Ontario Education Workers Serve Five Days’ Strike Notice

On November 16, 2022, CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) central bargaining committee, representing 55,000 frontline education workers, provided 5 days notice of a potential province-wide strike.

The School Boards Collective Bargaining Act requires that workers employed by school boards give five days’ notice before beginning a job action. The November 16th notice from education workers means a strike is possible starting on Monday, November 21st if no deal is reached.

While OSBCU has indicated that they have reached a middle ground with the Ford government and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) on wages, the government has refused to commit to invest in the services that students need, and parents expect.

“From the beginning, we’ve been focused on improved jobs for education workers and improved services for students. For us, there is no one without the other,” said Laura Walton, educational assistant, and president of CUPE-OSBCU. “It’s incredibly disappointing that the Ford government categorically refused to put money on the table to give students the type of learning environment they need.”

If a deal is not reached, and Ontario education workers do start strike action as early as Monday, November 21st, it will be the second time that Ontario education workers have been forced to walk off the job this month.

Provincial CUPE leaders including CUPE MB President Gina McKay show their support

Background

On November 4, 2022, CUPE education workers across Ontario walked off the job in protest of Bill 28 – the Ford Conservative government’s legislation that stripped CUPE education workers of the right to strike and collectively bargain.

Courts have repeatedly held that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides citizens with the right to free and fair collective bargaining and that governments cannot use their legislative power to remove those rights. The Ford government’s legislation invoked the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter, a seldom-used provision designed for situations of competing rights or national emergencies, to pre-emptively deny workers their fundamental rights.

The broader labour movement quickly rallied behind CUPE in the fight against this encroachment of our fundamental rights. OPSEU education workers also walked out with CUPE in protest of the legislation. Labour leaders from across the country immediately began organizing a response to turn up the heat on the Ford government and were prepared to announce their plans on the morning of November 7th when Doug Ford, facing a united Labour movement and an angry public, held an emergency press conference to announce he would rescind Bill 28 and return to the bargaining table in exchange for CUPE returning to work.

CUPE accepted Ford’s offer and returned to work on November 8th. On November 14th Ford’s government officially repealed Bill 28.

Quick Facts:

Education workers are fighting for guarantees of:

  • enough educational assistants so all students get the supports they need and so schools could stop sending kids home because there is not an EA available;
  • an early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom so every four- and five-year-old would get the play-based learning support that is especially necessary now after two years of pandemic isolation;
  • enough library workers to make sure school libraries are open and reading opportunities are available to kids all the time;
  • enough custodians to keep schools clean and enough maintenance workers and tradespeople to begin to tackle the $16 billion repair backlog; and
  • adequate staffing of secretaries in school offices and enough lunchroom supervisors to keep students safe.

The Ford government cut education funding by at least $800 per student over its first term. With two million students in Ontario’s schools, which amounted to a $1.6 billion cut in funding last year alone.

 

Throne Speech Response, CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay offers the following response to today’s Manitoba Throne Speech:

Today’s Throne Speech was a disappointment. Not only did the government fail to introduce the concrete measures that are needed to improve health care, they are making things worse by prioritizing the privatization of Manitoba’s public services. 

The government wants to convince Manitobans that by expanding private delivery of diagnostic testing and surgeries that they can speed up wait times, but this simply isn’t true. There isn’t an untapped source of health care professionals waiting to operate these private clinics. If there was, they would be hired already. Any capacity added by private clinics will come at the expense of public operations.

There was absolutely nothing in today’s throne speech about investments’ in our public education system. After years of struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, students and education workers were looking for real commitments to improve our schools. But the message from Premier Stefanson was clear – students, teachers, and education workers are on their own.

There was discussion of new jobs, but a focus on private business investments and private sector opportunities was at the core of each announcement. We need the Manitoba government to commit to, and invest in, public service workers in all public sector work – including those noted today in the Throne Speech: libraries, schools, health care, child care, and social services.

It is crucial for the Manitoba government to ensure services are publicly funded, and not through private sector contributions that have returns on their investments. There should never be corporate monetary returns on public service work. 

This was a concerning Throne Speech from a tired government that’s run out of ideas and is gearing up to line the pockets of private investors. If anything, the pandemic should have taught us the value of our public services. But this government has a neoliberal agenda that looks for profits before quality health care, education, and public services. 

Manitoba’s public services are not for sale, and CUPE members in our province work for Manitoba. The 2023 election cannot come soon enough.

CUPE Local 1063 Members Rally Against Contracting Out

Staff at the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) held an information rally on Tuesday, mobilizing against contracting out and calling for a fair deal in the workplace.

