CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Annual International RSI Awareness Day

Fight repetitive strain injuries
Monday, February 28, 2005, is International RSI Awareness Day. RSI Awareness Day evolved from an idea by a Canadian injured worker. The first RSI Awareness Day was February 29, 2000, because it was the only non-repetitive day of the year. In non-leap years, like this year, it is observed on February 28.

Some links to more International Campaigns on RSI

Solidarity with Striking Students in Québec

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, over 30,000 students in Quebec have begun strike action, calling on the Québec government to restore the $103 million in student grants that it cut last year, resulting in a 62% increase in average student loan debt for students. In addition, there is concern that the shift from grants to loans is a prelude to deregulating tuition fees for all Québec students. Currently there are no tuition fees for colleges in Québec, and university tuition fees have been frozen for 31 of the past 36 years.

We are calling on students outside of Quebec to send solidarity greetings to students in Québec. Attached is a solidarity statement that can be signed by students from campuses throughout Ontario. It is attached in French and in English. Please fax completed pledge sheets to the Ontario office. From here, we will make sure that the statements are delivered directly to Québec students.

As we understand, more students' unions will be voting on a strike mandate in the days ahead. The call is for an unlimited student strike, but we don't know how long it will last. It is important that we try to collect signatures as quickly as possible-that way we can help build momentum for what these students are doing and demonstrate concrete support.

Some of you may also be interested in assembling solidarity banners-printing or painting a banner that demonstrates students from different campuses are in support of the Québec strike-and having students from your campus sign them with sharpies or jiffy markers. The banners could be sent to the Toronto office and we can ensure we deliver them directly to students in Quebec for display on picket lines and at demonstrations. If any of you are interested in working on this, let me know. I can develop some banner templates and send them back to you for tracing and painting at your local. Alternatively, you might have banners printed out on paper at a local printer like Kinko's and get started right away.

Finally, building solidarity between students inside and outside Quebec will be critical for the future. If the Federal Government attempts to re-introduce changes to the Canada Student Loans programme that will increase tuition fees and extend student debt all students will need to move together, inside and outside Québec, to stop such initiatives. We have an important opportunity now to build strong links.

In solidarity,
Pam Frache,
Ontario Campaigns and Government Relations Coordinator,
Canadian Federation of Students
201-720 Spadina Avenue,
Toronto, ON
M5S 2T9

email Campaign for the Bahamas Solidarity

A union in the Bahamas to help secure justice for some 1,200 former workers at the Royal Oasis Golf Resort and Casino. Our campaign last year to prevent the closing of that workplace was somewhat less successful. Those unfortunate workers have lost their jobs and gotten no compensation, no back pay, and none of the benefits due to them under the law. The union is asking that our messages be directed both to the government and to the employer.

email campaign for New Zealand Solidarity

The case concerns a union delegate who has been sacked by a LSG Skychefs, a company that was the focus of a long and difficult struggle in Britain. You can tell LSG Skychefs that they cannot just sack union delegates because they are seen to be "troublemakers"

Full-time instructors at YUELI ratify a Memorandum of Agreement with York

On Feb. 24, full-time instructors in the York University English Language Institute, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, voted 91 per cent in favour of ratifying a Memorandum of Agreement for a first collective agreement with the University.

The outcome of the ratification vote was the culmination of a negotiation process characterized by mutual respect. The collective agreement, effective Feb. 24, 2005 (the date of ratification), expires April 30, 2006.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

UFCW - Walmart saga

UFCW site
The unionization effort of Walmart has been spread through news items for the past few months. The first Walmart in North America has at this point been announced to close.

Friday, February 25, 2005

All Leadership Meeting in Toronto

A well attended meeting of CUPE Ontario was conducted Friday 25th February 2005 in Toronto to examine the results and the trends of the Liberal McGuinty Government of Ontario.

There is solid support for any and all job action that may be required in the Province of Ontario to stem the continuance of the right wing agenda that we thought that was voted out at the last election.

The work accompished in BC was brought out as an example of how to prevent the worst effects, even if they were accomplished later than optimally they should have been done.

Temporary Positions with CUPE Research

Teresa Healy Senior Researcher CUPE National sent this item through:

Sisters and Brothers,

At the moment, there are temporary vacancies at the CUPE National research branch. If you would like to be considered for one of these, or have your CV kept on file, please send a covering letter and CV to:

Susan Attenborough, Assistant Director
National Research Branch,
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St,
Ottawa, K2P OW6

CUPE is committed to employment equity and encourages applications from women and men (regardless of sexual orientation), visible minorities, aboriginal people and persons with disabilities.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

McMaster TAs win contract improvements

Strike Averted!
HAMILTON, Ont. – McMaster University teaching assistants (TAs), represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), reached a tentative agreement with the university late last night. Details of the settlement will not be available until after a ratification vote scheduled for early next week.

“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement and avoid a strike that would have hurt our members, students and McMaster,” said Philippa Carter, president of CUPE 3906. “Our negotiating team will be recommending that members approve the deal, that includes improvements in wages and benefits.”

The new agreement will cover over 1850 TAs, who teach, grade and help students at McMaster University. If it is ratified, the new contract will expire on August 31, 2006.

“This agreement is a good starting point for our members and management to further address the issue of rising tuition fees,” said Carter. “We will continue to raise awareness about this critical issue. Affordable education will remain a key objective in our next round of bargaining.”

A Shot Across McGuinty's Bow

Governments across Canada, including Ontario are intent on dismantling the public sector and attacking the wages, working conditions and collective agreement rights of workers. Connecting the dots draws a scary picture. This is an important meeting for all local leadership as we move CUPE Ontario’s Rebuilding Strong Communities campaign to a whole new level. Join your sister and brother activists from across the province.

CUPE Analysis of Federal Budget

The budget only offers a 3% increase to support research in Universities.

Not much help to keep them running!
This does nothing to keep the roof over the buildings.

Adobe format of the CUPE document

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash Day

The global web blog community is being called into action to lend support to two imprisoned Iranian bloggers.

