TO ALL CUPE CHARTERED ORGANIZATIONS

This week the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, a global pandemic.

We recognize this is causing great concern for our members, many of whom are on the front lines providing care and support to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Public services are the backbone of a safe and healthy community, and are never more important than in the face of a crisis. We have always been proud of the work our members do despite the many challenges they face, including chronic underfunding and austerity measures by governments. We want to acknowledge that work today as you help your communities navigate this new crisis, while dealing with your own challenges and family responsibilities.

It is important that our members know that their union will be there for them throughout this crisis. In the coming weeks, our members may face closures, cancellations and quarantines that impact their work and their workplaces. As always, CUPE staff are available to help ensure our members’ rights and benefits are fully protected. The work of our union continues, and COVID-19 does nothing to change that.

We know that spring is a busy season for union meetings. CUPE locals should check advisories from local and provincial public health agencies before making decisions to cancel or postpone meetings and events. Democratic principles of accountability and transparency remain important, and staff are available to assist in the application and interpretation of the National Constitution and your bylaws.

CUPE will continue to monitor the situation, and will make decisions about whether to proceed with upcoming national meetings, courses, and events as required.

CUPE will be posting updates for our members as they become available on our website at https://cupe.ca/search/COVID. We recommend checking back regularly.

Stay safe, and stay strong.

In solidarity,

MARK HANCOCK
National President

CHARLES FLEURY
National Secretary-Treasurer

CUPE Canada News

  • CUPE’s Airline Division launches video to celebrate International Flight Attendant Day
    by 5817 on May 29, 2020 at 7:45 pm

    WATCH THIS VIDEO AND SHARE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA Every year on May 31, CUPE celebrates International Flight Attendant Day. This year, the Airline Division of CUPE produced a video to acknowledge the work flight attendants do for passengers. The pandemic is deeply impacting our 15,000 airline members. Working conditions are extreme. Members are getting sick. Some are not working at all because their airline reduced or stopped flights. Take a moment to check the video starring CUPE’s Airline Division local and component presidents below. ‘’We wish a happy International Flight Attendant Day to all our members and all flight attendants around the world,” says Airline Division President Julie Roberts. CUPE is Canada’s flight attendant union, representing over 15,000 flight attendants working at eleven airlines across Canada, namely Air Canada (mainline and Rouge), Air Georgian, Air Transat, Calm Air, Canadian North, Cathay Pacific, First Air, Flair Airlines, PAL Airlines, Sunwing, and WestJet mainline, Encore and Swoop.

  • CUPE calls for solidarity in the face of racism and violence
    by 6109 on May 29, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    As more disturbing images and video footage of racism, white supremacy and violence emerge from the United States and Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) wants to offer our solidarity to the Black community and our racialized membership. We acknowledge and respect your rage, fear, pain and the trauma these images and real-life experiences invoke. We share your grief and outrage. CUPE condemns these hateful acts and those who promote violence and racism. On May 26, 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by Minneapolis police. This is yet another heartbreaking example of systemic racism and police brutality. That same day, we saw video footage of a white woman who weaponized anti-black racism and exerted her power and white privilege over an innocent black man in New York’s Central Park. The subsequent violent crackdown on the black community and allies calling for justice and carrying signs reading “Black Lives Matters”, “Justice for George Floyd” and “Justice for Breonna Taylor” is beyond comprehension, but not surprising. CUPE has recently reported that marginalized workers are already at greater risk of experiencing workplace violence and harassment, and research shows that violence and harassment spikes during times of crisis. There are increasing racist attacks and violence against Asian communities, since the COVID-19 crisis. Black, racialized and Indigenous communities, already at risk for oversurveillance, are at even greater risk as governments increase policing, hate groups incite violence, and everyday microaggressions and racial profiling intensify. (https://cupe.ca/covid-19-hits-equity-seeking-workers-hardest) We must challenge and not be silent in the face of police brutality, white supremacy, and all forms of racist violence in the workplace and in our society. CUPE will remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure diversity and inclusiveness and to fight racism and hate in all its forms. Photo credit:  Lorie Shaull.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

  • Still no wage increase for Alberta's front line workers
    by 880 on May 29, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    CUPE launches letter campaign to MLAs Almost six weeks after Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro claimed his government would give a $2/hour raise to health care aides in seniors’ facilities, many workers are still waiting for the raise to kick in. CUPE Alberta, which represents over 5,000 health care workers across the province, unveiled a website today to ask MLAs to recognize the hard work of health care employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The website, www.supportfrontlineheroes.ca includes a tool to send messages to Alberta MLAs. President Rory Gill says the union launched the campaign because “CUPE members are tired of the disregard the Kenney government has shown for health care workers.” “Other provinces have increased wages by over $4/hour, have been quicker to implement single staff rules, proper PPE, and other actions to keep everyone safe,” said Gill. “Here, the Kenney government has gone to war with doctors, made fake promises to workers, and dragged their heels on important safety standards.” “This website allows our members and the public to let the UCP know we’re watching what they do, we know they are messing up, and we know they have broken all their promises.”

