CUPE response to Onex deal

CUPE response to Onex deal

CALGARY – The union representing almost 4,000 cabin crew members at WestJet and Encore expressed guarded optimism about the company’s sale to Onex.  However, CUPE 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch expressed some concern about the future of the employee share holder plan.

“WestJet is a Canadian business success story, building from a small regional carrier to one of the world’s foremost airlines,” said Rauenbusch.  “We hope Onex will continue to develop WestJet to its full potential as an airline industry leader.”

“The good news is that Onex is looking to maintain WestJet as a Calgary based airline. They’ve committed to no job losses and to WestJet’s expansion plans. We will hold them to that promise.”

“We are concerned about what this deal means to the future of the employee share purchase plan, which is uncertain at the moment,” said Rauenbusch. “As employees without a pension plan, many Cabin Crew members rely upon their shares for a dignified retirement. “

Rauenbusch said CUPE will attempt to resolve the employee shareholder issue in bargaining for a new collective agreement, which has been underway since April.

Contact: Lou Arab
Communications Representative

Radio ads start today for locked out housing employees

CUPE pledges further campaign tactics to follow

FORT MCMURRAY – Stand for Wood Buffalo.

That’s the theme of an advertising campaign launched today by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in support of locked out employees of Wood Buffalo Housing.

The 46 employees were locked out by the housing corporation last night. The corporation wants to replace the employees with fly-by-night contractors who pay minimum wage.

CUPE Local 1505 President Judy Collier said the aim of the advertising campaign is to warn the public about the impact of trading good jobs for poor services.

“If we let Wood Buffalo Housing use whatever fly-by-night contractor they can find from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto or elsewhere, we will see our properties fall into disrepair and disrepute,” said Collier. “These employees are standing up for Wood Buffalo and for tenants, because somebody has to.”

Collier said the advertising campaign will continue until the employer settles the dispute. She said the current radio ad is only the beginning, and more advertising and other tactics will follow very soon.

The radio ad will run on 93.3 Country, 97.9 Rock, Cruz FM and Mix 103.7.

You can download and listen to the radio ad here.

Wood Buffalo Housing pushes staff to the street – Lockout notice served to employees

FORT MCMURRAY – Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) served its 49 employees lock out notice today, meaning that as of Friday at 4:30 pm, employees will be forced to hit the picket lines.

CUPE Local 1505 President Judy Collier said her members do not want to stop serving residents and the community, but the WBH is forcing their hands.

“Wood Buffalo Housing wants to lay off groundskeepers, maintenance staff, and housekeepers and replace them with minimum wage contractors without benefits,” said Collier. “Not only will that not save money, it will result in poorly maintained properties. And nobody is better off with that.”

“This is not about wages. This is about our members wanting to do what they were hired to do – take care of residents and their homes.”

Collier said CUPE knows from past experience that contracting out doesn’t actually save any money, as most of the lost wages are still paid to the contractor.

“It’s better to just pay staff a living wage and get better service for it.”

Collier says her members are ready to stand up for residents, even if it means getting locked out by their employer.

“If WBH wants to save money, they can and should work with their employees to find efficiencies,” said Collier. “That’s how you build a strong company, and how you serve your residents best.”

“Someone has to stand up for our community here, because WBH sure isn’t.”


Lou Arab, Communications Representative

Encore for CUPE: Application filed with CIRB to represent WestJet regional flight attendants

CUPE has filed an application at the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to represent flight attendants at WestJet Encore.

A majority of WestJet Encore flight attendants have signed cards supporting unionization with CUPE, after citing the need for better schedules and better opportunities for career advancement among their reasons for seeking to unionize. CUPE is thrilled to get to work improving the lives of Encore staff.

CUPE has industry-leading experience and expertise in improving the working conditions and the lives of our flight attendant members,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “We look forward to adding Encore flight attendants to our airline family.”

Flight attendants have a tough job ensuring the safety of their passengers at 20,000 feet, along with challenging working conditions and often unpredictable schedules. But being part of a union makes a world of difference, as flight attendants at WestJet mainline can already attest. “Most definitely, my life is a lot better after joining CUPE,” said Kruti Sutaria,  who is now the Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Local 4070, representing WestJet mainline flight attendants.

