Government breaks off talks: Strike Imminent

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Fredericton, October 27, 2021 Mediated talks between the CUPE Centralized Bargaining Team and the government of New Brunswick ended today after the Government broke off the talks. “We moved significantly from our initial demand, expecting some reciprocity and goodwill from the government, but that did not happen, said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE NB.

While CUPE moved 8% off their initial 4-year demand of 20% over 4 years, the Government moved only moved up 2.25%. “It’s absurd. The conservatives want to force workers to take below cost of living wages, even if they already are the lowest paid of the lowest-paid public service workers in Canada,” said Drost. “To top it all, Higgs still expects a major concession!” said Drost.

GNB demand:    2% per year, 5-year contract.
CUPE demand: 3% per year, 4-year contract.

Most Locals have been waiting for government to conclude new collective agreements for more than 4 years. Workers’ wages have been stagnant over the previous 12 years.


  • Late May 28, 2021: CUPE NB delivers a “100 Day – Final Notice to Bargain” to government.
  • Late August: Higgs invites CUPE Locals to conduct centralized bargaining. Workers agree as long as talks are about wage increases, not concessions.
  • Early September: Talks break down, as Higgs and his cabinet ministers insist on tying his 0,25% yearly wage increases to a concession.
  • September-early October: All 10 locals conduct successful supermajority strike votes, with an average of 94% voting YES.
  • Early October – GNB declares a 14-day circuit breaker to deal with the 4th wave of COVID. CUPE offers to hold off strikes as a show of goodwill. The same day that CUPE announces a 14-day “truce,” the Premier continued his ongoing attacks on CUPE by reclassifying over 1900 LPNs out of CUPE Healthcare Local over to another union.
  • Mid-October: provincial fiscal update reveals a 4th consecutive budget surplus in the middle of a pandemic, with a 400 million surplus in last year’s budget. CUPE denounces how this surplus was made on the backs of workers and by under-resourcing public services.
  • October 22nd: CUPE proposes the intervention of a mediator to achieve an agreement. GNB accepts but refuses to significantly modify their offer and continues to insist upon concessions.

“CUPE has done all it can to settle this without disruption, but he is simply not hearing the call to treat front-line workers with fairness and dignity. He is pushing workers on strike, and that will happen very soon. Enough is enough,” concluded Drost.

Online Mass Membership Meetings – Oct 21 and 22

It’s clear, members of 10 big provincial locals voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike if no fair deal is reached with the province. Altogether, the average vote was 94% in favour.

This is why you are invited to participate in one mass membership meeting (1-hour session) either on October 21 or October 22. This is to prepare for coming job action.

Sessions start at 10 am, 1 pm & 7 pm on both days. No registration is needed, just open this meeting viewing link at the start time of your choice:
All CUPE members are invited, even if you are part of a local who is not in bargaining or considering potential job action. The event is free, no registration is required.

Sessions on 21 October: 10 am, 1 pm, 7 pm
Sessions on 22 October: 10 am, 1 pm, 7 pm
Link to view each session:

Facebook event link:

GNB memo prohibiting land acknowledgements an affront to reconciliation efforts

October 18, 2021, Fredericton, NB – CUPE New Brunswick expresses profound disappointment in the Government of New Brunswick’s recently released memo that prohibits government employees from making land acknowledgements.

“Our union is committed to decolonization and reconciliation, and recognizing the stolen land on which we live is the bare minimum that we can do,” said Dana Wesley, Senior Officer for Indigenous Rights.

CUPE NB supports our members’ efforts to further the goals of reconciliation by making land acknowledgements. The union urges its members to use unequivocally the words “unceded”, “unsurrendered”, and “stolen” to describe the lands upon which we live.

“Any attempt to discipline our members for making land acknowledgements will be met with grievances,” said Steve Drost, President of CUPE NB. “This is an unconscionable directive that flies in the face of reconciliation, and we view it as a violation of the right to free speech.”

