April 17, 2020
Ontario University Workers’ Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) Report
The OUWCC was held at the CUPE Ontario headquarters on February 20 – 23, 2020. The opening night included a greeting from Susan Gapka (Pink Triangle rep), Fred Hahn (CUPE ON president), and Candice Rennick (CUPE ON sec/treasurer), and a tribute to Janice Folk-Dawson (former Chair of OUWCC, current Ontario Federation of Labour Exec. VP.) There was a panel on Resisting the Ford Agenda with Janice, Fred, and Diana Zawadzki speaking about the theme of the conference: Resist, Defeat, and Replace.
Friday morning began with Graham Cox and Ben Lewis on a panel about Tools to Defeat. Graham talked about court challenges as one of the tools. The win over the ‘Student Choice Initiative’ (SCI) was huge. However, Graham fully expects it either to be overturned, or subject to new legislation that makes certain fees optional. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take them to court, but we need to change people’s minds in the general public, and be prepared to continue the fight as well. He talked about how flooding the market/funding institutions better for eg. STEM programs would force wages down for those ‘good’ and ‘necessary’ jobs – which would also lead to reduced funding, if graduate wages are one of the metrics. He also talked about some ways to deal with issues in bargaining (1% limit etc.) in other ways.
GC quote: ‘There’s no such thing as political and non-political fees – they are all political.’
Ben talked about the performance- or outcomes-based funding and the very important question – who judges ‘performance’? There is a goal of 80% of public funding for institutions meeting the targets, which leaves budgets up in the air from year to year. Funding will be withheld if targets aren’t met. The metrics being considered – graduation rate, graduate employment rate, and earnings, institutional strength/focus, skills, research and funding capacity etc. – push universities to be more business-focused and put into question what universities are supposed to be and do. Also, please refer to what Graham said about STEM programs. Some other repercussions are increasing inequality as fewer lower income students are able to access university and/or graduate, and having students pushed through or courses dumbed down so as not to affect funding. Ben’s phrase ‘compounding inequity’ stands out. Ultimately, we could have fewer, more unequal universities as funding is cut for ‘underperforming’ institutions, with surviving institutions being those that will ‘perform’ according to a very specific political agenda.
We had breakout groups to talk about the three main ideas:
Resist: education, bargaining strategies, etc.
Defeat: solidarity structures, strike support, etc.
Replace: political action
We looked at these two topics in different breakout groups in the afternoon, so there will be a summary of the discussions later in this report.
Friday’s afternoon panel was on Organizing Members to Win and included Stephanie Van Stralen and Preethy Sivakumar (CUPE staff reps) and James Watson (CUPE Local 3906.) Preethy talked about the importance of, and the differences between, mobilizing, and organizing. Mobilizing is about showing our power by working with people (and leaders, and organizations) who agree with us that things need to change. It is resistance, challenging the systems of power. Organizing is about building our power long-term, about expanding the people we want to involve in our work to win changes to work etc. It involves identifying, recruiting, and developing new leaders, and developing relationships with other organizations who share our goals. We want to ‘alter the relations of power to benefit our class’, the working class.
Preethy Sivakumar quote: ‘All the fights are about power.’
James took us through his Local’s process of a successful strike campaign. (Their key demands were met – 80% to 90%.) He talked about internal and external mobilizing and organizing, formalized member orientation work, a townhall they held to get word out about the possibility of a strike, about outreach – ‘solidarity coffee’ – offering free coffee to folks, and support signs – ‘I support/am willing to go on strike’ photos, and letters to the BoG – ‘I support [specific demands of] 3906!’ James also talked about some areas of improvement – organizing more systematically, better pacing and timing, ‘stress tests’ – where is the membership at, and what escalating actions are members prepared to do? Educating members about strike details could (always) be improved as well.
Stephanie talked about the process of organizing for certification. The most effective way is to start with a group of workers interested in forming a union in their workplace. Be sure to check the scope clause – know who is or isn’t covered by existing unions on campus. Scope can be expanded to include others or form a sub-unit in some cases. Conversations with workers that identify important issues, leaders in the workplace, etc. are important. 40% of those in the proposed bargaining unit must sign membership cards, but 50% (at least) is recommended. The CUPE organizer submits an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board with the signed membership cards. A copy of the application (but not the signed cards) is sent to the employer. A secret ballot is held in the workplace within five business days from the date of application. At least 50% + 1 of votes cast must vote in favour of joining the union.
. educate – members, the public
. have political conversations with family, friends, co-workers, etc.
. build, work with campus coalitions
. bargaining – give members realistic expectations, but: look at getting language to reopen language around wages etc. if Bill 124 is overturned; look at setting minimum standards around paid prep time (quantify actual time needed, and work for additional paid prep time); language around having ‘benefits’ such as work boots considered instead as PPE?; work towards equity rather than the 1% limit?
. solidarity structures
. strike support statements (especially for smaller locals)
. share media/updates with other unions on campus
. strengthen/create community networks
. political action
. learn more about political parties’ various policies and implications
. replace parties who don’t support working class interests but ALSO keep politicians’ feet to the fire – make sure they do what they said they’d do.
