Dec 1 – Memo to Members

Update on Bill 17 – the attack on our right to free collective bargaining. Below you will find the memo and the list of New Brunswick PC MLAs.





Education Sector: GNB Threatens to Break Signed Collective Agreements

Fredericton, NB – CUPE Local 1253, which represents 2800 school district bus drivers, custodians and trade workers, along with CUPE Local 2745, representing 4400 educational support staff, held a press conference today to denounce the provincial government’s threats to free collective bargaining.

Last week, the provincial government delivered a message to the two education locals, signaling the provinces’ intent to breach the contract that concluded the 2021 public sector strike. They issued an ultimatum to the locals: abandon the hard-fought agreement on pensions established in November 2021 and March 2022, or face the imposition of a new pension plan through legislation this week.

In response to this unwarranted threat, CUPE Locals 2745 and 1253 took a firm stand and sent a stern response to the government this Monday. “We will not negotiate under threat. We have a fair pension plan agreement in place for our members, and the government’s attempt to change the rules of the game is unacceptable,” said Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE 2745.

Iris Lloyd, President of CUPE 1253, added, “The introduction of a new law would constitute a breach of our collective agreement, a contract that Premier Higgs himself advocated for. It is a betrayal of the very process he championed.”

Approximately 20,000 New Brunswickers endured a 16-day strike, resulting in hardships for tens of thousands of families, all in pursuit of a fair agreement. The Premier and his Cabinet’s decision to disregard this hard-won compromise has broader implications for the entire province. CUPE sounds the alarm for all entities with contracts under the Higgs government — unions, communities, First Nations, businesses, etc. Theresa McAllister warned, “If the government can break its promise to us, what’s to stop them from breaking other promises? There must be consequences for reneging on agreements.”

“As New Brunswickers, we take promises seriously. Signed contracts, negotiated in good faith, are the foundation of modern labour relations,” said Iris Lloyd. “If the government tests this foundation, the ground will shake around them,” added Lloyd.

CUPE Locals 2745 and 1253 call on all MLAs to support and protect free collective bargaining. “It is crucial for the government to follow the established processes laid out in the signed contracts. Both locals assert their readiness to proceed with the agreed-upon steps, and the ball is now in the government’s court,” concluded McAllister.

City of Fredericton Contracts Out Para-Transit Services to Western Canadian Company

CUPE Local 1783, representing municipal transit workers in Fredericton, denounces the City’s recent move to privatize Para-Transit services. Para-Transit is a public service funded and operated by the Transit Division of the City, which provides transportation for citizens with disabilities within the geographical limits of Fredericton.

“CUPE has been made aware that the City will contract out this service as of January 2024,” said CUPE Servicing Representative Ralph McBride. The employer conveyed this decision to the union, stating that the City had been actively working on this process since last spring. Todd English, President of Local 1783, expressed his disappointment: “They did not even discuss this with the workers until it was a done deal, and they were doing this during our bargaining negotiations, without bringing it to our attention,” said English.

Todd English noted: “The City’s initial intent was to enhance services for residents by introducing Sunday bus services, a proposal that the union membership readily supported and made possible through changes to our collective agreement. However, the City’s new decision to relinquish control of services for those with disabilities to an external company has left us baffled,” said English.

Mr. McBride emphasized, “What should concern taxpayers is that the City contracted out all the way to Western Canada. In my opinion, once the contract is signed, the City loses control over the service.” CUPE is also concerned about the quality of service for residents with disabilities. “Contracting out means residents have little to no say in operational hours, rate setting, or fees. These companies don’t take on these contracts without aiming for profit, and as long as they adhere to the terms of the agreement, the City will have no say,” added McBride.

This move by the City of Fredericton raises concerns as it contradicts the City’s promotion of itself as a place to live and support local businesses. “By outsourcing an already well-established public service to a private company from Western Canada with zero ties to the community, the City’s commitment to its residents is called into question,” said English.

CUPE Local 1783 urges all citizens and taxpayers of Fredericton to reach out to their local council representatives and request an immediate reversal of this decision.

CUPE Local 1783 represents more than 45 municipal transit workers in Fredericton.

Two years ago today: Massive CUPE strike rally at the NB Legislature

by NB Media Co-opNovember 2, 2023

Two years ago today, on the fifth day of the CUPE strike in New Brunswick, workers and allies from across the province assembled in front of the New Brunswick Legislature.

In the introduction to the book, Bargaining Forward: The story of the 2021 CUPE strike in New Brunswick, labour historian David Frank writes:

It was the biggest strike in Canada that year. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in early November 2021, thousands of people marched through the streets of Fredericton. Stopping traffic, waving banners, sounding noisemakers, and chanting slogans, they made up one of the largest and most high-spirited demonstrations ever to take place in the New Brunswick capital.

