Abe Araya Elected as President of CUPE Manitoba

BRANDON – Delegates at the 2019 CUPE Manitoba Convention in Brandon elected Abe Araya as President of the province’s largest union. Abe Araya comes from CUPE Local 110, representing custodians, maintenance, and painters at the Winnipeg School Division.

“Our union is focused on fighting back against cuts to health care, education, social services, and privatization,” said Araya. “Despite Brian Pallister’s attempts to divide working people, we will be uniting workers from across Manitoba to put a stop to Pallister’s austerity agenda.”

Delegates at convention voted in support resolutions, ranging from health and safety in the workplace, anti-oppression training for activists, pushing back against privatization, fighting against health care and education cuts, and supporting the Green New Deal.

“CUPE is an incredibly diverse union,” said Araya. “With the strength of Manitoba’s largest union, we will be on the front line defending public health care and education, public Hydro, and fighting for properly funded childcare and social services for all Manitobans.”

CUPE’s annual convention featured guest speakers, including NDP leader Wab Kinew, NDP Critic for Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs Matt Wiebe, NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan, Winnipeg School Division Trustee Yijie Chen, and Manitoba Health Coalition Director Breanne Goertzen.

CUPE National President Mark Hancock and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury spoke to delegates, committing the full strength of CUPE’s 700,000 members to fight against cuts and privatization.

Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck provided updates on labour’s united front against Bill 28 (The Public Services Sustainability Act) and committed to fight against the Pallister government’s unconstitutional wage freeze.

Two hundred people rallied outside Brandon City Hall with CUPE Local 69 on Wednesday evening, voicing concern over the contracting out of work at the Wheat City Golf Course.

Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Local 500 served as interim CUPE Manitoba President throughout 2019. Delbridge continues to serve as Vice-President of CUPE Manitoba. Barb Gribben of CUPE Local 737 was this year’s recipient of the prestigious Jack Rodie Award, recognizing dedication and activism in the union.

“Our union is stronger, and more united than ever,” said Araya. “Manitobans can count on CUPE to defend good jobs, and fight for our public services.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents over 36,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, childcare centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

Changes to Manitoba’s Public Services Sustainability Act continue to undermine fair collective bargaining – CUPE

On October 7th the Pallister government introduced Bill 2, an amendment to the current Public Services Sustainability Act, commonly known as the “wage freeze” Bill.

The government continues to limit wage increases through legislation, as well as other monetary items that would otherwise be negotiated through free collective bargaining.

“This legislation continues to interfere in free collective bargaining, by legislating wage limits, rather than allowing employers and workers to negotiate”, says Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Manitoba, the province’s largest union and partner in the multi-union group currently challenging the government in court.

“Why is this government so afraid of getting to the bargaining table and negotiating a fair deal?”

Amendments to the act gives government more authority to make decisions behind the closed door of the Cabinet table, rather than through meaningfully at the bargaining table.

“Rather than coming to the table and participating in traditional negotiations, which have seen thousands of successful contracts bargained between employers and unions in Manitoba over numerous governments, the Pallister government continues to come up with new confusing schemes”, said Delbridge.

“This new act doesn’t make bargaining easier for anyone, and continues to be unfair and unconstitutional”.

Link to full amendment.

Notes:

  • The Public Services Sustainability Act has not yet been enacted.
  • Amendments to the act include potentially shortening the “sustainability period”, but also create numerous limitations and barriers for that to happen.
  • The Act could also undermine current awards determined by arbitration, as well as provides authority to the Minister to interfere with tentative agreements between employers and unions.
  • The amendments to this act do not address union concerns about free and democratic collective bargaining.
  • Government says that this will make collective bargaining more flexible – but in reality, it provides further restrictions and attempts to control the outcome.

Care Representation Votes: What happens now?

Health Care Representation Votes:  What happens now?

