Provincial employees bear the burden of poor fiscal management says CUPE

gmcneil Uncategorized

ST. JOHN’S – 4500 public sector workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees have ratified a contract with the provincial government, but that doesn’t mean they are happy. After many long months of bargaining CUPE members accepted the deal which contains zero wage increases and eliminates severance packages.

“Taking severance away from people who are retiring or who have to leave a job for any reason is downright shameful,” says CUPE national representative Dawn Learning. “It’s hard enough for seniors to get by. Now people leaving the workforce will lose the financial support they used to count on as they transition to life without a paycheque.”

Learning says the contract will be hardest on new hires, who will not only lose severance but will pay more for group insurance benefits.

“We are very disappointed that this government has chosen to balance its books on the backs of workers,” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier, “And then turn around and brag about how much money they are saving. Taking $25 million out of the pockets of retirees is not something to crow about.”

The new agreement covers CUPE members who work in health care, school boards, public libraries, housing, group homes, transition homes and Government House. It expires in 2020.

CUPE NL calls for transparency legislation governing public-private partnerships

gmcneil News Release, Privatization

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador released several recommendations to government this week, calling for transparency and accountability legislation to govern public-private partnerships. The recommendations are based on research and discussion coming out of a panel discussion on P3s and transparency held in St. John’s on November 14, 2018.

“With the government signing contracts for a P3 hospital and long-term care facility, we are concerned about the lack of transparency in disclosure and reporting,” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier. “There should be no secrets when public money is spent on public infrastructure and services.”Read More

Sherry Hillier

Media Advisory: CUPE Newfoundland Labrador celebrates Labour Day by calling for public pharmacare for everyone

creynolds News Release

On Monday, September 3, at the annual Labour Day celebration in Grand Falls-Windsor, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador will amplify the call for universal, single-payer prescription drug coverage for everyone in Canada. Universal pharmacare is the only way to provide prescription drug coverage that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

CUPE Newfoundland Labrador President Sherry Hillier will speak about pharmacare at the event.

WHAT: Labour Day parade, followed by greetings and refreshments

WHERE: Starting at 142 Main Street, Grand Falls-Windsor

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“Many unionized workers have prescription drug coverage through their collective agreements,” says Hillier. “This isn’t just about union members. This is about doing the right thing for everyone in Canada.”

Last year, Canada’s unions launched a national campaign, A Plan for Everyone, calling for a prescription drug plan that covers everyone in Canada. The federal government responded by announcing the creation of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

Information about Labour Day events in St. John’s, Corner Brook and Labrador City can be found at nl.cupe.ca/2018/08/24/2018-labour-day-events.

For more information, please contact:

Sherry Hillier
CUPE NL President
(709) 765-2996

Colleen Reynolds
CUPE Atlantic Communications
(902) 809-2253

Town of Placentia

Workers remain optimistic about negotiations with Town of Placentia

creynolds News Release

Representatives for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1761 remain hopeful that a negotiated collective agreement can be reached with the Town of Placentia, despite receiving notice yesterday that the employer has applied for conciliation.

Six exchanges have taken place since bargaining began in May 2018.

“We’re disappointed that the Town has taken this step, which we feel is premature at this time,” says Derrick Barrett, CUPE national representative. “Progress has been made and issues have been resolved through the regular collective bargaining process.”

CUPE 1761 President Gerry Quilty says, “Negotiations are going well from our perspective. We believe that we’re on our way to reaching a fair deal.”

“We remain hopeful that we can reach a negotiated deal that is good for the workers and the Town of Placentia,” adds Barrett.

CUPE 1761 represents 15 members who are inside and outside municipal workers with the Town of Placentia.

Sherry Hillier radio VOCM

New radio ad: Pharmacare – Let’s get it right

creynolds Article

Sherry Hillier radio VOCMStarting today until September 3, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador will be running a new radio to amplify the call for universal, single-payer prescription drug coverage for everyone in Canada. Universal pharmacare is the only way to provide prescription drug coverage that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Voiceover for the ad, which will air province-wide, was done by CUPE Newfoundland Labrador President Sherry Hillier. “Many unionized workers have prescription drug coverage through their collective agreements,” says Hillier. “This isn’t just about union members. This is about doing the right thing for everyone in Canada.”

Listen to the radio ad

2018 Labour Day events

creynolds Article

Please join us at these events on Monday, September 3, in Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Labrador City, and St. John’s.

Labour Day posterCorner Brook 
Family Fun Day BBQ
Margaret Bowater Park, O’Connell Dr.
1 – 4 pm

Download the poster for your workplace.