The month-old Committee to Protect Bloggers' is asking those with blogs to dedicate their sites on 22 February to the "Free Mojtaba and Arash Day".

Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both in prison in Iran.

Blogs are free sites through which people publish thoughts and opinions. Iranian authorities have been clamping down on prominent sites for some time.

"I hope this day will focus people," Curt Hopkins, director of the Committee, told the BBC News website.

If you have a blog, the least you could do is put nothing on that blog except 'Free Mojtaba and Arash Day'
Curt Hopkins, Committee to Protect Bloggers
The group has a list of actions which it says bloggers can take, including writing to local Iranian embassies.

The Committee has deemed Tuesday "Free Mojtaba and Arash Day" as part of its first campaign.

It is calling on the blogsphere - the name for the worldwide community of bloggers - to do what it can to help raise awareness of the plight of Mojtaba and Arash as well as other "cyber-dissidents".

"If you have a blog, the least you could do is put nothing on that blog except 'Free Mojtaba and Arash Day'," said Mr Hopkins.

"That would mean you could see that phrase 7.1 million times. That alone will shine some light on the situation.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Public onside with Rae report

This is an op/ed article in the Toronto Star on the perceived support of the Rae Report.

Printed in the Monday 21 February 2005 edition although dated 17 Feb 2005.

Friday, February 18, 2005

You Have the Right to Join a Union

Back in the 1930s, CIO organizers in the American South would go to factory gates and hand out leaflets with pictures of President Roosevelt, decorated with the national flag. And the leaflets would proclaim in a very large type: "You have the right to join a union." They were talking of the newly-enacted National Labor Relations Act to promote trade unionism in places where it had never been seen before.

Today, 70 years later, unions organizing globally need to make the same use of the International Labour Organization's eight "core conventions", particularly the ones guaranteeing workers' rights to join and form trade unions. You would think that these conventions would be easy to find on the web, but they're not. In my latest column for International Union Rights magazine, I explain the problem, and make some suggestions on what can be done. You can read the column and comment on it here:

If you want to see the first steps LabourStart has taken, go to Google, search for "ILO core conventions" and look at the advertisement in the upper right corner of the page. Click on the link in the ad to see what happens.

Canadians for Equal Marriage

This is an urgent request for just 15 seconds of your time RIGHT NOW to help counter the avalanche of letters and emails opposing equality that are currently inundating MPs.

Please go to contact our MPs right now and send a message to all MPs. Even if you have emailed MPs before - please do so again. They need to hear from Canadians as they begin to debate the equal marriage legislation.

Parliamentary debate on Bill C-38 (Civil Marriage Act) begins in the House of Commons within days. The bill protects religious freedom by ensuring that clergy perform only those marriages they chose to perform. The bill ends exclusion and discrimination by ensuring all Canadians -- regardless of sexual orientation -- are able to get legally married in a civil ceremony.

So please go to contact our MPs right now and make sure MPs are reminded that most Canadians support fairness and equality.

Rae report, privatization are key issues as union activists from Ontario universities meet in London

LONDON, ON – Sid Ryan, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario Division, and a keynote panel will tackle the Rae report and creeping privatization in postsecondary education at Strategy, Struggle & Solidarity, a conference of more than 100 union activists opening here tomorrow evening.

While we welcomed some of Bob Rae’s report, such as his recommendation to invest in crumbling infrastructure on our campuses, we are deeply concerned about his silence on the issue of privatization,” Ryan said. “Does silence mean consent?

Add the threat of privatization to his recommendation to lift the tuition freeze and you have the makings for significant labour unrest across Ontario’s universities.

Ryan will open the Ontario university workers coordinating committee conference with a keynote address at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, 300 King Street, London on Friday, February 18, 2005. He will be followed by a panel including:

  • Hugh McKenzie, economist and author of Funding Postsecondary Education in Ontario: Beyond the Path of Least Resistance and the Ontario alternative budget;
  • Jesse Greener, Ontario chair, Canadian Federation of Students;
  • Pat Case, equity officer, University of Guelph;
  • Teresa Healy, CUPE national researcher.

CUPE represents more than 20,000 academic and support workers at 16 Ontario universities. The conference runs until Sunday, February 20, 2005.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

2005 Bora Laskin Award Recipient

Together with the University of Toronto Centre for Industrial Relations, Lancaster House is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2005 Bora Laskin Award for Outstanding Contribution to Labour Law in Canada: Professor Paul C. Weiler, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard University.

A large number of nominations were received this year, and appreciation is due to the nominators for their well documented submissions, and to the Bora Laskin Award Selection Committee for its diligent consideration. Nominations received this year will be forwarded to next year's Selection Committee.

A brief profile of Professor Weiler follows:

First as an academic and arbitrator in Ontario (1965-73), then as Chair of the B.C. Labour Relations Board (1973-78), and finally as a Professor at Harvard University (1979 to the present), Paul Weiler has developed a reputation as "the foremost labour law scholar in North America" (Financial Post profile). Besides producing seminal articles on arbitration (The Role of the Labour Arbitrator: Alternative Versions, 1969), Weiler authored two leading policy-oriented treatises on labour law (Reconcilable Differences, 1980 and Governing the Workplace, 1990). Since 1981, Professor Weiler has held the prestigious post of Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. As in Canada, he has combined theory with practice.

A reformer by nature, and a pragmatist by experience, Professor Weiler has written and spoken widely on the need for a pluralist approach to labour relations, one which recognizes the importance to society of balancing countervailing powers, and of giving that balance concrete form through progressive labour laws administered by effective labour boards. But Weiler has not contented himself with explication; throughout his career, theory and practice have intersected, to the benefit of both. Thus, during his tenure at the B.C. Labour Relations Board, he fashioned and then administered a modern, progressive Labour Relations Code, which remains the cornerstone of labour relations law in B.C. and has had a major influence on labour law and policy across Canada. Subsequently, while at Harvard, he was appointed by President Clinton as Chief Counsel to the U.S. (Dunlop) Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, and in influential articles has consistently called for changes that would encourage collective bargaining and level the playing field between labour and management.

