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.”

 

Kenney passes union busting bill 32

CUPE says “see you in court”

Calgary – “See you in court, see you at the next election.”

That was the response from CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill to news the Kenney government passed Bill 32 through the legislature late last night.

Gill says CUPE’s legal advice is overwhelmingly of the opinion that Bill 32 is unconstitutional on a number of fronts. Gill says the Premier wants a war with unions to distract from his failed economic agenda.

“Kenney promised jobs and pipelines, and Alberta’s economy is worse than ever,” said Gill.  “He promised no cuts to front line services and has slashed funding to health, education and municipalities.”

“Jason Kenney doesn’t want CUPE or other than unions to talk to our members or the public about his failures, so he passed Bill 32 to try to shut us up.”

“For better or worse, you’ll never shut CUPE up. We will keep telling people that Jason Kenney is the worst Premier in Alberta history.”

 

Kenney puts patients at risk with blood-for-money scheme

A bill before the Alberta Legislature will put Alberta’s blood collection system in peril by allowing private interests to ship plasma out of the province and country.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who represents employees at Canadian Blood Services, says the Kenney government is giving for-profit blood brokers the ability to operate freely, including the ability to ship blood to other countries.

“Private blood brokers do not create self-sufficiency in Canada because they make their profits by selling the plasma internationally,” said CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill. “Blood brokers pull donors from the public system, depleting our supply chain.”

“It’s not worth the lives of patients needing blood to make a few dollars for friends of the UCP,” said Gill. “This is a move being done to reward business interests close to the Kenney government, not to save money or provide better health care.”

“The Kenney government needs to scrap the bill, and reverse this dangerous, corrupt blood for money scheme.”

 

More layoffs at Red Deer College

Two-thirds of administrative staff now gone

RED DEER – Another 39 CUPE positions were eliminated and reduced from Red Deer College today in a move the union is calling “devastating to programs and services going forward.”

CUPE Local 1445 President Trina Carroll says there were once 157 people in her union delivering support services to students. Carroll says 43 were let go due to COVID-19 and Red Deer College has given no indication when or if they will all return.

“Students, faculty and even the public are going to see a dramatic reduction in the quality of program supports at the College,” said Carroll. “I am very concerned as to how we will be able to deliver a proper education support, or even provide services.”

In a media announcement early today, Red Deer College announced that recreation centres have been moved to Phase 2, so are in preparation to re-open the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Carroll stated, “The College will be running the centre with minimal staff, all parts of the college will struggle to offer required services given the cuts we faced.”

“Provincial cutbacks are devastating post secondary education in Alberta,” said Carroll. “We were promised no cuts to front line services, but that promise has not been kept.”

Reaction to cuts at Banff Centre

BANFF – Jason Pratt, President of CUPE 4318 issued the following statement in reaction to the layoff of almost 400 employees at the Banff Centre. The Centre has placed 284 members on long term leave and another 100 on short term layoff.

“CUPE Local 4318 members are immensely saddened by the news of the permanent layoff of friends and coworkers who have been a part of Banff Centre for many years.  CUPE Local 4318 will continue to work with the centre, in hopes that all of its members have jobs when the Centre eventually and fully reopens.

Many of the staff are struggling with the uncertainty and are in a position where they will have to make tough decisions about their lives and futures. In the interim, we strive to help our members by answering their questions and addressing issues in their hour of need.  We are working with the employer to ensure all staff will receive their entitlements in accordance with the collective agreement.  Arrangements have been made to feed staff, reduce rent for on site workers, and assisting with job services to help find other employment.  We at CUPE Local 4318 remain hopeful that the Banff Centre will one day reopen fully, but we remain limited by the coronavirus and the ability to facilitate on site programming.”

Still no wage increase for front line workers

CUPE launches letter campaign to MLAs

CALGARY – Almost six weeks after Health Minister Tyler Shandro claimed his government would give a $2/hour raise to health care aides in seniors’ facilities, many workers are still waiting for the raise to kick in.

CUPE Alberta, which represents over 5,000 health care workers across the province, unveiled a website today to ask MLAs to recognize the hard work of health care employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The website, www.supportfrontlineheroes.ca  includes a tool to send messages to Alberta MLAs.

President Rory Gill says the union launched the campaign because “CUPE members are tired of the disregard the Kenney government has shown for health care workers.”

“Other provinces have increased wages by over $4/hour, have been quicker to implement single staff rules, proper PPE, and other actions to keep everyone safe,” said Gill. “Here, the Kenney government has gone to war with doctors, made fake promises to workers, and dragged their heels on important safety standards.”

“This website allows our members and the public to let the UCP know we’re watching what they do, we know they are messing up, and we know they have broken all their promises.”

To send a message to your MLA in support of our front line workers, please click on picture below or go to www.supportfrontlineheroes.ca to sign:

Long term care workers still waiting for promised raise

BC gives $4/hour to front line workers – Albertans get nothing

CALGARY – Two days after the BC government announced a $4/hour raise for most health care workers, Alberta staff at long term care centers are still waiting for a smaller raise promised over a month ago.