“We want the WCB to know that staff are not willing to see their jobs devalued or contracted out,” explained Rick Rennie, President of CUPE Local 1063.

“The WCB is a highly effective agency serving Manitobans, and staff are the reason for that success. We want our employer to recognize this value and offer a fair deal for staff.”

CUPE 1063 members voted overwhelmingly for a strike mandate in September, and while negotiations are ongoing, the bargaining team is already mobilizing members.

“We want the employer to know that we are serious, and that staff at the WCB are united.”

The rally included remarks from Rennie, as well as greetings from Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, and Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck who is also a member of CUPE 1063.

“Contracting out should never be on the table,” said Rebeck. “Threatening peoples’ jobs and leveraging that against fair compensation is unacceptable. I stand with CUPE 1063 in their fight for fairness in the workplace. These workers deserve a fair deal.”

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay stated that CUPE will not accept the privatization of vital public services like the WCB.

CUPE 1063 continues to negotiate and plan to launch more events to mobilize members.

CUPE Manitoba applauds Ontario education workers’ win against Ford government’s attack on rights

CUPE Manitoba is sending the support of its 37,000 members to education workers in Ontario, who are returning to the bargaining table after the Conservative government stripped away their right to free collective bargaining, forcing them to walk off the job and hold political protests.

In a vote held last month, the 55,000 Ontario education workers voted 96.5% in favour of a strike mandate, and served strike notice. In response, the Conservative government of Doug Ford passed legislation to prevent a strike, making job action illegal and imposing a contract on workers. CUPE members in Ontario rejected this legislation, withdrew their services, and after two days of protests forced the government to withdraw its legislation.

“Through its use of the Notwithstanding Clause, the Conservative government of Ontario attempted to destroy the legal right of workers to strike and collectively bargain,” said Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“This was a historic attack on the democratic rights of Canadian citizens and must be opposed by Premiers from coast to coast to coast so it is never used again”.

The Ford government’s legislation invoked the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a seldom-used provision designed for situations of competing rights or national emergencies, to pre-emptively deny workers their fundamental rights.

“This was a radical attempt at union-busting that strikes at the core of our democracy, and CUPE members said enough is enough, and won” said McKay.

“CUPE Manitoba condemns the actions of the Ford Conservatives and we call on Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson to commit that she will never interfere with collective bargaining”.

CUPE Manitoba will continue to provide support to CUPE Ontario members as they return to the negotiating table.

 

CUPE Manitoba: Solidarity with Ontario Education Workers

Today, the Ford Conservative government of Ontario took an unprecedented step in forcing back to work legislation on education workers, violating workers’ constitutional rights to bargain fairly, and keeping many workers in poverty, instead of continuing with negotiations.

As workers and allies in Ontario go out on political protest tomorrow, CUPE Manitoba invites you to participate in online solidarity and action:

Hashtags: #IStandWithCUPE #MbPoli #OnPoli #DontBeABully

CUPE Manitoba committed to fighting austerity, growing our movement

Highlights from the 2022 CUPE Manitoba Convention

Over two hundred union activists from across Manitoba gathered on October 20-22 in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory, for the annual convention of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Manitoba.

“The energy this week has been nothing short of inspiring” said Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Our union has so much work to do, and I can proudly say it is getting done by this engaged, dedicated, and committed group of activists.”

Convention began with Elder Albert McLeod, a long-time human rights activist and Two-Spirit advocate, who helped open Convention and share teachings on courage to do the work in a good way. The first day featured CUPE National President Mark Hancock, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick, as well as Debra Merrier, CUPE Diversity Vice-President – Indigenous Workers and Judy Henley, National Executive Board General Vice-President–Prairies.

“All across Manitoba, CUPE members are fighting back against the Conservative government” said Mark Hancock, CUPE National President. “CUPE Manitoba is leading the way in breaking the Conservative government’s bargaining mandate, and their attempt to restrict our members’ wages even as the cost of living rises.”

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay and CUPE National President Mark Hancock

“Whatever issues you take on, CUPE will be there with you,” Candace Rennick, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer told delegates. “You can count on CUPE’s national strength and resources to fuel your union work—you can count on support for bargaining, representation of members, and for all your campaigns for justice.

Niall Harney, Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues with the Canadian Centre for policy Alternatives discussed research on a living wage for communities in Manitoba, and Shila LeBlanc, restorative approaches practitioner, gave delegates essential tools for restorative approaches to conflicts.

“This year’s convention centred the critical work of re-building our union and focusing on creating safer, more inclusive spaces for all workers,” said President Gina McKay.

