CUPE Alberta President congratulates Premier-elect Rachel Notley

Canadian Union of Public Employees – Alberta Division President Marle Roberts today congratulated Premier-elect Rachel Notley and her new caucus on their ground-breaking victory in Alberta.Marle Roberts

“I am thrilled that Albertans chose a government which supports public health care and education, strong and sustainable municipalities, and fair treatment for workers,” Roberts said.

“And I am excited that 26 of the 53 MLAs elected to the government caucus are women, the highest percentage of any government in the country,” Roberts said.

The PC government, first elected four years before Richard Nixon resigned as President of the US, had entered the election with a budget that slashed health services, failed to provide schools or staff for the increasing numbers of students this year, and threatened to erode the social fabric of the province through cuts. They also threatened to bring in regressive essential services legislation and anti-labour bargaining tactics.

“We look forward to working with a government that cares about the same things Alberta’s working families care about,” Roberts said. “Fairness, respect, accountability, and justice.”

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For more information, please contact:
David Loan, Communications Representative,
(o) 780-484-7644 or (c) 613-301-7468
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Statement from CUPE Alberta President for the National Day of Mourning – April 28

Statement from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts for the
National Day of Mourning on April 28th

The Canadian Union of Public Employees established the first National Day of Mourning in 1984. We did so to remember those brothers and sisters killed or injured on the job and to dedicate ourselves to fighting for safer work environments.

CUPE’s idea was quickly adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress and by other unions, and is now recognized in over 80 countries world-wide.

Today, we remember our own.

CUPE 4946 member Dellis Partridge was killed at work during his first shift as a bus driver with the Peace River School Division.

CUPE 30 member Harl Hawley, a pool service employee with the City of Edmonton, passed away suddenly while working at the Grand Trunk Recreational Centre.

Our thoughts are with their families, friends, and co-workers today.

Just last week, another CUPE 30 member was badly injured while unloading a City of Edmonton dump truck. His condition is still critical, and we hope his recovery is successful.

With these members in mind, we renew our commitment to our right to health and safety and to respect on the job.

The National Day of Mourning was born of the values of the union movement, to mourn the dead and the sick and the injured.

But let us fight, too, for the living. Let us fight for safe workplaces.  Every day.

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Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta Speaks Out Against C-51

Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta Speaks Out Against C-51 

(April 18, 2015) Canadians attending rallies in Calgary and Edmonton to protest Bill C-51 – the federal government’s new “security” law – heard from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts and Treasurer Glynnis Lieb.

“The Canadian Union of Public Employees believes in democratic rights to free speechCUPE Alberta Speaks Out Against C-51 and to assembly,” Roberts said at the Calgary rally. “C-51 threatens to paint anyone who opposes this repressive government as a terrorist, with the aim of scaring people away from dissent.”

Speaking in Edmonton, Lieb said the law would allow government agencies like the health department to share personal information with the RCMP.

“Your financial records, your health records – they all become fodder for government agents,” Lieb said. “What was once considered to be the stuff of conspiracy theories is IMG_20150418_125805745becoming the law of the land in Canada.”

Public support for C-51 has dropped to less than 33 per cent across Canada, as citizens learn more about the bill and its impacts.

“So far, only the NDP is opposing this bill in the House of Commons,” Roberts said. “We’re calling on CUPE members to write their MPs and call on them to kill this legislation.”

“C-51 must be stopped,” Roberts said.

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AFL Resolution 902 – Fort McMurray International Airport Out-sourcing Jobs to Temporary Foreign Workers

Resolution No. 902 – Fort McMurray International Airport Out-sourcing Jobs to   Temporary Foreign Workers

The Alberta Federation of Labour will support CUPE in opposing the outsourcing of unionized custodial and security jobs at the Fort McMurray International Airport Authority to contractors who use the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to make low-ball bids based on below-poverty-line wages.

The Alberta Federation of Labour will work with affiliate and non-affiliate unions to devise and implement a protest strategy aimed at convincing the Fort McMurray International Airport authority to reverse its decision on contracting out.

Because the unemployment rate in the Fort McMurray area has almost doubled in the past six months and the use of Temporary Foreign workers in most positions can no longer be justified.

Because the company hiring the guest workers from the TFWP is offering $14.50/hour, which is far below the cost of living in Fort McMurray.

Because low energy prices will result in many Canadians and landed immigrants losing jobs in the energy sector and related industries, especially in Fort McMurray.

