Calgary Drop-In Centre workers determined to unionize

Workers at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre are calling on their colleagues to band together and unionize after facing years of unsafe working conditions, unlivable wages and a lack of fair and transparent hiring practices.

Despite their invaluable community work, Calgary Drop-In staff are severely underpaid. Full-time caseworkers are paid below the Government of Alberta’s Core Needs Income Threshold. Despite being on-call around the clock, service workers do not receive shift premiums when working evening or overnight. At the same time, executive staff are paid salaries between $160,000 and $299,000, according to data from the Canada Revenue Agency.

“We don’t do these jobs for the money. We do them because we care about our communities and supporting society’s most vulnerable, but we still need to eat. We have kept our heads down and remained silent for too long. Something has to change, and the only way we are going to see changes is by banding together,” said a Calgary Drop-In Centre worker whose identity cannot be revealed due to the threat of retaliation from their employer.

Drop-In Centre workers often work with clients with complex mental health issues, many of whom struggle with addiction. Substance abuse issues and drug poisonings have made difficult front-line work even more dangerous and mentally exhausting.

“There are days when workers on the floor are dealing with multiple overdoses and we are simply expected to carry on working without even a break,” said a Calgary Drop-In Centre worker. “We build strong relationships with individuals we work with, and it is heart-breaking and traumatic to find someone you care about has died of an overdose. We don’t have the emotional and mental health supports to work through the trauma associated with that.”

Calgary Drop-In centre employees are fighting for a fair and safe workplace. They have decided to make their union drive public to combat fear and raise awareness among the hundreds of staff that there is a way forward. Workers at the DI and the community are encouraged to reach out to Colette Singh at csingh@cupe.ca and Dominique Damian-Wallace at dominique.dw@gmail.com for more information on how to sign up or regarding the union drive.

City of Chestermere workers vote to unionize

CHESTERMERE – Workers at the City of Chestermere have joined CUPE after an overwhelming majority voted in favour of certification.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill welcomed the group into CUPE. “We welcome these workers into the CUPE family,” says CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “These workers decided they wanted to have the protection of Canada’s largest union, better treatment from their employer and respect for the services they provide. Today, the ballots have been counted, and the employees’ voices have been heard.”

CUPE Alberta represents approximately 42,000 members in Alberta with over 200 collective agreements.

CUPE Local 4070 Recognizes International Flight Attendants’ Day

Today, May 31st, is International Flight Attendants Day, a day to recognize the spirit and the efforts of flight attendants around the world.

The last couple of years have been particularly challenging for flight attendants. Many have worked through the pandemic, bringing Canadians home and keeping essential travel operating. As things return to normal and travel resumes, flight attendants have welcomed Canadian families and business travellers back to the sky, while ensuring safety protocols and procedures remain in place.

“We’d like to take this day to recognize all of our members for their efforts and dedication through the pandemic. The pandemic brought unique challenges for flight attendants including increased loneliness and isolation on layovers, and immense difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities with limited flexibility and non-existent childcare options,” said CUPE Local 4070 President Crystal Hill.

CUPE represents about 4,000 flight attendants and cabin crew members at Westjet, Encore and Swoop airlines. Though many were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, all Local 4070 have since been able to return to the sky.

“We’re so glad our members have been able to return to work safely. However, the new normal has been overwhelming and has brought its own set of issues that affect our members every day. Today is a day to reflect and salute the resiliency of all Local 4070 members at WestJet, WestJet Encore, Swoop, and our Airline Division colleagues.”

To mark the day, CUPE Local 4070 will be recognizing the efforts of flight attendants with gift baskets generously donated by Van Houtte, Bigelow Tea, Master Chocolate, Step Up Comfort, Pocket of Flowers, Rita’s Kitchen, Royal Ontario Museum, Steven Sarasin, Beaded Beginnings, Infinite Alchemy, Siesta Massage Therapy, Tilted Veil, and Prismatic Ash Soap Co.

CUPE Alberta President calls on Albertans to keep fighting

President of CUPE Alberta, Rory Gill released the following statement on Premier Jason Kenney’s resignation.

“Last night, the worst Premier in Alberta’s history resigned. Jason Kenney’s resignation is welcome news, but our fight against the UCP government’s privatization agenda must continue.

Though Jason Kenney is gone, the UCP continues to implement its anti-worker, anti-union, anti-Alberta agenda. The United Conservatives are still pushing ahead with a plan to privatize and dismantle public services. Bill 32, the UCP’s unconstitutional anti-union legislation, remains on the books as a tool for the UCP government to muzzle workers and unions.

It doesn’t matter who the next UCP leader is; the UCP is bad for Alberta and for Alberta workers. It is not focused on the things that matter to Alberta families; it is focused on itself and distracted by its internal disarray and infighting.

We have faced much adversity as a movement, but Jason Kenney’s resignation shows we are making progress and that our voices are being heard. Now, more than ever, we must continue to raise our collective voice. Now is not the time to retreat. We must keep fighting until the UCP is sent packing.”

RALLY FOR PUBLIC HEALTH CARE – MAY 14

 

On May 14, join the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and show your support for public health care and the health care workers who are keeping it together despite UCP underfunding and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic!

Edmonton
Alberta Legislature Building
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/eljMCltXs

Calgary
South Health Campus – U of C Hospital, Seton Hall off of Front Street, south side main entrance
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1Kyou51HW

Red Deer
City Hall
1:00 PM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1Pb0TpJmS

Lethbridge
City Hall
12:00 PM (NOON)
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1AIMTlGmk

Medicine Hat
Regional Hospital, 5th Street Side
11:00 AM
Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1vVAHKfyo

 

 

 

 

Dance school shuttered, kids lose out

Fort McMurray – The union representing employees at the MacDonald Island Dance Academy (MIDA) is speaking out about the closure of the school, saying it provides an important and growing service in the city.

