FORT MCMURRAY – The union representing front line Fort McMurray municipal workers is crying foul after Wood Buffalo municipal councillors voted today to reward non-unionized staff overtime during the spring fire evacuation.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Alberta Division is upset that management staff will be paid overtime for all time worked over 44 hours per week, while CUPE members had to work up to twelve hours per day at regular pay rates.
CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts pointed out that the motion passed before council today says unionized employees must be paid according to their collective agreement, which has special provisions for emergency work. According to those provisions, regular overtime rules do not apply, and staff must work up to 12 hours per day at regular wages.
“Council rightly recognizes that municipal staff worked very hard during the fire and evacuation,” said Roberts. “But they are enforcing two sets of rules, one where managers get rewards, while the union staff don’t.”
CUPE bus drivers, who have a different contract, are not bound by the 12-hour rule – although the city tried to enforce it in the middle of the fire.
Roberts said even with the more punitive overtime rates, most CUPE members have not been paid overtime wages for work done in May and June.
“We’ve been repeatedly raising these issues with city managers and we’ve been shut down every time,” said Roberts. “We can’t get any issues resolved, and our members are furious.”
“This is just an additional slap in the face to people who moved heaven and earth during the fire to look after their community.”
Contact: Marle Roberts, President CUPE Alberta
Roberts called on the Notley NDP government to continue efforts to diversify Alberta’s economy from its reliance on oil and gas.
“The price of oil goes up and down. It’s a boom and bust industry. And during the busts, Alberta has few other industries to soften the blow,” said Roberts.
Roberts pointed to many opportunities for new industy in Alberta including “development of renewable energy resources like wind and solar and the development of value added industries that turn oil products into gasoline, plastics and other products ready for the market.”
Roberts blasted opposition Conservative and Wildrose politicians for calling for cuts to public services and the wages of people who provide them.
“The Opposition would have you believe that at a time when people are losing their jobs, the government should freeze wages and lay off public sector workers,” said Roberts. “At this time, we need public services now more than ever. Taking thousands of public servants out of employment will make a bad situation much, much worse.”
Roberts indicated that with an NDP government, labour has a more respectful role in the corridors of power, and indicated that while bargaining was going to be hard as long as oil prices were low, “we are bargaining with a government that respects contracts.”
“The NDP government is listening to what CUPE has to say, and respecting our opinions.”
Roberts pointed to a number of long standing CUPE issues that have been addressed since the NDP came to power, including the cancellation of a hospital lab privatization project, an increase to the minimum wage, a freeze on tuition rates, fairer taxes for middle income earners, and better funding for health care and education.
However, Roberts said there was more for CUPE to accomplish, including winning more control over pension plans and better conditions in Alberta’s seniors care homes.
“Alberta seniors care is still a mess after many years of mismanagement,” said Roberts. “There is a desperate need for more public long term care spaces. Seniors are taking up expensive beds in hospitals because of the lack of space. Among the facilities we do have, there needs to be more staff, better paid staff, and better funded facilities.”
EDMONTON – CUPE Alberta’s President is adding her name to the list of people endorsing the province’s plan to address climate change.
Marle Roberts says the plan announced in November and endorsed by oil patch CEOs and environmentalists will help combat climate change and open new economic opportunities for Alberta.
“This plan will change the world view of our oil sands, and the view of Alberta,” said Roberts. “It will develop greener energy sources while at the same time, open up new markets for our oil and gas products.”
CUPE Alberta represents 35,000 public sector employees in the province. Roberts says that while her union only represents a small number of energy workers – like all Albertans – CUPE members rely upon the industry.
“When the price of oil is high, Albertans have done well, and when oil is low, our economy suffers,” said Roberts. “This plan is first real attempt in a generation to diversify our economy and get us off the roller coaster dependence on oil prices.”
“Climate change is real, it is manmade, and we have to address it. This plan does so while tackling our economic problems at the same time. It deserves our support.”
CUPE National Convention is happening in Vancouver, BC from November 2 – 6. Among the agenda items include the election of a new President. Click here for more information.
For immediate release September 30, 2015
EDMONTON – Edmonton Women’s Shelter Ltd. and CUPE Local 3341 are pleased to announce the ratification of a new agreement that provides employees of an Alberta women’s shelter with their first pension plan.
The deal covers some 45 workers at all three facilities operated by Edmonton Women’s Shelter Ltd., also known as WIN House. The employees include crisis intervention workers, outreach workers, housekeepers, child support staff and administrative staff.
“A pension plan gives our employees further job security,” says Tess Gordey, Executive Director of WIN House. “We understand gender-equity issues women face in the workforce and have always strived to seek and secure monetary resources necessary for promoting equity in our sector. Success in this direction assists us in recruitment and retention of skilled workers and brings stability to our workplace. Ultimately, women and children fleeing family violence will benefit through increased expertise, best practices and leadership. It’s a win-win for WIN.”
The pension plan –a Multi-Sector Pension Plan (MSPP) – is a unique plan that CUPE and the Service Employees International Union innovated nearly 15 years ago to address the lack of retirement benefits in largely female-dominated workplaces.
It has taken CUPE Local 3341 nine years to champion the merits of a multi-sector plan pension for the shelter employees it represents.
Pension plans are rare in the non-profit sector and this is especially true for sheltering organizations,” says Marle Roberts, President CUPE Alberta. “The multi-sector pension plan makes this possible, creating an all around victory. Pensions allow people to retire with dignity. These are typically under-paid workers who do the job out of a calling to help others because they care,” said Roberts. “CUPE has and will continue to advocate for retirement security for “all” by continuing to negotiate workplace pensions and supporting expansion of the CPP.”
For more information, please contact Paula Arab at 403-889-9128
Labour Day is usually a time for CUPE Alberta members to enjoy one last blast of summer before school starts, and before we dig in for another prairie winter.
It’s also a time when I reflect on the battles won by working people and look ahead to what battles are coming.
For the first time in generations, Alberta workers don’t have a government actively working against them. Instead, the provincial election of May 5th brought us a government promising an increased minimum wage, better labour laws for farm workers, and a tax system that doesn’t put all the work on the backs of lower and middle income earners.
I admit this new reality is taking some getting used to! But we have to remain vigilant in fighting for the things that matter: better wages and working conditions, strong public services, equality for all people, and an environment that allows us to reach our full potential as individuals and as a province. Even with a friendly government, there are strong forces in our province working over time against positive change.
So have a happy and safe Labour Day weekend, because our fights have not ended. They just got a whole lot more interesting.
Marle Roberts, President
MR/pk cope 491
Working people at the Fort McMurray International Airport are calling on the Airport Authority to identify what role, if any, temporary foreign workers are being used to play in privatizing custodial services. Having replaced long-serving working people with temporary foreign workers would seem to represent a direct contravention of the terms of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). … Read more…
CUPE Alberta and the CUPE Aboriginal Council partnered with the Elizabeth Friday Society to provide a Bannock Luncheon at the Society on Friday. About 45 people attended, including Elder Elsie Paul, who said an opening prayer and greeted the group with a song.
The union worked in conjunction with Aboriginal Women’s Program Coordinator Rebecca Cardinal. National Representative Audrey Barr and Gloria Lepine, Alternate Senator to the National Aboriginal Council, attended on behalf of CUPE.