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!

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.