CUPE NS President calls on members to stand with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

On December 5, 2016, the McNeil Government will recall the Legislature for an emergency marathon session. The purpose? To strip teachers of their constitutional right to collectively bargain.

Imposing a collective agreement on our teachers is undemocratic. Bill 75 is thinly veiled union busting legislation that will not withstand legal scrutiny.

CUPE Nova Scotia stands with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. Will you do the same?

All workers – unionized and non-unionized – share in what unions have fought hard to achieve: safe workplaces, fair wages and benefits, and the ability to retire with dignity and security. When unions stand up for fairness they raise the bar for everyone, not just their own members.

Bill 75 may specifically target teachers, but it signals the end of fair collective bargaining in Nova Scotia.

Our members support the rights of teachers to bargain fairly and they are upset that children have been made pawns by a government that refuses to respect workers’ rights in this province. Never before has our provincial government attacked unions like this.

CUPE Nova Scotia will fight to safeguard our right to collectively bargain and we call on CUPE members to do the same. We are asking our 19,000 members to be ready to participate as never before.

In Solidarity,

Nan McFadgen
CUPE NS President

Update to CUPE members in the school board sector – December 4, 2016

CUPE Members Guide to NSTU Work Dispute

As communicated with you in our last bulletin around the NSTU labour dispute, CUPE continues to work with the other unions, your employer, and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, as we work through this constantly changing situation.

As you all know, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey announced on Saturday, that as of Monday December 5th all schools will be closed to children (in all school boards) until the Liberal Government has passed legislation in the coming weeks to deal with the NSTU labour dispute.

CUPE will update you on a regular basis or when a change occurs, so you will continue to have the information you need to know your rights and obligations through this process.

CUPE strongly supports NSTU in this work dispute. As trade unionists, CUPE will support any and all unions that choose to exercise their fundamental right to strike, not to mention, that NSTU members are our co-workers in our workplaces.
Maintaining good relationships is essential towards working together, and we will do all we can to support NSTU and their quest for a fair, freely negotiated collective agreement. Their fight is and will continue to be labours’ fight on these issues.

What was in the announcement from the Province on December 3?

Minister Casey announced that schools will be closed to students as of Monday December 5, 2016, and that the Legislature is being called back to session to pass legislation to deal with the proposed NSTU work action. Part of this legislation will be to end what is a legal NSTU strike, thus removing this constitutional right from that union. It will also impose the terms that government previously offered, which the members of NSTU turned down twice.

The other part on the announcement that Minister Casey made was clear that this was not a lock out of teachers, but rather a closing of the schools to students.

What does this mean to me as a CUPE member?

On Monday (and until advised otherwise by your supervisors or a member of management) we will continue to go to work and do our “normal duties”. We will not pick up any extra work that the teachers are not performing, but we will report and conduct our normal duties as if there was no labour dispute in affect.

For members that work directly in the schools, you will report at your normal times and do your normal duties until told otherwise by your direct supervisor.

If you are not asked to perform alternate duties you should conduct your day as normal, no matter who may or may not be in your schools.

If a student shows up at the school, immediately take them to your supervisor and leave them in that person’s supervision and control.

For our TA’s and lunch ground supervisors, you will continue to report to work as you normally do, during your regular hours, until instructed to do otherwise by your direct supervisor. Should a student show up at the school, immediately take them to your supervisor and leave them in that person’s supervision and control.

For bus drivers, unless the school board has contacted you DIRECTLY, continue with your normal job duties and routes on Monday. If you encounter a child waiting at your normal stops, then please stop and radio or call your dispatch person for direction on what to do with that student. DO NOT pick them up without direct direction to do so.

For any members that are casual employees, if you where schedule to work on Monday you will report as normal and follow the advice above. Continue to report to work until a supervisor or a manager tells you that your services are no longer needed.

As a CUPE member, you will report and do your work as “normal” if you are instructed to do anything different then please let your local executive know immediately.

You are protected if you refuse to do extra duties

You are protected under Section 53 of the Trade Union Act, which states:

53 (3) No employer and no person acting on behalf of an employer shall:
(c) Suspend, discharge or impose any financial or other penalty on an employee or take any other disciplinary action against an employee, by reason of his refusal to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike that is not prohibited by this Act.

CUPE has communicated directly with the Province to say that we will be invoking our rights under Section 53 and our members will not do any of the “struck duties” left by the teachers. We have also communicated this with your school board.

What should I do if I am asked to do something above my normal duties?

If you are asked to do any work that is normally performed by a teacher, that is above your normal job duties, or that happens on a more frequent basis, proceed as follows:

1. Calmly and politely explain to your supervisor, or the person making the request, that you believe you are being asked to perform “struck work” in violation of the Trade Union Act.

