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2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

The newsletter of CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers

launches, starts to take off Guest column by Barry O’Neill, President CUPE BC Last week I had the privilege of launching our Ten Percent Shift campaign in Langford. More than 400 people turned out to the launch, and I was extremely pleased with the response. I’ve been talking about the ideas behind this campaign for some time. It’s the logical extension of the “Local First” campaign that included my tour of more than 30 BC communities over the past couple of years. During that tour, I made a point of meeting with a wide range of interest groups and individuals, ranging from Chambers of Commerce, members of CUPE and other unions, and local elected officials, among others. Rarely do groups like this agree on the weather, never mind how to make our communities stronger. But one area that seems to have enthusiastic support from all interest groups and advocates is the importance of a dynamic and sustainable local economy that moves beyond the traditional “boom and bust” cycles especially prevalent in resource-dependent communities. In addition to spending a lot of time on that tour listening to ideas, I also talked a lot about my belief that the long-term solution lies with the actions of individual citizens. We all have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for, and there is a simple, doable action we can all take. And that’s to contribute more to our local economies by shifting just ten percent of our existing household spending to locally made goods and services from locally owned businesses. Studies in other jurisdictions show that a dollar spent in a locally owned business creates more spinoffs and economic benefits than a dollar spent in a chain store that doesn’t reinvest its profits in the community. Check out our campaign website at tenpercentshift.ca for more information on the research available elsewhere. So I’m urging everyone to go to www. tenpercentshift.ca to take the Ten Percent Shift pledge, and start shifting today. We’re not asking anyone to spend more money, simply shift ten percent of your household spending to local first. Encourage your family, friends and neighbours to join with you, and share your success stories and favourite local shops and products on our Facebook page. And let us know if you’re having

Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: CUPE Local 15 545 W. 10th Ave. Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K9

trouble finding local products in your community; hopefully, as the campaign grows, other shifters in your area will be able to point you towards hidden finds. I’ll be talking a lot more about the Shift over the coming months. This is an important campaign for us, for after all, every single CUPE member is a member of their community first. By taking a leadership role in our communities all over

MARCH Date & Time: Location: Under Discussion:

2011

the province, we can help build vibrant and sustainable local economies, and we will all benefit from that.

So if you haven’t already, please visit tenpercentshift.ca and take the Pledge today. We all work every day to make our communities stronger; with this campaign we can take one more step on that road.

General Membership Meeting Wednesday, March 23, 5:30 p.m. Italian Cultural Centre 3075 Slocan St. Vancouver, Room 5 • Vancouver School Board, Langara College & Emily Carr University bargaining updates • Nominations for CUPE 15 Executive Board • Executive Board By-election; College/University Representative General Meetings provide all members with an opportunity to participate in decisions that affect the union. (Childcare assistance and Interpretation available upon request.)


2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

Update from your Executive

2

Wisconsin is closer than you think by Paul Faoro, President

While the State of Wisconsin is over 2,500 kilometres away from Vancouver we cannot ignore the full out attack launched by newly installed Governor Scott Walker on their public sector employees. Using the current recession as an excuse, and with majority in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, Governor Walker implemented a plan to roll back public employees’ pensions and benefits, while stripping most of them of their right to collective bargaining. He wants public workers to pay more for their health insurance and Paul Faoro, President pensions, effectively cutting the take home pay of many by around seven per cent. His attack goes so far as wanting to weaken most public sector unions by sharply curtailing their collective bargaining rights by limiting talks to the subject of basic wages. State officials alerted the Wisconsin State Employees Unions that expired contracts would be terminated on March 13, 2011. Unfortunately this assault on unionized workers isn’t just in Wisconsin. We have recently seen Ohio workers having to protest outside the Statehouse in Columbus against a bill that would limit collective bargaining for state employees there. In Tennessee, a legislative committee was considering a similar bill. In Indianapolis, teachers rallied against a bill that would limit contract bargaining for teachers’ unions.