CUPE Alberta, which represents 5,000 health care workers in the province, says a survey of their members at long term care facilities indicates most workers still have not received the $2/hour raise promised by Tyler Shandro on April 20th.

The $2/hour raise was only promised to health care aides in private continuing care facilities. In BC, almost every job classification in health care is eligible for the new $4/hour boost.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says Revera sites, which include McKenzie Towne Centre (location of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Calgary) has not yet raised wages.  Different agencies have been given different information on how the raise is to be applied.

“When is Tyler Shandro going to sort out this mess,” asked Gill. “BC is paying twice as much to five times as many people, and they seem able to get the money moving.”

“The Kenney government doesn’t care about health care workers. If they did, they would keep their promises, and recognize the workload, the effort, and the stress these workers are putting themselves through.”

 

Where’s the money, minister?

CUPE calls on Shandro to deliver promised wages to staff at seniors’ homes

CALGARY – Six weeks after promising a $2/hour raise for health care aides, those workers are wondering if they will ever see the wages promised by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says BC, Ontario and Quebec responded to COVID-19 by delivering wage increases of $4/hour or more to staff, but notes Alberta can’t get it together to give smaller amounts to fewer workers.

“This minister is incompetent,” says Gill. “Even with Ottawa providing funding for wage increases, they can’t figure out how to deliver the money.”

Gill says higher wages are needed to recruit more workers to support Alberta seniors. Earlier this week, health officials promised workers would see an increase on paycheques today. Gill says that’s not happening.

“The government is either lying or misinformed about wage top-ups. They will not be delivered today as promised.”

“It took BC two weeks to organize a provincial wage grid to deal with COVID-19. Two months on, Tyler Shandro is still sputtering,” says Gill. “He truly is the worst health minister in Alberta history.”

 

Calgary closed because Kenney won’t listen to workers

CALGARY — A union representing 5,000 health care workers says the Kenney government has failed to address problems in long term care and meat packing. According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, this failure is the reason Calgary cannot reopen with the rest of Alberta.

“Calgary is still closed because the UCP would not talk to front line workers about safety issues,” said Rory Gill, President of CUPE Alberta. “The biggest COVID outbreaks are in meat packing and long term care, because they messed up both files.”

On April 3, Gill wrote to Health Minister Tyler Shandro with detailed suggestions about how to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in long term care.  Gill urged Shandro to put single site staffing rules in place.

“The province of BC put single site staffing rules in place in about two weeks,” said Gill. “Two months into a pandemic, we are still waiting on the Alberta government to figure it out.”

“The Kenney government doesn’t get why we are still seeing outbreaks in long term care centers,” said Gill. “We need more staff, and better safety procedures.”

Gill says the UCP still can’t figure out what it is doing with wages in the sector. On April 10, the minister stated there would be a $2/hour raise for one classification of employee. “Over one month past that announcement, and no one has received a dime. How do you recruit more workers if you don’t pay them enough?”

“In Ontario, the Ford government gave a $4/hour increase for all long term care workers, including housekeeping and dietary aides. “Ford did that weeks ago,” said Gill. “What’s taking Kenney so long?”

 

Help line is no help

Students deserve Educational Assistants, not hold times

EDMONTON – A help line launched today for parents and students is a sad and insulting replacement for the 8000 educational assistants who were helping kids adapt to learning in a quarantine.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill called Education Minister Adriana LaGrange ‘clueless’ if she thinks a help line is going to replace trained staff she sacked on May 1st.

“An educational assistant has a handful of students. They work with individual teachers on the lesson plans and implements them according to the individual needs of the student” said Gill. “Replacing that person with a help line, where someone new answers the phone each time, someone who doesn’t know the student, the lesson, the teacher or the plan, is a joke”.

“Adriana LaGrange and Jason Kenney took resources away from Alberta’s most vulnerable special needs students” said Gill. “They left them floundering and vulnerable. This help line is no help.”

“Alberta’s special needs students and their parents deserve real resources, not hold times.”

Kenney government axes Northern Living Allowance

Letter to Keyano College staff confirms government isn’t coughing up

WOOD BUFFALO – Keyano College is proceeding with cuts to the Northern Living Allowance to employees after failing to receive confirmation that the Alberta government will fund it beyond June 2020.

A letter from the college to employees confirms that the monthly allowance of $1,040 per person will be taken off the pay packages of employees in July.  Keyano employees are the second group after childcare workers to lose the monthly benefit since the Kenney government was elected.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said he was worried other Fort McMurray residents would soon lose the benefit.

“First it was childcare workers, then Keyano employees, I’m worried municipal workers, healthcare workers, firefighters and others will lose it next,” said Gill.

“Jason Kenney promised to support oil and gas communities,” said Gill. “By defunding the allowance, after everything Fort McMurray has been through, is a slap in the face to a city that is still struggling.”

Started during boom times, the allowance assisted Wood Buffalo residents with the high cost of living. Gill said that the allowance now serves a different purpose.

“With the fire, the economic downturn, the crash in oil prices, and the COVID-19 crisis, Fort McMurray residents need help more than ever,” said Gill.

“The living allowance is a lifeline. Don’t cut it.