In constitutional law, too, Weiler's contribution has been considerable, first as author of the groundbreaking analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada (In the Last Court, 1974), and then, in the early eighties, as adviser to the federal government in the drafting of the Charter of Rights. During that same decade, acting as special counsel to the Ontario government, he undertook a comprehensive examination of the province's workers' compensation scheme, and his reports led to fundamental changes in policy and administration, including creation of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal.

In a profile published in the Labour Arbitration Yearbook (1996-97), Professor Morley Gunderson, of the University of Toronto's Centre for Industrial Relations, eloquently described Professor Weiler's achievements:

"There are a variety of ways to capture the essence of Weiler's myriad contributions. He continues to break down the barriers between the ivory tower and the real world by illustrating the relevance of sound academic scholarship to key issues of practical and policy importance. He illustrates that it is possible to be an expert in a wide range of areas and to apply theory to practice in important areas such as arbitration, the reform and design of labour codes and workers' compensation systems, constitutional reform, and medical malpractice. He proves that it is possible to advance controversial propositions, such as the 'notwithstanding' clause in the Constitution and mandatory representation at the workplace, and yet maintain impeccable credentials in the academic and policy community. He demonstrates that it is possible to be a 'citizen of the world' and a key policy advisor in more than one country. He is living proof that it is possible to be a 'sports nut' as well as a world-renowned academic and policy and political advisor. Above all, he exemplifies that it is possible to do all of this and to indulge other passions in life at the same time."

As Professor Gunderson concludes: "Perhaps the ultimate tribute to Paul Weiler is that any one of these accomplishments would be an exceptional achievement. That he has achieved all of them is testimony to a truly remarkable career."

courtesy of Lancaster House publishers of Labour, Employment, and Human Rights Law Information

Announcement Regarding the January 20, 2005 Incidents in Vari Hall

A message to all members of the York University community from the President of CUPE Local 1356/-01/-02 regarding events that took place on January 20, 2005

Our Local wishes to clear up some fallacies about the role of campus security in the incidents at Vari Hall on January 20, 2005.

A number of parties have circulated materials that state that campus security officers, members of CUPE Local 1356-01, called the Toronto police and participated in the confrontation that took place. That was not the case.

York university administrators instructed security management to call in the Toronto police and they dealt with the demonstration.

Our members’ role on campus is quite clear and has been spelled out by the university administration. We are not police officers and we do not carry weapons.

We do deliver valuable services that provide a safe environment for the York community.

Our members are proud of the work they do and they believe that the York University community is pleased with the services they provide.

We hope this letter clears up any misconception about the role of campus security. If you have any questions, please call our union office at (416) 736-5133.

Jack McCann
President, CUPE Local 1356/-01/-02

Released: Feb. 15.2005


Saturday, February 12, 2005

CUPE analysis of Rae Review Report

The above is a newer analysis.

This is the initial response to the Rae Review from CUPE.

CFS Press Release on Rae Report

Bob Rae Calls for Higher Tuition Fees and Higher Student Debt
Toronto – Students’ fears about Bob Rae’s post-secondary education review were fulfilled today. Rae, a long time advocate of higher tuition fees and higher student debt, called for steep tuition fee hikes along with increased private and public student loan debt. In addition, Rae did call for more public funding and a system of grants for low-income students.

“There are a lot of bells and whistles in this report but the bottom line is more debt for students and their families,” said Jesse Greener, Ontario Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “At $6,000, Bob Rae anticipates Ontario tuition fees rising to the highest in the country.”

Throughout his report Rae sets the student financial assistance threshold at $6,000 to cover tuition fees—an increase of at least $1,000 from today’s undergraduate average. In addition, Rae calls for a parallel private loan system to accommodate even higher tuition fees.

While Rae does call for grants for low-income students, only families earning less than $22,615 would be eligible. Students from homes with family income between $22,615 and $35,000 would receive some form of grant to cover a portion of tuition fee costs but all those above that income threshold would finance their education exclusively through loans.

“Students welcome the fact that Rae is calling for the restoration of grants in Ontario after he eliminated our grants program as Premier,” said Greener. “However, throughout this process Bob Rae has argued that ‘rich’ students need to pay more. It will come as a surprise to Ontarians that he considers any family with income above $35,000 to be wealthy.”

Rae’s report also calls for the deregulation of tuition fees. Under Rae’s plan, institutions would be free to charge whatever the market will bear as long as they meet superficial and administrative criteria.

“We know from past experience university administrators will maximize fee hikes. This is a good news day for elitist universities like Queen’s and Western” said Greener. “What Bob Rae has given us today is all of the worst aspects of the U.S. and the U.K. systems.”

Rae’s call for fee deregulation and increased loans closely mirrors the system in the United Kingdom. Like the UK model, Rae also calls for a body to monitor access. Rae simply ignored the volumes of data and research that suggests that access has suffered under Blair’s model and that low income students have borne the brunt of the reforms. For example, Claire Callendar, Professor of Social Policy, South Bank University has derisively mocked the access framework in the UK as a “toothless body ignored by all.”

“Rae’s travelling road show was a public relations exercise. Mr Rae’s mind was always closed on the issue of tuition fees. The question now is whether Dalton McGuinty will buy into Mr Rae’s dream of higher tuition fees and student debt,” said Greener.

The Canadian Federation is comprised of over 450,000 students across Canada, and more than 235,000 in Ontario. The Federation has been campaigning for tuition fee freezes and reductions in provinces across Canada. With victories in Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, tuition fees are now frozen or reduced for the majority of students in Canada.

