Locked out Because of Sick Leave

Allardville, March 20, 2020 –Despite a provincial State of Emergency, the Chaleur Regional Service Commission (CRSC) directors are still refusing to let the Red Pine landfill workers come back to work.

“On Tuesday, we asked the Employer to pause their lockout during the COVID-19 crisis. They refused,” said Serge Plourde, President of CUPE Local 4193.

The 23 workers are locked-out since February because CRSC management wants more power to deny sick leave to workers.

“They say doctors’ notes are required on the first day you call in sick. Top medical experts have all denounced such policies. Why? Because it seriously increases the number of employees working sick,” said Robert LeMoignan, CUPE Servicing Representative.

“The whole world is doing all it can to fight the pandemic. Meanwhile, the CRSC wants to force work policies that aggravate the crisis!” said LeMoignan.

After the province declared a State of Emergency on Thursday, CRSC management posted 6 new “scab” job openings online.

“At least 3 replacement workers (each paid over $15 an hour more than regular workers) are on site. The directors are also paying $300 an hour for the services of an anti-union lawyer from Fredericton,” said LeMoignan.

“They are noticing our members’ experience is necessary to run the site, but they still want to break us. We should be back at work during this crisis. It’s not a time to fool around,” said Plourde.

“These directors – Dayna Carroll and Jocelyne Hachey, have lost all credibility. Their refusal to pause the lockout, during a state of emergency, is making the Chaleur area mayors look like complete fools,” said LeMoignan.

 

CUPE Negotiations Halted in NB and PEI

Charlottetown (PEI) & Fredericton (NB), March 18, 2020 In order to focus all resources to fight the COVID-19 crisis, CUPE is halting bargaining for all CUPE locals in both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

“Collective agreement bargaining meetings, membership meeting, ratifications and strike votes will all be postponed until April 3, 2020, in both provinces,” said Simon Ouellette, CUPE Communications Representative for NB and PEI.

CUPE will reassess the situation and send information to members on April 4, 2020.

“We hope government will want to resume collective agreement negotiations when the situation is firmly under control,” said Ouellette.

CUPE takes the precautions required by the authorities seriously.

“We will act proactively to protect the health and safety of workers and the public,” concluded Ouellette.

COVID-19: CUPE Members Ready to be Redeployed and Reassigned

Fredericton, March 17, 2020 CUPE Locals have come to an agreement with the NB Provincial Government to improve coordination of our collective response to the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Provincial government is shutting down non-essential government services. All public sector workers who work in critical functions will remain on the job, while non-critical services employees could be redeployed and reassigned.

“Our Union leadership has agreed to suspend elements of collective agreement language on the mobility of employees. This will ensure rapid response and deployment of public sector employees,” said Simon Ouellette,” CUPE Communications Representative.

“CUPE members from public sector parts I, II, III and IV could be reassigned to other work locations during this situation,” confirmed Ouellette.

Twelve provincial CUPE Locals, representing close to 25 000 workers made a collective decision to take part in coordination of our public response:

  • Part I: Local 1190 – General Labour and Trades, Local 1251 – Institutional Care and Services, Local 1840 – Court Stenographers & Local 1418 – Rehabilitation and Therapy and RCPO;
  • Part II: Local 2745 – Educational Support Staff & Local 1253 – N.B. Council of School District Unions;
  • Part III: CUPE Local 1252 (NB Council of Hospital Unions)
  • Part IV: Local 5017 – NB Community Colleges, Local 5026 – Collèges communautaires du N.-B., Local 963 – NB Liquor Corporation, Local 1866 – Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.

Union leaders have vital, practical and current information on what goes on at the front lines. We are confident the Government will see the importance of having us participate in the response discussions.

“CUPE members are proud to serve the public and will lead by example in these tough times. Rest assured, this crisis only increases our resolve to fight and win this battle,” concluded Ouellette.

Statement from CUPE NB on COVID-19 and CUPE NB events

As front-line public sector workers, CUPE members in New Brunswick are an integral part of collective efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most healthcare workers in Canada are CUPE members. It goes without saying we have been closely monitoring the progression of COVID-19 across the country.

