Correctional officers concerned about the new Southeast Regional Centre in Shediac

Moncton: The Union representing the correctional officers in New Brunswick, CUPE Local 1251 feels it has been kept out of the loop concerning the Southeast Regional Centre in Shediac which will open soon.

“Because this new jail is an open concept, we are concerned about how the inmates are going to be assessed when they first arrive at the facility.  We still don’t know what process will be followed by the administration but we believe that every inmate should be held in admission until his case go through a classification meeting”, said Everett Godfrey, President of CUPE 1251, the provincial institutional unions.

“This procedure could avoid problems on the units.  A classification meeting is where a multi-disciplinary team assesses the inmate and decides in which unit he should be sent”, explained Godfrey.

“Another concern of the correction officers is the ratio of officers/offenders. We believe that the ratio officer/inmates is too low. In the new jail, the ratio is one officer for 30 inmates and in some other correctional facilities in the province, the ratio is one officer for 20 inmates. For the first few weeks, extra personnel should be allocated on the units to allow everybody to settle in as well as extra floaters in case of an emergency”, added Godfrey.

“This open concept is a new way to interact in a jail setting.  Most correctional officers are used to the old setting where the interaction with inmates is done in a controlled environment.  In this jail, the inmates and the correctional officers will be side-by-side all day long; it’s a direct supervision setting.  Everybody will need time to adjust to this new environment”, concluded Godfrey.

CUPE Local 1252 pleased with new pension plan for its members

May 31, 2012:  The New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions – CUPE Local 1252- sees the new pension plan announced today by the New Brunswick Government as a very positive outcome for its members.

“Our pension plan has been underfunded for a number of years and was in need of more funding or a new structure.  We have been trying for many years to solve our funding issues.  All proposals put forward by the union in the past to solve this issue had not been acted upon by the parties.  Without any changes, our members may have been facing benefit reductions”, explained the President of the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions, CUPE Local 1252, Norma Robinson.

“The new pension plan contains many features adopted by the Dutch, who are considered to have one of the strongest pension systems in the world.”

“During our discussions with the Pension Task Force, we put forward the Dutch pension plan as a model that could be adapted to New Brunswick.  The Task Force recognized the value of our suggestion and worked with all unions (public and private sectors) and the government to bring forward a new pension plan model that would be affordable and sustainable in the long term.”

“This is the best solution we could achieve for our members and retirees.  The new plan guarantees the benefits of the retirees and ensures that the money will be there when active members decide to retire.  All changes are on a go-forward basis and will be incremental.”

“The new plan model remains a Defined Benefit Plan but the major difference in the new plan is the shared risk.

The New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions, CUPE Local 1252, represents more than 11,000 front line workers in the health care sector.

Saint John voters reject corporate control of drinking water

The poll, conducted by Continuum Research for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, found that 62 percent of Saint John voters oppose a private, for-profit corporation delivering the city’s drinking water treatment services. That feeling is held intensely, with 45 percent of voters strongly opposed.

The results come as voters prepare to cast their ballots in the May 14 municipal election. The city is considering entering into a public-private partnership (P3) that would hand unprecedented control of the city’s drinking water services to a private corporation.

Support for the P3 is very weak, with only 23 percent of voters in favour – just nine percent strongly.

“This sends a clear message to all the candidates. Water is essential to life, and is too precious to trust to a corporation motivated by profit,” said CUPE New Brunswick President Daniel Légère. “Saint John’s drinking water system needs to be expanded and upgraded, but voters want this vital service to stay in public hands.”

The poll found 38 percent of voters are less likely to choose candidates who favour the P3. Only 15 percent of respondents are more likely to support a candidate who is in favour of the P3. Residents who are most likely to vote in the upcoming election are also more likely to strongly oppose the P3.

“It’s time to shine a spotlight on this crucial issue. All candidates in the election must tell Saint John voters where they stand. Experience from around the world shows that when corporations deliver water services for profit, citizens pay the price. Costs rise, accountability drops and quality can be threatened,” said Légère.

