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Ricky Romer

Edmonton city workers unearth Albertosaurus bones. See Work bytes for more. Page 4

Counterpoint CUPE National’s quarterly publication

More than a picnic …

Lifetime memories and new activists

About 3,000 people, most of them kids, attended the annual CUPE 79 two-day picnic on Centre Island, Toronto. By Pat Daley In one of the hottest summers on record, thousands of CUPE 79 members and their families ferried to Toronto’s Centre Island in August for the union’s annual picnic. Executive board member Fred Taylor, who has been organizing the event for 30 years, says this year’s event was one of the

“most enjoyable” – and he has the thank-you letters to prove it. About 3,000 people, most of them kids, attended the two-day event that featured amusement park rides, foot races and food. The benefits are two-fold, says Taylor. “Lots of times this is the only union event people go to. But they go and end up getting involved, often as a union

steward. It draws people in.” And, it helps to develop a pool of future activists among the children. Taylor himself remembers attending CUPE 43 (now CUPE 416) picnics as a child, noting with a smile that “I was illegal.” He attended with friends. “I still remember the good times,” he said. “It gives the kids good thoughts about the union.”

Fall 2010

Public sector wage controls a political issue – not a fiscal one CUPE members all across the country are facing enormous challenges in the political arena and at the bargaining table. Spending policies aimed at easing the recession have produced deficits. Many provincial governments are now responding with program spending cuts and varying degrees of political pressure on public sector workers for wage restraint. We asked CUPE National President Paul Moist what these challenges mean for CUPE members. “The future for CUPE members will be like that previous members experienced during recessions in the 1970s and early 1990s. Governments will enact cutbacks, our bargaining climate will become tougher and we will be tested.” But as Moist points out it is as much a fight over the direction of public policy as it is a bargaining challenge. “In the aftermath of the financial crisis of October 2008, it was the government that shored up financial institutions and certain businesses Continued on page 6

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CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010


Counterpoint CUPE National’s quarterly publication Counterpoint ISSN print 1920-2857 ISSN online 1920-2865

Counterpoint Counterpoint is published by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Address all letters to the editor to: CUPE Communications, 1375 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, ON, K1G 0Z7 Phone: 613-237-1590 Fax: 613-237-5508


Counterpoint Counterpoint Counterpoint Publications Mail Agreement Number 40005741

Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: CUPE Communications, 1375 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, ON, K1G 0Z7 Visit CUPE’s website at or contact us at Managing Editor: Catherine Louli Communications Director: Stephen Howard Graphic Design: Marnie Thorp Editorial Assistants: Hélène Bélanger, Marjorie Savoie, Manon Lajoie Contributors: Alexandre Boulerice, Allison Gifford, Beth Smillie, Chris Watson, Christian Martel, Clay Suddaby, Colleen Reynolds, Dan Gawthrop, Danielle Savoie, Derrick Barrett, Ian Clysdale, James Chai, Janet Szliske, John McCracken, Kevin Wilson, Liam Martin, Lou Arab, Pat Daley, Pierre Ducasse, Robert Bellerose, Robert Lamoureux, Roseanne Moran, Sébastien Goulet, Wendy Forbes.

Union printed on 50% recycled, 30% post-consumer waste, elemental chlorine-free paper, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Canadian Union of Public Employees National Executive Board National President – Paul Moist National Secretary-Treasurer – Claude Généreux General Vice-Presidents Daniel Légère Lucie Levasseur Fred Hahn Tom Graham Barry O’Neill Regional Vice-Presidents Wayne Lucas – Newfoundland & Labrador Danny Cavanagh – Nova Scotia Sandy Harding – New Brunswick Milo Murray – Prince Edward Island Charles Fleury – Quebec Nathalie Stringer – Quebec Candace Rennick – Ontario Michael Hurley – Ontario Henri Giroux – Northern Ontario Mike Davidson – Manitoba Judy Henley – Saskatchewan Dennis Mol – Alberta Mark Hancock – British Columbia Ken Robinson – British Columbia Diversity Vice-Presidents Brian Barron Yolanda McClean

CUPE National President Paul Moist with Nove Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and Art Mauro, past President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer of Investors Group.

