Working conditions: we want your story

Your union wants to hear from you. We are collecting frontline stories, and we want your testimonial to expose the shocking conditions in which our members work and New Brunswickers receive services.

Fill out the short survey here.

Alarming stories from members across the province, across all sectors, are coming in. We have stories of members working short-staffed, not taking their breaks, being denied vacation, or experiencing violence. With your story, we will have a more complete picture of the situation, in all regions, and in multiple classifications. This will be crucial to help us educate and compel the public, government, and our employers to act on the urgent need to improve our working conditions.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

As Canada’s largest union, we acknowledge that because of these ongoing events, it is more important than ever to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples to their unceded territories, as well as to preserve and protect their cultures and languages. CUPE stands in solidarity with Indigenous nations, communities, and organizations and is committed to continuing to work towards reconciliation and respect our ongoing treaty relationships.

Our union is striving to educate CUPE members on the legacy of the residential school system and the ongoing harm Canada’s assimilationist policies and laws have on Indigenous peoples.

CUPE’s new guide, Truth and reconciliation: CUPE taking action through collective bargaining, is a resource that supports locals in working towards reconciliation by bargaining language supporting Indigenous workers into collective agreements.

In 2019, CUPE released Walking the talk: A practical guide to reconciliation for CUPE locals. This guide provides CUPE members with key resources to better acknowledge and include Indigenous members in our union, and to help locals take concrete action towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

As part of our ongoing efforts to foster reconciliation in our workplaces and communities, we encourage all members to participate in National Indigenous Peoples Day by sharing in the events of the day. But we can do more. CUPE encourages members to take some time to learn and reflect on the ongoing harm caused by colonialism and Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Today, we are launching the first phase of our Water is life campaign, starting with educational materials to raise awareness of the impacts of not having access to safe drinking water for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Check out our brand-new fact sheet and resource list.

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the ways people interact, but it is now even easier to attend events related to National Indigenous Peoples Day through virtual platforms, while some in-person events are returning this year as well.

What CUPE locals and members can do:

Educate:

  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and consider how you can support the calls to action.
  • Invite a speaker to your next virtual or in-person meeting to talk about truth and reconciliation.
  • Ask for CUPE’s Indigenous Awareness workshop and our human rights course. Find out more at cupe.ca/union-education.
  • Read CUPE’s response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Bargain:

  • Make employment equity a bargaining priority.
  • Bargain Indigenous-inclusive language into your local’s collective agreement, using CUPE’s Truth and Reconciliation bargaining guide as a resource to help you get started.

Act:

Nursing Home Workers Push Back Pension Attacks

June 2, 2022 – The NB Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), representing more than 4,600 nursing home workers, held a press conference today. The Council announced it has initiated legal proceedings to enforce pension law and protect nursing home workers’ pensions.

“As of this morning, CUPE filed a formal complaint to Angela Mazerolle, the NB Superintendent of Pensions, asking her to intervene as the province is deliberately underfunding nursing home workers’ Defined Benefit Pension plan,” said Sharon Teare, president of the NBCNHU.

“By refusing to allow adjustments in contribution levels from both our employers and plan members, the province is breaking its legal obligations to ensure a viable pension plan for over 4,500 workers and thousands of retirees,” said Jason St-Onge, NBCNHU’s 1st vice president.

In the 25-page legal complaint, the Council notes that the government has not done its basic due diligence over the years. The government ignored multiple calls by workers to adjust contribution levels, and now, the plan deficit has reached $112 million.

The Pension Benefit Act and the Nursing Home Pension Plans Act are clear: the pension plan must be fully funded or on the path to being fully funded so that promised benefits can be kept. “They can’t contribute less than the cost of what is being promised to nursing home workers, and they can’t ignore deficits and allow them to grow larger,” said Emily Niles, CUPE’s pension researcher. “The Superintendent must intervene” added Niles.

The NBCNHU pension plan pays out on average $7,300 per year to each retiree.  “It is a very modest pension, and it should be improved, not attacked and undermined by this government who claims it “cares” for its front-line workers,” said St-Onge.

“The Higgs government is manufacturing a pension crisis in nursing homes to justify benefit cuts, so we are taking legal action to defend our members. Workers will not stand idly by while their pension plan deteriorates,” concluded Teare.

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Day of Mourning Ceremonies 2022

April 28th is the labour movement’s most solemn day, but also one to refocus our commitment to prevent future workplace injuries and deaths. Every year, thousands of workers, friends and families of fallen workers gather at ceremonies across Canada to recognize the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job.

This year, we will gather in communities across the country and online. As we mourn for the dead, the Canadian Union of Public Employees continues to fight for the living.

