Wood Buffalo continues to push for fly-by-night contractors over employees

FORT MCMURRAY – As the lockout of Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) employees reaches the two-month mark, bargaining between CUPE 1505 and the housing authority continues at a slow pace.

Earlier today, Wood Buffalo Housing issued a news release outlining its perspective on how bargaining has progressed.  CUPE 1505 President Judy Collier was unimpressed. “They did not provide accurate information” said Collier.  “For instance, three members have been moved to the Rotary House Collective Agreement, not two.”

Collier said CUPE remains committed to fighting for employees who are committed to the region instead of replacing them with “low wage contractors.”

“The union is committed to increasing its pressure campaign.” Collier said.  Union advertising was expanded on Friday to movie theatres, and that they are looking at bringing pressure on WBH board members.

“The WBH board members have been too quiet,” said Collier. “They can take a stand and end this mistreatment of their employees. We’re not prepared to let them hide much longer.”

 

CUPE 4070 members ratify new contract with Swoop

CALGARY, Alberta- CUPE Flight Attendants working at Swoop, WestJet’s ultra low cost carrier, have signed off on their first collective bargaining agreement. Members voted today to ratify the tentative collective agreement reached in September. The five-year agreement includes wage improvements, and momentum towards industry-standard scheduling and pay rules.

“This is the first ever collective agreement for our membership at Swoop. Ratification of this deal is proof positive that certifying with CUPE has been instrumental in our members’ pursuit of fair working conditions,” said CUPE 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch. “Reaching this deal was not easy in light of the circumstances caused by the global pandemic. I’d like to thank both our union and our bargaining committee for working so hard to find a path forward despite the challenges of the past 18 months.”

CUPE represents over 200 Flight Attendants at Swoop. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since February 2020.

CUPE also represents cabin crew at WestJet mainline and its subsidiary WestJet Encore.

Union leaders call on Jason Kenney to ask federal government for immediate assistance

“We’ve run out of staff. Kenney’s fourth wave is collapsing the system.” – Rory Gill, President, CUPE Alberta

EDMONTON – The leaders of Alberta’s largest health care unions are calling on Premier Jason Kenney to ask the federal government to immediately deploy the military, the Red Cross and all other available medical resources from across the country to assist the province’s overwhelmed hospitals.

Taken together, the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), represent more than 100,000 people working in Alberta’s health care system.

The presidents of all four unions say Alberta’s health care system is not just “on the verge” of collapse – they say it’s actually collapsing right in front of our eyes.

With that in mind, UNA President Heather Smith, AUPE President Guy Smith, HSAA President Mike Parker, CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) President Gil McGowan have sent a joint letter to Premier Kenney asking him to formally request help from the federal government.

There are recent precedents set for this kind of action. Just five months ago, in April 2021, three military medical units were deployed to support long term care facilities in Ontario as they were overwhelmed by the third wave of the pandemic. The federal government also paid for the Red Cross to be deployed and helped coordinate assistance from other provinces.

The letter says, “There are no more nurses in our province who can be deployed. There are no more paramedics. There are no more respiratory therapists. There are no more support staff. The tank is empty. The well is dry.” It concludes by reminding Premier Kenney of his constitutional responsibility as Premier to formally ask the federal government for assistance.

“They cannot act unless you ask them to act. So please, on behalf of our beleaguered members on the front-line of this crisis, and on behalf of all Albertans, we are officially asking you to request help from the federal government.”

Quotes
“The Alberta government says they’ll continue to open up ICU beds as needed to deal with the fourth wave. But beds mean nothing without properly qualified staff. And there are simply no more experienced people to mobilize.” – Heather Smith, UNA President

“We represent some of the lowest paid and least recognized workers delivering care to Albertans through this crisis. They’re giving everything they can give, and then some. But the tank is empty, and they’re exhausted and demoralized. We can’t wait for the dust to settle from the federal election. We need help now.” – Guy Smith, AUPE President

“Our paramedics are overstretched and exhausted. There are no more respiratory therapists. Everyone is either working or sick. There are no more rabbits to pull out of the hat. That’s why we need our Premier to swallow his pride and ask the rest of Canada for help.” – Mike Parker, HSAA President

“We’ve run out of staff and we’ve run out of options. This fourth wave of the pandemic is collapsing our health care system. I think we should all call this wave of the pandemic the Kenney wave because he created it with his selfish and reckless ‘Open for Summer’ policies. In the coming weeks and months, we’re going to make sure he’s held accountable. But for now, Kenney needs to finally take responsibility for his failures and get more staff to the frontlines to protect Albertans. That’s why we are asking him to request the federal government to send in the military.” – Rory Gill, CUPE Alberta

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Swoop, CUPE Reach Tentative Agreement

If ratified, agreement will cover all remaining CUPE members represented at the WestJet Group of Companies

CALGARY, Alberta– CUPE and Swoop have reached a tentative first collective agreement for flight attendants at the ultra low cost carrier. CUPE Local 4070 represents approximately 200 flight attendants at Swoop.