Ministers discuss vital public services By Allison Gifford When premiers and territo­ rial leaders met in Winnipeg for the Council of the Federation meeting in August, public services were high on the agenda. “There were a number of key issues up for discussion at the premiers’ meeting that will impact public services and ultimately CUPE members,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist, who was in Winnipeg during the meeting and attended social events with the political leaders. “Issues such as equalization payments, medicare and stimulus funding appeared to dominate the meeting,” observed Moist. “It was reassuring to see that the majority of premiers seem dedicated to holding the federal government’s feet to the

fire with regards to adequate funding for public services.” On health care, the premiers discussed the price of prescription drugs and the current federal health care funding agreement negotiated in 2004 between Paul Martin’s Liberal government and the provinces. “Of concern is that the program expires in 2013, and whatever replaces it won’t be as generous or as long term,” said Moist. The agreement was reached at a time when Ottawa and most of the provinces had budget surpluses. Negotiations for a new arrangement will take place with most of the provinces in debt and the economy still emerging from recession. “We need to drive home the message that medicare is very sustainable, and constitutes

only five to six per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Canadian health care is not a system in collapse and shouldn’t be painted as such. We’re trying to shore up our medicare system and we’re trying to manage an economic recovery with significant unemployment. Now is not the time for unsustainable tax cuts at the expense of medicare. “Any time the leaders of the country gather you can be sure they’re talking about issues that affect public services and ultimately CUPE members,” said Moist. “It is essential that our members speak up for public services and continually remind community and provincial leaders that the work we perform is vital and should be a priority for adequate funding.”

On December 10, support trade unionists around the world Join Amnesty International to celebrate International Human Rights Day in the Write for Rights letter-writing marathon. Last year, thousands of people across Canada and in 50 countries wrote more than 700,000 letters to governments, urging them to stop human rights violations, including those against trade unionists.

For more information and free materials, go to or


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

Newfoundland’s CUPE 1860 partners with Choices for Youth to build job skills

CUPE 1860 enters the Train for Trades program, a one year initiative working with at risk youth. By Derrick Barrett When CUPE 1860 at the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation was approached by Choices for Youth with an idea to help “at-risk” youth in the community, the local didn’t hesitate to respond. “We jumped at the

opportunity,” said local president Bill Wakeley. Following a presentation by the program’s coordinator Rosalind Curran, members voted unanimously to endorse the idea. Working in conjunction with the housing corporation, the local entered into the “Train for

Trades” project. The one-year initiative involves energy-saving renovations to public housing units in St. John’s and provides much needed experience for those involved. Wakeley said, “These young people work very hard and have a great work ethic. Feedback

from our members and tenant associations has been very positive.” “Everyone deserves a break in life. Just knowing that we’re helping young people get a positive start is very rewarding,” said Wakeley.

Airlines ramp up for bargaining


housands of people from across Canada made their way to Parliament Hill to show their support for native education. With many CUPE flags flying in the background, CUPE Diversity Vice-President Brian Barron, pictured above, vowed that, “CUPE will continue to push for the need to address unfair, unjust and inequitable education and push for a guarantee for education for indigenous young people across Canada. We will send a strong message that now is the time to invest in our future. Canada depends on it.” Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo attended the event and said all First Nations people need to be united in the “hunt” for education, which calls for access to an education system for all First Nations members with programs and services grounded in First Nations languages, values, traditions and knowledge.

By Pierre Ducasse In the coming months, most flight attendants of CUPE’s Airline Division will be bargaining new contracts. Our members at Air Canada are part of one of the largest private sector defined benefit pension plans in the country and Air Canada is taking aim. However, the union is ready to defend the plan. The collective agreement with the Air Canada Component expires in March 2011. Local leaders from Air Transat, First Air, CanJet and Cathay Pacific are or soon will be at the bargaining table, as their contracts expire before the end of 2010. CUPE also represents flight attendants from Canadian North and Calm Air. For more information


