Manitoba Throne Speech threatens public education, child care, and continues to hurt front-line health care – CUPE

The Manitoba Throne Speech offers little reassurance that the provincial government will support public education and child care, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“With the elimination of the education property tax, we are concerned that the government will resort to school cuts, especially under the auspices of the K-12 review,” said Abe Araya, President of Manitoba. “Where is the government going to come up with funding for our children’s education?”

The Throne Speech also introduces the government’s plans to increase private child care spaces in the province, including for capital investments in private child care facilities.

“The government should be focused on increasing public, affordable child care across Manitoba, rather than subsidizing private facilities that could end up costing families more,” said Araya. “Childcare advocates have been calling for fully funded public child care in the province, and this government is going the opposite direction”.

CUPE Manitoba President Abe Araya, and CUPE 204 President Debbie Boissonneault at the Manitoba Throne Speech

The government’s sweeping changes to the health care system continues to impact front-line health care support staff.

“As the government and health authorities continue to implement their restructuring of health care, support workers remain understaffed and under-valued,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE Local 204 representing Community and Facility Support staff in the WRHA and Shared Health.

“We need investments in support staff positions, as well as a commitment from the province that they will not be privatizing or contracting out any health care services”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE is the province’s largest union, representing approximately 36,000 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.

 

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.

2020 Manitoba Winter School, February 20 -23, 2020

Union education means union power!
The power to defend out rights as workers, to protect the services we provide, and to build caring communities.

This year’s CUPE Winter School covers a range of topics that will make our union stronger by equipping CUPE activists with new skills through course materials, and sharing with each other.

To attend CUPE Winter School, contact your Local President to learn how.

Download the full 2020 CUPE Winter School brochure here.

Courses include:

Advanced Health and Safety Learning Series

  • Understanding Mental Injuries at Work
  • Ergonomics
  • Law and Order
  • Recommendations and Notetaking
  • Violence Prevention

Bargaining

  • How Bargaining Works
  • Analyzing your Collective Agreement
  • At the Bargaining Table

Advanced Steward Learning Series

  • Duty of Fair Representation
  • Representing Members in Front of Management
  • Taking on Privatization
  • Conflict Skills for Stewards
  • Psychologically Safe Workplaces

Understanding Equity

  • Women Breaking Barriers
  • Challenging Sexism in the Workplace
  • Women Speaking UpCUPE Activists are encouraged to contact their Local Presidents to learn more about how to be sent to Winter School from your Local.

 

Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition Week: October 21-25, 2019

This week, CUPE is celebrating the work of its thousands of members in health care support roles across the Manitoba.

The Manitoba Government officially proclaimed the week of October 21 to 25, 2019 as Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition Week. The government failed to proclaim the week in 2018, but because of CUPE’s request it has once again been recognized.

“Health care support workers are the pillars of our health care system,” stated Debbie Boissonneault President of CUPE 204, representing facility and community support workers in the WRHA and Shared Health. “We work hard every day to keep our health care system working, but these days we’ve been feeling left behind.”

CUPE been calling on the government to get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract for health care support workers. But with the government’s unconstitutional wage freeze legislation, the recent forced health care representation votes, and Pallister’s overhaul of the health care system, support workers are under more pressure than ever before.

“Health care support workers are often unrecognized in their day-to-day work ,” said Darrin Cook, President of CUPE 4270, representing facility and community support workers in Southern Health – Sante Sud. “We should all take the time this week to thank the health care support workers in every community who care for our health”.

“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 difficult times for staff, but health care support workers in the NRHA have been critical in keeping our community healthy”.

“Despite working short-staffed, health care support workers in Manitoba have been doing everything possible to care for the community”, said Margaret Schroeder, President of CUPE 5362, representing staff at CancerCare Manitoba. “We call on the government to recognize our work by providing enough resources for us to do it effectively”.

CUPE locals across Manitoba are holding or participating in events to express appreciation for health care support workers. CUPE is also calling on the government to immediately meet with representatives of CUPE to discuss the impact of the province’s health care overhaul on front line staff.

See the full proclamation.

Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee takes next step towards Living Wage Policy

Following a significant campaign by CUPE 500, the City of Winnipeg took one step closer to implementing a Living Wage Policy for city workers and contractors delivering city services.

