Local 3768 reaches agreement with Town of Holyrood

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

HOLYROOD – Employees at the Town of Holyrood have ratified a new collective agreement and returned to work today after being locked out by the employer for 10 days. The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3768, are happy to be back delivering the services that town residents count on and are very grateful for all of the support residents showed them during the lockout.

The new three-year agreement includes a 6.5 per cent wage increase. CUPE National Rep Ed White say the members are satisfied that the wage increase is a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between wages in Holyrood and those in municipalities of comparable size in the province.

The 15 employees provide snow clearing, water and sewage treatment, and clerical and accounting services to the town.

Holyrood Mayor’s comments misleading and insulting, says CUPE

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

Locked out municipal employees at the Town of Holyrood are upset that Mayor Gary Goobie would portray them as being unreasonable, says Canadian Union of Public Employees National Representative Ed White. “In fact, the last offer that CUPE Local 3768 put on the table was more than reasonable,” White says. “Our counter offer of about 9 per cent would bring wages to approximately the same level as wages in Placentia, a town of comparable size with a comparable budget.

“That is what I call comparing apples to apples,” White adds, referring to recent comments by the Mayor saying that the union was comparing apples to oranges. “In fact, it was the Mayor who was comparing apples to oranges, by comparing the union’s opening position with the employer’s last position in his comments to the media.”

White says the union members are offended the Mayor would imply that they would withdraw services without giving notice. “At no point in bargaining or conciliation did the Town request that we provide a notice period prior to taking strike action,” says White. “This is a standard request that I am sure the union would have considered, and which would have given the Town ample time to put an alternate plan in place.

“It is interesting how quickly the Mayor moved to lock out the employees and contract out the work,” White adds, “especially in light of the fact that the snow clearing operations seem to have been contracted out to a company owned by the Deputy Mayor and his brother.”

White says the employees would like to apologize for any hardship the lockout will have on residents of Holyrood. “They are very dedicated to their jobs,” says White, “as was obvious during last month’s State of Emergency, which crippled other towns while Holyrood stayed open. The Mayor himself is on record praising the workers who went above and beyond to keep the roads clear and stores open during near impossible conditions. I guess this lockout is his way of saying thanks.”

Holyrood Municipal Employees Locked Out by Employer

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

Municipal workers at the Town of Holyrood have been locked out by their employer after several failed attempts at conciliation. The 15 employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3768, voted in favour of strike action just hours before arriving at work this morning to locked facilities.

CUPE National Representative Ed White says the union has been trying to bring wages for heavy equipment officers closer to the rates being offered by surrounding municipalities.

“The wages that are being offered by the employer in the first year are not even close to closing the gap,” says White. “We aren’t looking for parity with St. John’s, where equipment operators make about $6 per hour more. But we would like to get close to the wages earned in comparable municipalities like Placentia and Conception Bay South.

“The Town’s offer of $1.32 more per hour over three years is insulting to these employees who go above and beyond every day to make sure the residents of Holyrood have safe roads, clean water and quality services.”

White says the employees are quite upset at not being able to provide services to the town, “especially this time of year with the number of storms we have been having. But their hands are tied by the employer’s decision to lock them out instead of returning to the bargaining table with a fair offer.”

The employees provide snow clearing, water and sewage treatment, and clerical and accounting services to the town.

CUPE NL WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR REPRESENTING ITS MEMBERS

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

The Lead Negotiator for CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, Ed White, says he is extremely disappointed that Finance Minister Tom Osborne would imply that CUPE is attempting to influence another union’s ratification process.

“Our communications about our intent to bargain did not just come out of the blue,” White says. “Government presented us with a copy of NAPE’s tentative agreement on December 23, and after consulting our members, we formally notified Government on January 7 that we would not be extending our collective agreements. Our members have clearly instructed us that they wish to sit down and bargain with their individual employers.”

White says that the timing of CUPE’s notice to bargain has nothing to do with NAPE’s ratification vote, but rather to do with government offices and the CUPE office being closed by the storm and the State of Emergency.