“The Federal Conservative Government is pushing P3s on municipalities like Saint John, through its agency PPP Canada. Our local representatives should stand up for public water. Together, we can solve Saint John’s drinking water needs without handing away control of our water for decades to come,” concluded Légère.

These findings are based on 1,200 interviews conducted with Saint John votersbetween April 17 and 30, 2012. The results are accurate to within +/-2.8 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All work undertaken by Continuum Research is conducted in accordance with the standards and guidelines of good practice established by the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA), the professional association of the public opinion research community in Canada.

Survey Questions

  1. Among all of the issues facing the City of Saint John, how important is the upgrading of the City’s drinking water treatment and delivery service? Is it…?

 

01 – A critical problem that requires immediate action………………………. 29%

02 – A significant problem that needs to be dealt with soon………………. 37%

03 – Just one of many problems government should address, or……… 26%

04 – Not really a problem………………………………………………………………………. 6%

99 – DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2%

 

  1. There has been some discussion about transferring responsibility for city drinking water treatment services to a private, for-profit corporation. Do you support or oppose this initiative? Would that be strongly or somewhat?

 

01 – Strongly support…………………………………………………………………………… 9%

02 – Somewhat support…………………………………………………………………….. 14%

03 – Somewhat oppose……………………………………………………………………… 21%

04 – Strongly oppose…………………………………………………………………………. 45%

99 – DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………… 15%

 

  1. If a candidate for municipal office were to support the use of a private corporation to provide drinking water treatment and delivery services in Saint John, would you be more likely to vote for this candidate, less likely to vote for this candidate, or does it make no difference how you would vote?

 

01 – More likely to support…………………………………………………………………. 15%

02 – Less likely to support………………………………………………………………….. 38%

03 – Makes no difference…………………………………………………………………… 42%

99 – DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5%

Boycott! Fredericton airport directors

he owners of these establishments sit on the Fredericton Airport Board of Directors and need to be sent a clear message to go back to the table and negotiate a fair collective agreement with these workers.

Due to the on-going strike of our PSAC Brothers and Sisters at the Fredericton Airport, we are asking all CUPE members to boycott the businesses noted below.

The owners of these establishments sit on the Fredericton Airport Board of Directors and need to be sent a clear message to go back to the table and negotiate a fair collective agreement with these workers.

The following establishments are being boycotted until a tentative agreement is reached:

Hilltop Restaurant
1043 Prospect Street
Fredericton, NB

Quizno’s
580 King Street
Fredericton, NB

Quizno’s
277 Main Street
Fredericton, NB

Anderson Insurance
255 Restigouche Road
Oromocto, NB

Pawsative Rewards
253 Restigouche Road
Oromocto, NB

Fredericton International Airport Authority
2570 Route 102 Hwy,
Lincoln, NB

Provincial Budget: No Pay Equity Yet.

MONCTON: The NB Coalition for Pay Equity deplores the government’s slow pay-out of pay equity as well as the lack of available information. “We expected important pay equity adjustments this year, but the government is only paying out a fraction of the adjustments and is spreading them out over six years,” said Vallie Stearns, Chair of the Coalition. “Pay equity is a human right which should be respected, in full, immediately.”

The Pay Equity Act, 2009 and its corresponding regulations prescribe that public sector adjustments should begin on April 1st, 2012 with possible instalments over 4 years.

The government also set up voluntary pay equity programs, targeting four groups from the private sector, namely the staff of child care centres, home support agencies, transition houses and group homes.

The budget announced a total of $ 6.4 millions to be allocated to pay equity this year and promised additional adjustments over the next five years. However, group home workers will only start receiving their pay equity payments in 2013-2014.

The Coalition stresses that the total pay equity adjustments were not specified in the budget and that public pay equity reports have still not been released.