Grand Falls-Windsor 
Town Parade on Main Street, with CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier
10 am – 12 pm

Download the poster for your workplace.

Labrador City 
Family Fun Day BBQ
USW 5795 Hall, 105 Hudson Dr.
1 – 4 pm

Download the poster for your workplace.

St. John’s 
Family Fun Day BBQ
Techniplex Complex
39 Churchill Ave., Pleasantville
1 – 4 pm

Download the poster for your workplace.

Pharmacare - Let's get it rightPlease also listen to our radio ad!

 

Employment Opportunity: Adjudicator – Public Service Commission

creynolds Job Posting

Contract position to March 2019, with the possibility of extension.

The Adjudicator position is an independent, impartial decision-making role responsible for reviewing job classification appeals. The position will be located at the Public Service Commission (PSC), Mundy Pond Road, St. John’s, NL.

In 2015, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced the Job Evaluation System (JES) for bargaining unit positions and some excluded positions. The JES covers approximately 35,000 positions in government Departments, Regional Health Authorities, and select positions in the education sector and crown boards and agencies.

Classification decisions and the administration of the JES, is the responsibility of the Human Resource Secretariat (HRS). The Appeal process, on job evaluation decisions, will be handled by the Adjudicator. The process is outlined in the applicable collective agreements for bargaining unit members.

The Adjudicator will receive appeals filed in accordance with the Classification Review and Appeal Process. Under the established process, the Adjudicator shall only consider and rule upon evaluated factors that are challenged by an individual or group having identical position descriptions and classifications. The Adjudicator shall make decisions on the information provided, or may hold hearings if deemed necessary. The decisions of the Adjudicator, on an appeal, is final and binding on the parties to the appeal.

Candidates should have knowledge of job evaluation methods and understand how allocation factors are assessed, with experience in the JES framework preferred. The Adjudicator must be able to conduct a hearing, and have the ability to comprehend large volumes of detailed descriptions, and issue well written, logical decisions within the guidelines of position evaluation methodology. The Adjudicator must also have an understanding of the diversity of occupational groups and organizational structures and the impact of classification decisions on internal relationships within and across other public sector organizations.

The position requires an appreciation of the importance of all public sector positions. The Adjudicator must have the ability to listen, to make appellants feel at ease in an unfamiliar environment, to respect the rights of employees, and comprehend the unique situations which may arise from the changing environment of the public service. Knowledge of the principles of natural justice, and the ability to work independently with effective organizational and planning skills will be an asset.

These qualifications would normally be acquired through a degree in the social sciences, behavioural sciences, and/or arts. Equivalencies will be considered. Experience in related research or evaluation methods is required. Experience in human resources is an asset.

Search #: PSC.2018.01
Location: 50 Mundy Pond Road, St. John’s, NL
Open Until Filled.

Please submit your application to the Public Service Commission in one of the following ways. Be sure to reference the search number.

Email: contactpsc@gov.nl.ca
Fax: 709-729-3178
Mail: 50 Mundy Pond Road PO Box 8700 St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6

Member Update: Master Bargaining – July 31, 2018

creynolds Bargaining Update, Collective Bargaining

As you may be aware, Minister Osborne made a public statement that CUPE and the province had reached a “tentative agreement” on June 28, 2018. However, it is only correct to say that we have reached a “framework agreement” at this point.

Until members of the CUPE Bargaining Committee have given their approval, this is a “framework”. After their approval is given, this becomes a “tentative agreement” and plans will be made to present the offer to the membership for a ratification vote.

CUPE received the framework agreement documents from the government in the third week of July. On Saturday, July 28, the Bargaining Committee and staff met to review the documents and to determine if a tentative agreement had indeed been reached.

There remain several issues in the agreement to be resolved before the Bargaining Committee can determine if we have a “tentative agreement”. Several documents must be finalized to ensure that we uphold the best interest of CUPE members. We are currently working through those documents and expect to be able to communicate the results to you in the near future.

This has been a long and difficult round of bargaining and your bargaining committees and staff representatives truly appreciate your patience, understanding and support. We are nearing the end of this arduous process. Please continue to show the strong solidarity that you have throughout this entire process as we proceed down the home stretch.

Your bargaining committees expect to be able to communicate with you in the very near future, hopefully prior to the end of summer.

Sherry Hillier

Sherry Hillier presents at hearings for the NL Auto Insurance Review

creynolds Article

Sherry HillierOn June 5, 2018, CUPE NL President Sherry Hillier and CUPE National Researcher Carol Ferguson spoke as presenters at the Auto Insurance Review Board hearing conducted by the NL Public Utilities Board.

