CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES B.C. DIVISION SPRING 2014
HORGAN ENDORSED FOR BC NDP
POLITICAL ACTION page 7
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
leading us mark hancock
Convention to set stage for political action heading into local elections
elcome to the Convention 2014 edition of the Public Employee. You’ll notice a new look and a new logo for our union as we close the book on our 50th anniversary and begin the second half of CUPE BC’s first century. As a union we’ve experienced tremendous growth over our first 50 years. While that dramatic rate of growth is unlikely to reoccur, we continue to grow, despite serious challenges. We have right-wing governments in B.C. and Ottawa that are bent on silencing our political voice and making it harder for us to organize and represent our members. As you know, we’re taking those governments on directly, and CUPE National has launched the Unite for Fairness program designed to strengthen our union’s relationship with our members. We’re also doing more to take on right-wing special interest groups that attack the rights of working people. Groups like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, who have zero accountability to anyone but their funders, aren’t going to continue getting a free ride in the media. We’re working with other affiliates of the BC Federation of Labour to develop a coordinated campaign to aggressively fight back against the anti-worker agenda of these groups. You’ll hear much more about this in the coming months. As we move forward into our 51st year, we also look forward to the BC NDP Leadership campaign in September. After the disastrous results of last May’s election, CUPE BC has worked hard to make sure we learn the lessons from the loss so that in 2017 we can return progressive government to British Columbia. To that end, CUPE BC has endorsed John Horgan for Leader of the BC NDP, and I strongly
THE THEPUBLIC PU B L ICEMPLOYEE EM PLOYEE
GOT THE GAVEL READY Mark Hancock is ready to preside over his first CUPE BC convention as president.
encourage CUPE members all across the province to get involved in the campaign. It’s only by joining the party and getting involved NOW that we can help make the necessary changes to make victory in 2017 possible. I’ve known John Horgan for many years and I truly believe he’s the best choice for leader. He shares our values and is committed to building the party and growing our movement. And I am very confident that he will aggressively hold the BC Liberal government to account, both in the years leading up to the next election, and during the actual campaign. I also want to encourage members interested in political action generally – and in the upcoming local elections in November in particular – to consider attending our Political Action Conference in May. For more information, see the back page of this edition. For those of you attending Convention, welcome, and thanks for the work you’ll do this week on behalf of all our members. For everyone else, thanks for everything you do every day to make our communities better for everyone. Mark Hancock is president of CUPE BC. Twitter: @cupebc M O RE O N L I N E www.cupe.bc.ca + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices
CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line FEDERAL CONSERVATIVES CANCEL FUNDING
ESL programs under threat
DON'T GAMBLE WITH SAFETY Air travel safety campaign garners support.
Let’s not gamble with airline safety Airline division petition sends strong message to Ottawa CUPE is keeping up the pressure on the federal government to scrap its dangerous attack on airline safety. CUPE is challenging Ottawa’s decision to grant exemptions to the ratio of one flight attendant for every 40 passengers. Now the Conservatives are trying to legislate a move to a 1:50 ratio of attendants to passengers on all flights. CUPE’s campaign has so far included getting 13,000 signatures on a petition and 1,500 letters sent to MPs through CUPE on-line action, as well as a series of hard-hitting ads on airline safety. An opinion poll commissioned by CUPE shows that 96 percent of Canadians support adequate attendant staffing. Legal challenges are also underway. Tell your MP not to gamble with passenger safety. Visit cupe.ca/action/ 1-in-40 and with a single click send a message to your MP to take a stand to keep the proven minimum safety standard for Canadian airlines.
B.C. colleges delivering English Language Training for new Canadians face an uncertain future as federal changes come into effect. The federal Conservative government cancelled its agreement with the province for Domestic ESL programs and will instead take over management of those programs. “This change creates uncertainty for domestic students, including new immigrants and refugees who rely on ESL for the opportunity to improve their lives,” says Jerry Oetting, CUPE 2081 (Camosun College) president.
