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

 

Manitoba budget leaves doors wide open for privatization

Winnipeg – CUPE Manitoba is concerned that the provincial budget announced today leaves the door open for the unchecked privatization of public services and programs, while eroding existing public services.

The government recently announced that current P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation will be eliminated, and echoed this move in today’s budget.

CUPE MB President Kelly Moist speaking to the Canadian Press at the 2017 budget scrum

“This government insists that public transparency and accountability is a ‘regulatory burden’”, said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We believe the public has the right to know the details of private contracts that are receiving public dollars”.

The budget’s language of “new”, “innovative”, and “collaborative” approaches to the government’s long-term care investments is also concerning, considering this language is often double-speak for privatization.

“The province must invest in more public personal care home spaces and reject for-profit beds,” said Moist. “As more and more Manitobans move into personal care homes, we need to ensure a strong, fully public system is available to them so dollars go directly to the care Manitobans deserve, instead of private profit.”

There is no clear commitment that the 501 new childcare spaces announced in the budget will be fully public.

CUPE is also concerned with the continued emphasis on Social Impact Bonds as a medium to deliver public social services and programs.

“While the budget references a ‘Made in Manitoba’ Social Impact Bond program, there is very little detail in what programs and services will be affected,” said Moist. “We are pleased however that the government is interested in supporting community Social Enterprises, and hope the government continues to support community-led initiatives and leaves private for-profit corporations out of it”.

“The government has already broken it’s promise to protect public services and the workers who provide them by closing ERs, laying off hundreds of Hydro workers, and imposing wage freezes on workers province-wide” says Moist. “We need to strengthen – not cut or privatize – our programs and services and this budget does not give us much confidence”.

CUPE stands in solidarity with Tolko workers in The Pas

It is with great dismay that CUPE has learned of the closing of the Tolko Industries paper and saw mill in The Pas, Manitoba, resulting in the loss of over 250 jobs.

While CUPE does not represent Tolko workers, we do understand the impact the closure of this plant will have on the community at large, and on individual families.

We echo the concerns of Unifor Locals 1403 and 302, which represents mill and office workers, as well as supervisors at Tolko Industries in The Pas.

“Our members who have loved ones working at Tolko will be hurt by this closure,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba representing public sector workers in health care, education, and municipalities in The Pas and RM of Kelsey.

“For every good job lost in Manitoba’s North, there will be serious economic and social implications for the community as a whole, as well as on individual families”.

The recent news of the closure of the Port of Churchill further exacerbates the employment and economic crisis that is unfolding in Manitoba’s Northern communities.

Due to this closure, the Pas and RM of Kelsey will likely lose significant tax revenue generated by Tolko Industries that helps fund municipal services in the community.

CUPE Manitoba calls on the federal and provincial governments to act quickly to ensure good, stable jobs are available in Manitoba’s Northern communities, and to protect those workers and families facing impending layoffs.

Manitoba budget offers minor funding increases to public services

Social Impact Bonds give rise to concern

The Pallister Government’s first provincial budget offers minor improvements to many important areas of the public sector, says CUPE Manitoba.

“We are pleased to see this government’s continuation of funding to health care, education, post- secondary education, and social services,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “In an environment where cuts would have been the ‘easy way out’, we are pleased that this government listened to Manitobans, and has instead maintained or increased funding to many key public services”.

CUPE Manitoba applauds funding commitments to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement Fund, which will help ensure Community Liaison Workers in the Winnipeg School Division have the tools they need to perform their important work. These workers were under threat of significant job losses and funding cuts in early 2015.

CUPE also hopes the new Premier’s Enterprise Team will include representatives from labour, which were included in the former government’s Premier’s Economic Advisory Council.

However, the government’s ongoing pursuit of Social Impact Bonds causes serious concern.

“While we are pleased that the Manitoba Government has not implemented major cuts, we are very concerned with this government’s ongoing promotion of Social Impact Bonds,” says Moist. “Social Impact Bonds are an abdication of government responsibility for marginalized or vulnerable people, and we must reject these profit-making schemes”.

Additionally, while many mandate letters to the newly appointed Ministers call for increased involvement from the private sector, including in childcare, there is no mention of increased private involvement in the budget documents.

“We still need to see how exactly this funding is rolled out,” says Moist. “We need a strong commitment from this government that they will not privatize or contract out any public services”.