FOR ALL HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Now that the health care representation votes have concluded, there will be a period of transition for all unions and employers. Here is what you need to know:

  • You keep your current union – for now. Contact your current union for any grievances, arbitrations, and issues in the workplace. You continue to pay dues to your current union.
  • Your current collective agreement continues to cover you until a new contract is bargained.
  • Your new union will represent you after the Commissioner certifies the winning union as your bargaining agent.

More Details

Read more…

CUPE welcomes newest members at St. Boniface Diocesan High School

Teaching and support staff at St. Boniface Diocesan High School in Winnipeg voted overwhelmingly to join CUPE, Canada’s largest union.

St. Boniface Diocesan High School staff join other CUPE members in Manitoba Catholic schools, including, employees at St. Emile School and Holy Cross School represented by CUPE Local 4434.

“We pleased to welcome the staff at St. Boniface Diocesan High School into CUPE,” said Gord Delbridge, CUPE Manitoba President.

“With 680,000 CUPE members across Canada, and 5,600 K-12 school sector workers in Manitoba, St. Boniface Diocesan High School staff now have access to the strongest representation in the country”.

The next step for the new CUPE members is to elect a local executive and bargaining committee, and begin bargaining their first contract.

“Joining CUPE is a big step towards achieving fairness in the workplace,” said Delbridge. “CUPE prides itself on negotiating the strongest contracts for our members, and we will commit to doing the same for staff at the St. Boniface Diocesan High School”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents approximately 27,000 members working in school divisions, health care facilities, personal care homes, municipal services, social services, child care centres, universities, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

Pallister quick to give himself a raise on the back of front line workers.

This week the Pallister Conservatives created a double standard on public sector wages.

“They made the ridiculous decision to give themselves a massive retroactive raise while forcing a wage freeze on our members,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “While this Premier is making deals to give himself a massive raise, our members are doing more with less.

Fighting the Health Care Cuts

CUPE is fighting the health care cuts being imposed by this government.

“The government is making a mess of health care and people are paying the price,” said Egan. “All the while Conservative Cabinet Ministers are giving themselves a 5 figure payout.”

Background

The law will retroactively pay cabinet ministers 20% of their salary if they balance the budget on schedule. For instance, for a 5-year cabinet minister, they would get one full year of salary.

 

Two-tier pension benefits the wrong direction for health care workers: CUPE

WINNIPEG – The Canadian Union of Public Employees is speaking out against changes to the Healthcare Employees’ Pension Plan (HEPP) announced on October 17, 2017.

“The changes to the plan announced today may force some health care workers to delay or change their retirement plans, and creates an unnecessary division between existing plan members and the future generation of health care workers,” says Shannon McAteer CUPE’s Health Care Coordinator.

“Two-tier pension plans are unfair to future members of the plan, and disproportionately affect newcomer or younger members of the workforce who are just starting their careers in health care in Manitoba.”

The Health Care Employee Benefit Plans (HEB Manitoba) which administers HEPP announced their decision to eliminate all supplementary and bridge benefits for new members after January 1, 2018, creating a two-tier plan with reduced benefits for new employees, among other changes to the plan.

“Health care staff work tirelessly every single day to support the health and well-being of the people of Manitoba,” said McAteer. “A strong workplace pension plan like HEPP is critical in recruiting and retaining health care workers in Manitoba, and with so much uncertainty in health care these days its unfortunate that health care workers now have one more thing to worry about”.

CUPE issued a letter to HEB Manitoba in response to these changes and is calling for a meeting with HEB Manitoba to open discussions on the governance structure of the plan and how these decisions are made to ensure better transparency for CUPE members who are members of the plan.

CUPE members are encouraged to contact HEPP for more information on the changes.

We also have an email petition for members to fill out to express their opposition to HEPP’s changes.

Unions file court injunction against Pallister’s wage freeze bill.

Today CUPE, through the Manitoba Federation of Labour’s Partnership to Defend Public Services filed a court injunction to the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench against Pallister’s Bill 28, the “Public Services Sustainability Act”.

