CUPE members at Valley View Villa concerned with lack of oversight by provincial government

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing workers at Valley View Villa in Stellarton, is concerned that the Nova Scotia Department of Health was unaware of the problems that existed at the facility. The union is calling on the Minister of Health to explain what action the provincial government will take to protect other workplaces from this type of upheaval and risk to patient care.

Last month, the current administration at Valley View Villa contacted CUPE representatives, asking to discuss financial issues at the long term care home. The union was informed that the previous administration had staffed to a level that is not completely funded by the provincial government and this has created a‎ deficit that continued to grow over time.

The employer announced that restructuring was necessary to get down to appropriate staffing levels that fall within the funding mandate. CUPE representatives have since met with the employer to ensure that downsizing and layoffs were only implemented when there was no alternative through mitigation.

Peter Baxter, CUPE national representative, says that talks are taking place between the administration and the union.  “We are doing everything we can to make sure members are represented under the collective agreement and proper layoff procedures are followed if necessary.”

“We are working together to ensure that frontline workers, the services they provide, and the people they care for are not negatively affected during the transition,” says Baxter. “We hope that the Province will work to ensure better oversight of budgets for public health care facilities, so workers and residents are not faced with this type of staff layoff again.”

CUPE Local 2330 represents approximately 140 members who work as continuing care assistants and personal care workers, as well as staff in dietary, activities and recreation, environmental services, and maintenance.

Member update on health care bargaining – October 13, 2017

Turning my back on NS Liberals CUPE 8920

After 22 days of negotiations, multiple pieces of Liberal legislation attacking workers’ rights, and employers who are attempting to take away key benefits from health care workers, talks have finally broken down between the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and IWK Hospital.

Without any pressure to do so, the employers (NSHA and IWK) have requested the assistance of a conciliator from the Department of Labour to assist the parties. Employer negotiators have shown no interest in bargaining in good faith and still refuse to table their proposed changes to sick leave benefits for health care workers. As a result, there is nothing more we can accomplish at the table without the aid of a conciliator.

It is expected conciliation will begin sometime in the next two months and is likely to last for many weeks due to the complexity of the task.

When a union and an employer reach an impasse in bargaining, one or both parties can apply to the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education to have a conciliator assist in resolving the stalemate. Although a conciliator cannot compel a union and an employer to reach an agreement, they do work with both sides to try to craft a negotiated settlement and to avoid labour disruption

In the meantime, Health Care Council negotiators continue to attempt to conclude an essential services agreement, so that we may be able to begin job action. The employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have so far refused to come to the table to continue discussions. Our negotiators continue to finalize their essential services proposal in the hopes of re-starting discussions in the coming weeks.

Liberal Government legislation requires that the Health Care Council negotiate a single collective agreement to replace the multiple agreements that were in place in each of the former District Health Authorities. The legislation, requiring a detailed and complicated essential services plan before the Health Care Council could engage in job action, has had a severe impact on negotiations.

Without a concluded essential services plan, there is no threat of job action and therefore no pressure to cause the employers to compromise to reach agreement on important benefits that will make up your new collective agreement.

On August 22, the work of the Health Care Council became even more complicated when the Liberal Government enacted Bill 148, freezing your wages for two years, providing minimal increases after that, and freezing the retirement allowance retroactive to April 1, 2015.

This legislation was proclaimed by the McNeil Liberal Government without warning and strips approximately 70,000 people of benefits they previously had and relied on. We are currently challenging this legislation in the courts.

This round of bargaining has been a long and frustrating process for health care members. The McNeil Liberals have used their majority government unlike any other provincial government in Canada to invoke multiple pieces of anti-union legislation.

Despite these barriers, your Bargaining Committee continues to fight hard during these negotiations to protect key benefits that you have negotiated over the past four decades. For example, health and dental benefits plans, which employer negotiators want complete control of.

If the Health Care Council were give up this control, the employers could make unilateral changes to your benefits without the agreement of the unions.

The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions is the lead table in this round of health care negotiations and has been attempting to negotiate a collective agreement on your behalf since October 2016. The Council’s bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE, and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Council.