Rae report does little to stem privatization threat

Despite some good news, Rae report does little to stem privatization threat, CUPE says

Toronto — Bob Rae’s recommendation to spend $600 million over three years on facility renewal is good news for workers and students on Ontario’s crumbling university campuses, but his report leaves the door open for increasing privatization and labour unrest, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“Our union has consistently raised the issue of deferred maintenance and deteriorating conditions on campus, so we welcome Rae’s recognition of a $1.8 billion problem,” said Janice Folk-Dawson, chair of the CUPE Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee and President of Local 1334, University of Guelph. “However, his report says nothing about ensuring that government will not simply pay the high costs that institutions incur by borrowing from private lenders. Government should be making the loans.”

Rae gives with one hand and takes away with the other, Folk-Dawson said, especially when it comes to his recommendation that the freeze on tuition fees be lifted in about another year.

“If the government chooses to follow this course of action and academic workers such as teaching assistants do not have protection from tuition increases, there will be significant labour unrest across Ontario’s universities,” she said.

CUPE, which has more than 20,000 members in 16 Ontario universities, is also concerned about the new councils recommended by Rae.

“We will be following the implementation of these recommendations closely to ensure that the councils are democratic and representative of the postsecondary system and not simply agents for privatization,” Folk-Dawson said.


Unranking Ontario’s universities: Final report from the CUPE Campus Check-Up is available at

For more information, please contact:
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-299-9739 ext 264

Province Welcomes Report on Postsecondary Education

The Ontario Government is committed to a quality, accessible, and affordable system.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Occupational Disability Response Team

Among the many tasks that this group does accomplish, this group conducts the training for the WSIB activists.

The Rae Report

Message from Bob Rae, Advisor to the Premier and Minister

At the request of the Premier, I have engaged Ontarians in a dialogue about ways to transform the province into a leader in higher learning. After many months of consultation, discussion, research and analysis, I have provided a set of recommendations to the government.

Make you own conclusions fom this report. It does nothing to address our Local's concerns in Universities.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Consequences of inaction

What could happen if there is no maintenance or caretaking services in a University. Click on the when you're on the site.

This is a creation of Pascal Trottier,
an independent filmmaker from Ottawa ON.
many thanks to for the opportunity to find this item on-line

OUWCC January 2005 Newsletter

Check out the newsletter.
Our Local has three representatives in this organization.

Use of the Adobe Reader is required

Sexual Assaults at the University of Saskatchewan

The Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CASA/UofS) is a group of
parents, faculty, staff, and students who came together in response to
the two recently reported sexual assaults at the University of
Saskatchewan. We would like to share some of our recent experience, in
the hope of initiating a 'discussion' among PAR-L participants about
sexual assault on university campuses and to swap 'best practices' for
those creating positive change in the face of intransigent, patriarchal
structures such as university administration and the media.

Sexual Assaults at the University of Saskatchewan:
The Coalition Against Sexual Assault Fights Back.
University campuses are the second most unsafe places for women -
the home is still the first - and the University of Saskatchewan is no
exception. Last November one of our students was sexually and violently
assaulted by a complete stranger in a women's washroom on campus. This
assault was the second on the campus in a matter of a few months - at
least, of those reported (we know that only about 10% of all assaults
are reported). The other stranger assault occurred in broad daylight
and less than 100 feet from one of the main streets in town, while the
victim, also a student, was performing her duties as a summer employee
for the University. Both assaults were very violent. These two women
are alive today, only because of the enormous courage and resilience
that both of them showed in the face of the attacks.
A few months following the second assault, a front-page story
appeared in our local newspaper, the Star Phoenix. The story strongly
insinuated that the victim had fabricated the story of her assault.
This has been absolutely devastating for the survivor and her family, as
well as having the effect of silencing woman who may come forward in the
future and furthering the illusion that our campus is safe. The
insinuation flies in the face of the facts: there is DNA evidence of the
rape, there are medical reports, and there are obvious physical injuries
sustained by the victim. There was no follow-up story, which is rather
surprising for a front-page article with a 15-square inch headline. The
reporter claims that the information he reported re: fabrication came
from a credible source, but won't name his source. We investigated the
possibility of making a complaint to a press council, but quickly found
out there isn't one here in Saskatchewan. So failing any formal
channels of redress, our Coalition drafted and collected signatures on
an Open Letter to the journalist and the editor of the newspaper - see
After collecting and submitting many signatures to the newspaper, we
then asked for a meeting with the Editorial Board. They refused our
request, but did grant us a ½ hour meeting with the two editors of the
newspaper, with the stipulation that there be only 2 members from our
Coalition. During the meeting the editors continued to support the
reporter and the story, and would not release the identity of "the
source" for the article. The upshot of the meeting was that we
submitted, and they agreed to print, an 850 word piece on why women
don't report and how the system fails them when they do - see below.
We consider their agreement to print our piece to be only a very
small concession on their part - in many ways, the damage has already
been done, and is very hard to reverse. We continue to search for
avenues of redress for this particular injustice and to raise public
awareness in general about the unacceptably high social and individual
costs of sexual assault. We invite PAR-L participants to engage in a
discussion about initiatives with similar aims underway on university
campuses and in other sites across the country.

An Open Letter to Darren Bernhardt and Steven Gibb, The Star Phoenix,
April, 2004
The article titled "Campus Rape Probe Dropped" that appeared in
March 23rd's second edition of the Star Phoenix clearly implies that the
November sexual assault victim fabricated the incident. This
insinuation is extremely disrespectful, highly irresponsible, and
potentially dangerous.
First, it creates a false sense of security for women on campus.
The article was printed at the beginning of exams when students spend
even more time at the university and often, late at night. Given that
the November assault occurred during first term finals, there could be
no worse time for such an article to be printed.
Second, this type of journalism sends a strong message to victims:
reporting a sexual assault carries the risk of being publicly labelled a
liar. Research shows that very few women register formal complaints.
If delivering the news in the style of a tabloid remains unchecked, even
fewer will be inclined to come forward.
Finally, Bernhardt's disregard for facts and evidence, his lack of
sensitivity, and his slant of re-victimization suggest to perpetrators
of these violent crimes that it is open season on university women.
We, the undersigned, ask that you act responsibly by retracting this
article and by issuing a public apology to the victim and to the campus