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

Work bytes

Hydro One workers mobilize and lobby city hall to keep hydro public! The members of Toronto City Council listened and voted this summer to keep the utility as a publicly owned and operated asset. British Columbia The K-12, college and university locals are all at the bargaining table, with all sectors engaged in member solidarity and public awareness initiatives. Bargaining in the community social services sector has been frustrating with the employer association insisting its mandate from government precludes it from bargaining any “cost” items. CUPE 873 ambulance paramedics continue their struggle to negotiate a new contract, while CUPE 1050 (Quesnel municipal workers) stood up to a threatened lockout while heading into mediation in early September. CUPE BC joined a successful provincial petition campaign opposing the harmonized sales tax (HST). The HST petition will now go to referendum in September of 2011. In Victoria, the Capital Regional District (CRD) sewage campaign is preparing for a provincial government response to the local decision to go public. Alberta A couple of city employees found themselves at the centre of a media frenzy after finding

70-million year old dinosaur bones. The discovery happened in August while the employees were digging a sewer line underneath a fancy west Edmonton neighbourhood. Aaron Krywiak and Ryley Paul, both employees of Edmonton Public Works Department and members of CUPE 30, were jackhammering a tunnel one hundred feet below street level when Krywiak spotted something shiny. The object, which turned out to be the tooth of an Albertosaurus dinosaur, was turned over to the foreman, who called the police, as well as officials at the University of Alberta. Archaeologists later found the bones of two other dinosaurs, one of which was in the process of being devoured by the Albertosaurus when both were killed. Saskatchewan The Saskatchewan government’s risky plan to contract out surgeries and diagnostic tests to profit-making clinics will make staff shortages worse. All of the evidence shows for-profit clinics poach scarce health professionals

from the public system, exacerbate wait times and increase the cost of health services. Surgical wait times have dropped significantly over the last five years thanks to a well co-ordinated federal-provincial strategy. Why mess with success? We need to expand the capacity of our public health system, not profit-making clinics that will make wait times longer and staff shortages worse. Manitoba Over the summer months, CUPE members involved with the RESPECT campaign have been working alongside community organizations to draw attention to Manitoba’s underfunded social services and child care facilities. The RESPECT campaign was proud to support Walk for the Shelters, a 150 kilometre walk to raise awareness about the need to increase funding for women’s shelters across the province. Manitobans are heading to the polls to elect municipal councillors and school trustees on Oct. 27 and CUPE has already played a significant role as Winnipeg mayoral candidate, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, promised

to introduce the Crime Watch program if elected. Crime Watch provides municipal employees with the training and tools nec­ essary to identify and report symptoms of crime in the neighbourhoods in which they work. Ontario In spite of the Ontario government’s declaration of its intention to implement a public sector wage freeze, CUPE locals continue to secure enhanced collective agreements, including the City of Sudbury, York municipal workers, waste collectors in the City of Ottawa and others. Other locals, including municipal workers in Toronto, Hamilton, and Guelph, and school board workers in Halton, ramped up communication campaigns to improve public perception of workers and public services. Ontario university workers maintain a united front with coordinated bargaining. Organizing new members continues to be a priority in Ontario, with active campaigns in every sector.


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

CUPE activists march during Halifax pride day. CUPE members wore their pride in Vancouver, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and other cities across the country. Quebec The Common Front of public sector trade unions reached an agreement with the government of Quebec this summer. The Common Front represents 475,000 employees, including about 32,000 CUPE members working in health and education. The ratification meetings will continue until the end of September. About 15,000 other CUPE members are indirectly affected by this agreement. Other agreements were accepted this summer by a number of our members, including TELUS (1,000 members), TVA-Montréal (800 members) and the Longueuil white-collar workers (900 members). Finally, thanks to their discipline and the blundering of their employer, the Port of Montreal longshoremen emerged victorious from a five-day lockout in late July. New Brunswick The New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions and CUPE 1252 launched a campaign this summer to solve the shortfall in their pension plan. Their

campaign is aimed at the candidates running in the September 27 provincial election. For the past three years, CUPE 1252 has been trying to resolve the issue with little success. The election is the perfect opportunity to get a commitment on this issue. The province has not contributed to the pension plan for several years, and without a contribution increase there will be ramifications for those who have retired and those preparing to retire. The pension plan represents in excess of 5,000 members and 2,500 retirees. Prince Edward Island Almost 18 months after signing their CUPE membership card, the employees of the Town of Kensington are finally at the table to negotiate their first collective agreement. It has been a long haul for those 13 employees but CUPE 4893 members are hoping to complete bargaining this fall. The local represents the town police officers and the municipal workers.