Terry Egan (second, back row) with other labour leaders.

Bill 28 is also known widely as the public sector wage freeze bill.

“CUPE is taking concrete action against Bill 28,” says Lee McLeod, Regional Director of CUPE. “By filing an injunction we are sending a clear message that we believe the wage freeze legislation is unconstitutional, and must be stopped”.

Bill 28 was tabled on March 20, 2017 by the Pallister government, and passed in June.

Bill 28 has not yet been enacted into law, which means this injunction could prevent the Bill from actually taking effect. The court injunction process may take a number of months to complete.

“We will fight Pallister’s attacks on families in the courts of law, in the halls of power, and in the streets” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“This government will no longer be able to pass laws that hurt Manitoba families without a fight”.

For more information on the Partnership to defend Public Services’ efforts to fight Bill 28, visit the MFL’s page.

CUPE Local 500 Members Vote 85% in Favour of Strike Mandate

Winnipeg – CUPE Local 500 members from across City of Winnipeg departments voted 85% in favour of a strike mandate at a meeting held on June 7, 2017.  Nearly 80% of eligible voters cast their ballots in an overwhelming show of support for the bargaining committee.

“The CUPE Local 500 bargaining committee takes this direction from our members seriously” said Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE 500.

 

“We are committed to bringing this message back to the City’s bargaining team with the hopes that they will be able to table a more acceptable package.”

CUPE Local 500 members work tirelessly every single day to provide services to the citizens of Winnipeg.

“We are proud of the work we do,” said Delbridge. “We believe the citizens of Winnipeg support fairness for their municipal workforce.”

 

The strike mandate does not necessarily mean a strike is inevitable.

CUPE 500 hopes to return to the negotiating table with the City to discuss concerns with the City’s latest package, and to offer suggestions on what will move closer to a fair deal for everyone.

 

New bargaining dates will be set up in the coming days.

 

Anti-labour Bills in Manitoba Pass Committee Hearings

Winnipeg – The Pallister Conservative government has pushed two anti-labour Bills through the committee stage and into Third Hearing, which could ultimately result in the passing of the legislation.

Bill 28 (Public Sector Sustainability Act) and Bill 29 (Health Care Bargaining Unit Review Act) were opposed by dozens of labour representatives and members of the public at Committee hearings that took place on the evening of May 8th.

Bill 28 imposes a four-year wage settlement on all public sector workers, freezing wages for two years, followed by sub-inflationary increases of 0.75% and 1% in the third and fourth year respectively.

Bill 29 drastically restructures health care bargaining units, reducing the number of health care collective agreements, forcing union representation votes, and imposes a commissioner with sweeping powers over health care bargaining.

CUPE’s Manitoba Regional Director Lee McLeod presented both verbal and written submissions in opposition to both Bills.

CUPE on Bill 28

“These hard-working Manitobans, who truly are the “front-lines” this government promised to protect, are angry and feel betrayed,” McLeod told the committee on Bill 28.

“It is apparent that this government is not interested in meaningful consultations with public sector unions, and that this government always intended to use legislation to circumvent workers constitutionally protected right to free and fair collective bargaining.”

CUPE has been working closely with the Manitoba Federation of Labour and other unions to oppose Bill 28 and Bill 29.

CUPE on Bill 29

Bill 29 was also discussed in a separate committee hearing, taking place at the same time down the hall.

“We believe that collaboration between health care unions and this government could produce a superior collective bargaining model that works better for government and health care workers alike”, McLeod told the committee.

“We urge this government to scrap Bill 29 and instead work with us to make a better system for both workers and patients. No one benefits from the disruption, costs, and uncertainly of forced representation votes – not patients, not workers, and not the health care system”.

CUPE’s May 8, 2017 submissions to the committees can be found here:

CUPE Submission on Bill 28
CUPE Submission on Bill 29

To learn more on how the legislative process works, and how Bills are introduced, debated, and passed, visit the Manitoba Legislative Assembly website