When they reached the provincial legislature grounds, the crowd easily exceeded 5,000 people. Surrounding streets were blocked off for several hours as they cheered speakers, exchanged news about the progress of their strike, and welcomed supporters and members from other unions. In communities around the province, pickets walked up and down the sidewalks at major intersections and in front of shopping malls, holding up signs and waving to passing drivers who honked their approval.

The strike by 22,000 workers, members of ten province-wide locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), lasted sixteen days, but these events were in the making for months, even years.

CUPE NB President Steve Drost, fist raised, outside the New Brunswick Legislature on November 2, 2021. Photo: Cole Burston


The Bargaining Forward book was written by two NB Media Co-op journalists: Susan O’Donnell and David Gordon Koch. O’Donnell was part of the crowd at the Legislature that day in 2021 and she vividly recalls the mood and excitement. “It was electric. People were playing music, dancing, and singing and of course, waving the big yellow fists and fuschia CUPE flags. The sun was out, it was a beautiful day, and everyone was smiling and excited. The camaraderie and solidarity was powerful. There was a strong shared feeling that CUPE was going to win this one.”

One of the book chapters is devoted to that rally two years ago at the Legislature. A number of CUPE members are quoted, along with CUPE NB President Steve Drost:

Standing on the steps of the legislature holding a microphone, Steve Drost kicked off the rally with the kind of land acknowledgement the Attorney General had recently banned among civil servants. As the crowd cheered, he declared: “I give thanks and I recognize that we are on the unceded and unsurrendered territories of the Mi’kmaq, the Maliseet and the Passamaquoddy.

“I just want to tell you how proud I am to be a member of CUPE NB today,” he continued. “Your leaders have heard you loud and clear. For too many years you have been attacked. For too many years they have not paid you your worth. And you have given us a very strong message. You know your value. You know your worth. And we’re here to stand with you.

Bargaining Forward: The story of the 2021 CUPE strike in New Brunswick was launched at the Delta Beauséjour hotel in Moncton on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Photo: CUPE

The NB Media Co-op covered the lead up to the strike and the strike itself extensively. After 16 days, the strike ended with a win for CUPE members, and afterwards, the union invited the NB Media Co-op to write a book to capture the story. Under the guidance of David Frank, the book tells the story in 10 chapters and dozens of photos, with the first chapter starting more than four years before the strike when a fateful decision was made at a CUPE convention.

CUPE NB President Steve Drost and CUPE Regional Director Sandy Harding write in a concluding chapter:

In 2021, workers fought and won. To onlookers, our province-wide strike might have seemed like a spontaneous event, or something planned just a few months ahead. In fact, it took us more than three-and-a-half years of hard work and planning with the Bargaining Forward campaign. Our victory was not an easy one, but it was well earned. CUPE’s 2021 strike was one of the largest successful acts of resistance in New Brunswick’s recent history. We hope it can serve as an inspiring example for working people facing hostile and powerful adversaries.

The book was launched in Moncton in January this year. Copies are available to purchase from CUPE at this link.

Bargaining education session for CUPE Members

📣Education session for CUPE Members! /// Sessions de formations pour les membres du SCFP ! 📣
Join us for the education session ‘BARG – Strategic Planning for Bargaining’ on November 16th, 9 am – 4 pm at the Fredericton Inn.
Learn to:
🔍 Analyze factors affecting bargaining.
🎯 Set effective negotiation goals.
📋 Prepare a solid work plan.
Joignez-vous à nous pour la formation “NÉGO – Planification stratégique pour la négociation” ce 16 novembre, de 9 h à 16 h, à l’hôtel Fredericton Inn.
Apprenez à :
🔍 Analyser les facteurs influençant la négociation.
🎯 Fixer des objectifs de négociation efficaces.
📋 Préparer un plan de travail solide.
Partagez avec vos collègues !

CUPE Local 486 Membership Ratify Tentative Agreement

Saint John, NB – October 10, 2023 — On Monday, the members of CUPE Local 486 voted in favour of ratifying the tentative agreement reached on October 7th. With this crucial step taken by our members, the onus now rests on the Saint John City Council and Saint John Board of Police Commissioners to convene and approve their side of the new collective agreement on October 10. This approval will effectively end the strike that began on September 12, 2023.

“This strike was needlessly prolonged by the City, but today we can finally announce that we have a mutually acceptable agreement,” stated Brittany Doyle, President of CUPE Local 486. “I wish to thank the residents of Saint John, our fellow union locals, and all our supporters for their unwavering solidarity. The deal we have today would not have been possible without their support,” added Doyle.

Throughout the course of this strike, the City’s actions and behaviour have often been at odds with fair labour practices and respect for those involved.  “The City will have to mend fences with its staff. Their actions and aggressive communications have left many with a bitter taste,” said Doyle.