Nova Scotia In July, CUPE Nova Scotia launched the first edition of its “Public Services” newspaper. The paper is designed to provide a link between the province’s 17,000 members and the general public. It was mailed to over 48,000 households and covers topics like pension reform, child care and the dangers of P3s. Municipal employees from CUPE 2618 in the County of Kings achieved a major victory in their recent round of collective bargaining. The local became the first group in Nova Scotia to access the Multi-Sector Pension Plan. CUPE NS hopes to build on this gain and secure the same pension coverage for other smaller groups in the province. Newfoundland and Labrador CUPE NL continues to play an active role in lobbying provincial and federal politicians to support much needed changes to Canada’s pension system. Meetings have been held with the federal Liberal caucus and with NL Member of Parliament Jack Harris, urging them to support our efforts and keep the

pressure on the Harper conservatives to adopt the changes. The message is clear; it’s time to improve Canada’s social safety net. The future of working families hangs in the balance. Hospital Employees’ Union The Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) has won a prece­ dent-setting decision from B.C.’s privacy commissioner that could open up billions of dollars of privatization contracts to public scrutiny. On Aug. 16, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority was ordered to provide HEU with the full details of its commercial contracts with Compass, Sodexo and K-Bro Linen Systems. HEU sought the review after the health authority responded to a 2007 information request by releasing heavily censored documents. The corporations haven’t announced whether they will request a judicial review of the privacy commissioner’s ruling.


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

Ontario government pushes public sector wage freeze Wage freeze will not recoup what corporate tax cuts give away $3.0 $2.5 (billions)

By Chris Watson As this issue of Counterpoint hits the press, CUPE leaders in Ontario are in discussions with the Ontario government regarding alternatives to a proposed voluntary wage freeze. The meetings follow a late August gathering of close to 1,000 local CUPE leaders to discuss the wage freeze issue. That meeting adopted a solidarity resolution and an action plan recommitting members to fight to protect our bargaining rights and to defend public services. “A wage freeze is not good for workers or the economy,” says CUPE Ontario division president Fred Hahn. “It unfairly targets public sector workers who did not create the government’s deficit. Nor did we cause the economic meltdown in the first place.” In late March, the McGuinty government’s budget unveiled a two-year freeze on compensation for all non-union public sector workers. At the time, union members covered by collective agreements were exempt from legislation. However in July, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced consultations with public sector unions about extending the freeze to front line workers. Hahn says CUPE is committed to talking with the government and employers about how best to protect and strengthen public

$2.0 $1.5 $1.0 $0.5 $0 2010


Total taken from public wages

services and offer front line expertise about how the provincial Liberals can spend smarter. “For example,” says Hahn, “we’ve given the government a range of proposals—like avoiding costly P3s, addressing recruitment and retention issues in the social services sector, or consolidating 22 separately administered university pension plans into one—that can strengthen services and help deal with the deficit.” Hahn argues that if the government is truly interested in reducing the deficit then it would




Total corporate tax giveaway

postpone the planned $4.6 billion in corporate tax give aways. “Every dollar that goes to tax cuts is a dollar that can’t be used to protect services or reduce the deficit.” “Isn’t it time we asked CEO’s, bankers and corporate heads to help pay the cost of Ontario’s recovery from the economic crisis they caused and which is far from over?” Hahn pledged that CUPE will keep members up-to-date on developments.

For more information on the action plan visit

CUPE members all across the country face enormous challenges in the political arena Continued from page 1

thereby preventing a full scale depression. No private solution came forward and it was the public that stepped up and formed public solutions in a time of crisis,” said Moist. Similarly, it is the public sector that will provide economic and social stability necessary to weather the current recession he says. “Employment insurance, public education institutions and social services all see demand rise during recessions. Cutting these services at the very time people need them is both shortsighted and purely bad public policy.”