CUPE has represented flight attendants at Swoop since June 2019. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since February 2020.

CUPE Local 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch called this “a remarkable testament to the hard work of the union bargaining committee particularly during the worst crisis our industry has ever seen.” Rauenbusch noted that COVID-19 travel restrictions and layoffs made achieving this milestone “an absolutely monumental task.”

“In the past seven months, we have achieved agreements for our members with WestJet, WestJet Encore and now Swoop,” said Rauenbusch. “To achieve constructive agreements for all three bargaining units, especially during a pandemic is remarkable.”

“Having legally binding union contracts in place for the over 4,100 flight attendants at all three of the WestJet Group’s brands is a milestone of great significance,” commented Rauenbusch. “Though both sides bargained with tenacity, we believe Swoop management has demonstrated a commitment to building positive labour relations moving forward,” concluded Rauenbusch.

Rauenbusch said CUPE will conduct a ratification vote in September. The union will not release details of the tentative agreement until union members have voted on it.

“Our membership is proud that we’ve been able to provide a safe travel option to Canadians who travel throughout the pandemic,” said Rauenbusch. “With this agreement, we are positioned to continue proudly providing professional, safe flights well into the future for all travellers.”

CUPE Local 4070 represents all flight attendants across all three brands operated by the WestJet Group of Companies: WestJet mainline, WestJet Encore and Swoop.

CUPE AB calls on Jason Kenney to return to work and ensure schools are safe

EDMONTON, AB- CUPE Alberta is calling on Jason Kenney to return to work immediately and ensure students and workers are safe as they head back to class.

While COVID-19 case numbers grow province-wide, Premier Jason Kenney has been “on holidays” and hasn’t made a public statement since August 9. In the meantime, the premier has left school boards to individually decide how best to protect students. The boards must make these decisions without access to data or medical advice. This has led to confusion among boards and frustration for parents and workers.

“School boards are not medical bodies. They do not have the expertise or the information to responsibly manage the response to the pandemic and they shouldn’t be expected to. Alberta is the only jurisdiction in the country that is doing absolutely nothing to protect students and education workers. Jason Kenney insists the pandemic is over, even as numbers rise across the province. He has abandoned workers, parents and students and demonstrated that we are not a priority,” said CUPE Alberta General Vice-President North Lee-Ann Kalen.

Last year Alberta was facing just over 1000 active cases as school resumed. To protect students and education workers, masks were mandated and a cohort system was put in place. This year, there are nine times more active cases in the province and the UCP has not mandated any protective measures. CUPE is calling on the government to implement all of last year’s protection measures this year.

“The government needs to take responsibility for the health and safety of students and staff. This is a much more contagious variant. Closing your eyes and crossing your fingers is not an adequate mitigation strategy for Alberta schools. We need a leader to look carefully at the data and act responsibly to protect Albertans. It’s time for Jason Kenney to come back to work,” said Kalen.

CUPE Alberta represents 8,700 members who work in the education sector.

CUPE 4070 members ratify first contract with WestJet Encore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CALGARY, Alberta — CUPE cabin crew members working at WestJet Encore, WestJet’s regional carrier, have signed off on their first collective bargaining agreement. Members voted today to ratify the tentative collective agreement reached in July. The five-year agreement includes wage improvements, and momentum towards industry-standard scheduling and pay rules

“This is the first ever collective agreement for our membership at WestJet Encore. Ratification of this deal is proof positive that certifying with CUPE has been instrumental in our members’ pursuit of fair working conditions,” said CUPE 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch. “Reaching this deal was not easy in light of the circumstances caused by the global pandemic. I’d like to thank both our union and our bargaining committee for working so hard to find a path forward despite the challenges of the past 18 months.”

CUPE represents over 650 cabin crew at WestJet Encore. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since November 2019.

