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 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

CUPE 4070 members ratify new contract with WestJet

CUPE members working at WestJet’s mainline have signed off on their first collective bargaining agreement. Members voted over the weekend to ratify the tentative collective agreement reached in February. The five-year agreement includes wage increases, and significant movement towards industry-standard scheduling and pay calculation rules.

“This is the first collective agreement for members, so it’s an incredible milestone and we are thrilled that it was ratified over the weekend,” said CUPE 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch. “Reaching this agreement is a bright spot in what has been a tough year for our members and for the airline sector overall. I’d like to thank both our union and our bargaining committee for working so diligently to find a path forward in a particularly challenging and complicated context.”

CUPE has represented over 3100 cabin crew at WestJet since July 2018. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since April 2019.

CUPE also represents cabin crew at WestJet subsidiaries WestJet Encore and Swoop. Rauenbusch hopes the tentative agreement with the ‘mainline’ will lead to similar agreements across the company.

WestJet & CUPE reach tentative agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If ratified, agreement will cover over 3,100 cabin crew 

CALGARY – CUPE and WestJet have reached a tentative first collective agreement for mainline cabin crew. CUPE Local 4070 represents over 3,100 cabin crew members at the airline.

CUPE has represented cabin crew at WestJet since July 2018. The parties have been engaged in collective bargaining towards a first union contract since April 2019. 

CUPE Local 4070 President Chris Rauenbusch called this “an unprecedented achievement at the height of trying times for our industry.” Rauenbusch noted that COVID-19 travel restrictions and layoffs made achieving this milestone “a monumental task.” 

“In the past year, over 90% of our members have been grounded due to the pandemic,” said Rauenbusch. “To achieve a constructive tentative agreement in this environment is remarkable.” 

“I am incredibly proud of the work done by both our union and our bargaining committee, particularly in such a challenging context.” commented Rauenbusch. “Though both sides bargained with tenacity, we believe WestJet has demonstrated a clear commitment to building harmonious labour relations moving forward,” concluded Rauenbusch. 

Rauenbusch said CUPE will conduct a ratification vote in March. 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 during this pandemic,” said Rauenbusch. “With this agreement, we are positioned to continue proudly providing professional, safe flights well into the future. The only mystery that remains is whether this government will ensure our industry survives.”

 CUPE also represents cabin crew at WestJet subsidiaries WestJet Encore and Swoop. Rauenbusch hopes the tentative agreement with the ‘mainline’ will lead to similar agreements across the company.

Eagle Ridge Nest Child Care Centre workers vote to unionize

 

FORT MCMURRAY- Nineteen childcare workers at Eagle Ridge Nest Child Care Centre have joined CUPE after a certification vote held August 20, 2020.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill welcomed the group into CUPE. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for families and businesses across Alberta and childcare is no exception,” said Gill. “As workers at Eagle Nest work through the challenges and uncertainty that this year has brought, 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.”

“By joining CUPE, they are in a better position to face these uncertain times.”

CUPE represents 12,000 childcare workers across Canada.

 

CUPE Alberta calls on UCP to use federal funding to cap class sizes

EDMONTON – CUPE Alberta is calling on the UCP government to use newly announced federal funding to reduce class sizes across Alberta schools by hiring more teachers.

“With class sizes at current levels, it doesn’t matter what PPE students and teachers have, because physical distancing will be impossible,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “No thanks to the UCP, the federal government has come through with extra funding for Alberta schools. We are calling on the UCP to use this money as effectively as possible by making class sizes smaller and therefore safer for students and education workers.”

Alberta will receive just over 262 million dollars from the federal government for back-to-school preparations. CUPE Alberta has repeatedly called for the UCP to take action to protect students and education workers by properly funding cleaning and sanitizations and capping class sizes.

CUPE represents over 8,700 education workers across Alberta. Members work as education assistants, librarians, custodial staff, trades and facilities, bus drivers and administrative support across Alberta.

Minister of Education refuses to talk about school safety

EDMONTON- CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill released the following video message after the Minister of Education refused an emergency meeting with him on behalf of 8,700 CUPE members who work in the education sector.

Gill requested the meeting as the Government of Alberta sends students and education workers back to school with no plan in place to keep them safe during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Premier Jason Kenney is reopening schools without measures to make sure students and staff are safe. The current “plan” includes no funding for extra cleaning and sanitization, no class size caps, and no physical distancing. Kenney already laid off more than 20,000 educational assistants, custodial workers and other professionals.

CUPE Alberta is calling on Albertans to send a message to Jason Kenney and the government and demand to keep schools safe. Have your say at www.keepschoolssafe.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rory Gill Responds to Minister’s Meeting Refusal