Budget Highlights:

  • 3.5% increase to health
  • Funding increases to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement fund
  • 1.4 % increase to education with 2.5% increase to initiatives for at-risk youth, literacy
  • 2.5% operating grant increase to universities
  • 4.5% increase to Child and Family Services

Budget Lowlights:

  • Commitment to Social Impact Bonds
  • No commitment to oppose privatization and contracting out
  • No commitment to increasing the minimum wage

Members’ Provincial Election Guide 2016

Consult this handy guide to find out what’s at stake for CUPE members across Manitoba and in your sector. The guide also includes suggestions for questions to ask candidates in the lead-up to the April 19 election. Contact CUPE-MB to order paper copies.

Download (PDF, 543KB)

Manitoba provincial election: What’s at stake for CUPE members?

Today the Premier of Manitoba officially dropped the writ, beginning a month-long election that will determine the next government of Manitoba on April 19.

But what does this election mean for CUPE members?

The Conservatives and Liberals want to cut jobs, privatize services, and reverse the gains we have made as workers under the NDP.

While election platforms will be rolled out throughout the campaign, we have already seen overtures made by the Conservatives and Liberals that will affect our members.

This is a brief overview of what’s at stake for CUPE members in Manitoba:

  • School Sector workers: the Conservatives have promised not to cut teaching jobs, but don’t rule out funding cuts to schools. Funding cuts to schools mean School Boards will look to our support staff members and programs for “savings”.

The Liberals have announced that they too will find millions in “savings”, but haven’t yet said where they will cut. Liberal governments in other provinces have pushed school support staff on strike with layoffs and funding cuts.

  • Child Care workers: the Conservatives have openly discussed creating more private child care centres across the province. Private centres mean higher costs for parents, lower quality, and cut corners. The more private centres the Conservatives build, the less support public centres will receive by government, driving down wages for our members.The Liberals recently announced their child care plan, which is contingent on funding from the Federal government, and has very few details.
  • Social Services workers: Conservatives have indicated they want to privatize social services by introducing Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs allow big multinational corporations to “sponsor” a program, and will receive a “return on investment” if the program succeeds. This would certainly affect our members as government funding is cut.

In fact, the last time the Pallister Conservatives were in power in Manitoba, they cut millions of funding to social service agencies, including many where CUPE members work today.In other provinces, Liberal governments have cut social services to the core.

  • Health Care workers: When the Conservatives were last in power, Brian Pallister was a Cabinet Minister and he cut health care jobs. Many CUPE members remember the impact of these cuts.The Conservatives today are no different. They have already discussed finding ways to reduce the workforce in order to “save money”.

In Saskatchewan and Alberta conservative governments have privatized laundry services and cut jobs. The Alberta Conservatives even wanted to introduce fees for health care services. Albertans had enough, and voted in an NDP government.

In Ontario and BC, Liberal governments have found “savings” off the backs of workers. In BC, laundry services have been contracted out resulting in job cuts and pay cuts. Liberals in Manitoba would surely follow that lead.

  • Municipal workers: Pallister’s Conservatives have a policy on the books to immediately rescind Manitoba’s groundbreaking Public Private Partnership Transparency (P3) legislation. By doing this they will eliminate accountability and transparency for P3s, which take away jobs from public sector workers, and are far more costly than traditional procurement.

Conservatives will also make sure that new infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies (through P3s), rather than municipal governments.

That means there will be less “need” for public sector workers like you, and it will likely result in downsizing and contracting out.Liberal governments have also promoted the use of P3s., especially in Ontario and the east coast.

The Ontario Liberals have been major advocates of P3s despite their Auditor General pointing out that P3s have cost Ontarians $8 billion more than traditional, government managed projects.

Liberal governments in Quebec have interfered in municipal bargaining, resulting in major labour action in municipalities across the province due to cuts, contracting out, and attacks on pensions.

  • Crown Corporations: While Pallister’s Conservatives have denied that they would privatize Manitoba Hydro, the last PC government in Manitoba also denied they would privatize MTS, and then turned around and did so. The Pallister Conservatives have been constant critics of Manitoba Hydro and its planned developments.

The Manitoba Liberal Party has already indicated they will privatize Manitoba Liquor stores, which means they are likely eyeing other places to encourage privatization. Manitoba Liquor stores earn over $280 million in annual profits which are used by the provincial government to pay for government services such as health care and education.

The choice for CUPE members is clear:

At the most recent CUPE Manitoba Convention, members from across the province voted to endorse the NDP. If you take a look at the track record of the NDP in Manitoba over the years, it is clear they are prepared to work hard for workers in our province.

  • School Sector workers: The NDP in Manitoba has consistently increased funding for schools. Class sizes have been reduced, while supports for staff have increased, including wages.
  • Child Care workers: The NDP has tripled public child care funding, and has implemented wage enhancement to increase pay for child care workers. They have also promised to build more public child care centres, and increase spaces by 12,000. Manitoba has the most affordable child care outside Quebec, and the NDP is committed to universal child care for all.
  • Social Services workers: Many of the social service agencies in Manitoba today exist because the NDP has prioritized community development, and has reinstated much of the funding that was cut in the 90’s.