PUTTING IT IN WRITING CUPE 2081 fights back
CUPE 2081 has begun a campaign to ensure that new Canadian families in the Capital Region have the opportunity to receive ESL training at a level that helps them apply to the post-secondary system, and not just get by day to day. Oetting notes that one-time provincial funding to mitigate the transition doesn’t begin to address the ongoing cuts and inadequate funding to post-secondary institutions.
In January, CUPE Metro District Council presented a $3,000 contribution to Peggy Woodruff of the Burnaby Association of the Southeast Side (BASES) to support its mission of supporting underprivileged children in the Burnaby Edmonds community. CUPE Local 409 President Marcel Marsolais and CUPE BC General Vice President Ian Norton were joined by BC NDP Burnaby Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan in the BASES Family Thrift Store to meet with staff and volunteers.
New Water Sustainability Act unveiled The long-awaited Water Sustainability Act was introduced in the B.C. legislature on March 11th and comes into force in 2015. CUPE BC was among the more than 3,000 interested parties to submit a brief on the proposed water legislation last Fall. While the draft legislation makes improvements, including an emphasis on environmental needs, key priorities for CUPE BC and others are missing. Gaps include enshrining a Public Trust Doctrine to ensure the protection of water as a human right for future generations and mechanisms for broader
public participation in decisions on our water resources. CUPE pushed for major industrial water users to pay the full cost of water they were permitted to use; however, decisions on this have been put off to another process, and will then be dealt with through regulations passed by Cabinet. CUPE BC president Mark Hancock says that implementation issues are also important. “CUPE BC is concerned that the ongoing cuts to environmental spending by the BC Liberals will make it next to impossible to enforce the legislation.” SPRING 2014
CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n
Organizing by the numbers CUPE Organizing in BC is launching a province-wide campaign for new members At the heart of the campaign is a dedicated toll-free number that will connect people directly with one of the CUPE BC organizing representatives. The toll-free number 1-844-CUPE YES will be showcased on billboards in key high traffic locations in the province. Support materials will also be available to CUPE representatives, area offices and members to help get the word out as well as online and newspaper ads in targeted areas. CUPE’s organizing coordinator in B.C., Tracey Mathieson, says the campaign is focussed on consolidating membership in sectors that CUPE already represents to bring in unorganized worksites and strengthen the sectors through more consistent representation. “We’re also open to representing workers in areas that are not traditional for CUPE,” Mathieson adds. The campaign is underway and will run throughout the rest of the year.
OUTREACH CUPE organizers use this simple but effective info card to spread the word with workers interested in joining the union.
THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE
READY TO RUN Paul Faoro and Mark Hancock with NDP leadership candidate John Horgan.
CUPE BC Exec endorses Horgan In September, members of the BC ethic make a great combination, and NDP will elect a new leader to replace I’ve seen how well people respond to Adrian Dix, who announced that he him.” would be stepping down following the Horgan was first elected to the B.C. NDP’s defeat in the May 2013 provin- Legislature in 2005 and has served cial election. CUPE BC has endorsed as education critic, OppositionHouse Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan for Leader, and energy critic. the position. “John Horgan is committed to “Since the election the hard work that’s crucial "John Horgan is loss last May, New to winning the next election,” Democrats all over committed to said CUPE BC Secretarythe province have the hard work Treasurer Paul Faoro. “As British reflected on what Columbians get to know him that’s crucial needs to change better I’m confident that John in order to elect a to winning the can build additional support for progressive govern- next election." the NDP and put our party on a ment in B.C.,” said stronger foundation to win gov– Paul Faoro CUPE BC president ernment in 2017 and start putMark Hancock. ting B.C. back on the right track. “Adrian made the right decision to “Regardless of who they support, I step down, and now the focus is on encourage all CUPE members who selecting the best person to lead our aren’t already members to join the party in opposition and into the next NDP and get involved in the leaderelection. ship campaign. It's crucial that indi“The executive reviewed the poten- vidual union members be a strong tial candidates and voted unanimous- voice within the NDP.” ly to endorse John Horgan for leader. For more information on the CUPE BC will be supporting John’s Horgan campaign, visit www.team campaign, and I encourage all CUPE horgan.ca. members in B.C. to get involved. To join the BC NDP just visit bcndp. His personality, experience and work ca and click on “Join.”
CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n members on the front line
COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES WORKERS SEE IMPROVEMENTS AFTER YEARS OF FRUSTRATION A stronger, more confident, more united sector
deal. “That they were willing to go out clients. We showcased real people and on strike was huge in a sector where the affect of the cuts.” In the latest round of bargaining the most live paycheque to paycheque, the CUPE’s 2,500 community social ser- vast majority are women, many are big difference has been the relationship vices workers in B.C. recently ratified a single parents, and many must work with our employers, says Colborne. “In new five-year collective agreement. second and even third jobs just to make the 2012 round we had met the govThe no-concessions deal, which in- ends meet,” says Colborne. ernment’s mandate and both parties cludes wage adjustments of up to 11.5 In the 2012 round, workers were on ratified a deal based on wage increases percent, is the payoff for three hard strike for nearly four months. With being funded, but then the government rounds of bargaining. 15,000 workers in 10 unions, unity can reneged. Provincial government interference be a challenge. “We went out not with "Our employers suffered the same in collective bargaining CUPE signs, but as betrayal and came out pushing hard effectively blocked wage "We got creative: Community Social alongside us to protect and enhance serincreases in 2010 and we showcased real Services Workers. vices. This round, for the first time, we 2012 and kept the lowest We targeted MLAs were a united front and that sent a very paid public-sector workers people and the effect and we focussed powerful public message that got us the lagging behind. on the bigger pic- much needed wage lifts to decrease the of the cuts." “The last three bargainture and it worked wage gap between CSS and other sec– Cheryl Colborne ing rounds were brutal – our message that tors who do similar work.” – but bargaining is accu“We are finally getting some of the “Community Social Services are The mulative and out of that has emerged Heart and Soul of Our Community” long-overdue recognition and respect a stronger, more confident, more unit- resonated with the public. for our community social services worked sector,” explains Cheryl Colborne, “We got creative – events like a cloth- ers,” says CUPE BC president Mark CUPE CSS coordinator in B.C. ing drive for the homeless in Nanaimo Hancock, adding “Now we plan to build At the heart of the battle has been the showed the work we do and helped our on those gains.” province’s refusal to adequately fund public services. In the 2010 round under the BC Liberals’ “Net Zero Mandate” the government refused to consider not only wages but anything that had a “cost” associated with it. To counter the government’s stance, CUPE led the push to impasse that resulted in a strong strike mandate – the first in more than a decade. As CUPE bargaining team member Michael Lanier then explained, “This vote comes at a time of deepening crisis with group home closures and widespread cuts.” Former CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill agreed, saying, “If you don’t believe there is a crisis, just ask the people we serve.” HOLDING STEADY FOR GAINS CUPE Community Social Services Bargaining Committee That strike mandate brought the govmembers Sheryl Burns, Cheryl Colborne and Michael Lanier helped win contract improvements at the bargaining table. ernment back to the table and led to a SPRING 2014
CUPE CUP E ac actt io ion n STANDING UP FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS
Marking 20 years of solidarity with MEC
ON THE FRONTINLINE CoDev delegation members passed out thousands of MEC handbooks on legal rights to these workers outside Maquilas in Nicaragua.
