The bedbug infestation could have taken on greater proportions

BATHURST – The recent bedbug infestation at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst is worrying the union that represents support staff, who are asking what proportions the infestation could have taken on if the hospital’s laundry service had been closed.

“The bedbug infestation could have quickly spread to other hospitals and care homes in the region,” says the president of local 871-2 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

According to René Doucet, the bedbug infestation was contained in Bathurst because the linens are still washed at the hospital. “When the hospital’s laundry service closes, the linens will be transported by truck to Campbellton. Infested sheets could have easily contaminated the truck and all the linens before the problem was detected. Such a scenario would be incredibly expensive, because to contain the infestation in Bathurst, they had to destroy mattresses and linens.”

“We oppose the closing of the laundry services in the Moncton area, on the Acadian Peninsula and in the Chaleur region because we know that laundry services play an important role at hospitals,” says René Doucet.

“When there are on-site laundry services, the risk of propagating infections associated with health care and bedbug infestations, as was the case in Bathurst on the weekend, is greatly reduced.”

A petition is currently circulating asking the government to reverse its decision to close the laundry services in the province’s four hospitals.

CUPE 4229 denounces service cuts at the Passage transition house in Bathurst

BATHURST: Women who are victims of violence in the Chaleur region no longer have round-the-clock access to Passage House, a shelter for abused women.

According to the union that represents employees at the Passage transition house in Bathurst (CUPE Local 4229), the house’s management decided to cut services, claiming a lack of funding.

“Women in situations of family violence could well go to Passage House and find the door locked,” said Vicky Smith, union representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Unfortunately, this is what could happen since the board of directors has decided to reduce the hours of service when there are no residents in the house. This means that a woman in distress runs a very real risk of finding the shelter closed or if she calls of having to leave a message on an answering machine.”

“We don’t know if the reduction in working hours is a negotiating tactic on the part of the employer or if the financial difficulties raised are legitimate, because management refuses to share the financial statements with us,” Smith said.

“We believe that the house’s management has to be transparent, because the operating budget comes from the province. There should be no secrets when a group receives most of its funding from the government.” The transition house annually receives more than $200,000 from the Social Development Department. This is in addition to amounts raised through fundraising activities.

“The management of Passage House wants employees to be on call and work only when there are women at the house,” Smith said. “But Passage House does more than just offer shelter to women in need; it also offers a phone intervention service. For example, in 2011, the house provided shelter to 40 people and employees received 2,500 calls. Some women do not want to leave the family home or move to the transition house; they access the resources by phone.”

“Women living in such situations need to be able to access services at all times. We take issue with the fact that women in need in the Chaleur region are being held hostage during this round of negotiations.”

Ms. Smith explained that the union has filed an official complaint with the Labour and Employment Board against Passage House for having failed in its obligation to negotiate in good faith under article107.1 of the Industrial Relations Acts. The union also filed a complaint under article 35 of the Act because the employer changed the conditions of employment. The union filed two grievances for the layoff of two employees.

The employment contract for union local 4228 expired in December 2012.

Join the rally against health care cuts at the Fredericton Legislature

On Wednesday, June 5, a rally will be held to protest health care cuts at the New Brunswick Legislature in Fredericton. Please contact your local executive regarding transportation to the rally.

The rally will include a BBQ starting at noon. The union is asking for members and supporters to bring a non-perishable food item for local food banks.

WHERE: New Brunswick Legislature, 706 Queen Street, Fredericton

WHEN: June 5, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Download a copy of the rally poster

Government needs to establish clear guidelines for school libraries funding

FREDERICTON (April 22,2013): The Union representing school library workers, CUPE Local 2745, is calling upon the government to properly resource school libraries.

“For many years, funding for our school libraries has been on the decline, especially for new material and allocated hours for human resources”, explained  Sandy Harding, President of CUPE Local 2745, the Education Support Staff.