Put another way, “If the global recession represented a fire, the stimulus measures of 2009/2010 poured water on that fire with some success. Calling for government restraint now amounts to pouring gas on a smoldering recession fire, and will benefit no one.” But, Moist is confident that this is a fight we can win. “Like the members who went before us, CUPE members will support one another, will unite behind their bargaining committees and will fight hard for the public services we deliver and value. So, while we face challenges, they are not challenges we

“It is the public sector that will provide economic and social stability necessary to weather the current recession.” Paul Moist, CUPE National President

need to fear. Rather, we strengthen our collective resolve and our unity and connect with our members who will support us and who deserve our very best efforts.” And while governments are preaching restraint, Canadians want public services protected. “Poll after poll tells us that Canadians want more public services, not less. Our challenge, and one we relish as a union, is to engage in all forms of political action and to not leave this stage to the neo-conservatives who simply want less government. They never have, and never will, represent the values of the average Canadian,” concluded Moist.


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

Workers win contracting in of vocational rehabilitation

CUPE, Métis Nation Saskatchewan sign historic partnership By Allison Gifford This summer, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MN-S) signed a landmark agreement with CUPE. The deal vows cooperation on Métis employment in the public sector and other areas of mutual interest. The memorandum of understanding was signed at the Back to Batoche festival, which was an expanded event this year in honour of the 125th anniversary of the Métis resistance at Batoche. “The Métis culture and our people come from a blending of different backgrounds,” said Robert Doucette, president of the

MN-S. “So the Métis Nation and I look at this opportunity as one where we can bring together and blend the strengths and experiences of our organizations. I think Métis communities and the province as a whole stand to benefit.” CUPE Saskatchewan has been a leader in developing and delivering representative workforce strategies within the public sector. Since 2003, the union has also hosted an annual Back to Batoche canoe trip, paddling as many as 20 canoes more than 70 kilometres over three days and landing at the annual festival in Batoche.

According to Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan, the provincial divisions of the two organizations were a perfect fit. “Certainly we’ve talked about ways in which we can ensure that Métis people have full access to opportunity when it comes to public sector employment,” said Graham. “But CUPE and the Métis Nation also have a lot of other issues in common, like our mutual desire to address access to safe, clean water; our interest in education and training opportunities; and our members’ common call for us to be vocal on environmental issues.”

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By Wendy Forbes After a long struggle, CUPE 1750 workers at Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) have succeeded in having vocational rehabilitation contracted back in to the workplace. Labour Market Re-entry (LMR) was contracted out under Ontario’s Conservative regime. The fight to bring LMR back to WSIB started when the Conservatives were ousted and Harry Goslin was elected president of the local. With support from CUPE National, the local hired economist Hugh Mackenzie, who found that providers of LMR have no incentive for cost containment; instead they had a “built-in incentive to extend claim duration.” Further, he reported that the cost of LMR, service to injured workers, employers and increased claims duration can be improved with direct WSIB delivery of service. When WSIB ran the program in the past, the time from original referral to completion was between 21 and 26 months. The outsourced program time was almost double and ran from 40 to 47 months. “I applaud the WSIB decision to reverse the former Conservative government’s privatization of vocational rehabilitation services. It is clear that the outsourcing resulted in higher costs for those services according to audits conducted by KPMG and economist Hugh Mackenzie,” said Goslin. “The data clearly shows significant increases in return to work times coincided with the outsourcing of rehabilitation services. As a result workers and employers in Ontario were negatively impacted. Without a doubt the WSIB decision to reintegrate LMR services is in the best interest of the workers and employers we serve.” Approximately 100 jobs are being contracted in, postings are up and screening for positions has begun.