Members on the bench of the Auto Insurance Review included Chair and CEO Darlene Whalen, Commissioner Dwanda Newman, Vice-Chair of the Board, and Commissioner Jim Oxford.

The Public Utilities Board was initiated by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to “review and report on a number of issues with respect to automobile insurance in the province, including the reasons behind increasing claims costs for private passenger vehicles and taxi operators, and options to reduce these costs. The Board has been specifically asked to examine the impact on rates and implications for claimants of introducing a monetary cap on claims for non-economic loss for minor/mild injuries or continuing with the current deductible of $2,500 or increasing the deductible.”

The hearings are scheduled from June 4 to June 14, 2018, and may be extended if necessary.

Other parties at the hearing included the Consumer Advocate, the Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association, the Campaign to Protect Accident Victims, Spinal Cord Injury NL, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

All information and documents filed in the review will be placed on the record and on the Board’s website, including CUPE NL’s written submission. Transcripts of the hearing will be distributed electronically to the parties and will also be posted on the website.

CUPE NL supports the development of a publicly owned, full service, non-profit automobile insurance system to deliver comprehensive, no-fault insurance to all licensed drivers in the province, including private passenger drivers, independent commercial owner-operators and fleet company drivers (such as trucking, courier, and taxi companies) at fair, non-discriminatory rates.

CUPE NL excerpt from the transcript dated June 5, 2018


Sherry Hillier: Thank you, Board. I’m Sherry Hillier. I’m the newly-elected president of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, taking over the position of former president, Wayne Lucas.

Carol Ferguson: Good morning. Carol Ferguson. I am the research representative for the Atlantic Region of CUPE.

Sherry Hillier: Good morning. I’d like to thank the Board for the opportunity to speak to you today about automobile insurance. CUPE is the largest union with more than 650,000 members across the country. Our 6,300 members in Newfoundland and Labrador would, in various sectors, include health care, post-secondary K to 12 education, municipalities, housing, social services, libraries among others. CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador’s members are proud to provide services which support the development of vibrant healthy communities and strong local economies.

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador believes this review provides a valued opportunity to explore the possibilities of creating an improved automobile insurance system for the province. Instead of just tinkering with the existing system by tweaking the rates, adjusting the profits, moving the caps up and down, why not seize the opportunity to fix the problem once and for all?

CUPE recommends the creation of a publicly-owned non-profit automobile insurance that can offer fair, non- discriminatory rates and high-quality coverage for all licensed drivers, including private passenger drivers, independent commercial owner/operators, and drivers for fleet companies such as trucking, courier and taxi companies. By implementing a public auto insurance plan, Newfoundland and Labrador would become the fifth province within Canada to have a publicly-owned publicly-operated system of automobile insurance. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec have enjoyed the benefits of public auto insurance for many decades under governments of various political stripes. Newfoundland and Labrador would be in the enviable position of being able to learn from experiences of other jurisdictions to design costs to implement made in Newfoundland and Labrador full service system to meet the vehicle insurance needs of the people of our province. CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador believes a public auto insurance plan makes good sense both economically and socially for our province.

Today, I want to outline why we reached this conclusion and invite anyone looking for more detailed information to read our submission to the Public Utilities Board Automobile Insurance.

First of all, it is important to remember drivers are required by legislation to purchase automobile insurance. It isn’t an option. It isn’t like we’re going to decide if we’re going to buy a coffee or not. Driving without insurance is a very serious offence and severe penalties which may include heavy fines and suspension of a driver’s licence. Legislation requiring automobile insurance means private insurance companies have a captive market.

Because governments require drivers to purchase automobile insurance, CUPE believes that governments have a responsibility to ensure that benefits are fairly delivered at a reasonable cost. Insurance premiums in Newfoundland and Labrador are among the highest in the country. Newfoundland and Labrador was ranked tenth out of 13 jurisdictions in insurance premium rates in 2017.

[An] Ontario report commissioned by the Minister of discriminatory rates and high-quality coverage for all licensed drivers, including private passenger drivers, independent commercial owner/operators, and drivers for fleet companies such as trucking, courier and taxi companies.

By implementing a public auto insurance plan, Newfoundland and Labrador would become the fifth province within Canada to have a publicly-owned publicly-operated system of automobile insurance. British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec have enjoyed the benefits of public auto insurance for many decades under governments of various political stripes.

Newfoundland and Labrador would be in the enviable position of being able to learn from experiences of other jurisdictions to design costs to implement made in Newfoundland and Labrador full-service system to meet the vehicle insurance needs of the people of our province. CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador believes a public auto insurance plan makes good sense both economically and socially for our province.

