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.”

 

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

“Students and education workers would be safer going shopping”

CUPE Alberta requests an emergency meeting with Minister LaGrange

CUPE Alberta has requested an emergency meeting with Alberta Education Minister, Adriana LaGrange.

The union, representing 36,000 employees across Alberta, says the government’s current plan to re-open schools lacks health and safety protocols and puts students, education workers and families at risk. Specifically, CUPE Alberta’s President Rory Gill wants to talk with the minister about classroom sizes, availability of PPE and the capacity of custodial staff to implement regular sanitization procedures.

“As it stands, students and education workers would be safer in some shopping centres than returning to class. We need proper PPE, enough trained custodial staff and equipment to regularly sanitize public spaces, and the ability to physically distance – something that won’t be possible in classrooms with thirty students,” said Gill.

“There is still time for the government to do the right thing, to take care of students, education workers and families. We’re offering to sit down with the Minister to outline our specific concerns and work together to come up with solutions before school starts.”

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

CUPE Alberta has asked for the meeting to take place this week, ahead of a mass return to school in September.

Letter to Minister LaGrange August 24, 2020

Education workers unite in new call to keep children safe as schools reopen


Joint statement from ATA, AUPE, CUPE Alberta and Unifor

Everyone who works in Alberta’s public K-12 schools share a common priority: Keeping the students and families safe.

Now that Albertans are preparing for schools to reopen, we as unionized workers have come together to issue this joint statement.

We are concerned about the Government of Alberta’s deficient plan for school reopening.

As front-line workers, we know that the best way to keep the children safe is to have enough staff to do the work and to have these workers do the jobs for which they are trained.

That is why members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Unifor all commit to focusing on their own work and not put children at risk by doing work for which they are not trained.

Teachers will stick to instruction and assessment; education assistants will stick to helping students; custodial workers will stick to maintenance and cleaning to keep the COVID-19 virus away.

We are concerned with recent comments made by the Premier that call on teachers to “tidy up” in schools as part of the plan to deal with the risks posed by COVID-19.

There is a difference between tidying up, which teachers do routinely, and the cleaning needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 that will need to be undertaken throughout schools over the course of the school day in an organized and systematic fashion by staff employed for this purpose.

In the face of this dangerous pandemic, our children and staff need to have all these important tasks done by those who are trained to do them.

The Alberta government and school boards must not cut corners by asking these workers to do their normal jobs and then to undertake extra duties related to COVID-19 for which they are not trained.

Schools have been chronically understaffed for years. Recent budget cuts imposed by the government mean funding is lower than at 2018 levels. Schools do not have the funding required to increase staffing levels to ensure students, staff and their families remain safe.

The government and school boards have a duty to ensure that there are adequate resources to ensure safety. That means having enough workers; enough masks and other required personal protective equipment; and enough sanitizers, soap and washing stations.

Anything less mean placing students, staff and Alberta families at unacceptable risk.

 

Layoffs decimate the Glenbow Museum

CALGARY – The CUPE local 1645 executive issued the following statement in reaction to the layoff of 45 employees at the Glenbow Museum. The museum has now eliminated 80 per cent of unionized positions since closing in March. The layoffs will have a devastating impact on visitors and exhibits.

“It is a dark day for arts and culture in Alberta. In an historic move, the Glenbow Museum has eliminated 45 positions. Half of these employees have been with the museum more than ten years and represent vast institutional knowledge, expertise, and highly specialized skills.

All visitor servicer and coordinator positions have been terminated, along with exhibit, photography, and graphic design positions. Eighty-five per cent of the artifacts will now have no technicians or conservators to care for them. This move will impact visitors, researchers, donors, and most importantly BIPOC communities who have relied on access from front-end staff to their cultural patrimony held in permanent galleries and the collection.

We continue to work on behalf of our members, both those laid off and those continuing to work at the Glenbow Museum, by keeping lines of communication open with the employer in hopes that the immense talent of our members can be retained and recalled. Regular Zoom meetings have been, and will continue to be, held with the membership to ensure that employees are coping during this unprecedented time.”