In neighbouring Honduras, they met with CODEMUH, the Honduran THE PEOPLE UNITED Maquila (factory) workers chant support for CODEMUH, the Women’s Collective. Honduran women’s collective that takes a leading role in the political, social, legal and medical They were told how women’s rights fight for women’s rights in Honduras. are being eroded, including legal moves After a break for some live music by the new Conservative president to CUPE BC general vice-president and salsa dancing, Susan addressed the “make women stay at home looking Susan Blair recently took CUPE’s pledge of solidarity and support assembly, getting loud cheers – par- after children and making tortillas.” ticularly when she pledged continued The Canadians met more factory directly to women in Nicaragua CUPE support for their struggle. workers who described how they work and Honduras. The delegation also did some direct 12-hour shifts and make so little money The trip, organized by CoDev Canada, action on the trip, traveling to Las that they must take extra shifts withmarked the 20th anniversary of CUPE Mercedes Free Trade Zone early one out overtime. The women can’t take BC’s partnership with MEC – the wom- morning to hand out MEC rights water breaks and many can hardly work en’s organization working with Maquila booklets to more than 10,000 maquila because of untreated repetitive strain (sweatshop factory) workers. workers on their way to work. injuries. If they get pregnant they get Susan attended MEC`s annual confired. CODEMUH provides ference along with more than 1,000 legal support, psychological Central American women to present support and medical supthe Nicaraguan government with their port to these women. demands. They called for rights we As in Nicaragua, says often take for granted: employment Blair, these courageous and living wages, occupational health women were gracious, and training, social security and a workaccommodating, eloquent, place free of violence and harassment. gentle, lovely and cheeky – "I was in awe of these women,” says an inspiration to us all. Blair, adding "they were completely For Susan Blair’s CoDev focused on the job at hand – imagine Trip Diary, see the CUPE THE PLEDGE CUPE BC general vice-president Susan 1,000 CUPE delegates in a room all in Blair presents MEC executive director Sandra Ramos with BC website. agreement!” a CUPE certificate at mass meeting in Managua. 6
THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE
CUPE CUP E
focus political action
LOCAL CAMPAIGNS GET HEAD START Local elections offer chance to elect progressive leaders
becoming more and more the new battlegrounds for those who want to turn back the clock on workers’ rights. Well-funded Conservative front groups have launched an aggressive campaign to pressure local governments to eliminate public services, contract-out work, and sell off assets.
cares about your community and want to work to improve it. You should think about becoming a candidate, or consider becoming an organizer to help elect or re-elect progressive candidates in November. There are numerous political action training opportunities coming up soon.
CUPE Locals represent more than 55,000 members working for municipalities, regional districts, and school districts in B.C. Local government elections on November 15 decide who will be employers for the next four years (the B.C. government has now added a year to term limits for local government representatives) and will make a real difference in the lives of all residents of the communities CUPE members work every day to keep strong. Many of the programs Canadians enjoy, whether union members or not, were made possible BUILDING TO VICTORY Political Action Committee co-chairs Trevor Davies and Marcel Marsolais and the by the labour movement. rest of the committee want you to attend the political action conference in Vancouver in May. Universal health care, pensions, and employment insurance, CUPE BC is hosting a Political Action Recently, the Preston Manning Centre to name a few, were achieved by unions’ (formed by the former Reform party Conference May 28-30, and there will political action. However, Conservative leader) stated outright that municipalialso be a week-long political action governments in Ottawa and across ties, and their employees, are in their training course the first week of June. Canada are working to undo Locals and District Councils can also cross hairs. They these hard fought victories. Many of the programs take advantage of union development hope to recruit With unions struggling Canadians enjoy were courses for members in your region. and support canto save these vital public This training will provide you with the didates who will services, Conservatives have made possible by the skills to help get out the vote and win diminish the turned their sights on work- labour movement on Election Day. important role of ers in an attempt to weakThere is a lot at stake on November local government en and ultimately dismantle Canada’s – and go after public sector workers. 15, but it’s also a hopeful and excitlabour movement. CUPE is fighting ing chance to help shape the future of There is only one way to stop them. back at the national level, but the assault You need to be involved. your community. Contact your Local or on workers is not limited to the House email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how If you have read this article this far of Commons. Local governments are you are likely a CUPE member who you can take action.