2. If they continue to request that you do the “struck work”, calmly and politely ask them to have your supervisor put the request in writing.

3. Immediately give this information to your local steward or executive member who will share it with your CUPE national representative.

If the request directly involves students, make sure they are safe and cared for, before you take this to your local officials.
If it does not directly involve students, then calmly and politely explain to your supervisor that you need to follow this process before taking on the duties.

Your local officials, along with your CUPE national rep, will work with you and give direction on how to proceed.

What does this mean to CUPE?

This becomes even more than ever our fight along with NSTU! If the Liberal Government follows through with the announced legislation, they will not only impose a collective agreement on NSTU, but they will also remove union members’ constitutional right to strike and their rights to legal strike actions under the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act.

Thank you and stay tuned for more CUPE updates!

Download a copy of this update: Guide for CUPE Members about the NSTU Work Dispute: Update #2

Update to CUPE members in the school board sector – December 1, 2016

CUPE Members Guide to the NSTU Work Dispute

We want to thank you for your patience throughout this period of uncertainty as CUPE, the other unions, your employer, and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union work to put plans in place during upcoming NSTU work disputes.

CUPE is actively working with your local executive, the other unions, and your employer to find the best outcome for all CUPE members as we move forward. We will continue to do so until a resolution can be found for this labour dispute.

CUPE will update you on a regular basis and when a change occurs, so you will have the information you need to know your rights and obligations through this process.

It is important to state that CUPE supports NSTU in this work dispute. As trade unionists, CUPE will support any and all unions that choose to exercise their fundamental right to strike, not to mention, that NSTU members are our co-workers in our workplaces. Maintaining good relationships is essential towards working together.

Here is what our support will look like.

Step 1: Work-to-rule

As you know, NSTU gave notice that as of December 5, they will begin a “work-to-rule” campaign in their workplaces. This is considered legal strike action under the Trade Union Act. Teachers will continue to go to work, but their days will be shorter and they will remove some of the duties normally performed from their schedules.

During the work-to-rule campaign teachers will not perform “voluntary extra-curricular activities and scheduled field trips will not continue during this job action. In addition, public school members will not arrive early or stay late after the instructional day; complete clerical duties; complete data collection and entry; attend meetings non-essential to lesson planning and implementation.”

The duties that they will not be conducting are called and considered “struck work” under the Act. Work-to-rule is a first step in job action that the teachers have elected to take and to show our support we will respect any duties they say they will not perform.

How do we as CUPE support that?

We will continue to go to work and do our “normal duties”. We will not pick up any extra work that the teachers are not preforming.

There are two important reasons for this: We all have a full workload already and we cannot be expected to do more. Also, in order for the NSTU “work-to-rule” to have any success, it must put pressure on the system in order to get their point across. If we pick up any of these extra duties, we will take that power away from NSTU. As trade unionists, we should not do that.

Am I protected if I refuse to do these extra duties?

Yes you are protected under Section 53 of the Trade Union Act, which states:

53 (3) No employer and no person acting on behalf of an employer shall:
(c) Suspend, discharge or impose any financial or other penalty on an employee or take any other disciplinary action against an employee, by reason of his refusal to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike that is not prohibited by this Act.

CUPE has communicated directly with the Province to say that we will be invoking our rights under Section 53 and our members will not do any of the “struck duties” left by the teachers. We will also communicate this with your school board.

What should I do if I am asked to do something above my normal duties?

If you are asked to do any work that is normally performed by a teacher, that is above your normal job duties, or that happens on a more frequent basis, proceed as follows:

1. Calmly and politely explain to your supervisor, or the person making the request, that you believe you are being asked to perform “struck work” in violation of the Trade Union Act.

2. If they continue to request that you do the “struck work”, calmly and politely ask them to have your supervisor put the request in writing.

3. Immediately give this information to your local steward or executive member who will share it with your CUPE national representative.

If the request directly involves students, make sure they are safe and cared for, before you take this to your local officials.

If it does not directly involve students, then calmly and politely explain to your supervisor that you need to follow this process before taking on the duties.

Your local officials, along with your CUPE national rep, will work with you and give direction on how to proceed.

Step 2: Rotating strikes or full removal of NSTU services

CUPE continues to work with the other unions, the school boards, and the Province to determine how this scenario will affect you as a CUPE member and what your obligations and rights will be. We will continue with those discussions and, if a full work disruption is to occur, we will send out another bulletin with the next steps.

Again, we want to thank you for your patience as we work through this process and for your solidarity with the teachers. Your trade unionism will be noted and seen by the other unions and, should we find ourselves in a similar position in this upcoming round of bargaining, we will be asking all of those same unions for their support in our struggle.

Thank you and stay tuned for more CUPE updates!