Candace Rennick, CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer

“Our constitutional changes, the way we run meetings and decolonize our structures, and the resources we are building all make our union stronger, and delegates participated in a constructive and meaningful way”.

Members debated resolutions over the course of three days, including major constitutional amendments to advance CUPE’s work to make our union safer and more accessible to all workers. Resolutions also committed CUPE Manitoba to the fight against the Progressive Conservative attacks against public services and the workers who provide them, including new campaigns and lobbying efforts.

Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP addressed delegates following a standing ovation, noting CUPE members’ work on the front lines defending workers during the pandemic.

Kinew noted the relationship between the Manitoba NDP and labour is critical in pushing back against the government’s legislative agenda which sought to undermine public Hydro, the public school system, health care, and push wage freezes on front line workers.

Other guests included Laura Tyler from Communities Not Cuts, Diwa Marcelino from Access Without Fear & Migrante, Rebecca Benson, CUPE Senior Human Rights Officer – Indigenous Issues, and Debra Merrier, CUPE National Diversity Vice-President – Indigenous Workers discussed both building a stronger, more progressive movement for everyone, and CUPE’s upcoming work in Manitoba on the Water is Life campaign.

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay presents the 2022 Jack Rodie award to Jamie Rose of CUPE 737

Convention also featured Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, Melissa Dvorak, President of the Winnipeg Labour Council, and Bernie Wood from the Canadian Labour Congress.

Delegates heard from Angela McEwan, Senior Economist – CUPE National, and John Clarke, activist with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty on the impacts of inflation, and how workers can fight back to make society fair for everyone.

CUPE Manitoba was proud to honour Jamie Rose of Local 737 with the prestigious Jack Rodie award in recognition of his long-standing commitment to the labour movement.

Bernadette Smith (NDP MLA for Point Douglas), Uzoma Asagwara (MLA for Union Station), Mintu Sandhu (MLA for The Maples), Lisa Naylor, (NDP MLA for Wolseley) , and Jennifer Chen (WSD School Trustee and NDP Candidate for Fort Richmond) also stopped by the convention to meet with delegates.

“With the mandate from our CUPE Manitoba Convention, we have the power to make positive change in our union, and for our community,” concluded Gina McKay. “CUPE Manitoba is stronger and more united today than ever before, and we are committed to the work ahead of us”.

More photos are available at the CUPE Manitoba Facebook Page

Elected members to the CUPE Manitoba executive during Convention include:

Vice-President – Debbie Boissonneault, CUPE 204
Recording Secretary – Steve Magian, CUPE 744
Trustee – 1 year term – Rick Moore, CUPE 731
Winnipeg Area 1 “A” – Vivienne Ho, CUPE 2348
Brandon Area – Brittany Aube, CUPE 3060
Northern Area – Clayton Paul, CUPE 745
North-Central – Nick Ogryzlo, CUPE 998
2SLGBTQI+ – Daniel Richards, CUPE 204
Indigenous Council – Brandon Murdoch, CUPE 2348
Person with a Disability – Robert (Bob) Guenther, CUPE 744
Young Member – Tom Moore, CUPE 744
Woman and Gender Rights – Michelle Bergen, CUPE 998

Congratulations to all!

Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition Day: October 18, 2022

CUPE is celebrating the work of its thousands of members in health care support roles across Manitoba. The Manitoba Government officially proclaimed October 18 as Health Care Support Workers’ Day.

“Health care support workers are the pillars of our health care system,” stated Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba. “They keep our health care system running, despite the government’s inability to provide adequate support to frontline health care workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“Despite working short-staffed, health care support workers in Manitoba have been doing everything possible to care for the community”, said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE 204, representing facility and community support workers in the WRHA and Shared Health. “We call on the government to recognize our work by providing enough resources for us to do it effectively, and while we recently achieved a new agreement, we know more needs to be done”.

“Health care support workers are often unrecognized in their day-to-day work ,” said Holly Chaperon, President of CUPE 4270, representing facility and community support workers in Southern Health – Sante Sud. “We know who the Doctors and Nurses are, and how important their roles are in our lives. But, do you know who the support workers are? Support staff work tirelessly every single day, and deserve to be acknowledged.” 

“From Nunavut to the US border, Manitoba’s health care support workers deserve recognition and respect,” said Christine Lussier, President of CUPE 8600, representing facility and community support workers in the Northern Regional Health Authority. “It has been a difficult time for staff, especially in the North where we are working incredibly short-staffed every single day, but health care support workers in the NRHA continue to keep our community healthy”.