Find an event near you:

Bathurst & District Labour Council
Day of Mourning Ceremony
Near Sacred Heart Cathedral, Douglas Avenue, Bathurst
Thursday, April 28, 2022, at 12:15 p.m.
John Gagnon 506-454-0651 gagnonjohn@yahoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/Bathurstlabour/

Edmundston & District Labour Council
Day of Mourning Ceremony
Park next to City Hall on Canada Road
Thursday, April 28, 2022, at 11:30 a.m.
Lorn Martin 506-737-7063 lornm5@gmail.com

Fredericton & District Labour Council
Day of Mourning Ceremony
12:00 noon at the Fallen Firefighters Monument on St. Ann’s Point Drive in Fredericton. For more information contact George Nickerson, CUPW Local 054 at 1-902-580-0375.

Miramichi & District Labour Council
Day of Mourning Ceremony
In front of Miramichi City Hall (on the Newcastle side)
April 28 at 6:00 p.m.
Contact: Theresa McAllister 506-424-1417

Moncton & District Labour Council
Day of Mourning Ceremony
Cenotaph in Bore Park (Riverfront)
Thursday, April 28, 2022, at 12:00 p.m.
Melissa Brown 506-872-4643 melandjade@hotmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/Monctonlabour/

Bring wages in long-term care up to par with healthcare

Fredericton, April 14, 2022 – CUPE Local 5446, representing more than 550 Shannex care home workers in NB, along with the NB Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), representing more than 4,600 nursing home workers in our province, is inviting the Government of New Brunswick to adjust wages for all long-term-care workers to the same levels as in healthcare.

CUPE locals have lobbied and fought hard to improve wages for workers in all sectors. With the 2021 CUPE strike, healthcare workers were among those able to make Premier Higgs listen to the urgent need in their sector. Workers in healthcare won over 15% to 17% increases in wages, which had been stagnant for years. In long-term care, however, where there is no real right to strike, wages have remained below inflation.  “In Shannex establishments and in all other nursing homes, the need to bring wages up to par with healthcare is very real,” declared Hope Cyr, President of CUPE Local 5446. “Every week we are losing LTC workers, who, understandably, are going over to work in hospitals where they are better compensated,” added Cyr.

“The strike had a vast positive domino effect on other sectors, including for the Cabinet ministers themselves, who recognized they also needed a cost-of-living adjustment to their salaries,” said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE NB. “Long-term care workers and special care workers should also benefit from a similar wage adjustment,” he added.

Back in September 2021, before the October strike, the NBCNHU held a press conference to demand Premier Higgs agree to the union’s proposed immediate 4$/hour wage increase MOU (Memorandum of Agreement) for all CUPE classifications in long-term care homes.

“We lobbied the government to increase care hours, but residents are still not getting the minimum care hours guaranteed under the Nursing Homes Act because of the critical lack of staff” reminded Sharon Teare, President of the NBCNHU. “It’s time the Premier made some bold moves to fix the crisis,” said Teare.

“The province can act now for all workers in long-term care and special care, from LPNs to care aides to environmental staff. They should not delay and delay and wait until a strike is declared to begin thinking about improving our situation,” concluded Hope Cyr.

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Register your Local for Organizing 4 Power training sessions

All Locals and Councils heading into bargaining and or wanting to increase membership engagement and participation are invited to the Organizing 4 Power training session, which begins on May 10, 2022.

This training is about high membership participation and organizing to win. There are countless examples of labour victories using the methods, here in the Atlantic region as well as many wins in the United States and across the world, as workers are pushing back. For example, Bargaining Forward CUPE NB, Dalhousie University union organizing success in joining PSAC, Amazon Labour Union’s amazing union drive, Starbucks organizing, and many more. Workers were able to stand up to hostile governments and large corporations and overcome many union-busting tactics.

The training is free and requires workers to sign up as a group. For our workers, this would be possible if Locals and Councils worked collaboratively. For example, someone from your bargaining team, Executive, Sub-unit Executives, and or other activists in your rank and file.

The training is based on the Jane McAlevey methodology with hands-on tools and support to organize to win. Workers can win better contracts and improve working conditions. The examples above are just a few and there are many more proven labour victories in the past 5 years using these strategies.

Registration is now open until May 3, 2022 for Organizing for  Power’s Core Spring/Summer Fundamentals Training. This upcoming training, which launches May 10 and runs six consecutive Tuesdays until June 14, builds on the core organizing concepts of what it takes to win hard battles in today’s class war. Learn more about the program here, and register your group of 10 or more by our May 3 deadline to join our global community organizing to build the power required to win.

VIDEO: WHAT WINNING LOOKS LIKE
Check out this video for a good example of the kinds of victories that groups taking OP4 courses are achieving. It’s a great way to introduce your colleagues to what we mean by organizing to win.

In this pilot episode, we talk with German hospital workers who just won a groundbreaking collective agreement through rigorous preparation and the power of the strike. A number of these hospital workers took the most recent O4P training to prepare this inspiring campaign.

Follow OP4 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rls_organizing
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/organizing4power