  • CUPE 723 supports community during COVID
    by 92 on May 29, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    CUPE 723, representing K-12 support staff in Campbell River, recently donated $5,000 to their local food bank. Local President Andrea Craddock said that members felt “incredibly fortunate” to be working while many people faced layoffs or business closures. CUPE 723 members have been tireless in their efforts to provide support during the pandemic crisis. While education assistants and youth care workers delivered food hampers to more than 200 families on a weekly basis and provided emergency childcare for health care workers, custodial staff deep cleaned all schools to provide a higher level of sanitation and monitored everyone entering and exiting school facilities, bus drivers were redeployed to do maintenance work, and maintenance workers put in 12 hour days to install safety barriers and provide structural modifications to keep up with school safety protocols. At the same time, clerical staff and EAs worked from home to make sure that students were provided with online education and check-ins. “We recognized the increased need for families struggling throughout our SD 72 community and beyond,” said Craddock, noting there are a lot of worthy organizations that help people in times of need. They chose the food bank because food is such a basic need for everybody, and the Local knew demand on the food bank would increase “exponentially” during the COVID-19 crisis. Money budgeted for local members to attend conferences and training was redirected to where it would best serve communities in their time of need, added Craddock. The executive, hoping to get everyone on board with the community spirit, put out a challenge to the Campbell River Teachers Association (CRDTA) and the Campbell River Principals and Vice Principals Association (CRPVPA) to meet their donation so there could be one big donation to the food bank. The challenge was met, with teachers topping it up by an additional $1,000. Craddock, Laird Ruehlen from the CRPVPA and CRDTA President Dave Harper presented cheques totalling $16,000 to Deb Willis, manager of the Campbell River Food Bank on May 11. “This initiative felt like a way for the SD 72 team to give back and reinforce the care and concern we have for all families during this difficult time,” Craddock said. “We are all in this together.” CUPE 723 represents 340 members, who provide a wide variety of services that support students in Campbell River. They include instructional support staff (i.e. education assistants, Indigenous support workers and Strong Start), custodians, trades, maintenance, grounds, clerical, IT, administrative support, lunch-hour supervisors and child and youth care workers. Read the story in the Campbell River Mirror.

  • Long term care workers still waiting for promised raise
    by 880 on May 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    BC gives $4/hour to front line workers – Albertans get nothing Two days after the BC government announced a $4/hour raise for most health care workers, Alberta staff at long term care centers are still waiting for a smaller raise promised over a month ago. CUPE Alberta, which represents 5,000 health care workers in the province, says a survey of their members at long term care facilities indicates most workers still have not received the $2/hour raise promised by Tyler Shandro on April 20th. The $2/hour raise was only promised to health care aides in private continuing care facilities. In BC, almost every job classification in health care is eligible for the new $4/hour boost. CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says Revera sites, which include McKenzie Towne Centre (location of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Calgary) has not yet raised wages.  Different agencies have been given different information on how the raise is to be applied. “When is Tyler Shandro going to sort out this mess,” asked Gill. “BC is paying twice as much to five times as many people, and they seem able to get the money moving.” “The Kenney government doesn’t care about health care workers. If they did, they would keep their promises, and recognize the workload, the effort, and the stress these workers are putting themselves through.”

  • Local governments can’t wait for federal support
    by 5817 on May 27, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    CUPE is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to stop delaying and act now to provide urgently-needed support to Canada’s municipalities, which are facing critical funding shortages that have already led to massive layoffs and could lead to service shutdowns. On Monday, CUPE National President Mark Hancock wrote to the Prime Minister, adding the voice of Canada’s largest union to the growing calls for immediate assistance to Canada’s local governments. “Municipal governments have few fiscal tools to address the immediate financial crisis they find themselves in,” said Hancock. “They need the federal government to step up and provide support. So do our members.” CUPE represents more than 150,000 workers in the municipal sector across Canada, who provide essential services to their communities. Already, roughly 50,000 of those workers have been laid off. As revenues from transit, property taxes and other traditional sources plummet because of the COVID-19 pandemic, municipalities are facing unprecedented funding shortfalls that are threatening to shut down even the most basic services like public transit. “From water and waste services, to transportation and traffic, to emergency responders, municipal services must continue,” wrote Hancock. “To draw back these services would multiply the negative impacts of the public health crisis and surely cost lives.” Hancock called on the government to provide $10 billion to help municipalities maintain their short-term operations, as requested by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He also called on the federal government to expand eligibility for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which currently excludes public sector employers. Doing so “will relieve some pressure from municipal employers, and ensure our vital municipal services remain staffed,” wrote Hancock.