Why is Halifax City Council sending mixed messages?

Halifax Citadel by Taber Andrew Bain, Creative Commons Licence

CUPE Local 108 representatives have twice requested new dates for negotiations from the employer, Halifax Regional Municipality. Both times the City has refused. Members of the Halifax outside workers’ union want to know why the City’s negotiating team and City Council are sending mixed messages and when will they agree to return to the bargaining table.

“Why ask for conciliation and then refuse to show up?” asks Todd MacPherson, CUPE Representative. “Negotiations should take place at the bargaining table and the City should respect the process.”

City Councillor David Hendsbee recently told The Rick Howe show listeners that the contract issues need to be resolved “at the bargaining table”. However, in a letter sent to the union this week by the City, chief negotiator Andrea Gillis stated the City prefers the use of an “electronic package” rather than meeting with the union’s negotiations team.

“It seems that the City’s negotiators think it’s acceptable to conduct negotiations by email. That’s unacceptable treatment of the city’s 350 outside workers and a sign that the City does not take these negotiations seriously,” says Mark Cunningham, president of CUPE 108.

“In the end, it’s HRM residents that lose out. They pay their city councillors and staff to negotiate these contracts. They should get what they pay for – a fairly bargained contract for city workers, without an interruption to public services.”

Local 108 maintains its position that they prefer to reach an agreement at the bargaining table, avoiding a disruption of services that may be caused if the employer carries through with the threat of locking out employees.

“If HRM negotiators are truly serious about reaching an agreement, they will return to the bargaining table,” concludes Cunningham.

Photo: Halifax Citadel by Taber Andrew Bain, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Halifax outside workers extremely disappointed with employer’s offer

Despite the threat of a lock-out made by their employer, members of CUPE 108 Unit 1, Halifax outside workers, overwhelmingly rejected the offer put forward to them by their employer, with a 90 per cent vote to reject on the evening of August 17th.

“Residents should be aware that the City has made it clear that they would rather lock out workers than continue to bargain a fair collective agreement,” says Todd MacPherson, CUPE representative. On Tuesday, August 9, the employer served notice of their intention to lock employees out, even though the two sides were actively negotiating that day.”

“We are ready to go back into negotiations with the employer at any time. We want to reach an agreement at the table, and avoid a disruption of services that could happen if the City goes through with their threat to lock out our members,” says Mark Cunningham, president of CUPE 108.

“This employer needs to understand that we will not bargain concessions – even under the threat of a lock out.”

CUPE 108, Halifax Civic Workers, are outside workers employed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are over 300 members in Unit 1 including labourers, facility maintainers, gardeners, utility workers, storepersons, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters, building trades persons, fleet trades persons, engine room operators, chief plant operators, and plant operators including arena, rink, and pool.

Faced with layoffs, nursing home workers to hold information pickets across Nova Scotia

Elderly woman in a wheelchair in a long-term care home

CUPE members and supporters will hold information pickets this week to raise awareness about the impact of budget cuts to nursing homes and the quality of care for residents across the province.

The info pickets will be held Wednesday, August 17, from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. and again at 3 – 4:30 p.m. in front of MLA’s offices at the following locations:

Bras d’Or
15 Alder Point Road

Glace Bay
Peoples Mall, 219 Commercial Street

Halifax
1894 Barrington Street

Louisdale
Richmond Industrial Mall

New Waterford
3365 Plummer Avenue

Port Hawkesbury
323 Reeves Street

Workers received notice of layoffs, or reduced hours of work, last week at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home. The layoffs are the result of $6.7 million in budget cuts to long-term care announced by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
More staffing reductions are anticipated at other nursing homes in Nova Scotia. CUPE long-term care workers across the province will continue to campaign to stop the cuts.

CUPE members, and anyone with a loved one residing in a nursing home, are also encouraged to contact their MLA and ask them to oppose these cuts to long-term care.

Nursing home staff lose jobs as provincial government cuts begin to roll out

Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home

Workers received notice of layoffs, or reduced hours of work, this week at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home. The layoffs are the result of $6.7 million in budget cuts to long-term care announced by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness ($3.6 million cut in 2015 and an across the board 1% cut in 2016 of $3.1 million).

“We are now beginning to see the ‘real’ impact these cuts are having on workers, residents and their families. As well, nursing home administrators are now faced with impossible decisions that require them to cut costs that will reduce the quality of care for residents,” says Caroline Latimer, president of CUPE 3630 representing workers at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home.

