PC Throne Speech Leaves Workers Behind

Fredericton –  The Progressive-Conservatives (PC) delivered their Throne Speech on Tuesday. CUPE NB is disappointed the major concern of front-line workers were not seriously addressed.

“Credit rating agencies, business interests and shrinking our fiscal plate clearly came before ordinary workers in this speech,” said Légère.

Planned WorksafeNB contribution rate increases are now jeopardized, despite employers having benefited from artificially low contribution levels for close to thirty years.

Wage increases for public sector workers were not mentioned, nor did they talk about a better minimum wage or the urgent need for a legislated living wage for private sector workers.

“No government can hide away from the problems that a decade of stagnating wages has created,” said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.

“Most PC MLAs are convinced only business leaders can get New Brunswick out of its slump, but they’ve got it upside down. They forget it’s the workers, not the bosses, who truly run our mills, our schools, our ambulances, our call centres, etc. When you take care of the people as a number one priority, communities and businesses can then truly prosper,” added Légère.

Despite this criticism, CUPE NB also noted some positive elements of the speech.

“I was happy to see they plan to review the wages and working conditions of home care workers, promise to improve the Auditor General’s budget and a commit to improve our immigration strategy,” concluded Légère.

Tough negotiations ahead with minority conservative government

Last Friday, over a hundred citizens and union activists watched from the visitor gallery of the NB Legislature as Brian Gallant’s Liberals lost power on a vote of confidence.

Tories propped up by the 3 MLA of the People’s Alliance Party, will attempt to hold power for the next four years as a minority coalition government.

Immediately after the confidence vote results, CUPE bargaining teams assembled to strategize and prepare their coordinated bargaining.

“Conservatives have refused to meet with us, and now they will hold power,” noted Daniel Légère,

President of CUPE NB. “They and the PANB should take attention and really listen to workers now, instead of postponing until picket lines have to be set up,” he added.

“Despite what some government negotiators hope, this will not change our resolve, as we are following our bargaining plan to increase the buying power of members,” said Légère.

This spring, the majority of the 30 000 CUPE members in NB will simultaneously be at the bargaining table.

“CUPE Locals are lining up to take this on together. We will be ready for strike action if government refuses to talk seriously on fair wages,” concluded Légère.

Working For Cannabis NB ? Join CUPE!

Harvesting a better future

In New Brunswick, Cannabis NB is the only legally authorized retailer for cannabis products. Despite good development prospects, the Crown corporation does not seem ready to commit to make these jobs stable and have all the benefits that should come with such a profitable industry. At CUPE, we feel this can change and we want to help Cannabis NB staff achieve job security and gain negotiated improvements to their working conditions. This is why Canadian Union of Public Employees is organizing Cannabis NB workers.

The CUPE advantage:

  • Job security. Protection against unjust layoffs and potential management abuses.
  • Better wages. Collectively bargained wage increases.
  • Scheduling fairness.
  • Vacations, pension, insurance and other benefits.
  • Networking and support within the union movement
  • Experience. CUPE already represents workers in the retail of controlled substances. Alcohol NB workers, for example, are unionized with CUPE.
  • Union strength. With over 650 000 members nationwide, CUPE is the largest union in Canada and in NB. This means resources and staff to represent and help members.

Visit our website: https://www.cupecannabis.ca/ and call or email our organizer today !

Stacy Delaney

No surprises in this toned-down throne speech

Fredericton – As a new session of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly begins, a Throne Speech was delivered today. CUPE NB has a mixed reaction to the decidedly centrist speech from the Gallant Liberals.

“For one, I am pleased to see a clear will to maintain the Labour-Government Steering Committee,” said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.

In only one year, the Committee led discussions which became legislation on First contract arbitration, and laws to prevent violence in the workplace and domestic violence.

“It was out of the Steering Committee that a Taskforce was struck to scrutinize privatization in healthcare, and this Taskforce wisely recommended not to proceed with privatization of management of food services, patients portering and environmental services in our hospitals. This was important,”noted Légère.

CUPE NB supports the idea of increasing the overall budget for the Auditor General, and implementing their recommendations for more efficient public spending.

“Auditor Generals recognize the importance of transparency and accountability. Like in other provinces, they are an independent third party looking after the public purse and are a safeguard against privatization schemes like P3s,” said Légère.