Today, I want to outline a finance [report] titled “Clear Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario.” This comprehensive report compared current provincial auto insurance premiums for private passenger vehicles in each province and territory. It supports what ordinary citizens are saying, “Auto insurance rates in this province are too high.”

In 2016, drivers in Newfoundland and Labrador paid approximately $434 million in premiums and received approximately $334 million in claims.

This information filed is with the Superintendent of Insurance.

The premiums exceeded disbursement payments for direct claims for almost $100 million dollars. Private companies used this $100 million dollars, presumably, to cover operating costs such as staff, offices, promotions, broker fees and other profits—other expenses including profits.

Four companies have a stranglehold on the insurance in Newfoundland and Labrador. Ninety-five per cent of auto insurance services are provided by approximately 16 insurers. When common ownership among these are factored in, only four companies provide approximately 84 per cent of the automobile insurance business. The automobile insurance industry in Newfoundland is profitable and monopolized.

Most of the capital generated by auto insurance sectors—sector does not stay in the province. The head offices for most of these companies are 11 located elsewhere. The profits go directly the companies’ shareholders. Under a publicly-owned and administered system, that considerable business capital generated by insurance premiums could be invested here to support the goals of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Private insurance systems tend to be ineffective. Disputes lead to a very high percentage of premiums being used to pay experts and lawyers and not going directly to the injured persons. Business costs for private insurance systems include duplication, competitive market and profits. The province pubic insurance—insurers of British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan do not charge higher premiums than those of private insurers in other provinces.

In fact, the public insurance tends to offer rates which are often lower than or at least comparable to rates in other provinces.

Public automobile insurance companies have attributed their ability to offer a good insurance product at a lower premium due to the following factors.

  • The not-for profit nature of their mandates. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, became the exception following an amendment to its legislation in 2010.
  • Reduced administration costs due to the greater efficiencies and economies of scale.
  • Lower marketing costs due to the monopoly status of mandatory insurance coverage.
  • Reduced high-cost claims because of the effectiveness of their road safety and
  • Driver improvement programs.

While premium rates are important when considering the value of public insurance systems, there are other facts which contribute to the effectiveness of insurance plans, including the quality of the insurance product, reliability of service, capacity of the capital to remain within the province, et cetera.

The four public auto insurance plans vary from province to province, but they share many common factors including:

  • All Crown corporations with similar core values. They [are] the sole providers of the mandatory auto mobile insurance plan within their respective provinces.
  • They are responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration, and play a leading role in education programs and road safety and driver improvement.
  • They provide the mandatory insurance coverage and mandatory minimum amount of all vehicles registered by residence with valid driver’s licences in their respective province.
  • Because public insurance companies are required to insure all legal drivers in their respective province, they use the driving record of the individual and not that of his or her peer group to calculate the individual premium levels.

All drivers in Manitoba and Quebec are required to purchase public automobile insurance as a part of their annual driver’s licence fee. Rate increases in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia must be approved by the public regulators.

In Quebec, the base rate of mandatory public auto insurance is set out by the provincial statute. Brokers provide the main point of contact for consumers looking to purchase auto insurance in their local communities.

While there are many commonalities, there are also differences among the public insurance plans of each province including:

  • Public auto insurers in Canada have historically operated on a not-for-profit basis. The recent exception is ICBC whose legislation was amended in 2010 permitting the provincial government to compel ICBC to pay dividends into the provincial treasury. ICBC is the only for-profit public auto insurance provider in Canada.
  • British Columbia is the only province with a public auto insurance program, which operates solely with a tort-based system.
  • Manitoba system operates on a pure no-fault model.
  • Saskatchewan is the only province that offers motorists a choice between no-fault and tort systems of insurance. With the introduction of tort option coverage in 2003. SGI coverage offered an opportunity for claimants who selected the tort option to go through the courts to sue for damages like for pain and suffering.
  • In Quebec—in the Quebec system, public auto insurance is limited to coverage of personal injuries while damage to property is covered by the private insurer.

Each provincial public auto insurance system offers special products, which have evolved over time to meet the needs of their respective clients. The salutation to a high cost of auto insurance is not to reduce the benefits. Fair benefits must be taken as the starting point in any insurance system.

The solution lies with the developing a non-profit auto insurance system that operates under public scrutiny.

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador urges the Public Utilities Board to use the [recommendation] to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to form a task force to develop a publicly-owned made-in Newfoundland and Labrador full-service not-profit automobile insurance model.

