Mark Hancock – COVID hurting those already hurting the most

CUPE National President Mark Hancock spoke to delegates saying the pandemic has exposed problems in Canada. But it’s also making clear the value of front-line responders.

“First responders and health care workers saving lives, education and childcare workers finding new ways to support children, and municipal workers keeping communities clean and safe, you kept communities strong during the most trying days of our lives.”

“And when this is over, we’re going to make sure nobody forgets it.”

Hancock said COVID-19 has exposed and worsened problems and inequalities in Canada.

“It has rocked our overworked and underfunded health care system. It left millions of people out of work,” said Hancock. “It’s in times like these that we need our union and our movement more than ever.”

Hancock took aim at Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for using the pandemic as cover for an agenda of punishing workers and cutting health care.

“Rather than supporting health care workers, Jason Kenney has picked a fight with Alberta doctors. And he barely lifted a finger to help workers fighting back outbreaks in long-term care.”

“The pandemic hasn’t stopped Jason Kenney’s assault on workers’ and public services. But it sure as hell isn’t going to stop us from fighting back either!”

“President Timing” fights back against anti-worker government

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill laughs about the fact his son calls him, “President Timing.”

Gill took office only a few weeks before Jason Kenney was elected. Shortly after, the new Premier started a campaign of cutbacks and fights with working people.

“For four years, Marle Roberts got to report progress union members were making,” said Gill. “That is not my fate. Marle got out before things got…interesting.”

Gill said the threat posed by Jason Kenney is far worse than anything faced by CUPE in the past.

“Never before have we had a government so committed to breaking unions and benefiting the rich. Jason Kenney and the UCP are a threat to working people, to health care, to education and to a civilized society. If we do not slow down his agenda and defeat him, Alberta will never be the same.”

Gill explained how Kenney lied to get elected. The Alberta UCP leader promised lower taxes, less debt, more jobs, and no cuts to services.

“On every issue, he’s delivered the exact opposite.”

According to Gill, Jason Kenney promised his corporate tax cut would create 50,000 new jobs. Instead, Alberta lost 50,000 jobs before the pandemic and over 200,000 more since. Gill called Bill 32 an attempt to “tie us up in paperwork, fine us and even jail us if we speak our minds.”

“No ideological, right wing-troll government is going to stop CUPE.”

Gill outlined the work done to fight Bill 32 and the Kenney government. And he called on activists to do even more.

“The challenges in the coming year are not small. They feel daunting. But no one has to face them alone. We are 40,000 strong in Alberta. We are 700,000 strong in Canada.”

“I ask of you what I commit of myself – do what you can. Do your part. Take care of our fellow members. Don’t take any abuse from our government.

Together, we will face our challenges. Together, we will win.”

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.”

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.”