“It was important that we serve notice to bargain as early as possible, and that happened to be early this week,” White says. “It is disturbing that the Minister would imply that our communications with government and our members has been anything less than ethical.”

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier adds: “A union is responsible for representing its members to the best of its ability. We will do that and we will not apologize for that.”

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PENSION ISSUE IN THE EXTENDED CONTRACT OFFER FROM GOVERNMENT?

gmcneil Collective Bargaining, Fact Sheet

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to pass their increased Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions onto workers by cutting the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP). This move would cancel the needed CPP enhancement for 34,000 workers (total number of active and deferred PSPP members) in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In 2016, a deal was reached between the federal government and provincial governments, including Newfoundland and Labrador, to improve the CPP for all Canadians. The parties agreed that both workers and employers would see a small increase in CPP contributions in order to pay for a better CPP in the future. Now, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to back away from their agreement of paying more into CPP by pushing those costs onto workers – specifically, members in the PSPP.

The potential cut to the PSPP that Government is looking for far outweighs their offer of a 2%/year wage increase for 2 years. Lower wage workers in particular would see the largest cut to their PSPP pension with this concession.

After years of minimal and zero wage increases, workers in Newfoundland and Labrador need access to the enhanced CPP to retire in dignity with a decent retirement income.

FAQ

Isn’t the PSPP already integrated with the CPP? Doesn’t that mean further integration with the enhanced CPP is automatic?

Yes, the PSPP is an integrated plan. This means a portion of your PSPP pension stops at age 65, when workers start collecting CPP and OAS. The amount that is stopped is referred to as your “bridge” benefit. Further integration could mean a larger amount is stopped at age 65, or it could mean a lower accrual rate in the pension formula. In either case, the result is a cut to the PSPP pension.

The fact that the PSPP is an integrated plan does not mean further integration is automatic – or necessary. It is a choice.

In fact, most other public sector pension plans in Canada have considered and rejected further integration. If the PSPP were to proceed with this change, it would be one of the first pension plans in Canada to force this concession onto workers.

Will there be a change to my PSPP pension?

In their extended contract offer, which CUPE has rejected, Government tried to bind the Union to take a particular position at the PSPP Sponsor Board. Government wanted the Union’s Sponsor Representative on the Board to be bound to make changes (or in their words “adjustments”) to the contributions and benefits of the PSPP. Government’s goal is to pay lower PSPP contributions, with a corresponding cut to the PSPP benefit. Why? Workers and Government (as the Employer) are obligated to contribute more to CPP in the coming years. Rather than share these costs equally, which has always been the guiding principle of the CPP, the Government of Newfoundland is trying to “save” by making concessions to the PSPP. Government wants to take from the PSPP in order to pay for CPP.

CUPE has rejected this deal, but CUPE is one of many unions with a vote at the PSPP Sponsor Board.

Hasn’t there already been changes to the PSPP recently?

Yes! PSPP members have already made sacrifices to ensure the Plan is sustainable. Just 5 years ago, members agreed to higher contributions, a smaller pension benefit and shared responsibility for funding any deficit.

All workers in Canada, including PSPP members, need and deserve the enhanced CPP to retire in dignity.

Can you give me an example of how my PSPP pension might be impacted by this proposed change?

Currently in the PSPP, at age 65 the pension formula for most CUPE members is: 1.4% x years of service x best six-year average earnings. 1.4% is the accrual rate for earnings below $58,700 (the CPP earnings limit). Further integration, as proposed by Government in the extended contract offer, could lower this pension accrual rate to 1.2%.

As one example, a member who started their career in 2016 earning $35,000/year could earn 14% less in PSPP pension going forward.

Workers who earn wages below the CPP earnings limit, which is $58,700 for 2020, would be disproportionately affected by this way of further integrating the PSPP with CPP. Higher-wage workers would see a smaller percentage, as well as workers who are mid-career or closer to retirement.

Would this only affect new hires?