The task force’s responsibility will be to identify the key elements of the proposed model, start-up costs and implementation time. The model will continue—will outline a comprehensive no-fault plan to provide all licenced drivers in the province including private insurance passenger drivers, independent commercial owner/operators, and fleet company drivers with access to a mandatory automobile insurance coverage at fair, non-discriminatory rates.

In creating a made-in Newfoundland and Labrador public automobile insurance model, the task force can draw on the experiences of British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as the exploratory research undertaken by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. CUPE recommends that a not-profit crown corporation created to operate at arm’s length from the provincial government and to utilize independent brokers.

The Crown’s corporation’s mandate should include the provision of vehicle registration, driver’s licence and a mandatory auto insurance. The public auto insurance system created in Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to be financially self-sustaining and to operate on a break-even basis calculated over time.

Beyond the initial start-up loan to be paid back in a timely manner, the Crown corporation will not receive money from, nor pay dividends to, the government.

In its corporate values and operating practices, the auto insurance model should reflect Newfoundland and Labrador’s commitment to independence, fairness and prosperity for all.

Thank you.

CALM membership – Special offer for CUPE NL locals!

creynolds Article, Resources

The Canadian Association of Labour Media is a communications cooperative that seeks to strengthen the communications capacity of locals and provide a link between unions and federations, small and large, in all regions and sectors. They offer communications workshops, online training, guidebooks and many other resources.

CALM has a website that offers a range of services to labour communicators. Through the website’s login, members can access all of CALM’s content for use in their own communications materials.

How to get the free, trial membership

For the next three months, until the end of August, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador locals can have a free, trial membership to try it out!

CALM log-inTo gain access during this free trial period, go to www.calm.ca and find the social login at the bottom of the page. Select login with (Facebook, Google, or Twitter). CALM staff will follow up to confirm your local and allow you access.

Alternately, you can email editor@calm.ca with your name, local, and email address and CALM staff will follow up with a user ID/password for you.

After the trial period, CALM staff will contact your local about annual membership.

Here’s what CALM membership gets you!

Training – Online and Workshops

  • Fundamentals of graphic design for beginners and non-designers
  • How to use your smartphone to make videos – filming and editing
  • Photography training and tips
  • How to write opinion editorials
  • How to speak at a rally
  • Effective political writing for campaigns
  • Writing good headlines
  • The art of the interview
  • Media relations
  • Making the local news
  • Dealing with journalists
  • Crisis communications
  • Strike ready – elements for a successful media strategy
  • Effective campaign organizing
  • Website design basics
  • Social media

Guides, handbooks and presentations

  • CALM editor’s handbook
  • Newsletter templates
  • CALM guidebook to dealing with media

Labour News, Visuals, Infographics

CALM publishes original and aggregated labour news, opinion and features. CALM’s editors write content for use by its members. CALM produces infographics and visuals that members can download and use in their print or online newsletters. If your organization is searching for something in particular, don’t hesitate to be in touch for help. They will create graphics for unions.

Annual CALM Awards

The annual CALM awards recognize excellence in union publications and productions in a variety of categories and classes. Entries are judged by independent experts and awarded at the annual CALM conference. You must be a CALM member in good standing to enter the awards.

CALM Conferences – building skills

CALM holds a yearly conference in the spring, alternating between the west and east of Canada. The conference is an opportunity to meet and network with colleagues from across the country. Seasoned communicators facilitate workshops designed to help members acquire new skills in writing, editing, photography, design, video, web design and development, and strategic communications and organizing. The 2018 CALM conference will take place in Halifax from May 11-13. CALM members pay a discounted delegate fee. For many unions, the discount alone pays for CALM membership.

Canadian Labour Communicators Slack channel

Are you on Slack? CALM coordinates a Slack channel for labour communicators. There, you’ll find a list of resources and other labour communicators who you can chat with to help troubleshoot and brainstorm. The channel is open to any labour activist, not just CALM members (though we strongly encourage you to join.)

Media training

For those members looking for more specialized trainings, CALM offers tailored workshops that will help members developing skills in creating media strategies for longer term campaigns, framing, story-based narrative analysis, understanding the media story cycle, and building relationships with reporters. For more information about workshops and training, please contact the CALM editor.

Media strategy consulting

Not sure about the strength of your media strategy for a campaign or issue? Want to improve the chances of getting your event or action covered by a daily or national newspaper or media outlet? We can arrange a session over the phone or Skype to offer constructive feedback and suggestions about your media strategy, framing, messaging, pitches, and other elements of your communications and media work.