Download a copy of this update: Guide for CUPE members in school boards about the NSTU work dispute

CUPE stands in solidarity with Nova Scotia Teachers Union

CUPE solidarity with NSTU

CUPE sends a message of solidarity and support to teachers across Nova Scotia today, in their efforts to gain a fair collective agreement with the McNeil government.

“On behalf of the 19,000 members of CUPE Nova Scotia, including 4,000 school board support staff, I want to express our full support for the membership of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen.

“Premier McNeil is creating havoc in the public service and he clearly does not understand the difficulties faced by workers. He doesn’t see the financial pressures and emotional strain placed on workers and their families when they are not able to negotiate their own wages, benefits and working conditions,” says McFadgen.

“Teachers deserve recognition for their hard work over the years to help improve the education system in Nova Scotia. It is time for the Province to meet with teachers to have a round of bargaining in which they are able to bargain their wages, and to work in an environment where their expertise is taken into consideration when decisions are made for the betterment of students and schools.”

“Rather than impose contract terms, he should allow the collective bargaining process to function as it was intended,” states McFadgen.

“Teachers have sent a clear message, rejecting McNeil’s strong-arm approach and CUPE fully supports NSTU members in their struggle, and all public employees, until such a time as the Liberal government shows the workforce the respect it deserves.”

Halifax outside municipal workers ratify new contract

CUPE 108: Proudly serving our community since 1941

The members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 108 Unit 1, outside municipal workers for Halifax Regional Municipality, voted to accept a new two-year contract today.

The ratified collective agreement includes wage increases of 1.5% each year of the contract, some benefit improvements for seasonal workers, and increased hourly premiums for winter works.

The new contract is in effect from November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2017.

“Although we had to go through a lengthy conciliation process to reach an agreement, we’re pleased that our members were able to make some gains,” says CUPE 108 President Mark Cunningham.

“More importantly, we successfully pushed back concessions to our pension plan.”

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.

Staff layoffs at Middleton nursing home in Stephen McNeil’s riding

Heart of the Valley Nursing Home, Middleton, NS

CUPE long-term care workers ask the public to join the fight to stop budget cuts

Three members of the support services department at the Heart of the Valley Nursing Home in Middleton, Nova Scotia received lay off notices last week — which is near Premier Stephen McNeil’s constituency office. 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.

This is the fifth facility operated by GEM Health Care Group to layoff workers and reduce hours in recent weeks. Staff cuts were also made at Melville Lodge in Halifax, Gables Lodge in Amherst, Whitehills in Hammonds Plains and the Admiral in Dartmouth.

Angela Delong, president of CUPE 3410 says, “These lay-offs are devastating to those facing the loss of their jobs. They are also devastating to the staff left behind. The work remains.”

“We have the same number of residents and the same size building. These things have not changed. Job cuts equal cuts to services, which ultimately mean cuts to care,” continues DeLong.

CUPE members, and anyone with a loved one residing in a nursing home, are asked to send an email to their MLA and Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine at cupe.ca/our-seniors-deserve-better, asking them to reverse the budget cuts.

“Our members working in long-term care are very upset,” says CUPE Representative Karen MacKenzie. “These cuts are having a serious impact on their lives and their families, as well as on the residents they care for. They deserve better.”

Staff at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home received similar notices in early August. More staffing reductions are anticipated at other nursing homes in Nova Scotia.

Photo: Gem Health Care Group 

School Board Candidate Survey – 2016 Elections

Woman writing on a form

Please ask school board candidates in your area to fill out this survey. A printable PDF copy of the survey is attached below.

NSFL School Board Candidate Survey 2016

Dear School Board Candidate:

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour invites your responses to the following questions. We will share your responses with our stakeholders and make the results of completed surveys public. Thank you for your participation.

  1. Please describe the qualifications which make you a strong candidate for this School Board Trustee position:
  2. Have you ever been involved in a community-based campaign to project or improve local services? If so, please describe:
  3. What policies and/or programs would you initiate to maintain and /or improve public education services in your school district?
  4. Is your district experiencing declining enrolment? If so, what are the most practical solutions to deal with this issue
  5. Under what circumstance would you support a decision to close a school?
  6. Would you support the creation of a hub school in your community?
  7. In what circumstances would you consider the contracting-out or privatization of public education services?
  8. What is your opinion of Nova Scotia’s experience with P3 school arrangements to date?
  9. P3 contracts are expiring across the province this year or next. Do you think your government should buy back the school(s), walk away from the leases or extend the lease agreement with the private developer?
  10. Are there circumstances under which you would consider adding a P3 school in your district? If so, what are those circumstances?
  11. Please describe how you see the role of unionized labour and the Labour Movement more generally within Nova Scotia’s school system:
  12. Do you have any additional comments?