If you have questions or concerns about the bargaining process, please contact a member of your CUPE 8920 bargaining committee:

 

Convention 2017 – Moving Forward Together

Delegates hold up voting cards at the CUPE National Convention

Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends:

We’d like to thank the 2,200 delegates who took the time out of their lives to attend our National Convention in Toronto last week. We know it’s not easy, and we appreciate your commitment to our union, and the honesty and civility with which you engaged in debates around our union’s priorities, policies and structure.

We accomplished a lot together, and we wanted to share some of the key decisions that were made.

Strike Pay

Delegates approved a resolution to begin pay for eligible members of striking locals on the first day of a strike, instead of the fifth, as is currently the case. This move will strengthen the position of locals who encounter obstinate and unreasonable demands from employers at the bargaining table. This change to strike pay is effective immediately.

Coupled with the union’s renewed bargaining policy, which rejects all attempts by employers to force concessions and two-tier proposals on workers, we now have a full set of tools to take on bargaining in a climate of aggressive austerity.

Strategic Directions

Delegates also adopted CUPE’s Strategic Directions, which establishes the union’s priorities for the next two years. The plan sets out how we will make gains in our workplaces and communities, fight racism and discrimination in all its forms, defend public services, and advocate for a better country and world.

Task Force on Governance

Delegates approved a resolution to create a Task Force on Governance which will review the structure of our union as laid out in the constitution.  Our governance structure has not changed significantly since our inception as a union in 1963, despite the substantial growth and changes in our membership in the intervening 54 years, and this assessment is long overdue.

The task force will look at the current and historic composition of our leadership, the role and responsibility of the positions that make up the National Executive Board, and the structure of our chartered organizations as well as that of other labour organizations.  The task force will make recommendations to the National Executive Board by March 2019, and the NEB will submit any constitutional amendments necessary to the 2019 National Convention.

Once again, we’d like to thank each and every delegate for their work.

In solidarity,

MARK HANCOCK
National President
CHARLES FLEURY
National Secretary-Treasurer

Nova Scotia Liberal Government stomping on workers’ rights

Unions fight-back legislation in Nova Scotia

Hundreds of union members from across the province descended on opening day of the Nova Scotia Legislature on September 21, 2017. The workers, from several public sector unions, drowned out the Throne Speech being given inside at the same time. They sent a message to the McNeil Liberal Government that we will defend collective bargaining rights. “The unions will be around a lot longer than this Liberal Government!”

  • See photos of the rally on Flickr.

Organized by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, CUPE was joined by members of Unifor, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), the Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSTU), the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union (NSTU), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), IUOE Local 727 (paramedics), and the Canadian Federation of Students.

Three national union leaders joined provincial leaders to speak at the event. CUPE National President Mark Hancock led the packed agenda that also included Larry Brown, NUPGE president; and Jerry Dias, Unifor president. Other speakers included Alex Furlong, Canadian Labour Congress; Gary Burrill, leader of the NS New Democrats; and CUPE NS President Nan McFadgen.

“We’re here to send a message,” said Hancock. “We will take you on at the bargaining table. We will take you on in the courts. And by god, we’ll take you on in the streets.”

Highlights of the rally included “Stomping Steve” cut-outs that hovered over the crowd of workers and the sea of CUPE pink t-shirts and banners. The Dixie Dogs (a local, unionized six-piece band) provided music for the event, led by NS Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh. The rally was briefly suspended so that a military procession, which traditionally opens the Legislature before all Throne speeches, could respectfully be given thoroughfare to march through the streets of the rally.

Since 2013, public sector workers including teachers, nurses, school board and child care workers, civil servants, the arts community and many others – more than 70,000 workers – have been subjected to unrelenting interference in the collective bargaining process by the Liberal government.

On August 22, 2017, the Liberal government proclaimed Bill 148 that imposes a wage package and freezes a negotiated benefit known as the retirement allowance or service award. This benefit is eliminated for all new hires post April 2015. On September 8, 2017, the unions filed a request to be added as parties at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

The McNeil Liberal Government has introduced or proclaimed seven pieces of legislation in its ongoing attack on unions.

Bill 1
The Health Authorities Act restructured the health care system, unnecessarily reduced the number of bargaining units, and attempted to assign union representation rights.

