Fredericton, November 21, 2019– A NB Highway worker has had enough of the bullying and harassment made by a Cabinet Minister and his right-hand man.
Scott McLaughlin, a DTI road worker, is pursuing a complaint to the RCMP against the Executive assistant of Ross Wetmore, Minister for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries.
In July, a DTI road-repair work crew was on Route 112, when M. Wetmore and his assistant, M. Shawn Douthwright, got out of their vehicle and started shouting and insulting the work crew.
“The Minister got out and shouted at us, insulted us, using derogatory words and saying road workers were incompetent,” said McLaughlin. “Both of them were insulting us,” said McLaughlin.
“This was not the first time M. Wetmore would abuse of his position as Minister to provoke and insult CUPE members working on the highways,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE Local 1190.
The situation escalated when M. Douthright forcefully grabbed McLaughlin by the shoulders and shouted in his face: “Do your f*cking job!”.
“Following this incident, we know DTI has made an internal investigation,” said Wiggins. However, the Minister himself, the instigator, did not face any consequences, as far as we know, to his repeated harassment towards highway workers,” said Wiggins.
“McLaughlin and his crew deserve a public apology from M. Wetmore,” said Wiggins. “We have had enough of him abusing his status as Minister to intimidate workers,” concluded Wiggins.
CUPE Local 1190 represents over 1,500 general labour and trades workers throughout New Brunswick, in over 8 departments, including provincial parks and highway workers.
Fredericton, Nov 19, 2019 – Without explanation nor without the Union’s agreement, the nursing homes employer association has made an application to the Labour & Employment Board to withdraw the votes on the “Final Offer” that were scheduled to happen this week in four nursing homes.
Members of CUPE Local 5327 in Néguac, Local 4796 in Tabusintac, Local 3657 in Inkerman & Local 1378 in Shippagan were supposed to vote this week.
In September 2019, Premier Blaine Higgs had requested the NB Labour & Employment Board conduct a vote on his final offer to CUPE members in 46 nursing homes. At the time, Higgs had told the Labour & Employment Board to rush the process, so all 46 locations voted before Christmas.
“The homes that have voted properly have all rejected his “offer”. It seems like the government and the employer association want to backpedal and stall to prevent a public relations mess,” said Sharon Teare, President of the NB Council of Nursing Homes Unions.
“Members are already sending a very strong message to Higgs: his offer is disrespectful. His concession demands demonstrate something worse than ignorance of the harsh realities of the sector,” said Teare.
To date, the votes in the following homes have been completed:
Villa Sormany – Robertville 90.0% NO
Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes – Bathurst 93.4% NO
York Manor – Fredericton 87.4% NO
“When the employers made the Application to withdraw on Monday, they never gave workers an explanation as to why they wanted these four votes halted,” said Patrick Roy, CUPE Coordinator for the nursing home locals. “It made even less sense when I saw that votes for 5 more nursing homes remained on the schedule for the coming weeks,” said Roy. The votes are still scheduled in the following locations:
Foyer Assomption, Rogersville (Nov. 27); Foyer Saint-Thomas, Memramcook (Dec. 2); Villa du Repos, Moncton (Dec. 3); Villa Providence, Shediac (Dec. 4) & Forest Dale Home, Riverside Albert (Dec. 9)
“Workers have had enough of stall tactics. Anti-constitutional laws, futile bargaining sessions, legal battles, court delays, rejection of legislature votes and now this. It’s time the Premier put his ego aside and settle a fair deal once and for all,” concluded Teare.
Fredericton, October 24, 2019 – As October is Canadian Library Month, CUPE Local 2745, which represents school library workers, is asking the New Brunswick government to improve funding for school libraries.
Earlier this month, Education Minister released a “Green Paper” on major changes for the NB Education System.
“Sadly, there was not a single mention of library workers or educational assistants, nor did they address the sad state of our school libraries,” noted Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE Local 2745.
“School libraries play a critical role in improving students’ literacy and critical thinking skills. Yet, libraries are undergoing staff reductions, have fewer open hours, are threatened with budget cuts and automation.
“Because government has not prioritized school libraries, there is no consistent ratio for service across the province: some school libraries are only open for students for less than twenty-one hours per week. In some schools, libraries are open for less than six hours per week!” said McAllister.
Local 2745 believes it is essential that all school libraries be staffed full time in order to provide students continuous access to the resources and expertise that library staff can offer.
CUPE Local 2745 represents over 4800 education workers in NB.
On October 3rd, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a Green Paper titled “Succeeding at Home: A Green Paper on Education in New Brunswick”. This 25-page document contains ideas and action items on how to reform the K-12 education model in New Brunswick.
While CUPE believes our school system can always be improved, CUPE Local 2745 (representing educational assistants, library workers, secretarial and district clerical staff in the NB Education system) and CUPE Local 1253 (representing mainly custodial staff, maintenance workers and school bus drivers) are worried by many aspects of the document.
“Nowhere in this vision is there mention of educational staff other than the teachers and principals,” deplored Iris Lloyd, president of CUPE Local 1253. The paper mentions phasing out age-based grade levels education and replace it with a competency-based approach.
“Any major pedagogical changes require coordination, serious planning and resources. Yet, there are no mentions of increased funding and/or training to implement the proposed “flexible learning environments” noted Theresa McAllister, President of CUPE Local 2745.
CUPE hopes the government understands the need to guarantee full-time, permanent EAs in all classrooms. If government takes literacy seriously, they will reverse decades of cuts to libraries and restore library workers’ hours to adequate levels.