If you have additions to any of the above questions, please use a separate piece of paper. Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey.

PLEASE RETURN COMPLETED SURVEYS TO:

NSFL
3700 Kempt Rd.
Suite 225
Halifax, N.S.
B3K 4X8
Tel: 902.454.6735
Fax: 902.454.7671
Email: joan@nslabour.ca

Download a copy: NSFL School Board Candidate Survey 2016 

Nova Scotia Liberal Government’s budget cuts reduce patient care as staffing cuts take place at GEM nursing homes

Admiral nursing home, Dartmouth

Budget cuts affect quality of care, staffing levels

HALIFAXResidents at four Nova Scotia nursing homes are facing reduced care due to staff cuts at Melville Lodge in Halifax, Gables Lodge in Amherst, Whitehills in Hammonds Plains and the Admiral in Dartmouth, which are operated by GEM Health Care Group. Workers received notice of layoffs, or reduced hours of work, last week at the four nursing homes.

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.

“This is a very worrying time for our members working in nursing homes across the province,” says CUPE Representative Kathy MacLeod. “They are also frustrated by the impact these cuts are having on the residents they care for.”

“Operational costs like utilities and interest payments don’t change and still need to be paid. These cuts are forcing administrators to find other ways of reducing costs,” says CUPE Long-Term Care Committee Chair Louise Riley.

“In addition to the staffing cuts, our members are seeing changes to less expensive supplies, such as changing garbage bags used to a lesser brand and changing personal care incontinence systems from briefs to a two-piece system for all residents that is much cheaper,” says Riley.

Staff at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home received similar notices in early August. 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.

Photo: Admiral Nursing Home, Dartmouth. www.gemhealth.com

CUPE NOVA SCOTIA CONVENTION AND LONG TERM CARE COORDINATING CONFERENCE

TO ALL CUPE LOCALS

Please be advised the dates for the CUPE NS 2017 Convention and the LTCCC conference have changed. The new dates are as follows:

Long Term Care Coordinating Conference – May 27th-28th

CUPE Nova Scotia –   May 28th – May 31st
If you local has already made reservations, they have been moved to these dates.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our Members.

CUPE NS Executive          LTCCC Executive

 

 

 

 

 

A labour of love

Nan McFadgen recording the Labour Day message from CUPE Nova Scotia

A letter from Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia

For unions, Labour Day is our time to celebrate our work and the victories we win to make life better for everyone, like the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan.

There is also much to be done.

At the heart of what unions have always done, we fight for better jobs, safer workplaces and better lives. Simply put, it’s a labour of love. Which is why we are working hard to tackle issues like provincial budget cuts to long-term care, precarious work and the shrinking number of good jobs.

Unfortunately, legislation put forward by the McNeil government undermines the collective bargaining rights of tens of thousands of workers in Nova Scotia.

They’ve made it harder for workers to exercise their right to organize by removing the automatic right to first contract arbitration.

They have limited the ability of health care, home care and community services workers to take meaningful job action.

Employers who receive funding from the province are now compelled to enforce a four-year deal with two years of wage freezes, and a major concession on Long Service Awards. Arbitrators are prohibited from awarding more.

If proclaimed, Bill 148 (the Public Services Sustainability Act) will obstruct union members’ right to bargain wages.

All of this should trouble Nova Scotians – whether or not they are unionized workers. There is a direct relationship between attacks upon unions and the quality of life all Nova Scotians enjoy.

When workers, through their unions, are able to bargain freely for decent wages, benefits and pensions, there are benefits for society as a whole.

Decent wages and pensions mean better lives for workers and their families. It also means more prosperous communities, because unionized workers spend most, or all, of their paycheques close to home.

Our union voice is needed more now than ever.

The McNeil government is making cuts to important public services. Like long-term care and home care. They’re even suggesting we let go of our public assets, after their failed P3 school deals.

Our members will continue fighting to stop these cuts to public services. For us, it truly is a labour of love and it’s what motivates us to march in the streets and celebrate in the parks, playgrounds and community spaces across the province this weekend.

On behalf of the members of CUPE Nova Scotia, I’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy Labour Day!
______

Please bring your family and join us at events being held on Monday, September 5!

Amherst at Victoria Square, Noon to 4 pm

Bridgewater at Ship Yards Landing, 1 to 4 pm

Kentville at Memorial Park, 11 am to 2 pm

Port Hawkesbury at the Unifor Hall, 323 Reeves Street, 2 to 3 pm

Sydney at Open Hearth Park, Noon to 2 pm

Yarmouth at Frost Park on Main Street, 11 am to 2 pm

Halifax for a Labour Day March, meeting at Victoria Park at 10:30 am. The march will be followed by a BBQ at the South Commons Triangle (corner of Spring Garden and South Park Street)