Negotiate! Don’t legislate public sector pensions

FREDERICTON: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in New Brunswick is calling upon the Alward government to slow down the implementation of the “Shared Risk” model for the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA).

“Last week, we met with government officials and indicated to them that our members had concerns and questions about this new model that needs to be considered before it is legislated”, declared CUPE NB President Daniel Légère.

“CUPE simply wants the Alward government to take a pause in its legislation and discuss the many options available to preserve the defined benefit nature of the PSSA and improve its funding”, explained Légère.

“We strongly believe that Defined Benefit Pension Plans are the best and most efficient way to provide a decent, secure and predictable retirement income for the workers in New Brunswick and across Canada. However, CUPE recognizes that some pension plans are facing larger challenges then others.  The “Shared Risk” model was developed by a government task force working with other unions, including CUPE, to address critical problems with the province’s health care workers’ pension plan. CUPE, however, made it perfectly clear to the Alward government – this was not a one size fits all fix for tackling short-term pension challenges.”

“We have never said that the “status quo” is the only option for the PSSA plan. But we also can’t stand idly by as the Alward government tries to shed pension liabilities at the expense of public sector workers’ pensions.”

“We are fully prepared to work with the province in tackling the surmountable challenges facing the PSSA plan, and find options that don’t transfer all the risks onto workers and retirees”, concluded Légère.


Long service employees suffer as the door locks to their workplace

MONCTON:  The Union representing health care workers, CUPE Local 1252, is asking the government to stop bleeding health care services in the province.

“Today, the laundry services at the Moncton Hospital and the Tracadie-Sheila Hospital

Norma Robinson during a press conference at the Moncton Hospital concerning the closure of the laundry services at the Moncton hospital and the Tracadie-Sheila Hospital.

Norma Robinson during a press conference at the Moncton Hospital concerning the closure of the laundry services at the Moncton hospital and the Tracadie-Sheila Hospital.

are closing.  This is a very sad day for the long service employees in those two facilities,” said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1252, the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions.

“The laundry services in the Moncton Hospital have been operating for 70 years.   At that hospital, 22 employees are losing their jobs; all of them have at least 25 years of services.  Where do you get another job when you have been working for the same employer all your life?”

“The laundry services at the Tracadie-Sheila Hospital have been there for 50 years.  Eleven people are losing their jobs today; those are all long dedicated service employees.  What is going to happen to those families?  Are they expected to go work in laundry in Fort McMurray?”

“In September, other health care workers received their layoff notice; many of them worked in long-term care units. Now, the government is moving ahead with plans to privatize the management of non-clinical services in hospitals, such as food and cleaning operations.  If this plan goes ahead, more workers will lose their jobs and we will see decent paying jobs replaced by minimum wage jobs.”

“It’s time New Brunswickers send a strong message to this government that Health Care is an important service, especially with our aging population.  We need to protect the health services we have in rural communities as well as the urban centers. It’s time to stop the bleeding of health services”, concluded Robinson.

Rural communities hit one more time!

CHIPMAN: The New Brunswick Health Department and Ambulance New Brunswick, the company managing ambulance services in the province, seem to be more concerned about balancing their budget sheet than the life of rural New Brunswickers.

The Union representing the Paramedics, CUPE Local 4848, was informed today that next month, the night services in the Chipman/Minto/Grand Lake area will be reduced from four ambulances to three.

“Reducing the night services to three ambulances will endanger the lives of the people living in those communities.  The paramedics are the only medical services available at night in that area.  There is no hospital anymore and the community health center is closed at night.  The paramedics are the only ones who can provide the first response service”, explained Trent Piercy, CUPE 4848 President.

“We are especially concerned because we have a mill operating 24 hours, seven days a week in Chipman.  During the winter time, the roads in rural areas are dangerous and it increases the response time of the paramedics.

This decision will not only impact the Chipman area, it will have a ripple effect in the entire region, down to Fredericton.  When an ambulance will be dispatched out of the area, another emergency vehicle will have to be moved from somewhere else and so on. “

“For the last few years, rural communities have been hit hard by budget reductions.  If the Minister of Health wants to put care back into healthcare, slashing ambulances services is surely not the way to do it”, concluded Piercy.

CUPE celebrates 50th anniversary

QUÉBEC: The Canadian Union of Public Employees is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week at its biennial convention, being held October 21 – 25 in Québec City.

Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, welcomed over 3,000 delegates, staff and guests to the five-day gathering.

“This week we celebrate five decades of accomplishments to make Canada a better place for workers and to make our communities a better place to live for all Canadians,” said Moist in his address to the convention.

“We have much to be proud of and much to celebrate, but we will also be planning and preparing for the work ahead,” said Moist. “By reconnecting with our members and working together we can build on our past to strengthen pensions, fight for decent wages and build a fairer Canada for everyone.”

Also addressing the convention today was Charles Fleury, national secretary-treasurer.

“Our union is on a solid foundation. We have the resources to stand up for our members and all Canadian workers,” said Fleury in his speech to convention delegates. “Over the coming days, you will set our priorities for the next two years knowing we are in it for the long term to build a stronger fighting team inside CUPE and beyond. You will set our course to fairness.”

Speakers at the convention will include Thomas Mulcair, leader of the official opposition and the NDP, Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Service International, and Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Council. There will also be a thought provoking panel discussion on re-inventing the labour movement.

The national biennial convention is the key decision making body for CUPE, Canada’s largest union with over 627,000 members.

St. Joseph’s Hospital put balanced budget before patient meal

Saint John: The Union representing the workers at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Saint John, CUPE Local 1252, is appalled by the management’s decision to cut on snacks served to seniors in the evening in order to balance its annual budget.

“The employees have been instructed to cut on the food served at night on three floors where approximately 60 seniors are waiting for a nursing home bed”, explained Ralph McBride, CUPE Servicing Representative.

“The management has decided to put the seniors on a diet in order to make up for the $16,000 they overspent in the last three years.”

“From now on, the employees on those three floors will only be allowed a limited amount of milk per day and a package of 12 cookies to be shared amongst 21 seniors on each floor.  The collation at night will now be milk / juice and one cookie or a toast per night but not both.  Nutritional snacks like yogurt and cheese will no longer be served to seniors unless it is a special order request for patient needs”, said McBride.

“Furthermore, we have been informed that if a patient doesn’t eat its lunch, to put the meal aside and give it to the patient later.  Are we now going to serve food that has been sitting there for hours to patients?”

“Recently, Health minister Ted Flemming said it was time to put care back into healthcare.  Hospitals reducing food access to seniors is not putting care back to healthcare. It’s time for the minister to walk the talk.  If he could afford to pay the CEOs of Horizon and Vitality Health Authority a combined salary of $675,000 per year, surely he can find the money to pay for nutritional snacks for our hospitalized seniors”, concluded McBride.

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.


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:






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.