Bill 19 
Trade Union Act amendments made it harder for workers to exercise their right to unionize and secure first collective agreements.

Bill 30 
The Essential Home Support Services Act directly interfered in the collective bargaining of home support workers.

Bill 37 
The Essential Health and Community Services Act limits job action rights of more than 40,000 workers in acute care, long term care, group homes, home support, child protection and other sectors.

Bill 75
The Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvement Act imposes a collective agreement on teachers after they rejected the contract terms three times.

Bill 100 
The Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act allows universities to override collective agreements during five-year “revitalization” periods.

Bill 148 
The Public Services Sustainability Act freezes and limits wage increases, sets the term of collective agreements and puts an end to long-service awards.

These attacks on public sector workers are unfair and likely unconstitutional. They’ll also do serious damage to the economy.

The wage restraint sections of Bill 148 are wage restraints, not imposed economic increases. For example, the economic increase in the third year cannot be more than one per cent, meaning in theory something less could be negotiated, but nothing greater. The retirement allowance, a freely negotiated benefit, is being unfairly taken without being offset and in effect takes wages from members that have been deferred until retirement.

These wage restraints will reduce purchasing power as the rising cost of living outpaces wage gains. Better wages are necessary to get the economy growing and reduce inequality.

There is a better way

There are steps the Nova Scotia government can take to put people first, protect the public services we need, create good jobs and a stronger economy.

The Liberal Government should recognize the public sector as a driver of economic growth. Top quality health care and education are important industries, not a drain on society.

“Stephen McNeil would have you believe there are no alternatives. But he’s wrong,” stated McFadgen. “We believe change is possible.”

There is a better way – Nan McFadgen

The following speech was given by CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen at the Rally to Protest Bill 148 on September 21, 2017, at the Nova Scotia Legislature.


Union members care.

We care about the residents in our nursing homes.

We care about increasing the number of staff in hospitals, so we all receive quality health care.

We care about increasing the number of educational assistants in our schools, to help teach our children.

We care about the quality of all the public services we deliver.

We care about Nova Scotia.

The choices made by the Liberal Government are hurting the province we love and are proud to call home.

They are not acting in the best interest of working people like you or me.

They are putting their own interests – and the interests of corporations – ahead of workers and their families.

Nova Scotians are already feeling the strain of cuts to nursing homes and the underfunding of many of our key services – like our hospitals, schools and universities – to mention a few.

The Liberals have proclaimed legislation that allows them to impose contracts on public sector workers and mandates a wage freeze with a wage increase that equals a rollback.

These attacks on public sector workers are unfair and likely unconstitutional.

They’ll also do serious damage to the economy.

What’s at stake is not only security for the people who deliver public services, but also security for all Nova Scotians who rely on these services every day.

The wage freeze will increase stress and frustration among workers.

It will encourage young people and skilled workers to leave the province.

Stephen McNeil would have you believe that there are no alternatives.

But he’s wrong.

We believe change is possible.

We can choose a Nova Scotia where we all have the chance for a better life.

With a government that shares our hopes – for security and well-being for our families.

The Liberal Government is for the wealthy and big corporations.

The government we want is for people like us.

The Liberals are focusing on their own agenda.

The government we want is focusing on making life better for all of us and our families.

The Liberals are cutting, privatizing and neglecting the services we count on.

The government we want should invest in strengthening services for families.

The Liberal Government should not have passed Bill 148 because they did not give contract negotiations a chance to work.

The Supreme Court has said all workers have the right to negotiate contracts without interference from laws like this one.

This legislation increases stress on workers, drives young people and skilled workers out of the province and hurts local economies.

These attacks as disrespectful and tough on families and will cause workers to fall further behind.

We don’t have to settle.

We can have a government that will face problems head on and fix the things that matter to us and our families.

Union members are fighting to deliver the services people count on and to grow our economy.

Better wages are necessary to get the economy growing and reduce inequality.

Suppressing public sector wages will eventually drive down private sector wages too.

Keeping wages down is one of the worst things to do to our economy.

There are steps the Nova Scotia Government can take to put people first to protect the public services we need and create good jobs and a stronger economy.