In Canada unionized workers in Ontario have witnessed Premier Dalton McGuinty table legislation to designate the Toronto Transit Commission as an essential service. This legislation would take away the fundamental right to free collective bargaining for more than 12,000 union members and deprive them of the same employment rights under Ontario law that other workers have. Elsewhere in Toronto newly elected Mayor Rob Ford has notified CUPE Local 416 who represents the city’s outside workers that he intends to privatize the garbage collection. Mayor Ford was quoted saying “We’re going to save millions of dollars, and we’re going to reduce the size of government. That’s what people elected us to do”. The city has gone so far as warning the union that it would issue a tender for contingency collection to allow the city to hire private haulers if the union decided to strike. A few weeks ago on behalf of our union I was in Victoria for the Provincial Government budget announcement. While the budget was labeled a “status quo” budget it reaffirms the BC Liberal government’s sole priority of cutting corporate taxes and downloading more on you and your family. A good example is the government’s plans to continue to increase your Medical Service Plan premiums which will take away $410 million from working families by 2012. It was no surprise to read a recent TD Bank report that shows that British Columbians are holding record debt. British Columbia stands alone as it is only province that still charges a premium. This government chose to continue to starve our public health care system which has the second lowest per capita funding in Canada, not fund public schools at the same rate as inflation,

and do nothing about having the highest child poverty rates in the country. What they did do is set aside a slush fund of $1.125 billion for Christy Clark to spend on election promises. I am pointing out all of these attacks, downloads, and plain disregard for every day families as I am deeply worried that if we ignore them more and people are going to fall between the cracks and the public services that our members deliver will be at the highest risk ever for privatization or sheer elimination. This year we will likely have elections at the federal and provincial levels, and for sure at municipal level. This is our opportunity to slow down, stop or reverse what

This government chose to continue to starve our public health care system which has the second lowest per capita funding in Canada, not fund public schools at the same rate as inflation, and do nothing about having the highest child poverty rates in the country.

I have raised now occurring in our province, in our country, and across the world by electing people who share the same priorities and values as we do. In the 2009 provincial election voter turnout was a record low 50% and in 2008 for the municipal election in Vancouver only 31% eligible voters turned out. We cannot ignore what is happening to working families around us and we must exercise our democratic right at the upcoming elections.

“An injury to one is an injury to all” by Leanne Toderian, Secretary Treasurer This is a famous quote used by many unions over the course of history, most recently I believe by CUPW. The statement is a meaningful one; one that not only applies to the labour movement as a whole, or any one individual union, but also can describe how each member can expect to be treated by their employers, their co-workers, and other union members. What it implies is that if any one of us suffers at the hands of the aforementioned, we Leanne Toderian ought to collectively Secretary Treasurer act to correct the situation; solidarity and strength in numbers.

This month we said goodbye to a long service employee, Steve Baker, who served many different bargaining units of this local. We celebrated his next chapter by having a reception in his honour which was very well attended by past and present members, staff, and co-workers. We wish him good luck in his next endeavors. On another note, the Health Science Professionals’ Bargaining Association have voted to accept the terms of the collective agreement. The agreement passed with 57 per cent of all Health Science Professionals in the Bargaining Association voting in favour. The deal had the support of only four per cent of CUPE members. While it was accepted, it passed by a very narrow margin. What this means is that it was not a good contract and I hope our members feel, while playing a small percentage of votes, it did count, as their opinion was shared by a vast majority of voters. Perhaps a small comfort, but I would take it.

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At the last General Membership meeting the membership elected delegates to the CUPE British Columbia division annual convention to be held over three days in Vancouver in April. Attendance at convention is an opportunity for locals to have a voice in governance, direction, and focus on campaigns of the work of CUPE BC and affords us a wonderful opportunity to network and share experiences with other locals across the province. Congratulations to all those who were elected. A reminder that the March General Membership meeting is on the 23rd at the Italian Cultural Centre and next month is our AGM and executive board elections. I hope to see you all out participating.

CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

Letters, Notices, & Updates

CLC Winter School I would like to thank the CUPE Local 15 Education Committee for the opportunity to attend CLC Winter School the week of March 30th – February 4th. This was my first opportunity to attend winter school.