Pandemic response is a collective responsibility and we all must take action to minimize the spread of this virus. CUPE members play very critical roles in our communities providing services and infrastructure the public rely on, especially during an emergency.

  • CUPE NB is therefore postponing its Mass Membership Tour to a further date, which was to be held in late March and early April 2020.
  • Postponing of all upcoming events, including our annual Convention, are being considered.
  • All education sessions scheduled for March are cancelled.

We must take all possible steps to reduce the potential for COVID-19 to spread among our members and communities.

Please stay tuned for updates from CUPE NB. We hope to give you more information of the future dates for the provincial tour and convention by the end of March 2020.

Public sector workers must be protected so they can serve and protect the public.

In Solidarity,

The CUPE NB Executive

NB Budget: A Surplus Made on the Backs of Ottawa and Workers

Fredericton On Tuesday, March 10th, the New Brunswick PC-Alliance flaunted an election-flavoured budget.

“Premier Higgs made his ‘surplus’ by short-changing workers and repackaging federal transfer money,” said Brien Watson, CUPE NB President.

In December 2019, Ottawa had announced over $219 million more from the previous year’s federal support to support New Brunswick.

“Federal transfer exists for 2 main reasons. First, to ensure provinces still deliver and improve key public services that every Canadian deserves, and second, to improve the provinces’ fiscal capacity — that is growth and our ability to generate tax revenues,” said Watson.
“Higgs’ budget fails both of those objectives,” said Watson. CUPE NB notes Finance Minister Ernie Steeves failed to give any attention to public sector negotiations.

“The PCs sprinkle money around in debt repayment rather than growth initiatives. They sprinkle it in programs without even considering how to staff and compensate them,” said Watson.

“This budget fails to tackle public sector recruitment and retention crisis, and it ignores key crisis. Even nursing home workers, for example, were not mentioned once the entire budget speech,” noted Watson.

“Higgs somehow blew last year’s funds allocated for collective bargaining. Yet, since taking power, he has not settled a single collective agreement with any of the 26 public sector union groups. Did lawyers and consultants chew up what is owed to the 46 000 public sector workers?” asked Watson.

Mayors of the Chaleur Regional Services Commission need to end the lockout or resign

Allardville, March 4, 2020  – Workers at the solid waste landfill Red Pine site in Allardville are starting a massive door to door campaign in hopes of ending the lockout.

On February 13, 2020, management of the CRSC and the solid waste landfill site locked out its 23 workers.  These workers were forced to return home without pay and their health benefits were cut.

“Citizens need to know what’s going on.  Why are the mayors and municipal representatives of the Chaleur region maintaining this lockout? Why do they have it in for the Allardville workers?” wonders Serge Plourde, president of locked out CUPE Local 4193.

Thursday, the Local will start a radio campaign and will distribute brochures to residents.

“Board members of the CRSC must end this lockout.  If they don’t have the courage to intervene and fix this situation, we are asking them to resign from the CRSC,” adds Plourde.

“This lockout by the employer was imposed on workers without transparency and without valid reason. Throwing these workers out in the middle of winter reveals poor management and contempt for the workers,” says Robert Le Moignan, CUPE representative.

“Directors, mayors and municipal representatives of the Chaleur region should treat the workers of the Red Pine site with respect and not like garbage,” concludes Plourde.

The Red Pine site is one of the largest solid waste management centres in the province. Nearly 90,000 tons of waste from northern and eastern NB, from Campbellton to Miramichi, are processed at the site. CUPE Local 4193 represents Scale workers, Secretary, Labourer, Equipment Operator, Maintenance workers, Security Guards and an Environment technologist.

 

Casualization of Full-time Work Is Dishonest

Moncton, February 18, 2020 – The City of Moncton management hides a dirty secret. It has been exploiting employment contract language loopholes to penny pinch workers. Over 20% of all municipal outside workers are without ordinary benefits, job protection and wages all other City employees have.

The Union representing municipal outside workers is doing all it can to fix this injustice in contract bargaining talks. Yet, the City is outright refusing to recognize this as a problem.

“We have members getting paid 65% of what a full-time regular worker makes,” said Leo Melanson, President of CUPE Local 51.