CUPE also represents cabin crew at WestJet mainline and its subsidiary Swoop. Rauenbusch is hopeful that the ratification of agreements with two of three bargaining units at the WestJet Group of Companies will lead to a fair and productive tentative agreement for Swoop Members in the near term. Swoop negotiations continue and have been underway since December 2019.

CUPE and WestJet reach deal for staff at Encore

CALGARY – The Canadian Union of Public Employees and WestJet have reached a tentative agreement covering the 650 cabin crew at WestJet Encore. Encore is WestJet’s regional carrier with hubs in Calgary and Toronto.

Details of the agreement are not being released until CUPE members have an opportunity to review and vote on the proposal.  CUPE 4070 Vice President Jamie Loiselle said he was pleased with the deal, and that the union would be recommending acceptance.

CUPE represents about 4,000 flight attendants and cabin crew members at WestJet mainline, Encore and Swoop. There has been a collective agreement at the mainline since April and bargaining at Swoop continues for a first contract.

“It’s been a difficult year in the airline sector due to the pandemic, but we are starting to see things turn around,” said Loiselle. “Our flights are filling up, more staff are coming back from layoff, and we are hopeful that we will soon have collective agreements covering all our members at the three WestJet companies.”

The union expects ratification meetings to begin on August 7th.

Alpha House employees now part of CUPE

Labour board rules on objections, counts votes, employees vote yes

CALGARY – After multiple issues before the labour board, ballots were finally counted today, and 171 Alpha House employees voted 89% in favour of joining the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Congratulations to the employees of Alpha House on joining Canada’s largest union,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill.  “You now have the collective strength of over 700,000 CUPE members in your corner.”

Gill said this victory was particularly sweet as there have been numerous difficulties leading to today’s decision. Gill said those issues have been resolved, and he is looking forward to their full participation in CUPE Alberta.

“It’s never easy to form a union at your worksite,” said Gill. “We had some strong disagreements with Alpha House, but those disagreements have been resolved to the satisfaction of the employer, CUPE, and the affected employees.”

“And today, the ballots have been counted and the employees’ voices have been heard.”

Contractors to blame, not city waste collectors, for problems with new trash pick-up

EDMONTON – The President of the union representing city waste collectors is pointing the finger at a third party contractor for the lack of garbage collection at 13,000 Edmonton homes this week.

Many homes in the southwest end of the city did not have waste collected on their scheduled day last week as part of the city’s new cart rollout.

“Some news reports, and some citizens, have been pointing the finger at city workers, but that’s not fair or true,” said CUPE Local 30 President Eric Lewis.

“These carts were not collected because the contractor doesn’t know the work, doesn’t know the routes, and doesn’t know the city,” said Lewis. “If the city kept this work in-house, problems like this wouldn’t happen.”

Lewis said that while the problems with pick up will get sorted out in time, he expects further problems to pop up in the future.

“When you privatize services, you pay less and get shoddy service. Accountability is lowered, and residents end up grumpy and unhappy over and over.”

Long-Term Care Facilities -Many unable to meet basic needs of seniors

Media Release
May, 6, 2021

Seniors Care Staff Study Calls for More Time to Care
Report reveals more than 40 per cent of seniors care centres
can’t meet adequate care needs

Edmonton – A new Parkland Institute study, Time to Care: Staffing and Workloads in Alberta’s Long-term Care Facilities, by Parkland research manager Rebecca Graff-McRae, reveals that many seniors continuing care centres are chronically understaffed and unable to meet the basic care needs of seniors.

Parkland Institute researchers collaborated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-AB) to survey more than 350 LTC staff across Alberta in early 2020 and found nearly half of respondents – 43 per cent – didn’t have adequate time to complete required tasks consistently. Only 24 per cent stated they never had essential tasks outstanding at the end of a shift.

“Our study reveals why the coronavirus pandemic became a matter of life and death, as many seniors care facilities that had previously “managed” with inadequate staffing levels were unable to provide even the most basic levels of care for their residents – with tragic consequences,” says report author Rebecca Graff-McRae. “The Alberta government needs to listen to the health providers on the frontlines about the serious implications of lack of care staff if we are going to fix the crisis in seniors care.”

Staff are left with few options: leave important aspects of their job – including care tasks – undone, work through their breaks, or stay late to finish. Seventy per cent of respondents stayed beyond the end of their shift at least occasionally and nearly one quarter – 24 per cent – stayed late either daily or once per week. It is clear from these responses that staying beyond the end of their shift is the norm for many LTC workers.