Retiring Member Brothers and Sisters, I would like to thank you for the beautiful bouquet of flowers and the coveted CUPE 15 pen and pencil set that were presented to me at the February 23rd union meeting to acknowledge my many years of active union membership. The Princess Irene Tulips were a nice touch. Sincerely yours Irene McCorkindale, City (Retired)

Bursary Thanks Thank you for your contribution to support students in their pursuit of higher education at Simon Fraser University. We appreciate your support and assure you that gifts like yours make a significant difference at SFU. Erin Geary, Director, Advancement Services & Donor Relations As we all know, the path to higher education is a challenging one. However, for those faced with the worry of how to pay for books or next term’s tuition, it can feel almost impossible. Thankfully, however, with generous support from donors like you, deserving students with a desire to learn can enter into their Kwantlen Polytechnic University programs with more confidence and greater focus on their studies – a gift on which a value cannot be placed. In addition to helping these students reach their educational goals, support from donors helps to increase the overall number of graduates within the Kwantlen region, which in turn provides enormous benefits to our communities and society at large. The recent award ceremony provided an opportunity to celebrate the deep commitment to education shown by our donors, our students, our community and our university. Most importantly, however, it reminded us all of one of life’s greatest lessons: when we work hard and help one another, the world is full of opportunity and possibility. The recipient of the CUPE Local 15 Vancouver Municipal, Educational and Community Workers’ Society Awards choice of psychology and criminology has to do with his love of interacting with people. Rather than just taking psychology as a major, he opted to branch out and take criminology as well. It opens up more possibilities and allows him to experience more of university. His goal academically is to complete his Bachelor’s degree by the time he is twenty-two and enter either law enforcement or become a psychologist. On behalf of the recipient, the university and Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation, thank you again for your generous support. Together we are building the future. Debbie Mellenger, Advancement Officer, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation

I was approved to attend Labour Arbitration (Level I) which I found to be very relevant to my role as Chief Shop Steward for the City Sector. I believe the knowledge will assist me in my role and allow me to assist newer shop stewards in gathering important information and documentation during the grievance process. I was pleased to be able to attend the CLC Winter School along with several other Local 15 members as it was a great opportunity to work together. Special thanks to Sister Miriam Pulsifer for all her help and encouragement. I’ll also include a huge shout out to Sister Emma Somers who was assigned to be my “adversary” during the final exercise. I truly pity any employer that finds themselves across the table from Sister Emma. Her preparation and execution during our mock arbitration before Arbitrator Love on the last day was brilliant. I encourage all shop stewards and activists in our local to take advantage of the excellent training opportunities made available to us by our Education Committee, Executive Board, and Membership. Again, thanks to all who supported the opportunity for me to attend. Steve Salsman, Chief Shop Steward – City Sector I would like to thank CUPE 15 for providing me with the opportunity to attend “Introduction to Labour Arbitration”, a week long course at the Canadian Labour Congress Winter School. Winter School is a unique and often inspiring place. The caliber of activists who attend is exceptional. I was joined in the course by my fellow CUPE 15 activists Miriam Pulsifer and Steve Salsman and I felt privileged to have been able to work with them and share our experience as activists while learning so much from others. In our class there were activists from all over the Province and from diverse employee groups such as the cities of Coquitlam and Saanich, the BCTF, the ILWU 400 tugboat division, the BCGEU, and CEP mill workers. Our course facilitator, Lorraine Shore, was informative and candid. She helped take us through the arbitration process and taught us how to prepare for taking a case before an arbitrator. The course has made me much more familiar with the terminology and language of arbitration as well as the formalities of the process. We became comfortable with using various leading cases, a grasp of which is essential to understanding the legal analysis of situations we deal with everyday as stewards. I feel like I have a much better understanding of issues like “insubordination” and “just cause for discipline” and how to argue them through the grievance process. Thank you to the Education Committee for providing me with this opportunity.