“The funding allocated to school libraries is inadequate. The base funding formula for school libraries allocates one (1) full-time employee (at 36.25 hours/week) for every one thousand students per school district.  This means that in small schools, if they have a library, it’s only part-time staff – many are not staffed at all. ”

“The funding for school library books is only $9 per student per year.  We are asking the Department of Education to establish clear guidelines on how that money is spent.  Currently, funding for school libraries is not done in a transparent manner; it is left to each individual school district and, in some cases, individual schools to decide how the money designated for school libraries is spent.  There are no guarantees that the monies are all spent in the school libraries.”

“We all know that literacy is a huge problem in this province.  More than half of New Brunswick adults (56 per cent of the English-speaking population and 66 per cent of the French-speaking population) don’t have a suitable literacy level to best engage with their communities.”

“The first step to counter our literacy problem is to make books available to the children in their own school.  Students should have unlimited access to the school libraries during school hours. Books of all genres should be available.  The focus on literacy begins with making sure the book collections are up-to-date, in good repair and available for all who may need them. As well, our libraries need multi-media facilities and materials such as Smartboards, iPads, eReaders, eBooks, more computers and other resources. New technologies should be part of a well planned literacy strategy.”

“Last year on April 23 which is National Book Day, Premier David Alward accepted our invitation to read to the children in a school library.  We know Premier Alward understand the important role of school libraries. This year, we are calling upon Premier Alward to make a commitment to properly resource our school libraries so that children everywhere in New Brunswick can access books and all the resources of school libraries.”

There are approximately 200 school library workers in New Brunswick. April 23rd is National Book Day which promotes the importance of books and reading. The School libraries’ brief can be downloaded from CUPE Local 2745’s website:  www.cupe2745.net.

 

 

 

 

 

It is time to expand the CPP

Fredericton (April 11, 2013) : More than 300 delegates at the CUPE NB 50th Convention in Fredericton called upon the federal government to gradually phase in doubling of Canada Pension Plan benefits for all working Canadians.

“This move will make a huge difference in the lives of working Canadians in a time where retirement insecurity is growing”, said Daniel Légère President of CUPE NB.

This June, finance ministers from across the country will be meeting to decide on expanding the Canada Pension Plan.
“The majority of provincial finance ministers agree it is time to expand the CPP, and are forcing the conversation forward this June. In New Brunswick, we have extra work to do because Premier David Alward has yet to champion CPP expansion. We can help push for real change by focusing on retirement security”, said Légère.

“More and more Canadians are facing uncertainty when it comes to their retirement plans. More than six in 10 Canadian workers are without a workplace pension plan and Canadians can’t afford to contribute to private savings schemes such as RRSPs. Less than one-quarter of Canadian taxpayers made an RRSP contribution last year.”

“By gradually increasing CPP contribution rates by about three per cent over seven years, Canadians will – over time – receive 50 per cent of their income in CPP benefits, rather than the current insufficient 25 per cent.”

“Increasing retirement security for all Canadians should be a government priority. Expanding the Canadian Pension Plan is the best way to do that in a way that helps all working people retire with dignity.”
Delegates also signed a petition calling upon finance ministers to move forward on this important issue.

CUPE NB 50th Annual Convention opens this afternoon in Fredericton

FREDERICTON (April 10, 2013) CUPE NB 50th Annual Convention opens this afternoon in Fredericton. Delegates will discuss why we need a strong union and ways to tackle tough bargaining time in the province.

Paul Booth from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will share with the delegates the attacks on public sector Unions they faced in Wisconsin

During this 50th convention, delegates will also recognized CUPE NB past presidents and regional directors.

WHAT: CUPE New Brunswick Annual Convention

WHEN: Wednesday, April 10, 2012, 1 p.m. until
Saturday April 13, 2013

WHERE: Fredericton Inn

GUEST SPEAKERS:
Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President – Wednesday, April 10 at 1:00 p.m.
Paul Moist, CUPE National President – Thursday, April 11 at 10:30 a.m.
Paul Booth, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – Friday, April 12 at 9 a.m.
Charles Fleury, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer – Saturday, April 13 at 11:00 a.m.

