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.

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

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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Fredericton (March 8, 2013) – On this International Women’s Day, CUPE New Brunswick calls on our governments to step up and be accountable for protecting and advancing women’s rights.  Observance of March 8th began over a hundred years ago to mark the struggles for decent working conditions and voting rights for women in Europe and North America.

”We are inspired by the hard-fought struggles for equality of those who came before us,” says Marilyn MacCormack, Chair of the CUPE NB Women’s Committee.  “But much inequality remains. We also know that what is gained can be lost.  Women and men must continue their efforts and keep a close eye on what governments are doing to help or harm equality,” affirms MacCormack.

“Economic inequality is still a fact of life for women in 2013,” notes Odette Robichaud, Vice-President for Women’s Issues for CUPE NB. “Equal pay for work of equal value is an internationally recognized human right, but women still earn less on average than men. New Brunswick’s public sector pay equity law has been in effect since April 2010, but the government is dragging its heels on implementation.  After more than a year of efforts, the job evaluation process is now stalled for two CUPE locals representing court stenographers and education support staff.  It’s time for the province to set up an effective Pay Equity Bureau that will oversee enforcement of the law,” asserts Robichaud.

Pay equity legislation is also needed to protect the more than 100,000 women who are employed in the private sector in New Brunswick. That’s two-thirds of all women workers in the province and it includes many who provide important government mandated and publicly subsidized care services.

“Society still doesn’t recognize the real value of women’s caring work,” says Thérèse Duguay, President of CUPE Local 4598, representing Red Cross home support workers. “Home support workers earn low wages, have no guarantee of enough hours to earn a decent living, receive a pittance for travel costs and most of us have no sick leave, pension plan or other benefits.”

“It was disappointing to see the results of the provincial government’s pay equity exercise for employees in the child care, home support and transition house sectors,” continues Duguay.  Only three of eight job classifications will see any salary increases, with small pay adjustments spread over five years. The methodology used must be reviewed by outside experts so that these kind of female-dominated jobs can be properly evaluated,” affirms Duguay.

“Achieving social and economic equality for women requires focused government action” says Sandy Harding, Vice-President of CUPE NB.  “Child care is one of the essential building blocks.  We need a quality, affordable non-profit child care program for all children. Many of the families with young children who receive the $100 monthly child care benefit from the federal government have a terrible time finding and paying for child care. It is also essential to provide adequate income support and social services for the unemployed, persons with disabilities and those with family care responsibilities.  These investments will benefit society as a whole” notes Harding.

“More work is also needed when it comes to male violence against women and girls,” adds Harding.  “The problem makes headlines around the world and has been identified as the priority issue for this week’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  It is still far too common here at home. Some women are at higher risks than others for being abused or killed, including our Aboriginal sisters, women with disabilities and young women. We need large-scale public messaging and targeted measures to eliminate and prevent it,” says Harding.

“Now, more than ever, men and women in this province need to unite to demand equality,” states Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President.  “Almost two years have gone by since the Alward Government axed the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. We are still waiting for the creation of a new independent body with the necessary resources to monitor government action and work for change.  Let’s not forget that the federal government’s attack on social justice activism started with the defunding of women’s advocacy groups in 2006. That has made the situation worse,” concludes Légère.

Laundry closure in nursing homes: another blow to rural New Brunswick

Fredericton ( February 25, 2013):The government’s decision to close laundry facilities in 16 nursing homes in the province is another blow to rural communities in this province.
“Most of the nursing homes affected by this decision are in the northern part of the province.  A region already greatly affected by a poor economy”, said Wayne Brown, President of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Homes Unions (NBCNHU).

“This decision was taken without any consultation with the Union representing those nursing home employees.  Even though the government assures us that the 28 employees working in those laundries will be transferred in other departments of the nursing homes and that no jobs will be lost, we believe that at least 60 employees will be affected. This decision will have a negative effect in the homes.  The Union will be filing grievances to prevent the reduction of hours”, explained Brown.

“We were called to a meeting this morning and informed that the government decided to close the laundries in order to save $600,000 a year.  We were even more surprised to learn that this decision is coming from a government committee which is looking at finding efficiencies.”

“For years, the government has been telling us that it could not interfere with the nursing homes’ administration; that they were at arm-length. Suddenly, the government can decide by the stroke of a pen to eliminate 16 laundry facilities.”

“If the government was seriously looking to find efficiencies in the nursing homes, they should have consulted with CUPE.  For years, we have been telling the government that millions could be saved in making nursing homes a public service; by regionalizing the administration of the homes, centralizing payroll, purchasing pharmaceutical supplies provincially and doing the same for insurance.”

“This decision also means that the laundry will be trucked to other facilities, increasing the carbon footprint,” concluded Brown.

Here is the list of the nursing homes affected by this decision:
Fundy Nursing Home
Jordan Lifecare Centre
Passamaquoddy Lodge
Kennebec Manor
Kings Way Centre
Rocmaura Nursing Home
Manoir Edith B. Pinet
Résidences Inkerman
Résidences Lucien Saindon
Résidences Monsignor Chiasson
Villa des Jardins
Foyer Notre Dame de St. Leonard
Foyer Ste Elizabeth
Manoir de Grand-Sault
Foyer St.-Joseph de St-Basile
Villa Saint-Joseph

CUPE calls for CPP expansion at NB pension summit

Fredericton (February 14, 2013): The future of pension plans is on the agenda at the National Summit on Pension Reform on February 19-20 in Fredericton. Paul Moist, the National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, is one of the speakers, and has a clear message for Premier David Alward and the other attendees: It is time to expand the Canada Pension Plan(CPP).

“Retirement insecurity is a growing national crisis.  More than six in 10 Canadian workers are without a workplace pension plan,” said Moist. A gradual and modest expansion of the CPP is the best way to ensure that happens.”

Many workplace pension plans are experiencing funding challenges, suffering from recession losses and historically low interest rates.

“I commend the province of New Brunswick for hosting this needed discussion on the future of workplace pension plans,” added Moist.  “CUPE is committed to working with employers and governments to meet challenges facing workplace pensions in a fair and reasonable way.”

Moist will also speak about the challenges of using the reforms implemented by New Brunswick as a template for the rest of Canada. “The New Brunswick solution, while arguably appropriate for New Brunswick, is not and will not be “trend-setters” for the rest of Canada.”

Moist will participate in a panel on February 20 at 10:45 a.m. on National Pension issues along with Leo De Bever, CEO of AIMCo, Tom Smee the Senior Vice-President at RBC and Tom Reid from Sun Life Financial.