CUPE NB is disappointed to see how the Liberals have altered their commitment on a minimum wage increase schedule and opened up room for uncertainty on if and when workers would get closer to a $15 living minimum wage. They have also announced more measures to reduce taxes on businesses.

“The best way to stimulate growth is by raising our collective buying power, and that means better wages in the public and private sector. The speech did not mention public sector buying power. It’s unfortunate they are still shying away from the problems that a decade of stagnating wages has created,” said Légère.

CUPE Message to New MLAs : Workers Wages Must Go Up

Fredericton – CUPE NB held a press conference on Thursday to discuss wages in the public sector and the urgent need for a stable progressive government to deal with the issue.

“After 8 months of consultation, education sessions, meeting thousands of members in the provincial tour and grassroots member mobilization, our Bargaining Forward movement is now in full swing,” said Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.

“MLAs cannot shy away from the problems that a decade of stagnating wages creates,” said Légère.

Thousands of CUPE members are currently held in a bargaining limbo with provincial government, notably CUPE Locals 1251, 1190, 1418, 1840, 2745, 946 at WorkSafe NB and Nursing Home Workers. “This limbo is unnecessarily wasting resources for both sides,” said Sandy Harding, CUPE Maritimes Regional Director.

“We reached out to all 5 political parties to discuss this, all responded except the Alliance and the PCs,” said Harding.  “This shows a lack of respect for the women and men who serve our communities. No matter what political configuration will emerge, I hope MLAs will come to recognize and deal with this issue,” she added.

Workers’ resolve to obtain higher wages is strong and they are coordinating their bargaining.

“If the government can’t come up with a fair and timely deal, workers will make themselves heard,” said Légère.

Consumer spending drives close to 70% of our economy, but too many workers are taking on debt to make up for stagnant or declining purchasing power. “This is not enough to jolt the economy and it’s not viable in the long term. Growth is needed in this province, and workers’ purchasing power is a key part in the equation,” concluded Légère.

CUPE NB represents close to 30,000 members in more than 200 locals. Major sectors within the Union include health care, education, nursing homes, municipalities and transportation. Find us online at www.nb.cupe.ca or follow us on Facebook.com/cupeNBscfp/.



WorkSafe NB: CUPE Reaction to Taskforce Recommendations

Fredericton – CUPE New Brunswick held a press conference this Monday to challenge the recommendations made by the Taskforce responsible for evaluating WorkSafeNB.

“Like the NB Ombuds has said, the Taskforce produced “simplistic” recommendations, and they kept a decidedly pro-employer, rather than a pro-worker stance when they proposed changes to a system made to help injured workers,” said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.

While the union does not oppose all 28 recommendations contained in the report, CUPE has major concerns such as:

  • Unnecessarily limiting the powers of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal;
  • Keeping resources for injured workers services low to support privatization;
  • Insufficient workers’ and injured workers’ input and consultation to future changes to theOccupational Health and Safety Act; and
  • The lack of transparency in the appointment of worker representatives on the Taskforce.

There are also concerns around the potential privatization of the WorkSafeNB Rehabilitation Centre in Grand Bay. “It is troublesome how the Taskforce has recommended annual reviews of service delivery options and results with an eye to “finding efficiencies”. This is a frequent code word for privatization and jeopardizes the future of the Centre,” said Légère.

The Return to work initiatives must put injured workers first. “I fear the recommendations pushes WorkSafeNB to focus on “early” return rather than “safe” return to work,” added Patrick Roy, CUPE’s Health and Safety Representative.


Bargaining Forward: Open Letter to CUPE NB Members

Dear CUPE Members of New Brunswick,

Sandy and I wanted to take a moment to send you and your families a heartfelt personal note of thanks for your ongoing participation in the Bargaining Forward movement.

This Sunday, September 23rd, we finished touring the province for the Bargaining Forward presentations in our towns and communities. We visited 13 communities and towns, delivered 24 presentations in less than 3 weeks.

Thousands of members attended these meetings and left energized, engaged and confident that our solidarity and resolve can take us to unforeseen gains. This would not have been possible without all the volunteers, the Regional Action committee members, the staff and others who helped with the meetings.

While we are certainly exhausted, Sandy and I are, however, deeply reinvigorated by this tour. Members welcomed us in their communities with open arms and reminded us how truly beautiful our province is. We had the opportunity to see in person how CUPE workers, through hard work and dedication, truly hold our communities together. This is what we fight and stand for.