Thank You for the Overwhelming Support I would like to thank the members at our last membership meeting for their overwhelming support for my bid to be re-elected as a General Vice President of the CUPE British Columbia Division. Your solidarity and financial support is greatly appreciated. Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to speak out on many important issues, not only on our membership’s behalf but the 85,000 CUPE members across the province. I am very proud to be a member of our union and I take my responsibility very seriously. We are all going to be facing many more tough challenges in the coming months and years and I look forward to being able to help our membership and union with every bit of energy I have. In solidarity, Paul Faoro President CUPE 15 and General Vice President CUPE BC

The Executive Decided By Leanne Toderian, Secretary Treasurer

• At the March 2, 2011 meeting of the Executive Board the following decisions were made: • To send the maximum allowed 21 delegates to the CUPE BC convention in April. • To donate $750 to the “Get Your Art On” event in support of MLA Spencer Herbert. • To donate $550 to the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada event. • To purchase a half table in honour of outgoing Vancouver and District Labour Council President Bill Saunders. • To send a member from Langara Community College to the ACCC Conference. • To support the City of Vancouver Family Day celebration at Manitoba Works Yard. • To secure three advance polling stations for the upcoming Executive Board elections.

Emma Somers, Emily Carr University of Art & Design

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CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

News

newsbytes focus

4

VSB Bargaining

Langara College

Our Bargaining Committee has tried everything possible to reach a fair and respectful deal but the employer has made little effort or no effort to address the issues we have raised on our members’ behalf. Langara College continues to hide behind the curtain of the Post Secondary Employers Association which has been frustrating to no end. Even after spending several long days at the B.C. Labour Relations Board in front of a mediator minimal progress was made. Our committee is reviewing options and making plans to reach the best possible agreement. CUPE 15 has been in contact with the Langara Faculty Association as their membership has voted 94% in favor of taking strike action to back up their bargaining demands. We are monitoring this situation closely as CUPE 15 represents employees at Chartwell’s, Langara Students Union and at Langara College.

Emily Carr University

By Warren Williams, K-12 Sector Representative

The VSB Bargaining Committee met with the employer and have agreed on bargaining protocols and exchanged proposals. The employer’s proposals have a few areas of concern for our member i.e. maternity leave top up for term employees, job share, and wage freeze (zero % mandate).

Negotiations for a new collective agreement are underway. Progress to date has been limited by the net-zero cost mandate set by the provincial government. Our Bargaining Committee is Gaye Fowler, Shannon McKinnon, John Skibinski, Jim Oaten, and Emma Somers. Our chief spokesperson is Kathie Currie.

Our February 21, 2011 bargaining date with the employer was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. The next date is set for March.

Vancouver School Board

Craig Hopkins has been elected as the alternative representative to the Provincial Bargaining Council.

Bargaining is continuing with the Vancouver School Board on March 9th. We continue to coordinate our efforts with all of the other CUPE locals from across the province that have begun negotiations. CUPE represents over 24,000 members in K-12. The VSB is facing an operating budget funding shortfall of $11.8 million in the coming year. CUPE 15 representatives are participating in budget discussions to ensure positions are protected. The VSB has faced cumulative net funding shortfalls since 2002/2003 of nearly $80 million due to government underfunding.

City of Vancouver

CUPE 15 just concluded a two day arbitration regarding a grievance our union filed in 2009 for being denied the opportunity to address City Council on the operating budget and proposed cuts. The grievance resolves around clause 11.7 of the Collective Agreement which states “The Employer agrees that any reports or recommendations made to the City Council dealing with matters covered by this Agreement, including recommendations for changes in method of operation that may affect wage rates, work loads or reduction of employment, will be communicated to the Union at such interval before they are dealt with by the City Council as to afford the Union reasonable opportunity to consider them and make representations to the City Council concerning them and, further, that if employees are deprived of employment by any implementation of such change they shall receive priority consideration for other employment with the Employer.”

Vancouver Coastal Health

Members of the Health Science Professionals’ Bargaining Association (HSPBA) have voted to accept the terms of the collective agreement reached in late December. The agreement passed with 57 per cent of all Health Science Professionals in the Bargaining Association voting in favour. The deal had the support of only 4 per cent of CUPE members. CUPE 15 members voted against the deal due to concessions and questionable tradeoffs. The tentative agreement covers more than 17,000 health science professionals who deliver health care services in B.C. hospitals and communities. They are members of Health Sciences Association, BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and Professional Employees’ Association. CUPE represents over 500 members in this bargaining association, represented by CUPE Locals 15, 1978 and 4816.