CUPE Counterpoint, Fall 2010

National Executive Board highlights from September meeting NEB Resolution – Oppose the sale of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan

An interview with CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux

By Pierre Ducasse Pierre Ducasse: Improving public pension plans is one of CUPE’s priorities. What are our key demands? Claude Généreux: We want to put the focus on public plans. All workers should have better coverage. Currently, the majority of workers in Canada do not have a workplace pension plan. What’s even worse, one-third of all workers in Canada have absolutely no savings to cover their basic expenses. And since the financial crisis of 2008, defined contribution plans and RRSPs have been on a real roller coaster ride. The Harper government has offered individual solutions for what is a collective problem. They tell us that we just need to save more and buy RRSPs, but people do not have the money to save. For example, only five per cent of people make their maximum RRSP contribution. We need to improve our public pension plans, which will help all workers, unionized or not. Public plans are much more stable and predictable than other types of retirement plans. We are advocating a doubling of Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, phased-in over a period of seven years. This could be achieved by increasing worker and employer contributions from 4.95 per cent to 7.8 per cent. That would raise our benefits to a level comparable with those of other developed countries. PD: Some people might wonder why we are investing in this campaign when our

members, for the most part, have private workplace plans negotiated by the union. How would you answer them? CG: I have two things to say about that, and our position is not merely altruistic. Firstly, about 25 per cent of our own members (150,000 people) have no workplace pension plan. Secondly, as a union we believe that we have a responsibility to all workers. The financial crisis has demonstrated that strengthening public plans is the best approach because they are universal and stable. Public pension plans benefit everyone, including us. PD: What do you say to the young people who believe that the public and private coffers will be empty by the time they retire? CG: It is important to emphasize that our current government plans are viable. The chief actuary of the CPP, along with others, has confirmed that the CPP is fully funded to meet its commitments for the next 70 years. That being said, CPP benefits are insufficient, which justifies our position that they need to be doubled. We could significantly improve and safeguard the system with an even lower increase than what we experienced in the 90s. This solution will help all workers, young and old. A more detailed podcast of the full interview is available at

Board members voted unanimously in favour of a resolution demanding that the Harper government reject the foreign takeover of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Potash is an important resource to the economies of Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. Currently, the Potash Corporation is threatened by a hostile takeover by the multinational company BHP Billiton. At the same time, the government of China is waiting in the wings with a keen interest in a takeover as well. The NEB resolution also calls on the Harper government to ensure that public hearings and full public disclosure are part of any process in reviewing foreign takeover bids; that they outline the conditions that will provide benefit to Canadians; and that legislation is changed to ensure that Investment Canada can investigate deals with multinational corporations prior to approving any takeover. All of these demands are aimed at ensuring decisions about the future of Canadian resource industries must be made in Canada by Canadians.

Economic climate for bargaining Brother Toby Sanger, CUPE’s senior economist, presented his quarterly report on the economy, providing analysis that demonstrated deficit, debt and demographic fears fuelling public sector cutbacks and threats to health care and public sector pensions are largely exaggerated. In reality, public borrowing costs have continued to decline and debt levels remain manageable. Combined, these factors amount to two percentage points of GDP added to public spending over the next 20 years. Yet public sector bargaining is tougher and tougher as provincial governments are forcing the costs of deficits and tax cuts onto bargaining tables. The average wage increase in the second quarter of 2010 was 1.8 per cent for public sector workers compared to 2.5 per cent for private sector workers. At the same time, inflation has been accelerated by the introduction of the HST in Ontario and B.C. and hikes in energy prices. Find out details on this and more by accessing the quarterly report at

Members to benefit from $55,000 maternity leave settlement By Roseanne Moran CUPE 15 and the Vancouver School Board (VSB) reached an agreement that will put $55,000 into the pockets of more than 20 members. At issue was the union’s view that 10-month employees of the VSB who were on maternity leave should receive wage top-up for the summer months. Paul Faoro, CUPE 15 president is delighted that the union was able to resolve the grievance without having to go before an arbitrator. “As a result of our advocacy, the employer is required to pay retroactive topup to members on maternity leave since July 1, 2007.” CUPE 15 filed the grievance in January 2008.

Darryl Darwent

Our campaign to strengthen public pension plans

Counterpoint - Fall 2010  

Once again, CUPE's national flagship publication captures stories affecting CUPE members from coast to coast to coast.

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