Send your holiday card today

Fill out the form to send the following card to Premier Higgs and your MLA:

Dear Premier Higgs,

I send you this holiday “Fistivus” card because the Holidays give us an opportunity to take an honest look at ourselves and the world around us. 

Frankly, 2019 has been a tough year for workers. Statistics Canada said New Brunswick has the lowest median household income in Canada. Wages are stagnant. Under-staffing and overwork are on the rise.

Program cuts and anti-worker legislation should not be on anyone’s agenda. New Brunswick workers deserve generosity, not austerity.

Beyond this “Airing of Grievances”, the Holidays are also a time to hope for a better future and dream big.

Workers are building the “Bargaining Forward” movement because we believe in giving and sharing with those around us all year long. I know solidarity only makes sense when it is not limited to those that I love and care for. I wear the CUPE black shirts for those I have never met and will never see; those that are not so fortunate in their lives as I am. I put the “Solidarity Fist” on my car because I am ready to do my part and take a stand.

To the Premier and MLAs who are in government: I really hope you will have a “New Year, New You!” moment. The coming year will be a great time to redeem yourselves.

To the opposition MLAs: Remember how fair contracts, respect for workers and improved public services can do a lot towards making our communities stronger and better places to live.

To all of you and to your respective families: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6, 2019 – CUPE NB Statement –

December 6th , 2019 will mark the 30th year since the massacre in Montreal at l’École Polytechnique, where 14 young women lost their lives because of who they were. These students were not targeted randomly. This was a planned, anti-feminist attack against women who were looking to improve their lives through education.

Since that day, we mourn the victims of l’École Polytechnique and all women who continue to experience violence in the workplace and in their personal lives. December 6th also goes beyond mourning: it is also a call to action for a more just and equal society.

Labour has to do its part in this struggle. This is why CUPE works diligently to negotiate better collective agreement language on sexual harassment and gender-based violence in our workplaces. CUPE also pushes for legislative and political changes. This results in tangible gains for all, like when the NB Employment Standards Act was modified to give paid leave to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual violence.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees – New Brunswick Division (CUPE NB) invites its members and the broader public to attend the December 6th activities organized throughout the province. We also encourage workers to participate in campaigns led by coalition partners who fight to eliminate violence against women.

CUPE is New Brunswick’s largest union. With around 30,000 members across the province, CUPE represents workers in health care, education, municipalities, universities, social services, transportation, nursing homes and more.

NB Government Refuses Electronic Voting: Strike vote suspended

Fredericton, December 4, 2019 –

– CUPE Local 1190 has learned that its members’ strike vote process is to be halted again by governmental procedural hurdles.

“The Government is objecting to electronic voting method for our members’ strike vote as if we were in the 1950s,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE Local 1190.

Local 1190 wanted secret ballot voting to go ahead with Intelivote Systems, which is certified with the federal government and hold all federal government security clearances. They are also compliant with all municipal government regulations in jurisdictions where electronic voting is approved.

“Despite this, Treasury Board representatives say they need more proof of compliance,” said Wiggins. “It looks like we will have to bring this government kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” he added.

This new hurdle comes after the Employer stalled voting in November by contesting the Union members’ eligible voter list.

“The Province is incapable of producing an accurate list of its own employees. Just last week, the Treasury Board added another 82 names on the list. That comes on top of the five hundred more names they added to the original list sent to the Union on November 6, 2019,” said Wiggins.

“This is clearly a direct effect of the few resources allocated to public sector negotiations. It’s sad to see that we are entering 2020 with a government that does not have confidence in elementary electronic voting processes,” said Wiggins.

CUPE Local 1190 represents over 1500 general labour and trades workers throughout New Brunswick, in over 8 Departments, including provincial parks and highway workers.

Workers Unite Against Essential Services Act Amendments

Thursday November 28 2019, the NB Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), CUPE NB, the NB Nurses Union and the NB Federation of Labour held a joint press conference in Fredericton to denounce Bill 17.

Tuesday, November 26, Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard presented Bill 17 in the NB Legislature. Amendments to the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act (ESNHA) were introduced. This legislation is the government’s “attempt” to respect the October 29th Court of Appeal order. The three judges have ordered the government to amend the ESNHA to make it comply with the Charter.