________________________________ ________________________________

Sexual Assault: Women lose faith in the system
by Tracey Mitchell and Liz Quinlan on behalf of the Coalition Against
Sexual Assault / University of Saskatchewan, printed June 10, 2004
Each year huge numbers of women are sexually assaulted. More than
one-third of Canadian women have experienced at least one sexual assault
since the age of 16. Saskatoon's Sexual Assault Centre confirms a
20-per-cent increase in the number of face-to-face or over-the-phone
counselling sessions in the past year. Yet, few victims report these
crimes to the police. Thus, more perpetrators are free to re-offend.
Many victims do not report because of embarrassment or fear of
reprisal by the perpetrator; others have no trust in the justice
system's ability to act in their interest; still others suffer from
self-doubt and self-blame, wondering if they somehow deserved the
violence. It is little wonder that few victims report sexual assault.
When they do, they encounter a system that often fails them,
re-victimizes them, or, worse, doesn't believe them. Some say in
retrospect that, if they had known what was ahead, they would not have
reported. For those who report and whose assailant is apprehended and
charged, another aspect of the intimidating system awaits: the courts.
Of all violent crimes, sexual assaults take the longest to move through
the courts, so the victim hangs suspended, waiting for closure.
Although perpetrators are able to secure legal council to represent
their interests before and during the trial, victims have no right to
their own legal representation. The only woman the Crown prosecutor is
hired to represent is the Queen.
Two-thirds of sexual offenders are repeat victimizers, often with a
pattern of escalating severity and frequency. Serial offenders commit
an average of eight sexual assaults before being apprehended. If we
could identify and bring perpetrators to justice the first time, we
could save up to seven other women the horror of being sexually
assaulted. Part of the solution is to improve police investigations by
making better use of DNA technology. The average turnaround on the DNA
analysis from the RCMP laboratory in Regina is four months, giving the
perpetrator ample time to re-offend. In the Paul Bernardo case,
securing the DNA results took more than two years, during which time he
committed four more rapes and two murders. The demonstrated apathy of
the system sends the message to women that we, as a society, do not take
the crime seriously. That apathy also tells men that the consequences of
sexual assault will likely be negligible. When policing methods are
improved, women's faith in the system is restored and reporting rates
rise. As a result of implementing better DNA testing measures in recent
years, Louisiana saw reporting rates increase by more than 250 per cent.
When women have reason to believe the police are on their side and
something can be done to stop sexual assaults, they will apparently report.
The majority of women, however, are attacked by someone they know,
which presents additional problems. They often face immense pressure
from friends and family to remain silent and not press charges. In
coming forward, they risk having their stories doubted and other serious
consequences within their social circles.
The social and individual fallout from sexual assault is enormous.
Sexual assault reinforces the antiquated belief that women are
acceptable targets for male aggression. Many victims internalize this
message and are left with feelings of shame and low self-esteem. Some
victims of this crime are killed; others suffer horrendous psychological
trauma. Many lose the sense of personal security that most of us take
for granted. They come to live with residual fear, always looking over
their shoulder. The assault is not just on the victim. Secondary
victimization is a broadly recognized psychological condition, as the
crime draws friends and family members into its vortex. Many victims,
and those closest to them, get pulled down so far that they never again
surface to participate fully in their jobs, relationships and community.
For many, to regain their footing and put their lives back together is
too overwhelming.
In addition to its personal and emotional effects, sexual
assault creates a serious financial burden for both the individual and
society. A single instance has a price tag of more than $110,000 when
expenses of medical care, property loss and damage, social services, and
loss of income and quality of life are considered. The health-care
expenses alone cost Canadian taxpayers $1.5 billion annually. Not only
are there compelling ethical and psychological reasons for working
vigorously to eliminate this crime, but we all stand to gain financially
by reducing its incidence. We need fresh, imaginative solutions. If our
institutions continue to discourage women from reporting, re-victimize
them when they do, and exclude them from the process of finding justice,
such solutions will continue to elude us.
Through public education, we can create a social climate in
which jeopardizing women's safety and integrity is simply unacceptable.
Then, we will all enjoy immense benefits, many of which are not
quantifiable and some of which even exceed the capacity of our current
collective imagination.

Strike looms at McMaster University

HAMILTON, Ont. – Teaching assistants (TAs) at McMaster University, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are set to begin a strike later this month over excessive workloads and rising tuition, if an agreement cannot be reached.

“Our members are fighting for better working conditions that will lead to better quality education at McMaster,” said Philippa Carter, president of CUPE 3906. “With the double cohort and the high growth agenda pursued by the administration, class sizes continue to increase without a parallel increase in hours for TAs to adequately serve students.”

Protection from rising tuition fees, job security, benefits and working conditions are the key issues in contract discussions. TAs want language in their contract to protect them from future increases in tuition fees – a critical issue faced by TAs and students across Ontario. Leading universities in Ontario, including York, Carleton and Windsor, have provided their TAs with protection against tuition fee increases in their current contracts. With Ontario’s two-year tuition freeze set to end in September 2006, McMaster TAs are the first of many CUPE locals who will make this a key bargaining issue.

“While McMaster wants to be seen as an innovative leader in the university sector, it has failed to demonstrate any leadership qualities during negotiations,” said Mike Skinner, chief negotiator for CUPE 3906. “Management doesn’t seem to be listening and is showing no flexibility on any of our issues. Our current proposal on tuition relief is modest compared to other universities, but they refused to discuss it. That’s not negotiating, that’s stonewalling.”

CUPE 3906 represents over 1850 TAs, who teach, grade and help students at McMaster. Their contract expired on December 31, 2004. TAs will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 am on February 28th with mediation talks scheduled for February 23rd.

“Our members are students themselves and value the importance of high quality education,” said Carter. “We would rather be focussing on the final months of school than walking the picket line, but this fight is also for future TAs and students. We will do our best to hammer out an agreement, but we are prepared to go on strike to fight for quality education and fairness at McMaster.”