We appreciate all the feedback and comments we received from you during the tour. All constructive criticism helps grow our union and leaders and helps to move our movement forward.

The energy we have seen throughout the membership is unprecedented. CUPE NB hasn’t seen this in decades. We can’t stop now, and we need to put this energy to good use.

Your leadership and staff will be planning the next phase of the Bargaining Forward movement.

We will continue to update you throughout the process. All updates, including this one, will be posted on our CUPE NB website and will be sent to all local executives for distribution. We appreciate your solidarity and support.  It is essential for our bargaining committees and general membership to retain their resolve, drive and determination to take on the tasks before them.

Continue to proudly display your signs, magnets and pins. Continue all the social media shares and actions. The movement has just begun.

In solidarity,


Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President

Sandy Harding, CUPE Maritimes Regional Director



Privatized liquor is bad news for New Brunswick

CUPE 963, the union representing NB Liquor workers, opposes the potential modification of the Liquor Control Act to allow convenience stores to sell beer, wine and alcohol. This modification became an electoral promise of the Liberals this weekend.

“With the current growth of agency stores, this further erodes our service, even more so in urban areas. This is partial privatization and it will lead to closures of ANBL stores,” said Jamie Agnew, president of CUPE 963.

“This will transform good paying jobs, with those workers paying taxes, into precarious minimum wage work,” said Agnew.  “This hurts our communities, privatizes profit and socializes risk,” added Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.

It is a myth that privatization makes things cheaper for the consumer. CUPE notes that partial privatization of the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec) did not either result in cheaper alcohol prices[1]. Competition by the different retailers did not have the effect of encouraging them to reduce their profit margin.

“Transferring parts of the sale of alcohol to the private sector will reduce income for the province and reduce the number of good-paying jobs, which does not help grow our economy,” said Légère.

Currently, Alcohol New Brunswick (ANB) generates over $169 million for the public coffers.

[1] Consult the 2015 IRIS research paper on this issue (in French only): https://iris-recherche.qc.ca/publications/saq#


Research Review: Attrition and its Potential Effects on New Brunswickers


Blaine Higgs, the Progressive Conservative leader, has announced that if he is elected Premier, he will cut 600 public sector jobs through attrition. Attrition means eliminating job positions after a worker retires or resigns. Some New Brunswickers think that there is no harm in this approach because no worker will actually be removed from their job.

The reality is, New Brunswickers should be concerned about attrition. It stands to reason that the jobs that would be removed are full-time, permanent jobs, with negotiated benefits – these are the types of jobs that, on the books, “cost” the province more. What happens when good, well-paying jobs disappear?

Recruitment & retention problems: Several health care and long-term care CUPE locals are facing severe recruitment and retention issues. In fact, 71% of surveyed members of the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions indicated that in the past year, they have seriously considered changing their occupation given the increase in workload and violence in the workplace. If full-time, permanent jobs are replaced with casual, part-time and precarious jobs, it becomes more difficult to attract, and keep, new workers to alleviate the burden.

Precarity: A decrease in well-paying, full-time, permanent jobs leads to an increasingly precarious workforce. In August of 2018, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives surveyed professionals in Canada. The survey found that one in five workers experiences precarity. They work contract to contract, part-time or do freelance work. Sixty percent said that they don’t have pension plans or sick pay. These results cut across all employment sectors, professional occupations, wage levels, ages and career stages.

A sluggish economy: More precarious workers means less spending. If a worker doesn’t know when their next paycheque will be, they are less likely to invest in buying a home or building a family in New Brunswick. A 2015 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that the ever-increasing precarity of work is “dramatically holding back economic growth” – both because workers have less to spend, but also because it is harder for them to invest in gaining new skills to better their situations.

And what about young workers?

The OECD study also found that:

“Much of the burden of insecure jobs is falling on youth and they are at greater risk of spending their lives in poverty than the elderly across most developed economies.”

All political parties agree that we need to keep young New Brunswickers in New Brunswick. The current situation is bleak. Reports talk of “persistent net interprovincial migration losses”, mostly of working adults aged 20-29. We have a responsibility to ensure that high school, college and university graduates have access to good jobs – for a New Brunswick that’s prosperous for generations to come.

Gabrielle Ross-Marquette is a CUPE Research Representative for the Maritimes Regional Office.