“Crucial information is still missing, but it is clear that this year’s allocation will make little difference in the lives of NB women – $ 6.4 million represents less than a cup of coffee a day for each person holding a female-dominated job in the four targeted groups and the public sector combined,” stated the Coalition’s Chair.

Vallie Stearns asks the government to share all information coming out of pay equity programs both in the public sector and the four private sector groups: “What are the total figures for the adjustments? How were the calculations made? Employees and employers participated in good faith in this pay equity exercise. They have the right to this information.”

The Coalition’s Chair concluded by re-emphasizing the economic importance of pay equity: “We agree with the government on one major point: pay equity is a strategic investment. Equitable wages will support women, their families, and the local economy. Moreover, many female-dominated jobs contribute to the social infrastructure – a factor which can help attract potential investors who value a stable work force.”

 

CUPE Local 963 applauds no privatization of NB Liquor

Feb 29, 2012: The Union representing the New Brunswick liquor workers, CUPE Local 963, is pleased that the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation is recommending that Alcool NB Liquor not be privatized.

“NB Liquor has performed solidly since its inception, and has provided the taxpayers of New Brunswick with millions of dollars each year towards public services such as health and education,” says Martha Thompson, President of CUPE Local 963.  “I am pleased that this asset will be protected for the future of our province.”

The Strategic review of the future of Alcool NB Liquor released today by the Corporation makes a convincing business case of the merits of this Crown Corporation.  In 2011 alone, NB Liquor remitted $162 million to the government purse – income that has shown steady upward growth over the last 35 years.

“In the past ten years, NB Liquor remitted $1.4 billion to the provincial government. In addition, it boasts the lowest cost-to-expense ratio in Canada, something that New Brunswickers can be proud of,” said Thompson.

“Each successive government has asked NB Liquor to consider privatization, either through a partial or wholesale sale-off, or privatizing retail services,” explains Thompson.  “We think it’s time to stop asking NB Liquor to jump through hoops, and let it do what it does best –  which is providing us with good customer service, social responsibility and reliable steady growth.”

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

Government out of touch with New Brunswickers, poll says

FREDERICTON: “New Brunswickers know the difference that public services make to their lives,” said Daniel Légère, president of CUPE New Brunswick (CUPE NB). “Cabinet ministers are telling New Brunswick to expect less and to want less from their government. This survey clearly shows New Brunswickers won’t accept that. They value their public services and the Alward government needs to preserve them by increasing its revenues.”

“Quality public services are essential to our communities, in New Brunswick and across Canada,” said Paul Moist, national president of CUPE. “We all depend on public services to be there when we need them most, and we need to protect them.”

In the survey, 88 per cent New Brunswickers said public services were important in their day to day life. Continuum Research completed the survey in late November for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. It surveyed 800 New Brunswickers between November 12 and 22, 2011 with an error margin of +/- 3.4 per cent at a 95 per cent level of confidence.

For months, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has been saying New Brunswickers “need to want less, and big changes are coming to the New Brunswick Government.”

“These results show that the government is out of touch with the priorities of New Brunswickers. They are telling the Alward government that before reducing the public services they ‘need and want’ they should put their own house in order,” said Légère. “If the government wants to cut spending, they should begin with corporate welfare. In New Brunswick, the most successful companies are the ones receiving the most money from the government.”

The province-wide survey shows that New Brunswickers are prepared to pay their fair share of taxes to maintain public services. Seventy-one per cent said they preferred a progressive tax system, where each individual pays according to their ability based on their income.

“When the former government introduced lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy, a reform supported by David Alward and his Conservative colleagues, we warned them that this would increase the deficit. They refused to listen,” said Légère. “Since then, we have seen a lot of programs cut or abolished, especially those targeted to helping the working poor, seniors and those living in rural areas. These tax cuts for the wealthiest in our society are costing hundreds of millions in lost revenues, but the government is refusing to listen what they are being told by New Brunswickers.”