U of T Sexual Diversity Studies award recognizes CUPE's work to promote equality

CUPE National President Paul Moist, joined by members of the Pink Triangle Committee, accepted the first annual Citizenship award from the Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, in a ceremony at the University of Toronto on February 7th. "I am very proud of the work of our union, our activists and our members over the years, to promote the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered people," said Brother Moist in accepting the award on behalf of CUPE. CUPE was recognized as an international leader among labour unions in advocacy on sexual diversity. CUPE requested that half of the $5,000 award be donated to EGALE and asked the Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies to keep the balance to strengthen their ongoing work.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Britain: rise in “superbug” cases linked to decrease in hospital cleaning staff

Good Cleaning is Important

Please note the correlation to poor cleaning and the increase in illness. This is also true in Universities if there is a decrease in staff in departments that clean.

the following item was supplied by Ed Gould of the CAW

Britain’s largest union, UNISON, has drawn attention to the dramatic decrease in the numbers of cleaning staff in the country’s hospitals and the corresponding rise in the incidence of the so-called “superbug,” MRSA.

In a report issued this month, UNISON notes that the size of the cleaning staff working in National Health Service (NHS) facilities has fallen from about 100,000 in 1984 to about 55,000 today. The decrease in staff numbers is due to the contracting out of cleaning jobs, which began under the previous Conservative government. It has led to poor training, low retention levels due to pitiful wages and dirty hospitals, which in turn have directly contributed to the rise of MRSA.

The British government admits that the number of cleaners in the NHS has played a part in the spread of MRSA, but Health Secretary John Reid denied a direct correlation. He also quibbled about the numbers, saying that in 1986 there were 86,000 cleaners, and that the size of the NHS estate had decreased by 20 percent over the period, so therefore, there is less physical space to clean.

MRSA is the acronym of the disease Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (commonly called “staph”). Staph are bacteria often carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. They are a common cause of minor skin infections—such as pimples and boils—but can also cause serious infections such as surgical wound infections, bone infections and pneumonia. Approximately 25-30 percent of the population is colonised with staph bacteria at any one time—i.e., have the bacteria on or in their bodies without it causing illness. At the point where it begins to cause them illness, it is referred to as infection rather than colonisation.

Methicillin is a form of the antibiotic penicillin that has historically been used to treat staph. However, over the past 50 years, staph has increasingly become resistant to antibiotics, which has led to the use of the nickname “superbug.” New strains of MRSA are constantly emerging, and there are deep concerns that it is becoming increasingly resistant to the last-resort antibiotic Vancomycin.

The first report of a penicillin resistant strain of staph was in 1945. MRSA was first reported in Europe in the 1960s, and in the US in 1968.

MRSA is usually contracted in hospital but can occur in the wider community, where it is closely linked to recent antibiotic use, sharing contaminated items, having active skin diseases or living in crowded settings. Within hospitals, post-op patients are most at risk, particularly the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. The working class and poor are generally more at risk, since they tend to live in more crowded surroundings and are more likely to visit hospital with chronic illnesses.

It is estimated that one in ten patients acquire the infection during their hospital stay, and with approximately 100,000 hospital-acquired infections per annum, this costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year.

During the last decade, deaths from hospital-acquired MRSA have increased more than 15-fold, and infection rates 24-fold, according to the UK’s Office of National Statistics. Fifty-one deaths were reported from 210 infections in 1993, compared to 800 deaths from 5,309 infections in 2002. MRSA cases as a proportion of all staph cases have risen from 2 percent in 1994 to more than 40 percent in 2004.

The figures are extracted from death certificates, and Tony Field from the national MRSA support group believes that the real figure is much higher, since doctors are not obliged to put MRSA on the death certificate as a secondary cause of death. The group’s analysis suggests that the true figure for staph deaths is closer to 20,000, with around half of these from MRSA. Field also believes that the government’s widely used figure of 5,000 deaths is outdated and drawn from statistics compiled in 1994.

The Department of Health has said that it did not have a clear idea what the death rate was, and added cynically that the people who die from hospital-acquired infections are already very ill, which is why their immune systems cannot fight the bacteria.

A number of health care professionals have raised the alarm at the level of infections in Britain’s hospitals. One of these is Dr. Chris Malyszewicz, who has pioneered research into testing for levels of MRSA and other bacteria in hospitals, and reports that he has been harassed by the government since speaking out.

Malyszewicz claims that two senior government health advisors visited him at home just hours after meeting with the Health Secretary. During a “tense” and “aggressive” three-hour meeting, they sought to discredit his work. “It was clear they were trying to shut me up,” he said. “Publicity about my research into MRSA levels in NHS hospitals has obviously caused problems.”

The spread of MRSA

The reasons for the spread of MRSA are complex and involve a number of different factors, such as the inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture and the over-prescription of antibiotics in society. Most experts also consider ineffective hygiene control and the connected inability to provide clean hospitals as key factors in the recent upsurge in the incidence of MRSA.

Britain is ranked second-worst of the European Union countries for the rate of MRSA as a proportion of all diseases in its hospitals, which runs at 44 percent. This compares to rates of 1 percent in the Netherlands, 19 percent in Germany, and 33 percent in France. A quarter of Britain’s dirtiest hospitals are in London, according to government figures, including some of the most prestigious specialist hospitals.

The Netherlands attributes its success at tackling the infection to its policy of Search and Destroy—i.e., the screening of patients for MRSA and the isolation of those found to be infected. It has also set aside a number of single rooms in hospitals for the treatment of those with MRSA. In addition, the Netherlands has a much higher proportion of healthcare workers per patient than the UK.

The isolation of those with MRSA in private rooms is recommended by many experts, though a study in the medical journal The Lancet has cast doubt on the use of isolation as a means of curbing the spread of MRSA, at least in regard to intensive care patients. It points to the need to comply with other means of curbing disease in conjunction with isolation—e.g., hand washing and the use of protective clothing.