“There is nothing in Bill 17 that will fix the current recruitment and retention crisis in nursing homes. On the contrary, the proposed amendments will worsen the situation. With all the constraints they put on arbitrators, they have put many obstacles for workers who want to improve their working conditions,” said Sharon Teare, President of the NBCNHU.

Bill 17 will also extend bargaining restrictions to nurses. On top of artificially high designation levels and procedural red tape, many constraints are now imposed on arbitrators in order to steer their decisions towards wage restraints.

“Bill 17 is an inadequate fix for an already unjust and unnecessary law. The Bill, as it is written now, does not respect workers’ right to free collective bargaining,” said Brien Watson, President of CUPE NB. “This is why CUPE, the NBFL and the Nurses’ Union oppose it and urge MLAs to vote this down,” he added.

“We hope the MLAs who have voted for unrestricted binding arbitration on May 30, 2019, will not flip flop on this vote. This Bill goes exactly against their majority decision,” concluded Teare.

Firefighters & Police Have a Right to Fair Bargaining

Fredericton, November 22, 2019 – On Friday, NB Post-Secondary, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder introduced legislation to restrict binding arbitration with police and fire unions.

The bill would modify the Industrial Relations Act to restrict arbitrators’ ability to adjust workers’ wages in negotiations between municipalities and first responders.

“Higgs is just using workers’ wages as a smokescreen to divert attention from the real problems our municipalities face,” said Kevin Smallwood, president of the NB Committee of Municipal Workers.

“The neutral third party’s discretion will be severely limited to compensate for municipal councillors’ fiscal blunders. This is what is happening in Saint John, where they want to make front-line workers pay for Council mistakes in issuing massive corporate tax exemptions,” said Brien Watson, CUPE NB President.

“The law is an unnecessary remedy to an imagined problem,” said Marc Doiron, CUPE Firefighter and Municipal Committee representative. “The new legislation will have a perverse effect, because municipalities will have zero incentive to negotiate fairly,” he added.

“I know this government needs to divide workers in order to conquer them. I see Higgs wanting to drive a wedge and bring arbitration restrictions to many other sectors, such as nursing homes,” said Watson.

CUPE NB and the NB Committee of Municipal Employees oppose this bill and stand with other unions representing firefighters and police in NB.

Highway Worker Makes RCMP Complaint Against Cabinet Minister’s Assistant

Fredericton, November 21, 2019– A NB Highway worker has had enough of the bullying and harassment made by a Cabinet Minister and his right-hand man.

Scott McLaughlin, a DTI road worker, is pursuing a complaint to the RCMP against the Executive assistant of Ross Wetmore, Minister for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries.

In July, a DTI road-repair work crew was on Route 112, when M. Wetmore and his assistant, M. Shawn Douthwright, got out of their vehicle and started shouting and insulting the work crew.

“The Minister got out and shouted at us, insulted us, using derogatory words and saying road workers were incompetent,” said McLaughlin. “Both of them were insulting us,” said McLaughlin.

“This was not the first time M. Wetmore would abuse of his position as Minister to provoke and insult CUPE members working on the highways,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE Local 1190.

The situation escalated when M. Douthright forcefully grabbed McLaughlin by the shoulders and shouted in his face: “Do your f*cking job!”.

“Following this incident, we know DTI has made an internal investigation,” said Wiggins. However, the Minister himself, the instigator, did not face any consequences, as far as we know, to his repeated harassment towards highway workers,” said Wiggins.

“McLaughlin and his crew deserve a public apology from M. Wetmore,” said Wiggins. “We have had enough of him abusing his status as Minister to intimidate workers,” concluded Wiggins.

CUPE Local 1190 represents over 1,500 general labour and trades workers throughout New Brunswick, in over 8 departments, including provincial parks and highway workers.

Nursing Home Final Offer Votes Halted by Province

Fredericton, Nov 19, 2019 – Without explanation nor without the Union’s agreement, the nursing homes employer association has made an application to the Labour & Employment Board to withdraw the votes on the “Final Offer” that were scheduled to happen this week in four nursing homes.

