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 1356.cupe.ca This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Friday, February 04, 2005

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

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