In July 2018, CUPE was certified to represent roughly 3,000 flight attendants at WestJet’s mainline carrier. CUPE is Canada’s flight attendant union, representing 15,000 flight attendants at ten different airlines nationwide.

April 28, 2019 – National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job


CUPE’S National Health and Safety Committee first proposed the creation of a national Day of Mourning in 1984.

That idea came to fruition in 1991 when the federal government passed legislation to establish April 28th as the Day of Mourning. It has grown internationally as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and is recognized in more than 120 countries around the world.

When they envisioned the day, the members of the committee wanted to remember lives lost in the workplace. But there was a broader point. The day was also supposed to remind all workers that we need to fight for the living and inspire us to prevent further tragedies.

On each Day of Mourning, CUPE honours the members who died on the job.


Long-time City of Calgary foreman elected new president of CUPE Alberta

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Delegates at CUPE Alberta’s annual convention elected Rory Gill to be their new provincial president, Thursday, wrapping up the three-day event.

“I’m very honoured that members elected me to further the mission of CUPE to protect workers’ rights, promote social justice and better our society,” said Gill, shortly after his acclamation.

“My priorities as president are to help in any possible way to re-elect Rachel Notley and Alberta’s NDP Government, work to enhance communication and cooperation, and work to organize the unorganized within the public service in Alberta.”

He replaces Marle Roberts, who retired after serving eight years as CUPE Alberta’s president.

“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made,” said Roberts, to a standing ovation. “And I’m humbled and grateful for the support and friendship you’ve given me over that time.”

Gill worked in the public sector with the City of Calgary for over 20 years. He first joined the City as a seasonal parks labourer in 1997 and worked in several different capacities until he was promoted to foreman in the Parks Department in 2000.

In 2006, Gill became active in his local, CUPE 709 – the Calgary Civic Foremen’s Union, where he served as a job steward. He went on to become a Trustee for the local in 2010, joined the local Executive in 2011, and was later elected as the local’s Vice-President in 2012 and then the President in 2014.

Rory has been active with CUPE Alberta Division and attended its conventions since 2011.  In 2016, he was elected to the division’s Executive Committee as Calgary Area Vice President.  The following year, he was elected Southern General Vice President and served in that position until he was elected President of CUPE Alberta in March 2019.

Gill is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, though he primarily grew up in Calgary. He is the proud father of two sons.



Rory Gill, President, CUPE AB Division


CUPE AB Executive Election (2019)

The following people were elected to positions with CUPE Alberta:

President: Rory Gill (Local 709)

Recording Secretary: John Vradenburgh (Local 474)

General VP South: Elizabeth Bonk-Richards (Local 4731)

Diversity VP: Bukola Abiona (Local 8)

Young Worker VP: Tiffany Out (Local 8)

Trustee (3 Year): Inderjit Gakhal (Local 1158)

Area VP Medicine Hat: Sam Ferrier (Local 46)

Alternate Area VP Calgary: Sasha Wallis (Local 38)

Alternate Area VP Edmonton: Jagdishwar Singh (Local 474)

Alternate Area VP Fort McMurray: Danielle Danis (Local 2559)

Alternate Area VP Lethbridge: Lawrence Silver (Local 408)

Alternate Area VP Medicine Hat:  Jason Fenske (Local 46)

Alternate Area VP NE: Mary Morin (Local 2550)

Alternate Area VP Red Deer: Joan Keough (Local 838)

Rachel Notley has had workers’ backs, now workers need to have hers

The work of reforming this province to serve every-day working Albertans has just begun, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips told CUPE Alberta convention delegates on Thursday.

Phillips warned that the progress Alberta has made over the last four years could easily be undone by a UCP government—which is why it’s crucial we re-elect Premier Rachel Notley to a second term.

“The conservatives are back, and they haven’t learned anything,” said Phillips, the NDP MLA for Lethbridge-West. “Jason Kenney has literally said he will undo every piece of legislation we fought to bring in together.”

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