative.

“Last month, members of CUPE Local 1655 rejected the Canadian Blood Services’ offer and voted for a strike action but agreed to return to the bargaining table in a last effort to conclude a collective agreement.”

The workers received 4% in retroactive wage and the Canadian Blood Services agreed to complete a Joint Job Evaluation by December 31, 2015.

CUPE Local 1655 represents almost 40 phlebotomists, clinic assistants and drivers.

The new collective agreement expires December 31, 2015.

Health care workers rally in support of a new Health Accord

ROTHESAY: Members of CUPE Local 1252, the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions (NBCHU), rallied in front of the office of the Minister of Health, Ted Flemming, calling upon the Alward government to continue to push its federal counterpart for the renewal of the Health Accord.

“This week the 10-year Health Accord came to an end and we believe the effect will be devastating for healthcare delivery in this province”, said the President of the NBCHU, Norma Robinson.

“New Brunswick relies heavily on federal funding to offer healthcare services throughout the province. With the refusal of the Federal Government to renew the Accord, the province stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years.”

“Increasing transfer payments to the provinces by six per cent a year for the next three years like Ottawa intends to do is not going to cut it, especially for a province like New Brunswick.”

“Already, the healthcare system is being stretched to the limit in the province. Over the years, hospitals have been closed, communities in rural areas lost health services, and the level of services has been reduced. Without the renewal of the Health Accord, we will probably see more hospitals and beds closure and further reduction of services and staff, especially in smaller communities. With an aging population, this is a very scary scenario.”

“Premier Alward said that him along with other premiers stood up against the federal government’s decision. We are asking Premier Alward and Minister Flemming today to make the renewal of the Health Accord the number one priority for this government. New Brunswickers can’t afford to receive less health services”, concluded Robinson.

World Water Day 2014: Back the tap and keep water public

March 22 is World Water Day – a day to step up our work defending public water and wastewater services. We can all take action in our workplaces and in our neighbourhoods. Here are a few ways:

March 22 is World Water Day – a day to step up our work defending public water and wastewater services. We can all take action in our workplaces and in our neighbourhoods. Here are a few ways:water-day-2014-web-banner

  • Take action on bottled water in your local, workplace or community. March 19 is Bottled Water Free Day. Visit backthetap.ca for action ideas, and to take the tap water pledge.
  • Do you work on campus? The Coalition for Bottled Water Free Communities is doing a reality check on campuses that have announced a ban on bottled water. Check the Polaris Institute’s list to see if your campus has announced a ban. Then help us track whether administrators are living up to their word by completing this short survey.
  • The Harper Conservatives are using infrastructure funding to force more municipalities into water and wastewater P3s. There is a better way. Learn about and share the Alternative Federal Budget. The AFB is a financial blueprint for maintaining, upgrading and expanding municipal water and wastewater services without privatization. The AFB also outlines concrete steps to ensure safe, clean drinking water in First Nation communities.
Together we can fight privatization, and promote water as a public service and a human right.

Canadian Blood Services workers vote for a strike

Saint John (March 17, 2014) – The Canadian Blood Services workers, members of CUPE Local 1655, have rejected their Employer’s latest offer and voted yesterday in favor of a strike action.

“The workers rejected the latest contract offer since it did not adequately address the rates of pay and the issue of the hours of work”, explained Mike Davidson, CUPE representative.

“The Canadian Blood Services employ workers all over the country and we believe that the workers in New Brunswick should be paid at the same rate as their counterparts in the Atlantic Provinces who have regular hours of work.”

“The Employer is refusing to negotiate wages. Instead, the Employer wants to have the employees’ wages tied to hospital rates of pay.”

“The work of the Canadian Blood Services employees is different than any hospital job.  Our members are travelling all over NB, up to 72 hours away from home, setting up blood donor clinics, ensuring the safety of the donor and the safety of the patients who rely upon it. Their jobs are critically unique to any hospital job and therefore you cannot compare apples to oranges”, added Davidson.

The workers will be in a legal strike position as of tomorrow. CUPE Local 1655 has requested another meeting with the Employer who has agreed to meet next Thursday March 27th in hopes of negotiating a better deal for these workers.  Until then, the Union has agreed not to withdraw their services.

CUPE Local 1655 members have been without a collective agreement since January 1, 2012.  CUPE Local 1655 represents almost 40 phlebotomists, clinic assistants and drivers.