In 2015 when the cuts were announced, former acting NDP leader Maureen MacDonald said, “You can’t take money out of a long-term care facility and not have an impact.”

“We couldn’t agree more,” says Louise Riley, chair of CUPE’s Long-Term Care Committee. “Based on his previous comments, it seems that Health Minister Leo Glavine thinks there will be no significant impacts resulting from this budget cut. We beg to differ. Now we are seeing the real impact.”

“After being notified that she will lose her job on August 10, a worker at the nursing home took her layoff notice to her MLA Michel Samson, insisting he get involved. She was quite surprised to hear from him that he didn’t know about the budget cuts,” says Kathy McLeod, CUPE Long-Term Care coordinator. CUPE has requested a meeting with Samson, who represents Cape Breton-Richmond.

CUPE Nova Scotia members, and anyone with a loved one residing in a nursing home, are encouraged to contact their MLA and ask them to oppose these cuts to long-term care.

CUPE members will hold information pickets to talk to the public about the impact of these budget cuts to nursing homes across the province. Dates and locations to be announced next week.

CUPE representatives to speak at EI Service Quality Review consultations in Halifax

CUPE representatives from Nova Scotia will speak at an upcoming public town hall session, as part of the federal government’s Employment Insurance Service Quality Review. The session will take place:

Tuesday, July 19
Time: 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Place: Ministers’ regional office, 1801 Hollis Street, 12th Floor, Suite 1210, Halifax, NS

Atlantic Canadians encounter too many challenges when trying to access Employment Insurance. This includes the inadequate number of Service Canada workers and the amount of workers that are in temporary positions, which negatively impacts service delivery.

CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen says, “More staff are needed in Service Canada centres who can meet face-to-face and are knowledgeable about the issues facing workers in specific occupations, sectors and regions.”

CUPE also encourages members to participate in the review by completing the online survey available on the Service Canada website.

The Liberal government’s 2016 budget includes $92 million to make improvements to the administration of the program. A summary report of the feedback received during the consultations will be released this later this year.

For more information, please contact:

Nan McFadgen
President, CUPE NS
(902) 759-3231 (m)

Colleen Reynolds
CUPE Communications Representative
(613) 203-2253 (m)
creynolds@cupe.ca

Halifax Civic Workers vote in favour of strike action

Members of CUPE 108 Unit 1, outside municipal workers employed by the City of Halifax, gave their union a strong strike vote on July 14, 2016.

“When we explained to our members how little effort the employer made to sit down with us and negotiate, the members were understandably frustrated and disappointed,” says CUPE 108 President Mark Cunningham.

“The last thing we want is a disruption of Halifax’s outdoor municipal services to the residents of Halifax. Hopefully this will motivate the City to agree to discuss the issues that are important to our members and to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”

Negotiations are set to resume the first week of August and the CUPE Local 108 negotiations committee is committed to bargain with the employer for a fair contract.

CUPE 108, Halifax Civic Workers, are outside workers employed by the Halifax Regional Municipality. There are over 300 members in Unit 1 including labourers, facility maintainers, gardeners, utility workers, storepersons, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters, building trades persons, fleet trades persons, engine room operators, chief plant operators, and plant operators including arena, rink, and pool.

CUPE at Truro’s first-ever Pride

CUPE Pride TruroTruro’s first-ever Pride march will take place Saturday, July 16 at 2 p.m. Join CUPE Nova Scotia and friends as we march down the streets of Truro in support of our LGBTTI members and community!

Several hundred people and more than 50 groups have already registered to march in the parade. Starting at the Truro Welcome Centre, the parade will go down Prince Street and finish at the Farmer’s Market. The march will be followed by a BBQ and celebration.

Come help us decorate our new CUPE Nova Scotia van and hand out Pride swag!

CUPE members and friends: please meet us at the Truro Welcome Centre located at 9 Commercial Street at 1 p.m.

CUPE is a proud advocate for LGBTTI rights. Our  is to fight against discrimination and hate in our workplaces and in our communities. Through the work of our National Pink Triangle Committee, CUPE Nova Scotia Human Rights Committee and coalition partners, we’ve helped make strides for LGBTTI people in Canada and internationally. We work every day to ensure our LGBTTI members can work in a discrimination and harassment-free environment.

#2016TruroPride #LoveWins