Hand hygiene is by far the most important strategy in controlling MRSA, though there are a number of contact precautions that experts also suggest. These include the use of gowns, gloves and dedicated equipment, as well as the transportation of patients only when absolutely essential.

Bed making in hospitals is also thought to be a factor in the spread of infection, as it releases large quantities of microorganisms. Studies have shown that vigorous bed making can lead to in excess of 6,000 colony-forming units per cubic metre of air in the ward.

“The problem is that as one patient leaves a bed another is just about to occupy it, which means you do not have time to clean the beds,” believes Michael Summer of the Patients Association. “In other countries they actually rotate the beds so that the infection is carefully monitored.”

MRSA takes up to 48 hours to grow and is often not picked up until the patient has been in hospital for several days.

Dr. Clive Beggs of Leeds University explains how sneezing can also cause infection to spread. When a patient sneezes, droplets are expelled at around 100 metres per second. These are largely made up of droplets between 10 and 100 micro metres in diameter. The larger droplets fall to the ground, but the smaller droplets can evaporate and shrink to droplet nuclei that settle slowly. For example, droplet nuclei of 2 micro metres in diameter can take more than four hours to fall 2 metres in a calm room. Convection currents could therefore carry particles long distances dependent on ventilation conditions, thereby distributing them widely throughout the hospital.

Contract cleaners

The Thatcher government’s privatisation strategy in the 1980s—the introduction of competitive tendering and the contracting-out of services—led directly to an escalation in MRSA rates. Over the next decade, “efficiency drives” saw the almost total destruction of the NHS culture, with nursing staff forced onto short-term contracts and cut to inappropriate and dangerous levels.

Prior to this, in the 1970s, cleaners were employed directly by the hospital. Each ward had its own cleaners who were part of the ward team. Porters, maintenance staff and cleaners had pride in their wards, and many worked for most of their careers in the same place.

The NHS Trust hospitals that emerged from the creeping privatisation process are under enormous pressure to cut costs, and will invariably pick the cheapest option in choosing their contracted-out services. This almost necessarily leads to contractors cutting corners and subsequently to a less efficient or thorough job being undertaken. The cleaning companies operate on tightly drawn contracts, where every task is listed and timed, which leaves no place for anything not on the list, including accidents. An attitude of apathy and disregard for cleanliness pervades.

The pressure on hospitals to cut costs has also led to other factors that help spread infections. For example, in the past, hospital workers were issued uniforms for use only on the premises, and these were laundered on site—often boil-washed. Nowadays, staff are responsible for their own uniforms, which they wear to and from work, via public transport, etc. Uniforms, therefore, gather many germs from the environment en-route, and are then probably often washed at home on normal domestic low-temperature washes, which do not kill many germs.

A journalist from the Daily Mail who worked undercover for Rentokil Initial, one of the firms with contracts to clean hospitals, revealed that he received only a 90-minute induction course and had no relevant experience. He reported finding bags of blooded bandages and plaster casts left overnight in the fracture clinic. He also found 2-inch (5-cm) insects, and heard of cleaners failing to clean areas properly because of their workload. The areas he was allocated were to be checked just once a month by the hospital trust and once a week by his Rentokil Initial supervisor, if she had time.

By Brian Smith
22 January 2005

Advancing The Union Equity Agenda


A conference for equity activists and researchers
from unions and universities

MARCH 18 AND 19, 2005

LOCATION: Travelodge Hotel, Keele and 401, Toronto

Speakers include:
Jennifer Bankier (Dalhousie University), Jan Borowy (OPSEU),
Linda Briskin (York University), Lynn Bue (CUPW),
Judy Darcy (CUPE), David Carrington (CUPE),
Janice Foley (University of Regina), Judy Fudge (York University),
Fred Hahn (CUPE), Bev Johnson (OPSEU),
Caroline Lee (CUPW), Marie-Josee Legault (Universite du Quebec),
Patricia McDermott (York University), Don Moran (CUPE),
Peggy Nash (CAW), Marion Pollack (CUPW),
Nancy Riche (CLC), Penni Richmond (CLC),
Mike Shields(CAW), Sue Milling (USWA),
Donna Smith (SFL), Jane Stinson (CUPE),
June Veecock (OFL), Marie Clark Walker (CLC),
Carol Wall (PSAC), Rosemary Warskett (Carleton University),
Maureen Werlin (COPE), Lynn Whittaker (PSAC) and
Hassan Yussuf (CLC).

Conference sessions include:

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND EQUITY with break-out workshops on:


TOUGH ISSUES FACING EQUITY ORGANIZING with break-out workshops on:

The detailed program, registration form and Equity Organizing Survey are
posted at

Advancing the union equity agenda is the goal of this conference. Emphasis
will be on best practices and on tackling tough issues. It is hoped that
new knowledge, understandings and strategies will emerge from the
collective expertise of participants and speakers. The plan is to produce
educational, popular and scholarly materials based on the conference.

The conference is geared toward experienced rank and file activists and
organizers, union leaders, equity staff, and university and union
researchers. It will bring people together across sector, union, community
and university and offer the opportunity to analyse experience, reflect on
the current situation including the impact of the new economy on the union
equity agenda, shape a research program, and strategize for future action.

Registration fee is $100.
Lunches provided.
A small childcare subsidy is available.
For more information,
contact the Centre for Research on Work and Society at 416-736-5612 or

This conference is sponsored by the Centre for Research on Work and
Society at York University through the Social Science and Humanities
Research Council of Canada [SSHRC] - funded Initiatives on the New Economy
Research Alliance Grant on 'Restructuring Work and Labour in the New

Free University Supported in Poll!

The results of a poll in the Globe & Mail on-line version show that more than half of the those responding are in favour of Free Tuition!

Some Truthful Humour

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost.

He reduced his altitude and spotted a CUPE worker below.

He shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I don't know where I am."

The CUPE worker below yelled back, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the CUPE worker, "how did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, haven’t been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."

The CUPE worker below said, "And you must be in Management."