  • Strengthening collective bargaining legislation,
  • Creating new income tax rates, so top earners and corporations pay their fair share, and
  • Scheduling minimum wage increases to be indexed to economic growth or inflation.

Just to name a few.

This Liberal Government is stomping on workers’ rights and doing serious harm to our economy that will take many years to recover from.

This is not the province we want.

We want a government that shares our vision for a province – where we raise each other up.

It’s time to grow our economy – with decent wage increases – and a fairer share going to workers!

The Nova Scotia Liberal Government’s Attack on Workers

I'm turning my back on NS Liberals

THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BILL 148

Since 2013, public sector workers including teachers, nurses, school board and child care workers, civil servants, the arts community and many others – approximately 70,000 – have been subjected to unrelenting interference in the collective bargaining process by the Liberal government.

These attacks on public sector workers are unfair and likely unconstitutional. They’ll also do serious damage to the economy.

Rally September 21, 2017

The wage restraint sections of Bill 148 are wage restraints, not imposed economic increases. For example, the economic increase in the third year cannot be more than 1%, meaning in theory something less could be negotiated, but nothing greater.

The retirement allowance, a freely negotiated benefit, is being unfairly taken without being offset and in effect takes wages from members that have been deferred until retirement.

These wage restraints will reduce purchasing power as the rising cost of living outpaces wage gains. Better wages are necessary to get the economy growing and reduce inequality.

While business lobby groups and some politicians like to sow division between workers, public and private sector wages are linked. Suppressing public sector wages will eventually drive down private sector wages. Keeping wages down is one of the worst things to do to our economy.

Labour compensation and household spending are responsible for well over half of our country’s national income and spending and for more than 60 per cent of our economic growth since 2009. If labour compensation and consumer spending don’t increase at a decent and sustainable pace, then our economy won’t grow at a decent pace either.

It’s time to grow our economy with decent wage increases and a fairer share going to workers. 

 

THERE IS A BETTER WAY

Families in Nova Scotia are already struggling to make ends meet. Layoffs, wage freezes, cuts to public services, and attacks on unions are only making things worse.

There are steps the NS Government can take to put people first, protect the public services we need, create good jobs and a stronger economy.

The Liberal Government should recognize the public sector as a driver of economic growth. Top quality health care and education are important industries, not a drain on society.

Some specific measures that can help workers and families should include creating new income tax rates so top earners and corporations pay their fair share; scheduling minimum wage increases to be indexed to economic growth and/or inflation; and strengthening collective bargaining legislation.

I'm turning my back on NS Liberals

THE MCNEIL GOVERNMENT IS STOMPING ON WORKERS’ RIGHTS

LEGISLATION

Bill 1
The Health Authorities Act restructured the health care system, unnecessarily reduced the number of bargaining units, and attempted to assign union representation rights.

Bill 19 
Trade Union Act amendments made it harder for workers to exercise their right to unionize and secure first collective agreements.

Bill 30 
The Essential Home Support Services Act directly interfered in the collective bargaining of home support workers.

Bill 37 
The Essential Health and Community Services Act limits job action rights of more than 40,000 workers in acute care, long term care, group homes, home support, child protection and other sectors.

Bill 75
The Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvement Act imposes a collective agreement on teachers after they rejected the contract terms three times.

Bill 100 
The Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act allows universities to override collective agreements during five-year “revitalization” periods.

Bill 148 
The Public Services Sustainability Act freezes and limits wage increases, sets the term of collective agreements and puts an end to long-service awards.

McNeil Government: Stomping on workers' rights

UPDATED: Reserve your seat on the bus – Rally September 21

Updated September 18 at 11 a.m. See bus stop changes  

When Premier McNeil opens the Legislature on September 21, CUPE Nova Scotia will be there as part of a rally organized by the labour movement from across the province. Please join us!

Along with CUPE National President Mark Hancock and CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen, we’re going to send a clear message to the McNeil Government. We will defend our rights! We will not back down!

     WHAT: Multi-union rally against the NS Liberal Government’s Bill 148

     WHEN: September 21 from 12 to 3 PM

     WHERE: Nova Scotia Legislature

     WHO: Members of unions including CUPE, NSGEU, NSNU, NSTU, SEIU and others

Reserve your seat on the bus!