The NDP hold the firm belief that investing in social services means investing in the community and protecting those who need it most. From supports for mental health to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations: the Manitoba NDP support social service programs and jobs.

  • Municipal workers: The Manitoba NDP has created the first-ever P3 Accountability Legislation in Canada, recognizing that public workers can do the job better, cheaper, and with more accountability to the taxpayer.

The Manitoba NDP has also consistently funded infrastructure, provided supports to municipalities across the province for things like arena maintenance, community programs, and parks.

  • Health Care workers: The Manitoba NDP has consistently made health care a priority, and is building new personal care homes across the province. While other provinces are cutting jobs, cutting pay, and privatizing services, the Manitoba NDP have always invested in health care.
  • Crown Corporations: The NDP will continue to invest in Manitoba Hydro, investing in both generation and transmission capacities. The NDP has promised to keep the MLCC public.

April 19 is an important day for CUPE members to get out and vote. But you can do more!

CUPE members are encouraged to volunteer in local NDP campaigns, and help re-elect Manitoba’s worker-friendly government. Talk to workers from other provinces about the challenges they’ve faced under Liberal and Conservative governments.

The stakes have never been higher, and now is the time to take action.

For more information on the provincial election, visit cupe.mb.ca/category/manitoba-provincial-election.

CUPE Local 500 and WAPSO call for an end to vacancy management

The unions that represent Winnipeg’s municipal workers and the city’s administrative, supervisory, and professional staff, are calling for Mayor Bowman to end the Katz-era practice of not filling vacant positions.

“The city has been slowly eroding Winnipeg’s municipal workforce,” said Gord Delbridge, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 500. “We need to ensure we have enough workers to provide the services Winnipeggers rely on, and that support is just not there.”

The effect of the city’s fourteen year property tax freeze, coupled with the equally long vacancy management program, puts a chokehold on the city’s ability to run services effectively.

“This budget highlights $20.9 million in vacancy management,” said Michael Robinson, President of the Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers, (WAPSO). “Leaving a void this large in the municipal workforce is only going to reduce our ability to respond to the needs of Winnipeggers.”

Winnipeg’s municipal unions have been open to meeting with City officials to discuss initiatives that would improve services and find meaningful ways to save money at the same time.

“We know that Winnipeggers are tired of dealing with contracted-out municipal services,” said Delbridge. “I think it’s time to start talking about bringing these services back in-house to improve accountability to the taxpayer as well as a reliable service.”

“For every position left vacant, whether front-line, administrative, or in a support role, you are reducing access to the public” said Robinson.  “Savings found in vacancy management are not actually savings.”

WAPSO and CUPE Local 500 would like to see leadership from the city on the following:

  • An immediate end to the vacancy management program – to ensure adequate staffing levels in city services;
  • A commitment to reject the contracting out or privatization of any municipal service – to ensure accountable and quality public service delivery;
  • A commitment to bringing previously contracted-out services back in-house;
  • Maintaining or improving the level of city services currently being provided to Winnipeggers – to ensure that our citizens do not receive cuts to the services they rely on.

“When the city’s professional staff, supervisors and workers join together, you know the issue is important,” said Dave Sauer, President of the Winnipeg Labour Council.  “Winnipeg’s municipal workers are under a lot of pressure to do more with less, and Council needs to show them support.”

CUPE Local 500 represents approximately 4,600 municipal workers at the City of Winnipeg.

WAPSO represents approximately 800 administrative, supervisory and professional staff at the City of Winnipeg, Riverview Health Centre and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA).

Joint CUPE 500 / WAPSO release:
http://www.cupe500.mb.ca/news/local-news/cupe-local-500-and-wapso-call-end-vacancy-management/

Town of The Pas and CUPE Local 745 ratify 2 year agreement

Town of The Pas and CUPE Local 745 are pleased to announce the ratification of a new   2-year collective agreement which covers approximately 69 employees.  The employees include those in Administration, Public Works, Maintenance, Water Treatment Plant and the Wellness Center.

“We are glad that we have been able to work with the Town to ratify this new agreement” said Lori Sutherland, CUPE National Representative, “members of CUPE 745 are proud to deliver the public services that the community relies on, and look forward to working under this new contract”.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to all our staff and management for the incredible effort and commitment that has allowed us to reach this agreement.” added Mayor Jim Scott .

The previous collective agreement expired in December 2014. The new agreement will continue through to December 2016.

– Joint release between CUPE 745 and the Town of The Pas