"I am," said the balloonist, "How did you know?"

"Well," said the CUPE worker, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ontario Education Minister has difficulty with #s & spelling

On Wednesday 2 February 2005 Gerald Kennedy, Ontario Education Minister had a difficult time with the word 'STRIKE' claiming it has 5 letters.

Faculty members on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus have voted to organize as a union

The Crookston campus, one of five in the University of Minnesota system, has undergone volatile transitions of personnel and departments over the past two years.

UMC joins faculty members at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in its membership in the UEA. UEA is part of Education Minnesota, a statewide union representing 70,000 elementary, secondary and higher education educators.

Education Minnesota also represents teachers in the Minnesota State College and Universities system, as well as retired and student teachers.

Faculty at the University of Minnesota system's two other campuses are not part of the union.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Are Our Hospitals at Risk of being Privatized?


Bridgepoint, CAMH,
Salvation Army Grace

Community Meeting featuring:
John Campey

Executive Director, Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
Marilyn Churley
MPP, Toronto Danforth
Natalie Mehra
Provincial Co-ordinator, Ontario Health Coalition
John Cartwright
President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council

Come to this important meeting to find out the implications of the potential public private partnership(P3) redevelopment of our hospitals this spring. What does it mean for patients, professionals, and community agencies?

7pm, Thursday February 17
City Adult Learning Centre
One Danforth Avenue
(west of Broadview subway station)

Our community stopped the closure of Riverdale Hospital (now Bridgepoint). We can ensure our hospitals remain non-profit and publicly controlled.


Sponsors: Alliance of Seniors to Save Canadas Social Programs; Community Social Planning Council of Toronto; Council of Canadians (Toronto Chapter); Marilyn Churley, MPP for Toronto-Danforth; Ontario Health Coalition; Toronto & York Region Labour Council; Toronto Health Coalition

All Locals Leadership Meeting

This is courtesy of CUPE Ontario

Sisters and Brothers:

As you know, CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Regional Office - the political and servicing wings of our union - in conjunction with CUPE District Councils, have been holding a series of area leadership meetings around the province as part of our campaign to fight concessions and defend free collective bargaining. It is no accident we are doing this now.

We needed to ensure that our members were fully informed about the threats to our wages, working conditions and collective agreements and that there was an agreed upon plan to provide maximum mobilization and support for members in crisis.

Despite having a new provincial government that was elected to expand and improve upon government services and rebuild strong communities, little has changed. Within health care especially, the McGuinty government is creeping towards privatization.

Most recently, they not only signed the first two P3 (public private partnership) hospital deals, one in Brampton the other in Ottawa, but have also suggested that hospital budgets can be cut by contracting out clerical and other support staff work. Health Minister George Smitherman has even mused that hospital cleaners are overpaid and unskilled as a way of softening public opinion prior to slashing wages and contracting-out jobs.

The latest rescue offer for hospitals is nothing more than smoke and mirrors given almost half of the announced $200 million in transitional funds is earmarked for layoffs. At a time when our province is still recovering from the SARS crisis, when we hear warnings almost daily about super bugs, when patients already feel a lack of human contact and caring, this move by the Liberals is unforgivable.

While admittedly, for hospital workers the threat that the province could open collective agreements and destroy successor rights so that jobs can be contracted out is most immediate, others sectors are also facing concession bargaining and long strikes. In both the municipal and social services sectors CUPE locals have had bitter strikes that have stretched on for months.

Similarly within education the Liberals have adopted the Tory strategy of issuing complicated and confusing funding announcements, so school boards don’t really know where they stand. The flawed funding formula, which remains intact, continues to impact negatively on CUPE members’ jobs. In Thunder Bay nineteen, of thirty-six schools are slated for closure. Not only will this result in loss of jobs for CUPE members, but it will also decimate communities where the closures are slated to occur, particularly rural communities.

What all this suggests is that the McGuinty Liberals are quietly going about adopting the “Re-inventing Government” blueprint used by Tony Blair, Gordon Campbell, Ralph Klein and others. Ironically in a recent Toronto Star article, Ian Urquart elaborated on this, referring to the ad hoc committee appointed by McGuinty to examine the “things we have in government that we don’t need,” as the “Liberal Mod Squad.” And, according to Sandra Pupatello, the Minister in charge of this committee, the end result of their consultations and deliberations could see whole ministries swallowed up or transferred to the private sector.

Already around the province teachers’ unions have begun to see the folly of their ways with respect to their supporting the Liberal government in the last election, especially given the 2% wage cap imposed upon them by government. Just two nights ago Simcoe County elementary teachers voted 96% in favour of strike action if there was no movement soon on wages and prep time.

Sisters and Brothers, the time has now come for CUPE Ontario to let this government know that everything is not fine in this province. The time has now come to let them know we intend to fight them on their agenda of privatization and cutbacks. We cannot afford to make the same mistake as British Columbia, and wait until it is too late to act. A repeat of the B.C. debacle would spell disaster for this province.

To get things moving, CUPE Ontario is calling an All Locals Leadership Meeting for Friday, February 25th, 2005. Decisions are going to be made at this meeting with respect to developing a strategy to stop the attacks on our collective agreements and put an end to privatization and the contracting out of our jobs and services. It is
therefore imperative local leadership attend.

Sisters and Brothers, we look forward to seeing you on the 25th.

In Solidarity,

Patrick (Sid) Ryan Brian O’Keefe
President Secretary-Treasurer

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology to receive 14.5% pay increases over four years

AUPE members at SAIT to receive 14.5% pay increases over four years.

Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees employed by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology will receive pay increases in excess of 14.5 per cent in a new collective agreement that will run until July 1, 2007.

The arbitrated settlement, which is retroactive to July 1, 2003, includes pay increases of 4 per cent in the first year, 4 per cent in the second year, 3.5 per cent in the third year and 3 per cent in the final year for the members of AUPE Local 039.

This item is courtesy of:
Labour Headline News Digest is a service of

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