CUPE NB members understand that colonization is not a thing of the past, but that it continues into the present. The Government of New Brunswick’s memo is an example of this colonial power. In seeking to prohibit employees from using factually accurate words like “unceded” and “unsurrendered”, the memo implies that this land was ceded or surrendered. This is a colonial attempt to undermine Indigenous sovereignty. Moreover, it infringes on our members’ right to free expression, and it attempts to pit public sector workers against Indigenous communities.

“That New Brunswick exists on the stolen, unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati is not up for debate – it is a fact,” Drost said.

On behalf of the 28,000 CUPE members of New Brunswick, many of whom are Indigenous, we affirm our solidarity with Indigenous communities in New Brunswick in their struggle for justice.

LPN Reclassified to NBNU – Higgs is doing union busting against CUPE

Fredericton, NB, October 7, 2021 – Health care workers denounce the government’s unilateral action to carve out Licenced Practical Nurses from CUPE Local 1252, representing close to 10,000 healthcare workers in New Brunswick.

CUPE learned today, via a letter from Treasury Board, that Higgs’ ordered over 1,900 LPNS to be reclassified from CUPE into the NB Nurses Union. This move takes effect tomorrow, October 8.

“This is union-busting at its worst. Higgs is doing this because more than 94% of healthcare workers voted for a strike. They voted to end his mismanagement of our public healthcare system and to end his abuse of front-line workers,” said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1252.  “This retribution is an insult to the rights of all healthcare workers to free collective bargaining. Workers told him over and over to fix the staffing crisis at the bargaining table, not through divide and conquer tactics,” added Robinson.

CUPE Local 1252 is among 10 CUPE locals in New Brunswick who recently obtained strong strike votes and are fighting to get fair wages for front-line workers.

The government’s reclassification letter came less than five hours after CUPE had written to the Premier this morning, telling the premier they would not call members to strike in the next 14 days in order to protect the public’s safety because of increased COVID-19 cases.

In 2018, the provincial government began a job review of the LPN classifications that had been agreed to previously in bargaining with Local 1252. “It’s been three years since, and the government still refuses to implement the conclusions of the JAQ process, the “Job Analysis Questionnaire,” which would have resulted in a significant wage increase for LPNs,” said Robinson. Since then, Higgs remained steadfast on the opinion that the LPNs’ skillset had not changed so he could deny them proper compensation.

“Higgs is wrong to think this will silence the voice of those professional frontline workers who took a stand to stop the erosion of public healthcare,” concluded Robinson.

CUPE Local 1252 represents close to 10,000 healthcare workers in NB, over 1,900 of which are LPNs.

CCNB workers vote 96% in favour of strike action

Fredericton, October 1st 2021 – Local 5026, which represents the francophone community colleges (CCNB) operational employees (i.e. trades, clerical, warehouse, building maintenance, engineers, lab assistants, and custodians), voted massively for a strike.

“The members have spoken loud and clear and are showing their displeasure with Premier Higgs’ inaction,” said Brian Nadeau, President of Local 5026.

“Eighty-four employees voted, and the Local is 96% in favour of strike action. 81 members voted in favour of strike action,” said Christine Goguen, Vice-President of Local 5026.

This strike vote follows that of CUPE Local 1252 healthcare workers who obtained strong job action votes last Wednesday. Local 5026 is the ninth to conclude its vote among the 10 locals engaged in coordinated bargaining with the centralized bargaining team.

“We are a smaller group in terms of numbers, but as others, we also need wage adjustments that go beyond inflation. We have lost too much ground in the last 10 years,” said the vice-president.

The local believe that a strike in their sector would lead to the closure of the NBCCs. “Without the custodial workers, the tradespeople, the NBCCs will likely not open,” she said. “One thing is certain, we don’t want a strike, but we are at the end of our rope, we want to be heard and respected,” concluded Christine Goguen.

Our Letter to Premier Higgs

Below is a letter from the Centralized bargaining team to Premier Higgs, following his correspondence of September 27th.  In it, we re-affirm we look forward to going back to the table, but that we will only do so once he removes the concessions. It’s in the Premier’s hands to ensure there are no further disruptions to our public services.

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