Because there are questions as to whether Temporary Foreign Workers can obtain the necessary security clearances.

Because the TFWP should not be used to displace working Canadians or permanent residents.

Because the TFWP exploits workers by tying them to employers and denying them full labour-market mobility.

Because Canada needs real immigration, not an exploitive guest worker program.

Adopted unanimously by delegates to the AFL Convention, April 18, 2015

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CUPE calls on Wild Rose Leader Brian Jean to support Fort Mac airport custodians

 

Quotes Jean: “Canadians should have first crack at any job they want” 

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts asked Wild Rose leader Brian Jean to speak out against the Fort McMurray Airport Authority’s plan to privatize custodial services in favour of a company that relies on Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW).

“When he was in the House of Commons, Mr. Jean made very clear statements about the TFW program and the need to employ Canadians first,” Roberts said. “It’s time he intervened in the Fort McMurray situation on behalf of the Canadian workers.”

On May 1, 2013, while Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Mr. Jean said:

I have heard from union and non-union members throughout my constituency hat   they clearly want some changes to the temporary foreign worker program. We are here for Canadians, and Canadians should have first crack at any job they want, no matter what part of the country they are from.

“We agree with Mr. Jean in this regard,” Roberts said. “We ask him to bring his influence as a Fort McMurray politician, resident, and business owner to stop the Airport Authority from contracting out these jobs and laying off 24 hard-working Canadians.”

Last week, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority announced that custodial workers would lose their jobs to a private cleaning Company, Bill’s General Cleaning. Bill’s uses Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in its services.

Since the announcement, Bill’s confirmed with the Edmonton Journal (Apr 11) that TFWs would be used to replace the Canadian employees.

According to his website, Bill’s pays on average half of what the current workers earn and less than half the average cost of living in Fort McMurray.

Many of the custodial workers are women with little education, few job prospects, but are the sole income earners in their households. Losing their jobs means applying for social assistance and possible homelessness.

“It’s time our political leaders speak in favour of Canadian workers and tell the Fort McMurray Airport Authority: No contracting out!” Roberts said.

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For more information, please contact David Loan, CUPE Alberta Communications Representative, (o) 780-484-7644 or (c) 613-301-7468

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Dirtier schools, reductions in services and support: Calgary Board of Ed response to provincial budget

Is this where we want to send our kids?” asks CUPE 

The Calgary Board of Education’s budget assumptions report will result in 2nd class schools, CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts said today.

“From lower standards of cleanliness to limits on communications, services, and support, this report draws a very unattractive picture of where our schools are going,” Roberts said. “Is this really where we want to send our kids?”

Roberts was responding to a CBE report, “Budget Assumptions Report 2015-2018” that was tabled at the Board meeting yesterday.

The report is a response to the recent provincial budget. Among the report’s 22 recommendations are:

  • Cleanliness for CBE facilities will be reduced below current standards
  • The number of single custodian schools will increase
  • Communication services…will be reduced
  • Administrative supports and services will be reduced.

CUPE Local 40 President Bob Anderson, who represents CBE custodial staff, said the reduction in cleanliness will have a long-term impact on schools and shorten facilities’ lifespan.

“We saw three classrooms closed due to mould last year, and we’ll see more mould without constant care and monitoring,” Anderson said. “The province and the CBE can’t keep cutting back on infrastructure cleaning and maintenance.”

“It’s the death-of-a-thousand-cuts for our schools,” Anderson said.

Roberts said the issue begins with the provincial budget tabled last month.

“The Premier froze the education budget despite 2,500 new students coming in to the CBE this year alone,” Roberts said. “It’s a budget that doesn’t care about kids, and doesn’t care about the workers who support them in school every day.”

“Parents need to let the Province and the CBE know: we won’t accept 2nd class schools and we won’t accept this budget plan!”

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For information or interviews, please contact:

David Loan, CUPE Alberta Communications Representative,

(o)  780.484.7644 or (c)  613.301.7468

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26 Fort McMurray airport workers lose jobs to privatization, temporary foreign workers

Twenty-six Fort McMurray airport custodial staff learned today that they are being fired, their jobs out-sourced to a company that recruits and hires temporary foreign workers.

“We’re in shock,” CUPE Local 1505 President Les Collins said. “Temporary foreign workers aren’t supposed to displace hard-working Canadians who want to keep their jobs.”