CUPE Local 500 presented to Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee (EPC) on September 17th and October 8th, encouraging members of EPC to support a Living Wage Policy for Winnipeg’s staff and contractors hired by the city to deliver services.

Following a report from City Administration that highlighted other jurisdictions which already have Living Wage policies, EPC voted to prepare an implementation plan for a similar policy for Winnipeg.

“We are calling for a Living Wage Policy not only for our own members, but for the private contractors and subcontractors that do work for our city”, says Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Local 500.

“We are also calling for a Living Wage Policy to help lift marginalized Winnipeg citizens, including young people, women, Indigenous, and racialized workers out of poverty while they are doing work for our community”.

Currently 13% of civic staff and contractors earn less than $15 per hour, many of whom are women, young, Indigenous, or racialized workers.

CUPE campaigned during the 2018 Winnipeg municipal election calling on election candidates to support a Living Wage Policy.

CUPE 500 commissioned a poll during the election which found 81% of Winnipeggers support a Living Wage Policy.

CUPE 500 has also been pushing to include non-unionized contractors and subcontractors in the Living Wage Policy, a move Delbridge hopes will lift all those working on projects for the City of Winnipeg out of poverty-level wages.

While the Motion passed 6-1 to conduct a cost review of implementing a Living Wage Policy for the City of Winnipeg, the cost of doing nothing means that some city staff and many private contractors working for the city will continue to be at risk of living in poverty.

“A Living Wage Policy for Winnipeg needs to happen now. We believe that nobody should work at poverty-level wages, and for these workers, every day matters.”

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.

CUPE celebrates School Support Staff Recognition Week, Sept 23 – 27, 2019

The Province of Manitoba has declared the week of September 23 – 27, 2019 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 in Manitoba help keep our schools safe and clean, they get our kids to school safely, keep our schools running, and they help our children learn, grow, and succeed,” says Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“Recognizing school support staff goes beyond a proclaimed recognition week – we need to continue to support them in fighting for fair wages, pension & benefits, and workplace health and safety”.

Minister of Education Kelvin Goertzen wrote to CUPE, thanking school support staff and our union for encouraging Manitobans to recognize and appreciate the work of school support staff in Manitoba.

“School Support Staff Recognition Week in Manitoba will provide educators, parents and community members with many opportunities to thank school support staff for the valuable role they play in schools, and in the functioning of Manitoba’s education system” wrote Goertzen.

CUPE School Division Sector is running a this week, encouraging the public to thank school support workers in Manitoba.

See the full proclamations below:

 

Manitoba Hydro workers raise red flags on Hydro privatization after letter issued by CEO

WINNIPEG – A letter posted this morning on Manitoba Hydro’s digital staff bulletin board by Hydro President and CEO Jay Grewal has raised red flags for Hydro employees.

The letter announces Manitoba Hydro’s engagement with consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct a new review of Hydro’s operating model.

The first phase of the review will be rushed over an eight week period, and includes examining Hydro’s “structure, processes, governance, metrics, and culture”.

“This new review is incredibly concerning,” says Michelle Bergen, President of CUPE Local 998, representing 950 Hydro employees.

“Pallister is hiring yet another private consultant, and this time they are looking at Hydro’s public operating model and governance, which will certainly look at privatization”.

Pallister appointed Jay Grewal as CEO of Manitoba Hydro in February. Grewal has a track record of privatizing parts of B.C. Hydro.

“All the ducks are lining up in a row for Hydro privatization,” says Mike Velie, Assistant Business Manager for IBEW 2034, representing 2,600 Hydro employees. “This surprise review will undoubtedly result in recommendations to break up and privatize parts of Manitoba Hydro”.

The letter also notes that the review will not be looking at staff reductions, since Pallister already mandated major cuts to staffing. However the letter has no indication that the review will not recommend privatization or contracting out of Hydro work.

“We need Pallister to answer one simple question: will his government privatize all or parts of Manitoba Hydro?”, said Bergen. “We have not heard him give a clear answer to this critical question”.

Earlier this week a Probe Research survey, sponsored by the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV Winnipeg, showed that Manitobans are strongly opposed to Hydro Privatization.

“The public has the right to know Pallister’s plan for Hydro,” concludes Velie.

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.