COORDINATED ACTION REQUIRED TO TACKLE WOMEN’S INEQUALITY

Fredericton – On this International Women’s Day, CUPE New Brunswick calls for coordinated action to address women’s inequality in New Brunswick.

“Women are better educated and more active in the paid workforce than ever before, but are still not on equal footing with men,” said Marilyn MacCormack, Chair of the CUPE NB Women’s Committee. “Women experience disadvantages that are interconnected, from lower earnings and higher risk of poverty to bigger share of unpaid care giving and limited access to political power. Then there’s the terrible vulnerability to violence at the hands of men.”

“There are many roadblocks to women’s full participation in economic, social and political life,” explained MacCormack. “Entrenched sexist attitudes show up in the undervaluation of jobs traditionally done by women, not to mention the way things work in career advancement and electoral politics.  Far too many men still view women as possessions to be controlled through verbal, physical and sexual abuse. We need public policies and practices that address all aspects of women’s lives,” she concluded.

“Our provincial government should integrate gender-based analysis in all its work and invite input from the members of the Voices of New Brunswick Women Consensus-Building Forum,” said CUPE NB President Daniel Légère.  “Appointments to this new body were announced just last month by the Minister Responsible for Women’s Equality.”

“We are concerned that some voices may be missing at the table. Where are the organizations representing immigrant women and Aboriginal women living in First Nations communities?  Organized labour was also left out, even though nearly one in three New Brunswick women workers are union members,” added Légère.

“Will the Forum have the independence and the resources necessary to work for change? The Advisory Council on the Status of Women was a rallying force until it was axed three years ago by the Alward government. Critical distance from government is a must, especially given women’s chronic underrepresentation in our Legislative Assembly.  In this election year, candidates and parties will be questioned about their commitment to action on women’s equality concerns,” he concluded.

International Women’s Day – It’s time to give NB women services in every region

Fredericton – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) demands government intervention to ensure that crisis housing services for women and children victims of violence be guaranteed around the clock in the province.

“For the past year, service interruptions have been happening on and off at the transition house in the Chaleur region. Women fleeing situations of family violence who show up at the Maison de Passage in Bathurst could find the doors locked. A woman in distress also runs a very high risk of having to leave a message on an answering machine when she calls the transition house’s crisis line” said Vicky Smith, CUPE Union Representative.

“Unfortunately, the board of directors has decided to reduce the hours of service when there are no residents in the house. This situation is simply unacceptable for the workers and for the women and children in need of a roof over their heads.”

“This week, many events are organized to celebrate International Women Day.  It is difficult to celebrate when women and children victims of violence can’t access the services they need.

“We have brought the problem to the attention of both the Minister of Women’s Equality and the Minister of Social Development who share responsibility for violence programming and service funding. The Bathurst transition house situation shows that women still have a long way to go to achieve true economic and social equality.”

“The recent discovery near Moncton of the body of a murdered young Inuk woman, Loretta Saunders, reminds us that violence affects women of all ages and origins.   Once more, we are asking the government when these vital services will be restored for vulnerable women in the region?” concluded Smith.

Provincial Seed Centre Privatized

FREDERICTON:  Employees at the Bon Accord Elite Seed Potato Centre in Perth Andover, a provincial-owned facility, have been given their pink slip this morning.

“The workers were called in and informed that as of Friday this week, they will be out of a job”, said Andy Hardy, President of CUPE Local 1190 which represents the workers at the centre.

The centre employed on a regular basis 10 workers, and during potato planting and harvesting season, an additional 30 workers.

The farm is a completely self-contained elite seed production unit which produces 35 variety of potato seeds for about 20 seed producers in the province.

“Premier David Alward is doing exactly what his predecessor Shawn Graham tried to do with NB Power, sell public assets without  any mandate”, added Hardy.

“This centre in operation since the 1960s is worth millions of dollars.  Bon Accord housed a greenhouse, 300 hectares of cultivated fields, a climate potato warehouse and various pieces of equipment,” said Hardy.

“The government is selling the Centre to Potatoes New Brunswick.  We would like to know how much the government will get from that sale.”

“Having an agricultural background and being a former minister of Agriculture, Premier Alward should know how important it is to have a public seed potato growing facility which guarantees a disease-free and affordable crop to the farmers.

“Even worst, this latest decision from the Alward Government is another blow to rural New Brunswick; once more, rural communities are losing some good paying jobs.”