“Improving our school systems requires resources and respect for the people who deliver front-line services. The role all school personnel play in education, from custodial staff to the principals, should not be snubbed,” concluded Lloyd.
Fredericton, NB – September 19
CUPE Local 1190 held a press conference to invite the provincial government to accept the recommendations of a Conciliation Board in the ongoing round of contract talks.
“We have gone around the province to consult with our members, and they accept these recommendations. It is not everything we asked for, but it is reasonable, and the province should have no problem with it,” said Brent Wiggins, President of CUPE Local 1190. “We invite the employer to recognize this neutral third-party report and follow its recommendations,” he added.
The Union and Government have been bargaining since 2017. Both parties presented their arguments before a Conciliation Board appointed by the NB Labour and Employment Board. The Board chair, Mr. Bladon, recognized in his report that several monetary adjustments and contract language changes should be made, such as:
The Government has proposed a wage package of about 0.75%/year, plus up to an additional 1% if the Union agreed to “improvement benchmarks” identified by the employer – such as reducing the number of sick days used by employees. The Board chastised the Government’s wage proposal as “unrealistic” and went as far as saying it “eroded the trust” between the Union and the employer.
“Management should listen: Local 1190 members have not had real wage increases in years, and that must change,” said Wiggins.
To this date, the employer has yet to show any willingness to consider the report. “I hope the Government acts instead of reacts and stalls. Workers have waited long enough,” concluded Wiggins.
CUPE Local 1190 represents over 1700 general labour and trades workers throughout New Brunswick, in over 8 Departments, including provincial parks and highway workers.
This Thursday September 5, CUPE Local 1282 held a press conference to denounce the ongoing lockout of 22 administrative workers imposed by the City of Bathurst.
“We are now at week 7 of the lockout. It appears that the City and Council are using this crisis to hide their mismanagement,” said Guy DeSilva, President of CUPE local 1282.
In July 2019, Bathurst Mayor, Paolo Fongemie, stated that the lockout was in the interest of citizens in order to “prevent tax increases” and fight the deficit.
In less than two weeks of lockout, the City could have met the workers’ wage demands without generating any new costs. After 6 full weeks, the City has already denied multiple times that amount (over $174,000 in payroll and benefits) to its own workers.
“Offering inside workers cost of living-plus wages would in no way generate tax increases for Bathurst. Saying otherwise does not make any sense. Is this simply a cover up from basic mismanagement?,” wonders DeSilva.
If the deficit is the problem, CUPE Local 1282 demands clear answers to these questions :
“Using a lockout to artificially solve a deficit is misleading for citizens, it disrupts the delivery of front-line services to the public and it is disrespectful towards city workers. It is a clear demonstration of bad priority setting, and that is never a winning strategy in the long run, ” concluded Guy Desilva.
Bathurst– After a brief return to the bargaining table earlier this week, the City of Bathurst presented its full and final offer to CUPE Local 1282 members.
The bargaining team presented the employer’s offer to its members, who voted by secret ballot for or against the employer’s offer. Members overwhelmingly rejected (90%) the employer’s offer.
“The key issue here is real wage increases. Workers deserve fair adjustments that improve, not worsen, their real wages,” says Guy Desilva, president of CUPE Local 1282.
CUPE found that between 2018 and 2019, the number of managers in the City of Bathurst increased from 27 to 35. “Meanwhile, city council gave themselves salary increases,” DeSilva adds.
“Our members are united, and this sends a strong message to the employer. Bathurst has the capacity to pay fairly its front-line employees. It’s a matter of prioritizing front line workers over management,” said Desilva.
Local 1282 represents 22 administrative employees in the City of Bathurst. Their employer has been locked out since July 25th.
Bathurst – It has come to our attention from source in City Hall that the mayor of the City of Bathurst made the decision to lockout its workers, members of CUPE Local 1282, without a motion or a vote from City Council. This means that the City councillors didn’t have the chance to ask questions or to voice concerns with the lockout that is affecting 22 inside workers who provide important public services to the residents of Bathurst.
“We ask City Councillors to call a special meeting right away to discuss and vote on the matter of this lockout and the impact on the citizens of Bathurst. Our hope is that Council will choose good labour relations and end the lockout by allowing workers to return to work on Monday and return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract,” said Guy DeSilva, president of CUPE Local 1282
Bathurst– Following a deadlock in negotiations, the City of Bathurst gave 24 hours’ notice to lockout members of CUPE Local 1282. These employees represent 14 classifications including secretaries, IT support technicians, payroll and accounts clerks, operations analysts, purchasing agents and supervisors and many other positions essential to the city’s operations.
As of Thursday, members of this Local will be prohibited from entering the workplace and, as a result, will no longer be paid. The purpose of this manoeuvre by the employer is to use the financial precariousness to force them to accept an unsatisfactory offer which they have already opposed.
“We find it deplorable that the employer is willing to use such dishonest manoeuvres to achieve its goals. We have always cooperated with him in the past because he always made reasonable offers during negotiations. We simply want to return to the bargaining table to reach a reasonable compromise as before,” said Guy DeSilva, President of CUPE Local 1282.
The City of Bathurst wanted to impose a vote on the members on its final offer by threatening them with a lockout if they refused to put the offer to a vote.
“When we received the threat, we asked our members if they wanted to vote on the final offer and they made it clear to us that they opposed it by massively refusing to hold the vote. We will stand up against these bad faith tactics and I know that all CUPE members are behind us,” concluded DeSilva.