InnoviCares is coming to K-12 support staff. WATCH FOR MORE INFORMATION SOON AT CUPE.BC.CA SPRING 2014
linking labour robin jones
“We have a provincial government intent on starving public services… and chilling collective bargaining.”
It’s up to every one of us to defend our rights and gains Three decades ago we had a provincial government intent on neutralizing the power of working people and of unions in B.C. In a single day in July 1983, the Socreds tabled 26 bills slashing social services, public schools, and long-held, hard-won union rights. The new laws let the government break collective agreements and dismiss employees without cause. British Columbians took to the streets by the tens of thousands under the banner Operation Solidarity to demand the repeal of those repressive bills. Despite that fightback and the Socred’s miserable record, they were re-elected in 1986 and continued to chip away at public services. Jump ahead 31 years and we still have a provincial government intent on starving public services – this time using “Net Zero Mandates” and “Cooperative Gains” designed to chill collective bargaining. They have pushed chronicallyunderfunded public sectors towards service cuts. They have tried unsuccessfully to make CUPE members mine their own contracts just to keep pace with inflation.
A decade of BC liberal rule has undermined funding in every public sector and while the government reneges on its funding responsibilities, Ottawa funds Public Private Partnerships and downloads more costs onto straining municipal budgets. Funding freezes, privatization and contracting out haven’t given us better services for our tax dollars – it has left us with dirty hospitals, understaffed schools and our most vulnerable citizens at risk. Dwindling transfer payments from federal taxes have communities holding the bag for more municipal costs along with increased responsibility for policing, airports and roads. Unions are fighting back, but it’s not governments setting the agenda now, it’s right-wing lobby groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the
THE PU B L IC EM PLOYEE
HISTORY REPEATS? We're in the fight of our lives to defend the rights and gains achieved by previous generations, says Robin Jones.
Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. They are zealots who blame public services and public workers when the only answer, they say, is a free-wheeling profit-driven model for everything. From the CTF playbook: "The introduction of a Compensation Equity Act would make it illegal for a public servant to be paid more than they would earn for the same job in the private sector… [and] it would... build a cadre of skilled negotiators who could grind down government pay and benefits." These groups get a lot of ink, even though they tout bizarre visions of a private-style paradise of minimum wage jobs and two-tiered services for all – with private schools and clinics for the few and crumbling infrastructure for the rest of us. CTF BC spokesman Jordan Bateman says that CUPE members – that you – are making too much money, that your pension should be scrapped and your wages slashed until you are an unprotected precarious worker. Presumably, communities would need to sell off their resources and services as their tax bases shrink with lowerpaid jobs. It’s up to us to ensure that doesn’t happen. Robin Jones is director for CUPE’s British Columbia region. M O RE O N L I N E www.cupe.bc.ca + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices
CUPE CUP E communities members making a difference
CUPE Metro hosts IWD lunch event N E W W E S T M I N S T E R | CUPE Metro
Vancouver District Council hosted its sixth annual International Women’s Day lunch on Friday, March 7 for women who live and work in New Westminster and Burnaby, as well as community groups who provide services to women and children in need. Aboriginal Education Coordinator Bertha Lansdowne welcomed everyone to traditional Qay qayt (pronounced “Ka-Kite”) territory to honour the first peoples of the region who were wiped out by smallpox. Besides the lunch, participants made beaded glass jewelry at the arts table, were entertained by CUPE 23 member Chika Buston from the group Cosmic Wink, and heard from New Westminster NDP MLA Judy Darcy. Darcy saluted CUPE women for organizing the event. She noted that we are more powerful working in coalition at a community level. Although we’ve come far in many respects, Darcy highlighted some of the issues still facing women today: Childcare B.C. still has the highest child poverty rate in Canada for ten years running.