“Exhausted, rushed and stressed staff cannot provide the level of personal, relational care that residents need and deserve”, said Kelly Spence, CUPE Local 8 site vice-president. “Concerns about adequate staffing to meet the care needs of residents have been raised for decades, but the Government of Alberta has not undertaken any study of staffing levels and working conditions in the LTC sector.”

“For far too long the government has allowed residents and workers to fall through the cracks,” said CUPE Alberta president Rory Gill. “The impact of COVID-19 has made these problems more acute and frankly, more deadly. It’s time the government stepped up and ensured adequate staffing and resources for long-term-care facilities. The workers and residents deserve it.”

When asked whether their facility had adequate staffing to provide quality care for residents, a significant disparity could be seen across ownership/profit categories: 34 per cent of respondents based in for-profit facilities reported they never have adequate staff-to-resident ratios to meet resident needs, compared to just seven per cent for public facilities. Not-for profit facilities fell in the middle at 16 per cent.

“When homes are understaffed, that hurts workers and residents,” said June St. Lewis, an AUPE steward at a continuing care home. “Workers want to be able to provide the highest possible quality of care, but we just don’t have the resources to do so. We end up burnt out, and residents end up with care that doesn’t meet the standards we aim for.”

“When staff in for-profit long-term-care facilities report they are almost five times more likely to never have adequate staff-to-resident ratios to meet care needs, then we know residents in for-profit facilities are more at risk of adverse outcomes,” says Graff-McRae. “With two-thirds of all COVID-19 deaths happening in long-term-care centres in Canada, the fact that for-profit facilities provide fewer hours of direct care per resident per day and are more likely to have fewer staff per resident should be of central concern to the government’s review of seniors care. Unfortunately, the government is moving to protect seniors care corporations against legal liability with Bill 70, rather than address the underlying reasons for the crisis in seniors care.”

“Profit has no place in continuing care,” said Mike Dempsey, vice-president of AUPE. “These facilities should have one purpose — to provide good care for Alberta’s seniors, and create good jobs in the process. Profit-making directly contradicts that goal. The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen again is to bring the entire continuing care system under public control. From there, democratically elected governments can choose to do things like increase staffing levels and implement the standards of care that seniors deserve.”

“Workers are tired of being called heroes while governments ignore our cries to improve standards in continuing care in Alberta,” said St. Lewis. “We want more than words, we want action.”

-30-

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Sarah Pratt, communications co-ordinator
spratt1@ualberta.ca
587.338.0171

Parkland Institute is a non-partisan public policy research institute in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta. “Time to Care” is available for download on Parkland Institute’s website.

 

 

CUPE AB DELIVERS 30,000 LETTERS TO LEGISLATURE

CALL ON JASON KENNEY AND THE UCP TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH CARE.

CUPE Alberta delivered 30,000 letters to the Legislature today. The letters, written to MLAs from concerned Alberta citizens, call on the UCP government to stop its attack on public health care.

“We are in the midst of a global pandemic. The government should be doing everything it can to protect our healthcare, instead they’ve picked fights with doctors and nurses, and now they want to fire 11,000 healthcare workers. It’s an indefensible plan that is going to have devastating impacts our health care system,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill.

The UCP government announced in October that it would slash 11,000 health care jobs in Alberta in a move that is expected to create chaos in a system already stretched by the impacts of COVID-19. Gill joined NDP Health Critic David Shepherd and Labour Critic Christina Gray, who have been calling on the UCP to walk back their plan to dismantle Alberta’s healthcare system.

“This is not what Jason Kenney promised Albertans in the last election. He promised to protect public health care. We stand with the thirty thousand Albertans who’ve written letters to the UCP, and the thousands more who are calling on this government to do that right thing, cancel this disastrous plan and protect the public health care Albertans rely on,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

Gray added, “These are the workers who do the housekeeping, prepare food and provide laboratory services. They have risked their lives during an unprecedented health crisis. Then, the moment the pandemic is over, this government plans to hand them pink slips. It’s unconscionable.”

The letters were delivered to Premier Jason Kenney’s office and will be tabled in the Legislature. CUPE President Rory Gill is calling on all Albertans to make their voices heard and send Jason Kenney a message to stop his attack on the public health care system.

For more information visit: https://www.weworkforalberta.ca/protectalbertahealthcare