CUPE’s Research Branch discovered that Moncton’s pay ratio for casuals is currently the lowest of any city in New Brunswick.

“We have members working here, who have been doing full-time work for 7 years, never been laid off, but are stuck in this ‘casual’ designation,” said Melanson. “Equal pay for equal work should be the goal here. I hope these workers will be recognized with full-time positions,” he added.

“The City is growing. It’s long overdue that workers, may they be casual, regular, seasonal or even summer students, got a fair wage adjustment,” said Marcos Salib, CUPE Servicing Representative.

Bargaining talks between the Union and the City are at a standstill. The Union requests many casual work positions should be reclassified as permanent positions. Management is not interested in fixing this problem or improving their below-than-inflation wage proposal.

“We want the City to return to the table. Why they left in the middle of conciliation talks is beyond me. We should be talking about better services for citizens,” concluded Salib.

 

Education Dept Recognize it Had no Right to Ban Solidarity Symbols in Schools

Fredericton On January 17, 2020, all NB schools’ officials had received instructions to discipline any school workers who dares to wear a CUPE “Solidarity” T-shirts and materials.

CUPE members in all workplaces have been wearing the “Solidarity – Bargaining Forward” shirts for almost two years and have had no issues in the workplace. Suddenly, the Districts claimed this ban was justified because they consider this universal symbol of solidarity and respect to be offensive to them.

“This seriously interfered with our Charter rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression,” said Brien Watson, President of CUPE NB. “The directive not to wear the shirts at work was either an arbitrary decision based on upper management’ decision or the Ministers’ political motivation rather than based on legal precedent,” he added.

Throughout the Province, there has been reports of school bus drivers, custodians, educational assistants, clerical staff and more being threatened with or given discipline on that Friday.

That same day, members reacted and defied the unconstitutional policy, exposing themselves to discipline from management. Thankfully, Minister Cardy himself issued a retraction later that day after membership actions ,Local 2745 and 1253 actions and statements, media attention and CUPE NB Division intervention.

The raised fist on the shirts are clearly labelled with the word “Solidarity-Solidarité”. Despite the evident nature of this symbol, some members had even  been told by school officials that the solidarity symbol is “racist” and or “sexual in nature”.

“Schools are supposed to have a zero-tolerance policy against harassment and bullying, and here we have officials in positions of authority who tried to bully our members. It’s appalling to see how such highly educated people are so ignorant of the history of this symbol, share by women’s rights champions, the LGBTQ movement, labour leaders, pro-democracy movements, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many more,” said Watson.

“Our entire Executive Board, representing over 30 000 members, has stood in support of those members expressing themselves. We will not accept this blatant disregard for workers’ rights to express solidarity, in any workplace,” concluded Watson.

 

CUPE NB Statement of Solidarity

Conciliation Fails: Fredericton Negotiations in Deadlock

Fredericton, January 14, 2020 – Negotiations between the City of Fredericton and its outside workers, CUPE Local 508, are in a deadlock as the employer refuses to improve wages.

“We did everything we could to get an agreement with the City, but they were not willing to make a fair wage offer. Outside workers deserve a fair wage now,” said Kevin Smallwood, President of CUPE Local 508.

Local 508 mechanic at work at the Fredericton fleet service garage

The City of Fredericton achieved a record-breaking $170 million in development activity in 2019 and registered increased population growth.

“Municipal employees are working day-in day out to make growth happen. I think it’s fair that they should also benefit from it,” said Smallwood.

In the past years, CUPE locals in Oromocto, Quispamsis, Miramichi and in many more towns achieved wage improvements above those currently presented by City of Fredericton.

“The employer has the capacity to close the wage gaps between Fredericton and the other big cities. Local 508 is up to 15% behind other municipalities in the Province. The outside workers in our provincial capital deserve fairness,” concluded Ralph McBride, CUPE Representative.

CUPE Local 508 has been without a collective agreement since December 2018. The Local represents over 125 outside workers in Fredericton delivering services such as water and sewage, water treatment, pollution control center, roads and street maintenance and cleaning, mechanics, traffic and parks and trees.

 

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!