Craig Milley, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1505 says information provided by MacDonald Island CEO Craig Walsh about the school is “concerning and inaccurate.” Milley says the program was profitable up until COVID hit in March 2020.

The union says a 2021/2022 Business Case projected the Academy to be profitable, and despite the dance season starting a month late in the 2021/2022 season, the overall revenue to date already exceeds last year’s revenue.

“There is no evidence to support the notion that there has been a steady decline in participation and/or registration of the program for several years pre-pandemic,” said Milley. “The numbers show that the program was profitable between 2014 and early 2020.”

The Union and Dance Instructors provided Mr. Walsh with a 12-page Alternate Business Case, which is in accordance with the Collective Agreement, that would increase the marketability of the MIDA program and ensure the sustainability of the program.

“He clearly didn’t want to hear it, he didn’t even meet with the dance instructors and I to review and hear what it was all about,” Milley said.

“It’s about the kids,” he said. “Some of these kids have been with the studio and the same instructors for 10 years. The kids are losing their studio and their instructors, the instructors are losing their jobs, and the community is losing a dance program that was profitable and could continue to be profitable.”

The union is calling for a formal investigation under the Municipal Government Act, of CEO Craig Walsh, for his misleading information and lack of compliance with the terms of the Collective Agreement.

“The public deserves the real story.”

 

Labour Minister Madu won’t meet with unions

He has two phones but won’t use either – CUPE

CALGARY – When Jason Copping was Minister of Labour, union leaders like Rory Gill talked to him frequently. But now that Kaycee Madu is in charge, unions are shut out.

The President of CUPE Alberta is steaming that Minister Madu is refusing to even arrange a phone call with him about the contentious and complicated Bill 32.

Rory Gill says he tried to arrange a meeting or phone call with Madu, to follow up on a discussion that began when Jason Copping was minister. However, he’s been informed by the Minister’s office that they won’t even consider a meeting for several months.

“CUPE doesn’t like the UCP, and the UCP doesn’t like CUPE,” said Gill. “But Ministers have a duty to talk to their stakeholders.”

“Jason Copping gave me his cell phone number and we talked and texted often.  Tyler Shandro did the same when he was Minister. But Kaycee Madu doesn’t want to have the difficult conversations.”

Gill says his union is working hard to be ready for the implementation of Bill 32 on August 1st. But the regulations are complex and subject to multiple interpretations.  The Bill regulates union spending on ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ items and allows members to opt-out of the portion of dues that go toward ‘non-core’ activities like charitable donations.

“Minister Copping acknowledged that there were items open to interpretation and promised to get back to me with some resources to allow CUPE to remain in compliance,” said Gill. “Madu will not follow up, or even agree to send an official to discuss these matters with us.”

“Kaycee Madu has two phones. He knows how to use them to call law enforcement and try and get out of a traffic ticket. How about the Minister of Labour actually agree to call a few union representatives?”

 

CUPE Alberta Executive election results

The following individuals were elected at today’s convention.

Secretary-Treasurer: Colleen Nash (Local 3550)

General Vice President North: Lee-Ann Kalen (Local 1099)

General Vice President South: Troy Killam (Local 40)

Diversity Vice President: Raj Uppal (Local 41)

Area Vice Presidents

Peace River: Tina Robinson (Local 4839)

Ft. McMurray: Danielle Danis (Local 2559)

Northwest: Janet Riopel (Local 1661)

Northeast: Joyce Baker (Local 1606)

Edmonton: Janice Kube (Local 3550)

Red Deer: Brenda Reid (Local 4733)

Calgary: Kelly Spence (Local 8)

Lethbridge: Lawrence Silver (Local 408)

Medicine Hat: Jason Fenske (Local 46)

Alternate Area Vice President

Ft. McMurray: Lynn Fleet (Local 2545)

Trustee 3 Year

Dani Williamson (Local 40)

Notley: No more chaos, no more layoffs

The Leader of Alberta’s NDP used her address to CUPE Alberta’s annual convention to outline some of her plans should she be elected Premier in next year’s expected election.

Rachel Notley promised a government more in tune with the values of Albertans and more respectful of front-line workers.

“After three years of United Conservative scandals and blunders, three years of disrespect, distrust and indifference, we are closer than ever to having a government that stands up for families and actually has the backs of working people,” said Notley.

Notley outlined her plans for K-12 education, of particular interest to CUPE delegates working in that sector. Notley pledged to support children from their earliest learning up to higher education and committed to end the chaos of the last three years.

“More teachers. More educational assistants supporting students with special needs,” pledged Notley. “No more chaos. No more layoffs.”

“We will ensure children have a modern curriculum taught in smaller classrooms.”

Notley took aim at the UCP for Premier Jason Kenney’s privatization of health care. In particular, she slammed Kenney’s comments about ‘union run hospitals.’

“I have a message for Jason Kenney,” said Notley. “CUPE members are better health care, in nursing home rooms, in operating rooms, and in laundry rooms.”

“You deserve a government that respects you for the frontline workers you are.”

Notley promised to reinvest in our public health care system by expanding surgical capacity in the public system, increasing access in rural communities, and addressing backlogs.

“No chaos. No big changes. Just common-sense care,” said Notley. “No more cuts that make your jobs harder or jeopardize patient care, and no more reckless pursuit of privatization.”