Keeping in Touch with You By Paul Faoro, President We have received positive feedback from members who have been receiving our new cupe15online service that delivers news and information to members via email. Members who have provided the CUPE 15 office will a non-employer email address are enrolled in the cupe15online service. CUPE 15 will send approximately 2-4 emails per month containing various information and announcements. Please call our union office at 604-879-4671 or email us at email@cupe15.org to update your email address. If you are on Facebook please join our CUPE 15 group. We have been posting general interest stories and news items that you may like to see. If you need more information I have set up a Twitter account that I plan to use to give live updates on matters that I am working on. Look for my tweets @paulfaoro.

WWW.CUPE15.ORG

We’ve got our delegates! At the last General Membership meeting the membership elected delegates to the CUPE British Columbia division annual convention to be held over three days in Vancouver in April. The following members were elected to attend on behalf of our union local: Paul Faoro Miriam Pulsifer Sally Bankiner Leanne Toderian Michele Alexander Vittoria Basile Diane Brown Barbara Dickinson Douglas Elford Craig Hopkins Arthur Lum Holly MacMillan Anne-Marie McGee Betty McGee Jordan Parente Matthew Quiring Steve Salsman Santino Scardillo Emma Somers Patricia Taylor Peggy Wong Randi Gurholt-Seary (Alternate)

CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

News

5

Executive Board Elections

Nominations to be held at the March Membership Meeting Another year has passed and Executive Board elections are on the agenda. The term of these positions is two years (3 years for the Trustee). Half of the Executive is elected each year to ensure consistency on the elected board. This year there are eight positions up for democratic renewal. They are:

• • • • • • • •

President (full time) 2nd Vice President City Sector Representative (1) Park Board Representative (1) College Sector Representative (1) K-12 Sector Representative (1) Health Sector Representative - Community (1) Trustee (1)

To be eligible for the President, 2nd Vice President or Trustee you must have attended at least 50% of the membership meetings in the past year. Watch for details in the April issue of the Members’ Voice and on the website for dates and locations of advance polls as soon as they are confirmed.

Report on the February 2011 National Municipal Sector Conference Joint Report from Betty McGee and Barb Dickinson, Parks and Steve Salsman, City The theme of the conference was “building community” and National President Brother Paul Moist’s opening remarks highlighted the important role municipal workers play in building healthy, safe, and sustainable communities. There were a number of highlights that we all agreed were powerful learning opportunities. A video narrated by the Anne Le Strat, Deputy Mayor of Paris, provided an overview of how water services were privatized for a number of years and recently brought back in house

that was a greeted with real enthusiasm by the delegates and was an example of the importance of honouring the wins that the labour movement has made through education and engaging the broader community. There were two town hall style meetings. The first featured Wendy Mesley of the CBC on the facts and myths about our economy, privatization, and our public services, followed by a second session focused on identifying key bargaining issues in the municipal sector. The key note speaker, Amanda Tattersall wrote a book based on her experience of creating

community alliances and was a motivating and engaging speaker whose subject matter is of importance in terms of advocating for keeping public services public. I was delighted to be able to participate in the rally in support of the CUPE Local 1 members who are employed by Toronto Hydro and are dealing with an outrageous surveillance of one of their Occupational Health and Safety committee members. This was viewed as another in a long series of actions which are seen to undermine health and safety committees and are of very serious concern to the members of the local.

Retirement Security for all Canadians By Betty McGee, CUPE BC Pension Committee Sixty per cent of workers have no workplace pensions at all and those of us with workplace pensions need to be vigilante, as all benefits pensions are increasingly under attack. The Canadian Labour Congress’ pension reform program seeks to increase CPP benefits for all workers. The position put forward by the CLC would see the future CPP benefits doubled over a seven year period and an immediate 15 per

cent increase in the OAS/GIS benefits for seniors would provide the best options for ensuring that seniors will live in dignity in retirement. It is imperative that unions take the lead in engaging the larger community in this fight, for ourselves and for all Canadians. I would encourage you to log on to the CLC website to access more information on this subject. The campaign encourages us to talk about this issue to our friends, family members,

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community groups, and politicians. We need to impress on politicians that this issue is important to Canadians. Many of our seniors who have contributed to the development of this country are living in poverty in their old age and this should be an unacceptable reality in this country. I will have information available at the next general meeting and ensure there is information available at the union office.

CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

Steward Profile

voice

The Members’

6

Interview with Shop Steward: Sally Bankiner Q: Where do you work?

Q: What was your most rewarding experience?

Currently in the Engineering Department with the City of Vancouver at the Crossroads building at 507 West Broadway. Our whole department moved to Crossroads about a year and a half ago from City Hall.

Details of course are not appropriate but when we were successful after a long grievance process, the member and I used to laugh and comment about how she would win “when pigs fly” and laugh some more. Well, we won and she brought in a little box of sugar cookies shaped like pigs with wings! I laughed and laughed. Of course the big wins are great but the little things seem to be the most rewarding to me.

Q: Was this your first job With COV?

That question takes me back about 25 years! I started in 1984 as a Telephone Operator\Clerk Typist at the Health Department however, it was a temporary position and I applied for a permanent position once I got my bidding rights doing clerical\reception work in the Social Planning Department. That was in the Max Beck and Joan Karasz days if anyone remembers back that far... I stayed there for about a year and a half and then applied for a position as an administrative assistant\office support clerk at the Stanley Park Zoo. It was a great job! The office was in that little “A” frame building behind the cashiers and train in the upper zoo. Lunch time was great as I used to walk the train track and feed the deer with ferns from the surrounding forest. There were lots of peacocks and squirrels and bunnies running around. Nice environment to work in... unfortunately the powers that were at the time decided to close the zoo and I applied for another position at the Gathering Place. It too started as a temporary assignment which was eventually posted as a regular full time position. I was in charge of setting up their Health Centre and running it which I did successfully for many years. I loved the GP as we called it – the people were kind, gracious, and so thankful for the little kindnesses shown along their way. After those great years at the GP I applied for a position again in something completely different – the Engineering Department at City Hall! What a culture shock for me coming from the Park Board zoo and the GP to an Engineering assignment. I thought it would be a great challenge and I was not disappointed.

Q: How long have you been doing that now?

When I started in Engineering I was in the Street Food Vending Program and now I am the Coordinator for the Flower and Produce Display Program in the City of Vancouver in total about 7 years now.

Q: What made you decide to get involved and was stewarding your first involvement?

My first involvement with the union actually started at The Gathering Place. I didn’t understand some issues that were being raised around the four day week and days off in lieu, banked time, working stats, etc. and no one could answer our questions so, I called my union office and got the answers for myself. The staff rep I spoke to encouraged me to look into stewarding. I guess he liked that I didn’t take no

Q: If there was some advice to give to someone who is contemplating becoming a steward what would that be?

Sally Bankiner

for an automatic answer and kept asking when I didn’t understand something. I didn’t think that stewarding was my “thing” and I was just calling on behalf of others and trying to help them out but like so many other activists that came before me, you become involved two ways. One way – you personally have an issue you need help with or; someone else has an issue that you want to help them with. As soon as that seed is planted, those little roots start growing and before you know it, you’re firmly rooted in union activities... Incidentally the “Roots” idea is the theme for our Advanced Steward Training for 2011.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since you began stewarding?

What haven’t I learned would be a much shorter answer. I have to say that the idea really did grow on me once those roots were planted. It also happened rather quickly. There was so much new information I needed to absorb and suck up and so many new things to discover and I really enjoyed that learning process. The other thing I learned rather quickly was that stewarding was just a first step to my involvement. I quickly offered my time for other projects and currently chair the Education Committee, OH&S Committee, am on the City’s Labour Management Committee and the Joint Health & Safety Committee. I was also elected to the “City Sector Rep” position on the Executive Board, and then last year I was very excited and totally honoured to be elected as the 2nd Vice President of the local. I guess one of the biggest things I have learned is that I thrive on and enjoy each and every challenge union activities bring and welcome the opportunity to make things better and make a difference for our members and have the opportunity to personally grow during that process.

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Learn to grow... strap your boots on and jump in with both feet! The soil is warm and moist and you will get all the support from your union and fellow stewards that you can possibly need. Once those little roots start to grow, cultivate them with knowledge and learn as much as you can right away. Sign up for all the courses you can through the Education Committee and be a big sponge!