CUPE Local 486 believes councillors Brent Harris and Joanna Killen should be immediately reinstated to their positions with full rights and privileges. “The Mayor and Council must issue a public apology for their unjust treatment of those two who simply took the time to understand their employees’ issues, a sign of good leadership and integrity, unfortunately, that is not common right now with our present mayor and the majority of council,” concluded Michael Davidson, CUPE Servicing Representative.

City’s Attempt to Deem Local 486’s Strike Illegal Fails

The City of Saint John’s attempt to have a judge deem Local 486’s strike and picketing activities illegal has failed. On September 27, the court of Kings Bench did not rule there were any illegal strike activities.

Both parties’ legal counsels have agreed to a “consent order” that acknowledges the workers’ charter-protected right to engage in a meaningful strike and picketing.

Accordingly, the judge did not rule that there were any illegal activities and Local 486 has made it clear to the City that it demands the City to retract its libelous statements from all online publications and issue a formal apology to both residents and workers. “Let us be clear, from day one, this strike has been legal, and we have respected all orders from the police,” emphasized Brittany Doyle, President of Local 486.

The mutually agreed-upon consent order will remain in force until Tuesday, October 3rd, providing space for further negotiations. Brittany Doyle added, “We are very close to reaching an agreement. Unfortunately, instead of finalizing a contract, the City is attempting to again mislead the public and take away worker’s right to strike. We are pleased the court did not take away our workers’ right to strike. The City should come to the table and finalize a fair deal instead of needlessly continuing to disrupt city services and keep us out on the street.”

This recent turn of events confirms Local 486’s claims that the City has been diverting resources away from fair negotiations and trying to use other avenues to suppress the workers, rather than genuinely addressing their concerns at the bargaining table.

Local 486 remains committed to negotiating a fair and equitable agreement and calls upon the City to prioritize the needs of its workers and residents, working together to build a stronger Saint John.

Nursing Home Workers File for Conciliation in Negotiations with Government

During Friday’s negotiation session, the government presented its latest wage offer to the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), which represents nearly 4,600 workers in 51 nursing homes across New Brunswick.

Sharon Teare, President of the NBCNHU, expressed disappointment, stating, “This offer falls far short of meeting the pressing needs of nursing home workers who provide essential care for our seniors.”

Because of the significant gap between the two parties on monetary issues, the NBCNHU has officially filed for conciliation. “The provincial government has been out of touch with the urgent realities faced by nursing home workers, who struggle to meet basic needs like food and shelter,” added Teare.

Teare further explained, “The government’s proposed wage package equates to a mere $2.76 per hour for our lowest-paid workers after 5 years. This offer worsens the crisis in our sector, deepening disparities between worker needs and the rising cost of living.”

To provide context, inflation rates in New Brunswick have been significant: 2022 (7.26%), and 2023 (4% as of August), with optimist forecasts suggesting inflation will be near 2.33% for 2024, and 2% for 2025 and 2026. The compounded inflation rate since 2022 will be near 18.7%.

Meanwhile, the government’s latest wage offer remains below inflation for every year of the contract, with increases of 4% for 2022, 3% for 2023, 2% for 2024, 2% for 2025, 2% for 2026, which compounds to a total of 13.68%, a difference of 5% below inflation.

Teare emphasized, “Workers need real wage increases, not a 5% wage cut, to enhance care and address staff shortages. We urge Labour Minister Arlene Dunn to promptly appoint a conciliator for this critical matter. Workers have waited long enough for a fair deal, and the crisis in our system requires immediate attention,” concluded Teare.

Kill a Worker, Go to Jail

CUPE NB commends the recent legal decision to hold negligent employers accountable for their actions. The sentencing of Jason King to three years in prison for criminal negligence resulting in the tragic death of Michael Henderson sends a clear message that workplace safety cannot be compromised.

This ruling is a significant step towards ensuring proper protection for workers and upholding their rights. Justice Thomas Christie emphasized the importance of deterrence and denunciation in his decision, emphasizing that criminal acts in the workplace will not go unpunished. We believe that such consequences for employers who neglect their responsibilities are long overdue.

We stand with the family of Michael Henderson and admire their courage throughout this challenging process. We also want to acknowledge the support from various labour unions in advocating for safer workplaces. As we move forward, we hope this case sets a precedent for companies to prioritize health and safety, recognizing that the well-being of workers is paramount.

“Workers have the legal right to safety at work and to return home to their family after their shift is finished. Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe work environment for their workers. Worker’s safety must be the highest law,” said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE NB.

This decision reinforces the obligation of employers to adhere to workplace safety standards, ensuring that tragedies like this one never happen again. Springhill Construction Ltd. has been charged alongside Jason King, and the company’s trial is scheduled for January 8, 2024. We look forward to the upcoming trial and hope that justice will be served.

It is hoped that the judge presiding over the matter will recognize that companies also have a responsibility to their employees and supervisors, and they cannot place all the blame on subordinates when health and safety protocols are not followed in the workplace.