According to the Bill’s General Cleaning website, custodial staff will be paid only $14.50/hour, the equivalent of $30,160 per year before deductions. The Province of Alberta says the average cost of living in Fort McMurray is $65,000.

“Offering to pay workers considerably less than half of the cost of living is unconscionable,” Collins said. “This is simple exploitation.”

Bill’s General Cleaning has a sister company, which shares an office address and phone number, called Bill’s Recruiting. They specialize in recruiting and placement of temporary foreign workers (TFWs).

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts is calling on the federal Minister of Labour to demand an investigation into the use of TFWs in this case.

“We want to know why long-term employees are being put out of work, and TFWs being brought in,” Roberts said. “How does this support the Canadian economy?”

“Our workers went through intensive security screening in order to work at an airport,” Collins said. “Safety is a major concern. How can we be sure of the backgrounds of people who have been in Canada only a few days?”

CUPE members and supporters intend to picket the airport and to contact municipal, provincial, and federal politicians to reverse the privatization plan.

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Contact: David Loan

o) 780-791-3411

c) 613-301-7468

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Province “Picking the pockets” of public workers: CUPE Alberta

Today’s provincial budget chips away at the incomes of hard-working public employees and their families while failing to increase revenues through progressive taxation, CUPE Alberta Treasurer Glynnis Lieb said.

“The Premier is picking the pockets of public workers,” Lieb said. “Demanding wage concessions while eliminating health care tax cost-sharing means less money for our kids’ after-school activities and less money for groceries and rent.”

“Once again, the Conservative government attacked middle class workers instead of looking to wealthy Albertans and corporations for their fair share of tax revenues,” she said.

“And cutting almost 1700 health care jobs means more stress on already over-worked employees and longer wait times for all,” Lieb said.

CUPE Alberta has called on the province to replace its flat tax with a progressive tax system and increase resource royalties and corporate taxes.

The budget falsely claimed Alberta public services cost more than other provinces.

“This is simply not true,” Lieb said. “Alberta falls below the national average when it comes to how much we spend on public services, on a per person basis.”

“And as a portion of our overall economy, Alberta spends LESS than any other province,” she said.

Lieb said that CUPE Alberta will consult with their members on how to respond to the budget.

“Unlike the Premier, we’ll listen to what our members have to say,” she said.

“One thing is for sure: we’ll tell our members that they have to get out and vote,” Lieb said.

CUPE Alberta represents 34,000 public workers in education, health care, government services, municipalities and other workplaces.

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Contact: David Loan  c:  (613) 301-7468  o:  (780) 484-7644

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CUPE Alberta Re-elects President Marle Roberts

Delegates to CUPE Alberta’s provincial convention today re-elected President Marle Roberts for her third successive term.

“I am honoured and humbled by the confidence our members have shown in me,” Roberts said. “We’ve fought together to save our public pensions and I’m glad to lead CUPE Alberta into the next round of negotiations with the province.”

Roberts was acclaimed to her position.

A former laboratory technician in a wastewater treatment plant in Medicine Hat, Roberts became active in CUPE in 1986. After 10 years of activism, she became president of CUPE Local 46 in 2000.

She was first elected President of CUPE Alberta in 2011 and again in 2013. Roberts was elected General Vice-President of CUPE’s National Executive Board in 2013.

“I am grateful to the delegates and our members across Alberta for their support,” Roberts said. “Together, we are stronger!”

Also elected or re-elected today:

Kim Storebo, General Vice President – South

Scott Cush, Recording Secretary

David Graham, Regional Vice President

Charles (Dustin) Withers, Young Workers Vice President

Alternate Area Vice Presidents:

Sonny Kalynchuk, Edmonton

Bob Anderson, Calgary

Kathy Larson , Northeast

Joan Keough, Red Deer

Michelle Lovin, Northwest

Esther Rodzinyak, Lethbridge

Morgan (Sam) Ferrier, Medicine Hat

Danielle Danis, Fort Murray

Mark Langlois, Three-year Trustee

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For more information, please contact:

David Loan, 613-301-7468

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CUPE Alberta Re-elects President Marle Roberts

Marle RobertsDelegates to CUPE Alberta’s provincial convention today re-elected President Marle Roberts for her third successive term.

“I am honoured and humbled by the confidence our members have shown in me,” Roberts said. “We’ve fought together to save our public pensions and I’m glad to lead CUPE Alberta into the next round of negotiations with the province.” … Read more…