Q: You are now the 2nd Vice President of CUPE Local 15. How did it make you feel to be elected into that position by your peers?

I am certainly both honoured and humbled at the same time and then toss in a little nervousness at first. I feel privileged to be your 2nd Vice and I am also proud that so many people I have known over the years came out to support me and took part in this democratic process.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that we would not otherwise know?

I was adopted by Paula and Fred at the tender age of three months old. My birth father, Donovan, (Paula’s brother) died a month after I was born from a rare form of cancer that had something to do with crop spraying with DDT which of course wasn’t banned yet. My birth mom Roweena had a huge farm in Saskatchewan at harvest time with no husband and eight mouths to feed, five of which were growing boys and all under the age of 10. My mom brought me here to Vancouver via Calgary and as the story goes... the plane slid off the runway in Calgary and caught fire. There were two babies on the plane, both girls, both were rescued off the plane and sent to the hospital to be reunited with their moms. My five brothers and two sisters always said that I must have been switched at birth in the hospital as we are so different. That was 50 years ago!

CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

In the Workplace

voice

The Members’

7

The Myth of Gender Neutrality Submitted by Randi Gurholt-Seary, Britannia The budget is a policy document, especially where gender is concerned. (February 14, 2011) by Elsie Hambrook for the Moncton Times and Transcript/Straight Goods Elsie Hambrook is the new Chairperson of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (http://www. straightgoods.ca/2011/ViewArticle. cfm?Ref=130&Cookies=yes) Show me a budget that is “gender neutral” and I’ll show you a budget that omits or slights women’s concerns. Despite significant gains, women in New Brunswick and across Canada still face inequalities, sometimes worsening inequalities, in employment, income, health, family responsibilities, experience of violence, access to justice and access to power. Government budgets, which are key policy and values statements for all governments, have an impact, positive or negative, on the level of equality between women and men. To ensure that they at least don’t make matters worse, budgets must be “gender aware.”

transportation all have the potential to either perpetuate gender-based inequities or to alleviate them in some way... Two fundamental questions that policy analysts should be able to answer: Does the program or policy support full participation and equality for women and men? Does the program or policy in question discriminate against men or women in its outcomes?” Gender Based Analysis is a guideline now. Time for it to become policy. Tax policy is one example. Changes to any part of the tax mix, personal and corporate income taxes, consumption taxes, deductions, credits, may unfairly distribute the burden and benefits among taxpayers, influence labour force participation and other life choices, and limit the government revenues needed for redistributive spending.

This shift was not always done deliberately. Unequal outcomes can be an outcome of blindness to, some would say, our chronic lack of concern for the role of gender and the effects of inequality between the sexes. Finally, there are areas of spending that affect women’s rights, women’s participation in society, and women’s safety, that must be protected. Quality child care services are, first and foremost, a right of every child but they are also necessary for parents’ labour force participation and economic well being.

The social and economic implications of existing tax laws are not neutral: they reward some people and behaviours and punish others, and have a different effect based on class and gender. Tax rules can

Court and legal costs have increased dramatically in recent years, but programs like Legal Aid have not. Access to justice cannot become only a right of those with above average income. Government budgets also have the effect of setting wages for public services. Workers in underpaid groups such as home support, child care centres, and transition house services await adjustments after much time spent evaluating the distance between what they are paid and what they should be paid. Correcting wrongs, such as unequal pay for work of equal value (pay equity), cannot wait for boom economies.

Existing tax laws reward some behaviours and punish others, and have different effects according to class and gender. Like an environmental impact analysis, gender analysis reveals the potential impacts and outcomes on a specific policy area. Without gender analysis, women should be wary of the outcomes. Issues can be complicated and intertwined. To what extent do the policies and resources allotted make inequality worse or better? To what extent are the policies effective? If, with one hand, we make matters worse, even if the effect is unintentional and unconscious and, with the other hand, we spend resources to reduce inequality in areas such as poverty and violence, that is not efficient use of resources.

and middle income families. The changes have sometimes favoured couples, and disadvantaged lone parent families or singles. They’ve sometimes worsened the existing gender gap in after tax income.