Seating is limited. Please RSVP as soon as possible.

CUPE members can reserve a seat on a bus. Please send an email to Nan McFadgen at nanmcf@icloud.com.

Bus #1 – Sydney

  • Be at the Mayflower Mall in Sydney at 6:30 AM for departure
  • St. Peters – CANCELLED
  • Stopping in Port Hawkesbury at the Irving Big Stop parking lot
  • Stopping in Antigonish – Exit 33, Shell gas station
  • Stopping in Pictou County—Walmart Parking lot
  • Stopping in Truro—Sobeys parking lot
  • Will arrive in Halifax by 12 PM
  • Leaving Halifax at 3:30 PM for return trip

Bus #2 – Yarmouth

  • Be at the Yarmouth Mall at 8:15 AM for departure
  • Stopping at Bridgewater Mall at the Sobey’s parking lot
  • Will arrive in Halifax by 12 PM
  • Leaving Halifax at 3:30 PM for return trip

Updates will be posted on the website at novascotia.cupe.ca.

 

Related articles:

Unions will seek to be added as parties as province tests constitutionality of portion of Bill 148 at Nova Scotia Court of Appeal

Trampling on Freedom of Association: The arrogance of Stephen McNeil

Unions will seek to be added as parties as province tests constitutionality of portion of Bill 148 at Nova Scotia Court of Appeal

The following news release was distributed by the the Nova Scotia federation of Labour this morning.

Halifax – This Friday, union leaders, including the CUPE, NSGEU, NSNU, SEIU, NSTU, CUPW and Unifor, will file to be added as parties at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in response to the Liberal Government’s latest attack on unionized workers.

On August 22, the government referred a portion of the Public Services Sustainability Act, otherwise known as Bill 148, to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal for review, namely the wage package. The government did not add the unions as parties to the proceeding, even though the employees they represent are directly affected by Bill 148. The Unions must now ask the Court for permission to participate in the proceeding. If they are not present, the interests of employees may be compromised. Party status will enable the unions to give evidence regarding the potential impact of the wage portion of Bill 148.

Although only the wage package is before the Court, the unions continue to press for the entire bill to be reviewed and tested for its constitutionality.

“As participants in the proceeding, unions can help protect the rights of workers being targeted by this government and speak to the adverse affect that Bill 148 will have on public sector workers,” says NS Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh.

The unions assert that since its inception in 2015, this bill has seriously impaired the prospect of fair and successful collective bargaining. The damage created by this bill, and others before it, will be expensive and will far exceed any short-term cost-savings to the government. Meanwhile, retaining and attracting skilled workers in Nova Scotia is sure to become much more difficult.

While other legal challenges are underway, labour leaders are steadfast in their resolve to defend their members at the Court of Appeal.

On August 22, the provincial government proclaimed Bill 148 that imposes a wage package and freezes a negotiated benefit known as the retirement allowance or service award. This benefit is eliminated for all new hires post April 2015.

 

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour is the provincial voice of the Labour Movement, representing 70,000 members in over 400 union locals. 

Let’s send a message to Stephen McNeil that we are worth it!

We go to work every day in service to Nova Scotians. We are at a loss as to why Stephen McNeil does not see the value in our work. Many of our members work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Why is he okay with a two year wage freeze?

Stephen McNeil’s Liberals have decided to proclaim Bill 148. While we are not surprised, we are disappointed that our government thinks they have the right to reach into our Collective Agreements and remove fairly bargained benefits. And to add insult to injury they are only referring the wage restraint portion of Bill 148 to the Court of Appeal regarding its constitutionality, not the entire Bill.

CUPE is working with other unions in NS to determine a response to the review of portions of Bill 148 at the court of appeal.

CUPE NS also wants our members to know that CUPE is reviewing all of our options and will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of our members.

Rally against Bill 148 September 21 12:00pm-3:00pm

When Premier McNeil opens the Legislature on September 21, CUPE NS will be there as part of a rally of organized labour from across Nova Scotia to send a clear message to the McNeil government. CUPE National President Mark Hancock will be attending.

Please spread the word far and wide and let’s send a message to Stephen McNeil that we are worth it!

In solidarity,

Nan McFadgen
CUPE NS President