Tax increases – Government took the right decision

FREDERICTON ( March 27,2013): The Canadian Union of Public Employees in New Brunswick (CUPE NB) is commending the provincial government for returning the personal income tax rates to the 2006 level .

“We are pleased that the provincial government finally decided to take on our revenue problems. New Brunswick needed to get back to a progressive tax system where everyone paid their fair share of taxes”, said Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President.

“We commend the government’s decision to stay away from the consumers’ tax increase, health levy or hold a referendum to consider highway tolls or an HST increase.  Those are regressive taxes which hurt the ones in our society who live on low and fixed income.”

“Over the years, we have been getting deeper in the hole.  The lack of revenues had a devastating effect on public services New Brunswickers needs.  Many services were reduced or eliminated over the past year.”

“Unfortunately, the government waited too long before taking action. This year, the budget contains measures that will impact all New Brunswickers. The budget for the health services is frozen for two years which really means a reduction of 12% if you take into account the inflation.  This measure will have a devastating effect on the level of services provided to New Brunswickers.”

“We will have to wait for the budget estimates to know all the details but with $230 million in cuts across departments, services will be slashed.  What is worrisome are the cuts of $4.2 million for child services, cuts of $11.2 million to public safety and a reduction of $26 million for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“This budget also takes another shot at public servants. Since coming into power, the government reduced the public services by over 1,700 positions. Furthermore, the benefits of the workers left behind are being targeted” concluded Légère.

 

Rural New Brunswick hit one more time

Perth-Andover (March 25, 2013):  The Perth-Andover community received other bad news today.

The operating room at the local hospital will close permanently.  The affected staff was informed this afternoon of this decision.

The Union representing hospital workers, CUPE Local 1252, was informed late this afternoon that the operating room will be closing as of May 1.

“This is a continuing attack on rural New Brunswick health care services”, said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1252.

“Perth-Andover is not the only community affected.  There will be reduction in other smaller heath care facilities’ operating rooms this summer.  In St. Stephen, the operating room will be closed for 6 weeks and the future of the service will be evaluated after that period.”

“Late in 2011, the government reduced health services in rural communities by reducing the operating hours of community health centres and reducing staff in some hospitals.  Now they are closing operating rooms”.

“What will be next?  New Brunswickers living in rural communities should be very concerned about the future of health care services they are receiving”, concluded Norma Robinson.

 

CUPE NB launches a buy local initiative

FREDERICTON ( March 20, 2013):  CUPE NB launches today a campaign to encourage its membership and all New Brunswickers to buy local products first.

“The 10% Shift campaign is to encourage New Brunswick’s 30,000 CUPE members and their families to shift just ten percent of their spending to locally-produced goods and services”, explained Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.

“We can all do our share to keep our local economy strong. We understand the challenges that local governments face every day and the 10% Shift is one way for us to put forward positive solutions that benefit the entire community.”

“We challenge municipalities and the provincial government to pledge to the 10% Shift.  If we want to rebuild and strengthen our economy; we need to buy locally, we should all think local first.”

“We believe it’s time for New Brunswick to move forward.  We have many local entrepreneurs that create jobs in our respective communities. We need to support them.”

“The 10% Shift is not a new concept; it has been spreading across the States and Canada. In New Brunswick, there are already various initiatives in communities to buy from local merchants instead of big box stores owned by foreign corporations.”

“The 10% Shift campaign is reinforcing those local initiatives. Over the years, we have seen our manufactures close their doors, unable to compete with goods from Asia. Some move their productions oversea to increase their profitability. Those decisions based on profit have devastated many of our communities.”