A “gender neutral”, one size fits all perspective is neither appropriate nor effective. influence fundamental decisions such as whether to marry, to engage in paid work or to work part time or full time. They can have the effect of keeping mothers out of the workforce or out of the home, often without the needed program supports.

The first requirement is the availability of data separated by sex and diversity. To understand how the life experiences of women and men are different, how their starting positions are different and how initiatives may affect the two groups differently, we must look at the statistics and the focus groups.

The most disadvantaged people in the province, who have incomes so low that they pay no income taxes at all (41 percent of New Brunswick women and 27 percent of New Brunswick men) get no benefit from tax reductions and from non-refundable tax credits. To offset the costs of consumption taxes, the government sends refunds to lower income individuals, such as the GST credit.

As the New Brunswick government’s Gender Based Analysis Guide states, “Policies related to health, finance, the environment, or even

Recent tax changes in Canada and the province have shifted more of the tax burden from higher income families to low

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Equality must become part of the government’s core business. Effective policy making begins with detailed information and a commitment to fair outcomes for citizens. From the prevalence of sexual and physical violence to income and earnings gaps, we face a long list of gender disparities to overcome. The chronic under representation of women in government makes the systematic consideration of gender and other diversity all the more crucial for sound decision making. But gender is not the only source of inequality. Diverse identities interact with and reinforce the impact of gender. Anglophones and Francophones, Aboriginal identity people, immigrants, persons living with disabilities, encounter different challenges and constraints. A “gender neutral”, one size fits all perspective is neither appropriate nor effective.

CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers


2011

MARCH

voice

The Members’

Events & Credits

8

Canadians call for banks and finance industry to pay their fair share of taxes The Members’ Voice is published nine times a year for members of CUPE Local 15 - Vancouver Municipal, Education and Community Workers. The Deadline for submissions is 9:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. All submissions may be edited for brevity and clarity. Signed articles and letters do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of CUPE Local 15.

CUPE Local 15

545 West 10th Avenue Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K9 Phone: 604-879-4671 Fax: 604-879-7582 Email: email@cupe15.org Website: www.cupe15.org

OTTAWA, ON – A large majority of Canadians support increasing the taxes paid by banks and the finance industry says a new poll. The result flies in the face of the Harper Conservative government’s insistence on proceeding with more corporate tax cuts as part of the upcoming federal budget. When asked to what extent they support or oppose increasing taxes paid by banks and the finance industry in order to reduce government deficits, 65 per cent of Canadians with an opinion said they supported such measures. “Canadians want banks and the finance industry to pay their fair share in paying down deficits they helped create,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “I don’t know how much clearer the message needs to be for the Harper Conservatives to hear and stop their reckless plans to extend more corporate tax cuts.” The poll was conducted by Environics Research Group on behalf of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. 921 Canadians were surveyed between February 1 and 3, 2011. It has a margin of error of +/3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Local 15 is a chartered affiliate of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and is also affiliated with the CUPE British Columbia Division, CUPE Metro District Council and the Vancouver & District Labour Council. CUPE 15 is a member of the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM).

CUPE Local 15 Executive Board Table Officers:

President: Paul Faoro 1st Vice President: Miriam Pulsifer 2nd Vice President: Sally Bankiner Secretary Treasurer: Leanne Toderian

Sector Representatives:

City: Santino Scardillo, Diane Brown College/University: Emma Somers Cultural: Matthew Quiring Health/HSSCBA: Patricia Taylor Health/HSPBA: Caroline Mewis Parks: Anne-Marie McGee, Barb Dickinson K-12: Peggy Wong, Warren Williams

Trustees:

Joey Lau, Michelle Alexander, Arthur Lum

Staff Representatives:

Kathie Currie, John Geppert, Keith Graham, Graeme Moore

Office & Administrative Staff:

Mark Gloumeau, Accounting Coordinator Maureen Dorratt, Office Assistant Rosemary Matheson, Office Manager Barbara Simpson, Office Assistant

Building Maintenance: Jeff Zaharia

CUPE National Representatives: Justin Schmid, Tina Meadows, Matt Yun Designed by talkingdog.ca

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CUPE Local 15, Vancouver Municipal Education and Community Workers

Member's Voice March 2011  

Member's Voice March 2011

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