“Health care support workers who work in private personal care homes are working tirelessly to provide support to residents,” said Daniel Richards, Chair of the CUPE Manitoba Private Personal Care Home Committee. “These workers are also working short-staffed, and continue to call on the government to legislate mandatory minimum staffing requirements in care homes”.

Read the full declaration (English)

Read the full declaration (French)

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 643,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. CUPE Health care locals include CUPE 204, CUPE 500, CUPE 4270, and CUPE 8600.

Health Care Update re: Retro Pay (former employees)

Former employees are entitled to receive any applicable retroactive pay provided they request the retroactive pay from their former Employer in writing no later than ninety (90) days after the ratification date, September 23, 2022.

As part of the written request submitted the employee MUST include the following:

  • Email Subject line must state “Retro Request for (employee name) terminated employee(CUPE)”
  • Date of retirement/resignation
  • Name of the Employer that the employee is requesting retro payment from
  • Employee’s current mailing address
  • Direct deposit information, if it has changed since you were last employed

Employer Organization Contact

Northern
All sites – email Payroll – payroll@nrha.ca

Southern Health
All sites – email Payroll at Payrollsupport@southernhealth.ca

Shared Health
All sites on SAP – email RetroRequest@wrha.mb.ca

CancerCare Manitoba – email ccmbpayroll@cancercare.mb.ca

Rehabilitation Centre for Children – email kizzyp@rccinc.ca

Eden Mental Health Centre – email jfehr3@edenhealth.mb.ca

Winnipeg/Churchill     
All sites on SAP – email RetroRequest@wrha.mb.ca

CUPE Manitoba Recognizes School Support Staff Recognition Week – Sept 26-30

The Province of Manitoba has declared the week of September 26 – 30, 2022 as School Support Staff Recognition Week.

Because of CUPE, the Manitoba Government has recognized the hard work of school support staff since 2013, and has set aside this important week to acknowledge the value of school support staff to our education system.

“School support staff across Manitoba are critical to the success of children, youth and our shared community” says Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba. “School support staff keep our schools safe and clean, get our kids to school safely, keep our schools running, and help our children and youth learn, grow, and succeed.”

Despite this, in the past two years school support staff at numerous school divisions have had to push for fairness in the workplace, and even went on strike, including CUPE 1630 custodians and cleaners at Rolling River School Division.

“While we take the time to celebrate our school support staff, we also urge the provincial government and school divisions to prioritize treating all staff with respect and work harder to ensure fairness in the workplace, which in-turn creates a more inclusive, safer, and better education system for everyone”.

CUPE Manitoba launched our annual ad, encouraging the community to “thank your school support staff”, reminding Manitobans that these staff are the pillars of our K-12 school system.

Download a copy of the Proclamation

Listen to our CUPE Manitoba School Division Sector radio ad

CUPE represents school support staff, including education assistants, custodians, cleaners, school bus drivers, library technicians, intercultural and community liaisons, tradespersons, office administrative staff, and more in 25 school divisions across Manitoba.

CUPE Health Care Support Staff Ratify Seven-Year Deal

Update for CUPE health care support members

CUPE Health Care Support Staff from CUPE 204/Shared Health and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), CUPE 500/WRHA – Riverview Health Centre and WRHA Corporate, CUPE 4270/ Southern Health-Santé Sud (SH-SS) and CUPE 8600/Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) have voted to accept the new collective agreement.

The ratification date is September 23, 2022.  The collective agreement will expire on March 31, 2024.

The new agreement includes wage increases in each year of the agreement including retroactive pay, a signing bonus for all members, an increase in shift premiums, improvements for the Community Programs/Home Care groups, a more flexible “single-day” vacation system for all members, double overtime and market adjustments.

“This was an incredibly difficult round of negotiations due to government interference, attempted wage freeze, disruptive restructuring, forced union amalgamations, and the pandemic” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator.  “Despite these challenges, this new agreement sets a solid foundation for the next round of negotiations.”

The employer has 120 days within which to issue retroactive pay and the signing bonus. It will be issued on a separate pay deposit.  Former employees (retired or quit) have 90 days to write to the employer requesting retroactive pay they are owed following the rules posted on the Local’s website.

“We thank all CUPE members who took the time to vote either electronically or in person and are committed to continue to improve your contract,” said McAteer. “We will continue to hold the provincial government accountable and push back against any attacks on our public health care system and the workers who support it”.

Throughout negotiations, health care support staff have felt extremely disrespected by the current government–and continue to feel undervalued. Many members told us they voted not because they liked the deal, but because they couldn’t wait any longer.

In solidarity,
Your Bargaining Council