“The government has been focusing on attracting big businesses to set up shop through financial incentives. A good example is Acton which received $50 million in loan guarantees and went bankrupt.  The jobs created with tax payers’ money were gone. ”

“We believe there is more than one way to boost our economy. For example, if every one of us spend a small amount of our weekly disposable income on local goods supporting our local entrepreneurs, at the end of the year it would have a huge impact on our communities.

“That’s how we build strong communities. That’s the philosophy behind the 10% Shift campaign, which encourages consumers to “shift” ten percent of their spending to locally owned businesses and services and encourages New Brunswickers from all over the province to make a more conscious and deliberate effort to use individual purchasing power to improve local economies.  If there is one thing we control, it’s our own wallet and shopping pattern,” concludes Légère.

Rallies against EI Reform on Women’s Day

Rally agaisnt EI Reform in FredericMarch 8th is usually a day to celebrate the success of women in the economic, political and social realms. Yes, women have come a long way in society but this year there is a black cloud hanging over their head.

This year, there are dark clouds looming and thousands of women in the work force are very concerned about the drastic changes made by the Harper Government to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and about their impacts on them. Women fear they will have more difficulty accessing EI benefits when they desperately need this financial support when they are in-between jobs.

The first dark cloud is the new division of unemployed workers in three separate categories. Each category will be force to apply for jobs which will only pay 90%, 80 % or 70% of their former salary.  In NB, thousands of women fall into the “frequent” category of claimants because of the seasonality of their jobs: tourism, fishing industry, education. With the new changes, these women will have less time to find a suitable job and will also now be forced to accept jobs that will pay up to 30% less than in their former employment. This will have an impact on their present employment revenue and certainly on their future EI claims. They will be seriously disadvantaged financially.

The second dark cloud is that it will become increasingly difficult to refuse a job. Yes, Service Canada claims that a job may be turned down if it is not deemed suitable for reasons of family responsibilities, hours of work and travel time. However, it is quite clear in the federal government EI policies, as elaborated in the Digest of Benefits Entitlement Principles, that women will have a hard time refusing jobs on these criteria. As detailed in Annex A, family obligations and hours of work will rarely be accepted as legitimate reasons for declining a job offer. Claimants will be expected to make arrangements for the care of family members so as to allow them to accept the hours of work that are available in the labour market. Women applying for a job and telling the employer that they are only available for a limited period of time because they are pregnant will be considered as refusing a job. Travel will not easily be accepted as a legitimate excuse to refuse a job. This applies to people living in remote, rural, urban or suburban areas.

The third dark cloud is the modification of the 14 best weeks Pilot Project  which was in place all of NB except the more urban EI region of Moncton-Saint John-Fredericton. This pilot project was beneficial to women. The 2011 Report on the Monitoring and Evaluation of EI says that- the average weekly benefit of affected claimants in 2010/11 would have been $290, instead of $337.  The modification of the 14 best weeks Pilot Project  to 14 – 22 best weeks means that women in the Restigouche-Albert and Edmundston-Charlotte EI regions won’t have this advantage anymore, the end result being a decrease in their revenue. They will be disadvantaged financially.

The fourth black cloud is the disappearance of the Pilot Project of the five extra weeks of EI for regions of high unemployment.  Women who were in the seasonal industries of tourism, fisheries and others were able, in this way, to extend their benefit period and not fall in the Spring Black Hole. The EI Monitoring and Assessment Report, 2011 reported that 57.6% of frequent claimants benefited from this pilot project[1].The 2010 report said the same thing. The cancellation of this pilot project will certainly be financially disadvantageous for women.

These above reasons are just some of the foreseeable negative impacts that the EI changes will have on women in NB and everywhere else in Canada. It is too early to predict with certainty what will be the overall impact of these sweeping changes on women but we can say with certainty that it will only aggravate the financial situation of women if they lose their employment and need to access EI benefits.

We hope that the 2013 International Women’s Day will be an occasion for all NB women to form a solidarity chain and unite as sisters to fight against the Harper Government ‘s attack on such an essential program that is preventing women to fall into poverty in-between jobs.

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