CELEBRATING CUPE WOMEN NDP MLA Judy Darcy joined women at CUPE Metro's International Womens Day celebration in New Westminster,
Reproductive Choice Clinics have been hit with exorbitant fees so they are no long able to provide education services. Violence on the job Health care is the most dangerous occupation because of low staffing levels. Darcy explained that the NDP women’s caucus meets weekly, looking at legislation and policies in terms of their impact on women. She said there is still no public transportation on the Highway of Tears, despite the issue being raised with government at least ten times. “It’ll be important to defend folks who support progressive policies like the living wage,” Darcy said, noting that New Westminster is the first munici-
pality to bring in living-wage policies. CUPE Metro President Cindy McQueen, event emcee, noted that the BC Liberals are slashing services for women and children. The event concluded with the group singing “Bread and Roses”, a song from the 1911 women-led textile strike. Protein packs and sandwiches were available for guests to take home for those who couldn’t attend the event. This event was one of many throughout the province. “More than half of CUPE members are women,” said CUPE BC President Mark Hancock. “We proudly celebrate International Women’s Day, honour our union Sisters, and work towards a better society for all.”
HONOUR GUARD Hundreds of CUPE 873 ambulance paramedics joined a Celebration of Life ceremony for legendary Search & Rescue pioneer Tim Jones following his sudden death in January at age 57. Jones was an Advanced Life Support Paramedic for 32 years and was the Chief at Station 256 in North Vancouver. The Celebration of Life ceremony included a parade through North Vancouver of CUPE ambulance paramedics, RCMP, and Search & Rescue teams from across the province. (Photo of Tim Jones courtesy Ian Kerr/Dreamfilm.) SPRING 2014
power in numbers paul faoro
“First and foremost… it's essential that every CUPE member vote.”
CUPE BC heads into second 50 years with strong foundation
Thanks for reading the Convention issue of the Public Employee, and if you’re attending Convention, welcome! This convention marks the end of my first year as your secretary-treasurer. I’ve loved every minute of my new job working for you, and I look forward to continuing to work with Brother Mark Hancock to make CUPE BC an even better organization that can provide support to members and Locals for many years to come. As we move forward into CUPE BC’s second half-century, our Division is moving forward on a number of fronts to modernize and improve our ability to communicate with our members. If you’re on our email list, you’ll have received the first few editions of the Current, CUPE BC’s news roundup. Every two weeks we’ll be sending out the latest news from CUPE BC and CUPE National, as well as any other important information about CUPE members in their communities all over B.C. I hope you’ll sign up for the Current – just visit our website at cupe.bc.ca. CUPE National continues to implement the Unite for Fairness program that will see conversations with every single CUPE member across the country. CUPE BC strongly supports this initiative, and we want to continue those conversations on an ongoing basis. With all the challenges and threats facing our union – and the labour movement – from right-wing governments and conservative think tanks we need to be able to count on our members to help us fight back. And as we get closer to the November community elections, it’s crucial that we have the ability to let members
GET PLUGGED IN Secretary Treasurer Paul Faoro wants every CUPE member in BC to get the Current, the Division's new e-news roundup.
in every city, town and village know about the progressive candidates running for office. We sometimes hear from members who feel we’re “telling them how to vote” but nothing could be further from the truth. First and foremost we think it’s essential that every CUPE member vote. It’s an important right and responsibility for all citizens, but the reality is, participation in local elections has been declining for years. We’d like to see that trend reversed – and CUPE members can be a strong force in that regard. With 85,000 members living and working in almost every community in the province, our votes can help create sustainable, thriving local communities instead of small-minded right-wing governments and their so-called “core reviews” which are usually code for “cutting jobs and eliminating important public services.” As part of our preparations for the November elections, we’re organizing an important Political Action Conference in May. We’ll have great speakers and panelists and workshops to help train, motivate and inspire activists to get involved in politics at the local level – and beyond. I hope you or someone from your Local can attend. For more information, please see cupe.bc.ca/political-action-committee. Paul Faoro is secretary-treasurer of CUPE BC. Twitter: @paulfaoro www.cupe.bc.ca + News + Commentary + Leaders’ voices M O RE O N L I N E
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