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.”

 

Wood Buffalo Housing bans public from “public meeting”

FORT MCMURRAY – Last night Wood Buffalo Housing (WBH) closed its public meeting and relocated behind closed and locked doors in a transparent attempt to avoid coming face to face with its employees.

The corporation locked out employees on May 10th as part of an attempt to replace long time employees with fly-by-night contractors.

“The meeting was scheduled for a public location and the board moved it without notice,” said CUPE Local 1505 President Judy Collier.  “Their ‘public’ meeting ended up at the provincial building behind locked doors.”

Union representatives learned of the move and set up a picket line in front of the building hoping to have a few words with board members as they crossed the line.

“Most board members, including Chair Maggie Farrington, crossed the picket line without agreeing to talk to their employees,” said Collier.

Collier said one board member did stop to talk and indicated that he thought management was trying to meet with the union’s bargaining team.

“He looked surprised when I informed him that they were not trying to meet with us,” Collier said.

Collier said employees wanted to let board members know fourteen (14) management positions cost WBH a similar amount to thirty-nine (39) union positions they are trying to replace with fly-by-night contractors.  CUPE asked WBH management to confirm these numbers on June 6 and has not yet received a response.

“Many residents have reached out to us with stories and pictures of unmanaged properties that are falling into disrepair, including garbage cans overflowing, unsightly yards that haven’t been mowed in weeks,” said Collier. “One resident even got stuck in a broken elevator.”

Collier said residents are complaining that it is nearly impossible to get in touch with WBH regarding their concerns.

“Our members care about the residents,” she said. “They just want to go back to work and serve the residents and their community.”

Wood Buffalo Housing members take to the radio

FORT MCMURRAY – CUPE members locked out by their employer at Wood Buffalo Housing are featured in two new radio ads that went on the air today in the Fort McMurray region.

The ads feature a maintenance person, a housekeeper and a groundskeeper, all of whom have effectively lost their jobs to fly-by-night contractors retained by the housing corporation.

“Like all the locked out employees, these three are part of our community, and they want to work for their residents,” said CUPE 1505 President Judy Collier.  “They are standing up for Wood Buffalo in a way their employer is not.”

For more information visit www.standforwoodbuffalo.ca.

Hear the radio ads here and here.

 

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
780.271.2722

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.

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Contact:

Rory Gill, President, CUPE AB Division

403.988.6966

Fort McMurray managers get overtime for emergency but front line workers left out – CUPE

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.”

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Contact: Marle Roberts, President CUPE Alberta

780.918.3061

 

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Roberts outlines CUPE’s vision for Alberta economy

DSC_4074CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts used her convention report to outline her prescriptions for Alberta’s ailing economy.

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.”

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Climate change plan will be good for Alberta

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.”

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