In their effort to replace this lost income, the Alward government recently introduced a series of user fees, another form of regressive taxes where low-income earners pay the same as high income earners.

“When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is to stop digging,” said Légère.. “They need to stop the corporate giveaways and bring some justice back into the taxation system. New Brunswickers will not accept tax cuts for the rich that result in program cuts for the rest of us.”

The survey also shows pensions are very important issue of concern for New Brunswickers. Ninety-four per cent said protecting employee pension plans should be a priority for the provincial government.

“All the talk about failing pension plans is worrisome to New Brunswickers, especially when it comes from the government that has the responsibility to supervise and regulate these plans,” said Légère. “Every worker should have access to a pension plan. Furthermore, it should be the pension plan that allows retirees to be able to live a decent life after retirement.”

CUPE represents 30,000 public sector workers across New Brunswick.

CUPE/Consortium Research Public Services Poll

Key results summary

Please tell me if you believe that the following policies should be a high priority, a medium priority or a low priority for the Government of New Brunswick? How about…? Protecting pension plans

A high priority…………………………………………………………………………………………. 75%

A medium priority……………………………………………………………………………………. 19%

A low priority……………………………………………………………………………………………. 4%

DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2%

Would you say that the delivery of provincial public services is very important, somewhat important, not very important or not at all important to your day-to-day life?

Very important………………………………………………………………………………………… 45%

Somewhat important……………………………………………………………………………….. 43%

Not very important……………………………………………………………………………………. 7%

Not at all important…………………………………………………………………………………… 2%

DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3%

Is it very possible, somewhat possible, not very possible or not possible at all to reduce government spending without reducing public services?

Very possible…………………………………………………………………………………………… 29%

Somewhat possible………………………………………………………………………………….. 44%

Not very possible…………………………………………………………………………………….. 12%

Not at all possible……………………………………………………………………………………… 8%

DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 7%

Some people say [ROTATE] it is better to have a taxation system where everyone pays the same percentage of their income regardless of how much they earn. Other people say [ROTATE] it is better to have a taxation system where those who earn more pay a higher percentage of their income and those who earn less pay a lower percentage of their income. Which view is closer to your own?

Everyone should pay the same percentage of income………………………………… 26%

Those who earn more should pay a higher percentage and those

who earn less should pay a lower percentage…………………………………………… 71%

Neither……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1%

DK/NA………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2%

Union asks government to audit Red Cross home support service agreement

 FREDERICTON: The Union representing the Home Support Workers, CUPE Local 4598, filed a complaint with the Minister of Social Development to audit the practices of the Canadian Red Cross concerning the transportation allowance to its workers.

“We believe the Red Cross did not respect the Service Agreement signed with the government for 2009 and 2010”, said the President of CUPE Local 4598, Thérèse Duguay.

“The Service Agreement stipulated that at least 75% of the transportation allowance is paid to home support workers to compensate for travel to and from clients’ homes. Presently, the Canadian Red Cross is refusing to tell us how the 75% of the transportation allowance was paid to the home support workers”, explained Duguay.

“The Support Workers are presently only receiving $0.12 an hour for mileage. Therefore, we are asking the Department to conduct an audit of the books of the Canadian Red Cross on the transportation allowance”, added Duguay.

“Since October 1st, 2011, the wording for transportation allowance in the Service Agreement has been changed and we would like the Minister to advise us the administrative costs claimed by Red Cross to deliver payment of all transportation allowances for the home support workers”.

In August, the Minister of Social Development, Sue Stultz, announced an additional $4.4 million to increase funding to home support agencies to $16 per hour with a requirement for agencies like the Red Cross to pay its workers a minimum wage of $11, as of October 1st.

“At the present time, this increase has not been paid to the workers. Most of the Home Support workers are women, who live below the poverty line. They don’t have full employment and the highest paid worker at Red Cross receives 9.65 $ an hour after ten years of services. Even with an increase to $11 an hour, we would be the lowest paid in the Maritimes province. When you compare this with people doing the same work in other provinces, the difference in wages is huge. For example, in 2008, in Nova Scotia, they received $15.62 an hour and in PEI, $19.19.”