No. This change would affect all active and deferred members (former employees who left their pension in PSSP). Pension benefits accrued up until the changeover date would be protected. All “future service”, meaning service after the changeover date, would be subject to Government’s proposed cut to PSPP. For example, if Government’s proposed cut to the PSPP was passed by the Sponsor Board, and after that date an active member had 10 more years of service until retirement, those last 10 years would be subject to the proposed cut to PSPP.

 

CUPE SAYS NO TO PENSION CONCESSIONS

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador has rejected the extended contract proposed by Government, which includes a major pension concession for members of the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP).

“In 2016, a deal was reached between the federal and provincial governments, including Newfoundland and Labrador, to enhance CPP benefits for all Canadians,” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier. “It was agreed that both workers and employers would see a small increase in CPP contributions in order to pay for the enhanced CPP benefit.

“Now, instead of sharing the increased cost of CPP equally with workers, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to pass their increased CPP contributions onto workers by extracting concessions from the PSPP. This move would cancel the CPP enhancement for 34,000 workers in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

CUPE Lead Negotiator Ed White adds that PSPP members have already made sacrifices to ensure the Plan is sustainable. “Just 5 years ago, members agreed to higher contributions, a smaller pension benefit and shared responsibility for funding any deficit,” he says.

Hillier says it is doubly concerning that the people most affected by the PSPP concession are lower wage workers. “And the cuts to workers’ pensions will be much deeper than the marginal wage increase Government is attempting to trade for,” she adds.

“All workers in Canada deserve the expanded CPP; Newfoundlanders and Labradorians shouldn’t be left out.”

Listen to CUPE NL’s Radio Ad on the Extended Agreement

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

CUPE REJECTS EXTENDED CONTRACT; INTENDS TO BARGAIN

gmcneil Collective Bargaining

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador has given notice on behalf of its 3700 public sector members of its intention to bargain the next collective agreement, in spite of the government’s request that the union extend the current collective agreement by two years.

“The government has asked us to extend our agreement, with no discussion of local or sectoral issues.” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier, “That’s not how unions work. Our members made it very clear during our pre-bargaining tour in the fall that they want the opportunity to negotiate a fair collective agreement. We are ready to put Boots on the Ground if we have to.”

The current collective agreement expires in March for CUPE members who work in health care, education, libraries, government house, housing, transition houses and group homes.

“The last round of bargaining was difficult and very disappointing,” says CUPE lead negotiator Ed White. “Our members reluctantly accepted a zero wage increase and lost severance packages. Now they are anxious to engage in meaningful bargaining with the employers that they work with on a daily basis.

“It’s obvious that the wage increase being offered in the extended contract is just smoke and mirrors to hide claw backs to pensions and future benefits for new hires.”

“Bargaining is about more than just money,” says Hillier. “One of the most important things a union does is bargain for improvements, to the language of the agreement, to occupational health & safety clauses, for benefits and conditions of work. The government has no right to interfere in this process.”

Thank you to CUPE health care workers from Minister of Health

gmcneil Uncategorized

CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier received a personal phone call today from the Minister of Health and Community Services, the Honourable John Haggie, asking her to pass along his gratitude to health care workers for their dedication during the state of emergency.

“CUPE health care workers went above and beyond to make sure that people got the care they needed during and after this monster storm,” says President Hillier. “Some of our members worked more than 60 hours straight, and it is wonderful for them to be recognized by the Minister for their commitment to their work.

“I must say, I am very proud of all of our public sector workers who stepped up to make things better for Newfoundlanders under such challenging circumstances.”

CUPE National Officers express their appreciation for the workers of Newfoundland and Labrador

gmcneil Uncategorized

Mark Hancock and Charles Fleury wish to send their solidarity as well as their immense thanks to all CUPE members and workers who continue to provide important services to their communities as the city of St. John’s enters its fifth day in a state of emergency. A massive winter blizzard dropped close to 80 centimetres of snow on Friday, burying vehicles and leaving thousands without power.

As the clean up from the storm continues, frontline services like snow removal and health care remain essential. On behalf of all of CUPE, thank you to the workers who have battled the adversity of this storm to continue to provide the essential services that keep their communities safe.