CUPE Alberta endorses Team Unite in upcoming CLC election

At the CUPE Alberta annual convention on Thursday morning, delegates voted overwhelmingly to support the candidacy of Bea Bruske, Siobhan Vipond and Lily Chang for positions on the executive of the Canadian Labour Congress. The election is taking place at the CLC virtual convention on June 16-18.

The motion from the floor, put forward by CUPE Alberta Recording Secretary John Vradenburgh came following presentations from the three Team Unite candidates. “I liked the ideas that Bea, Siobhan and Lily are bringing to the table, and I am excited for their election at the upcoming CLC convention,” said Vradenburgh.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill accepted the motion and put it straight to a vote with 96% delegates voting in favour: “I meant what I said on the convention floor, Team Unite is made up of three incredible labour leaders, they really are a super slate. I am glad to see our membership coming forward to show them our strong support,” said Gill.

Bea Bruske is running for CLC President, Siobhan Vipond is running for CLC Executive Vice-President and CUPE’s own Lily Chang is running for CLC Secretary-Treasurer. To learn more about Team Unite, click here.

 

Charles Fleury: A good news budget in difficult times

National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury brought a clear message to the  CUPE Alberta Convention: CUPE has the resources we need to back the important fights we face.

With thousands of members laid off, we had to find operational savings – and every single budget line was reviewed, line by line. “Because of this effort, I am extremely proud to say we will maintain almost all services and programs in the coming year.”

Fleury noted that this would include CUPE Alberta’s fight to protect union rights against Bill 32, as well as helping elect worker-friendly candidates in the municipal elections this fall.  Last year, CUPE National funded $1.6 million for division campaigns.

“With CUPE’s solid financial foundation, I am positive: we will be able to face the challenges ahead.”

 

Mark Hancock: “We can’t just go back to normal”

CUPE National President Mark Hancock spoke to CUPE Alberta Convention delegates saying the pandemic has highlighted the importance of undervalued workers, and presents opportunities as we start to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19.

“As much as we talk about wanting to get back to normal, we also know that normal wasn’t actually good enough. We can’t go back to normal – we need to come back much stronger than that.”

Hancock emphasized the need to fight for a social safety net that meets the needs of our times, as we look at a possible federal election this year.

“Long-term care centres faced tragic and horrifying outbreaks that needlessly took the lives of far too many. It’s unacceptable that in 2021 we’re still forcing people to go to work sick in the middle of a pandemic because they can’t afford to miss a shift. And it’s shameful we have not had the necessary income supports for Canadians when they lose their job through no fault of their own.”

Hancock took aim at “business as usual” from Jason Kenney’s Conservative government.

“While they cut from our schools, our hospitals, our post-secondary institutions, and our municipalities, they’re handing out $4.7 billion to profitable corporations.”

“Jason Kenney’s priorities are completely upside down!”

Rory Gill: “Never stop fighting, stick together, and win”

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill opened his report to the CUPE Alberta Convention by recognizing the incredible challenge that the last year has been for all of us, but also the way that CUPE members have stepped up to meet those challenges.

“The more adversity we’ve faced, the stronger we’ve become, together and it’s together that we will keep getting stronger and overcome the challenges of these times, no matter how daunting and tough they may be.”

Gill said that the actions of the provincial government and UCP MLAs have also made the year even harder – refusing to reduce class sizes, ignoring advice from health officials, and topping it all off by putting Albertans at risk for the sake of a few days on the beach.

“I have said it many times and will keep saying it until the day the UCP is sent packing by the people of Alberta; the only thing Jason Kenney is good at is making things worse!”

Gill also saluted all of the front-line workers in the province putting themselves at risk every day, thanking them for their service and dedication.

“In CUPE when we say we honour front line workers, we mean it and we follow through by fighting for decent pay, safe working conditions, good benefits and fair and secure retirement.”

Gill explained that Kenney’s latest budget not only cuts education, health care, and many other essential services, but cuts them to pay for corporate tax cuts, bad investments, and poor government.

“The budget is backwards, broken and making life harder for most Albertans.”

Gill emphasized that CUPE Alberta isn’t standing still, but is fighting back with an ambitious campaign of education and mobilization, which has expanded CUPE’s reach and made a difference.

“We have to keep educating Albertans about the damage Jason Kenney is doing to our province, and we have to activate people to work hard to throw this dangerous, radical government out.”

Gill closed by pointing out that Kenney’s union-busting Bill 32 is also backfiring and will never shut CUPE up.

“Jason Kenney’s going to regret this bill as we speak with every single CUPE member in Alberta about the damage it’s doing.”

 

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.

A backward budget from Jason Kenney

Dear friends,

Today, Jason Kenney’s government tabled a budget for the 2021-22 year.

I’d love tell you that the UCP tabled a budget that will create jobs, revitalize the economy and protects the public services we need.

I’d love to tell you that, but I can’t.

Don’t believe what the Kenney government is saying. This is a budget that cuts services, that has no plan for the economy, and makes working Albertans pay for corporate tax cuts and bad investments.

CUTS TO VALUABLE SERVICES

When you factor in population growth and inflation, today’s budget represents a $4 billion cut to services we count on.

To put this in real terms, it means:

  • $600 million less for health care than Alberta spent in 2018-19. And that’s AFTER including money from the federal government to help with COVID.
  • The UCP have cut education funding by $160 million, even though 20,000 more students will come into the system in September.
  • The UCP cut $600 million from post-secondary education, they cut $750 million from municipalities. Kenney is cutting crime prevention & criminal prosecution. He is cutting funds for the homeless, funds for housing, and funds for wildfire fighting.

And on top of all that, there’s $1.4 billion in further cuts by 2023.

CORPORATE TAX BREAKS – THOSE ARE STILL A GO

Jason Kenney is continuing his $4.7 billion tax cuts for profitable corporations – tax cuts that have yet to produce a single job.

And we now know that Jason Kenney has lost another $900 million on the failed Keystone pipeline (bringing the total lost to $2.4 billion).

The budget has no plan for job creation and no plan for diversification of our economy. We have no plan beyond ‘hoping things get better.’

Kenney isn’t even making a dent in the deficit and debt. I don’t believe this is the time to focus on debt. But for all the pain inflicted by his cuts, Jason Kenney’s deficit is three times higher than the last NDP budget.

BACKWARD BUDGET

CUPE is fighting back. I’m asking you to go to www.backwardsbudget.ca and send a message to the UCP – this budget is a bad plan for Alberta.

Jason Kenney promised Jobs, the economy and pipelines. He promised no cuts to frontline services. He’s broken almost every promise he made.

Nobody voted for this.

Sincerely,

Rory Gill, President
CUPE Alberta