In New Brunswick, there are 57 home support agencies which employ 3,300 workers. This afternoon, a petition signed by 2,469 New Brunswickers will be presented at the Legislative Assembly by the MLA for Nepisiguit, Ryan Riordon. The petition is asking the Provincial Government to adequately subsidize the services of home support workers so that the workers receive wages and benefits worthy of the value of their work. The petition is also asking that this service becomes an accessible public service and an equal quality for the entire province.

The Alward Government continues its attack on rural communities

Fredericton: The last round of cuts to the Department of Transportation Winter Maintenance Program will affect the safety of New Brunswickers, especially those living in the rural communities.

“This is a major blow to the Winter Maintenance Program. The government can’t pretend anymore that a $4 million cut will not affect the level of services”, said Gordon Black, Regional Director for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in New Brunswick.

“These cuts mean that the roads would not be plowed as often as they are right now. The Department will have fewer plows on the roads during the storms. It also means that plow operators will have to wait longer before they hit the roads. The government is even cutting on the use of salt”, said Black.

“The government is gambling with the life of New Brunswickers in more than one way. Many workers will lose their jobs with these latest cuts adding to the hardship.”

“We are very concerned about the safety on our roads. Hours of operation at many Health Community Centers have been reduced, which means New Brunswickers will have to travel further to get services, and ambulances will also have to travel longer distance.”

“Furthermore, 178 rural roads with two houses or less will not be plowed anymore. This is another example of the government’s attitude towards rural New Brunswick. Bit by bit, this government is abandoning the rural communities.”

“The government is pretending that the services are being fairly and equally provided around the province.”

“These latest cuts are the results of the regressive tax reform we have in this province. We need to go back to a progressive tax system where everybody paid their fair share of taxes in order to really provide fairly and equally public services in this province”.

Now the Finance Minister wants to add an additional burden on low income in New Brunswick by bringing back tolls on our highways.” Finance Minister Blain Higgs is calling the deficit situation “unacceptable and unsustainable”.

“We believe that what is really “unacceptable and unsustainable” is the government’s refusal to increase taxes for large corporations and high earners in New Brunswick”, concluded Black.

Tax Policy in New Brunswick: Time to Check the Results

Fredericton: Three years after New Brunswick adopted tax reforms; it’s obvious that they’ve failed workers of this province.

According to CUPE NB President Daniel Légère, the government needs to go back to a progressive tax system where individuals and companies pay their fair share of taxes.

“Decreasing taxes for big businesses and for high income earners has taken hundreds of millions of dollars away from the province.”

“At the time, the Liberal government said that this tax reform would attract new families and businesses to the province. The government completely ignored warnings from economists and civil society. Tax reform didn’t spur the economic growth that the government predicted and our main resources, our workers, continue to leave the province to earn a living,” said Légère.

“Since tax reform was adopted, the government has surrendered hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues every year. It’s not enough for the Alward government to cancel the last tax reduction called for in the tax reform. They’ve got to change directions and go back to a progressive tax system!”

“Last week, Horizon Health Network cut 65 positions. Cutting jobs means cutting services. In this case, the rural regions will be the ones that pay. The community health centres in McAdam, Blacks Harbour, Minto, Harvey and the Tobique Valley will offer fewer services. New Brunswickers are paying the price of this tax reform and are suddenly finding themselves with fewer essential public services like health care! These reductions in services are the result of the two percent budget cuts imposed by the government.”

“Health care professionals are demanding improvements in community health care, not cuts. This is a very backward step.”

“Premier David Alward has adopted the same approach as his predecessor: an approach that favors big businesses over people. He’s attacking public services instead of fixing the source of the problem: tax reform!” Légère concluded.