Members of CUPE Local 5327 in Néguac, Local 4796 in Tabusintac, Local 3657 in Inkerman & Local 1378 in Shippagan were supposed to vote this week.

In September 2019, Premier Blaine Higgs had requested the NB Labour & Employment Board conduct a vote on his final offer to CUPE members in 46 nursing homes. At the time, Higgs had told the Labour & Employment Board to rush the process, so all 46 locations voted before Christmas.

“The homes that have voted properly have all rejected his “offer”. It seems like the government and the employer association want to backpedal and stall to prevent a public relations mess,” said Sharon Teare, President of the NB Council of Nursing Homes Unions.

“Members are already sending a very strong message to Higgs: his offer is disrespectful. His concession demands demonstrate something worse than ignorance of the harsh realities of the sector,” said Teare.

To date, the votes in the following homes have been completed:

Villa Sormany – Robertville                                       90.0% NO
Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes – Bathurst             93.4% NO
York Manor – Fredericton                                          87.4% NO

“When the employers made the Application to withdraw on Monday, they never gave workers an explanation as to why they wanted these four votes halted,” said Patrick Roy, CUPE Coordinator for the nursing home locals. “It made even less sense when I saw that votes for 5 more nursing homes remained on the schedule for the coming weeks,” said Roy. The votes are still scheduled in the following locations:

Foyer Assomption, Rogersville (Nov. 27); Foyer Saint-Thomas, Memramcook (Dec. 2); Villa du Repos, Moncton (Dec. 3); Villa Providence, Shediac (Dec. 4) & Forest Dale Home, Riverside Albert (Dec. 9)

“Workers have had enough of stall tactics. Anti-constitutional laws, futile bargaining sessions, legal battles, court delays, rejection of legislature votes and now this. It’s time the Premier put his ego aside and settle a fair deal once and for all,” concluded Teare.

School Library Hours Must be Increased

Fredericton, October 24, 2019 – As October is Canadian Library Month, CUPE Local 2745, which represents school library workers, is asking the New Brunswick government to improve funding for school libraries.

Earlier this month, Education Minister released a “Green Paper” on major changes for the NB Education System.

“Sadly, there was not a single mention of library workers or educational assistants, nor did they address the sad state of our school libraries,” noted Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE Local 2745.

“School libraries play a critical role in improving students’ literacy and critical thinking skills. Yet, libraries are undergoing staff reductions, have fewer open hours, are threatened with budget cuts and automation.

“Because government has not prioritized school libraries, there is no consistent ratio for service across the province: some school libraries are only open for students for less than twenty-one hours per week. In some schools, libraries are open for less than six hours per week!” said McAllister.

Local 2745 believes it is essential that all school libraries be staffed full time in order to provide students continuous access to the resources and expertise that library staff can offer.

CUPE Local 2745 represents over 4800 education workers in NB.

Statement on GNB’s Education Reform “Green Paper”

On October 3rd, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a Green Paper titled “Succeeding at Home: A Green Paper on Education in New Brunswick”. This 25-page document contains ideas and action items on how to reform the K-12 education model in New Brunswick.

While CUPE believes our school system can always be improved, CUPE Local 2745  (representing educational assistants, library workers, secretarial and district clerical staff in the NB Education system) and CUPE Local 1253 (representing mainly custodial staff, maintenance workers and school bus drivers) are worried by many aspects of the document.

“Nowhere in this vision is there mention of educational staff other than the teachers and principals,” deplored Iris Lloyd, president of CUPE Local 1253. The paper mentions phasing out age-based grade levels education and replace it with a competency-based approach.

“Any major pedagogical changes require coordination, serious planning and resources. Yet, there are no mentions of increased funding and/or training to implement the proposed “flexible learning environments” noted Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE Local 2745.

CUPE hopes the government understands the need to guarantee full-time, permanent EAs in all classrooms.  If government takes literacy seriously, they will reverse decades of cuts to libraries and restore library workers’ hours to adequate levels.

“Improving our school systems requires resources and respect for the people who deliver front-line services. The role all school personnel play in education, from custodial staff to the principals, should not be snubbed,” concluded Lloyd.

See CUPE’s full Statement here.