Communities, Not Cuts has tools and resources:
Saturday, February 22 – The People vs. Conservative Cuts Rally
At 8:15 am, we were on the bus headed to Niagara Falls! It was an important show of support for all the teachers, parents, workers of all kinds who have been or will be negatively affected by the Conservative cuts. The Conservative Party were having a policy convention – originally to be a four day thing, it ended up lasting a bit over a day. There were 80 buses, from all over Ontario. We had decorated drums that got us a good spot up near the platform truck aka stage. There were costumes, great signs, many many union flags.
Making signs on the bus to Niagara Falls; Mohammad Ali and his daughter Ameerah, Socialist hip hop; Dr. Seuss inspired signs; the mother and daughter speaking about cuts to autism services; seeing Guelph well-represented; meeting up with others from various communities; drumming! Pictures will be posted as well.
Sunday, February 23 – Action Plan, and Elections
The Action Plan was passed.
OUWCC New Executive:
Chair: David Simao (CUPE 1281)
Vice-Chair: Kathleen Webster (CUPE 2361)
Health and Safety Representative: Joe Rossi
Employment Equity Representative: Merlin Charles
Injured Worker Representative: Steve Pepper
Recording Secretary will be decided by the new executive at their first face-to-face meeting.
U of Guelph Campus Representative: Juanita Burnett (CUPE 1334 Unit 1)
March 24, 2018
Feb 22 – 25, 2018
By David Van Ryn and Lynda French
Thursday February 22/18 – 7pm
Conference opened with powerful speeches from Janice Folk-Dawson and Fred Hahn. Fred Shilson, the Young Workers Rep, spoke about young workers on contracts and the reality of today’s living; Pensions, contracts, cost of living and, with many years before a full-time contract.
J.P. Hornick, from OPSEU, talked about the college strike of 2017. She had told her members to start preparing financially for the 2017 Bargaining, three years before the end date of the contract they had just settled in 2014.
Mahlikah Awe, from Mayworks, had a powerful performance of poems and songs around the conference theme: connecting the dots, Pension and Precarity.
Friday February 23/18 – 9am
Chris Watson talked about the connection of CUPE and the NDP. He explained what we can and cannot do to support political parties. Unions cannot give money, goods or services and no “paid” work to support a Political Campaign. We can volunteer and speak to other union members and we can volunteer free time to a campaign. Later there was a group photo taken for postcards of members of the OUWCC conference to support the political parties who support our concerns.
Graham Cox and Russ Armstrong, Making Gains at Bargaining Table.
Graham talked about Language: “innovation” means Corporate Subsidy, “Downloading” means Contracting Out/Outsourcing. It is a good idea to coordinate across sectors for bargaining times. Some of the Bargaining Strategies:
- Keep all work in-house
- Pensions for all
- Tuition Waivers
- Raise conditions at bottom
- Develop common language clauses
Venaj Raniga, spoke on Bill 148
- on.ca/bill148/. This website gives a breakdown on the newly passed bill.
- He talked about PEL (Personal Emergency Leave), 2 paid, 8 unpaid days.
- “3 hour rule” at your regular rate – if called in, you must be paid 3 hours minimum.
- Right To Refuse – if they change your shift without a minimum 4 day notice without reciprocation
- He suggested that all should compare their Collective Agreement to Bill 148
We then broke into work groups to talk about Precarity.
Lunch 12:30 – 1:30
1:30 – 4:30
John Oudyk, OHCOW had a powerful presentation on Mental Health in the work place. We did a survey at this conference and he showed the results comparing it to other world based results. We talked about how management does “Behaviour Based Safety” (change the worker not the work). How managers would love to have resilient workers … they can handle everything. Bill 127, stress in the workplace and due diligence covers the Employer from the law. WSIB does recognize a diagnostic work related stressor.
We then broke into groups to discuss Mental Health.
At 5 pm, our brains tired from such intense training, we adjourned for the night.
Saturday, February 24, 2018 – 9am
Good Pensions for All – Kevin Skerrett
Kevin spoke about the JSPP, the Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan, a jointly sponsored pension that multiple workers can join. All Unions; CUPE, Faculty, Trades, Steelworkers, OPSEU, OSSTF and UNIFOR are all talking about a new plan with conditions:
- Joint governing board
- No loss of benefits
- Decent early retirement
Kevin also talked about CPP enhancement and the 2024 expansion of a higher earnings base.
We then broke into groups to discuss Pensions
Lunch 12 to 1pm
1pm Building Our Action Plan – Dan MacKenzie
When dealing with issues, keep it simple. Too complex and the plan usually falls apart.
- Define a goal
- Define a victory
- Power mapping – who to contact: Board of Governors, Trades/Profs, Students/Parents
- Gather Information
- What Tactics – Survey, Petition, Rallies, Cards
- Tabling – Social Media
- Have a message – make sure it is clear
Don’t be upset if you don’t win right away
Report on our Action Plan from Discussion Groups
7pm – 9pm – Direct Action Workshop
Lots of information on rallying.
Then we were divided into groups of 4. We were to draw our perfect world.
We built “Public World”. With public Day Care, Hospital, Library, Post-Secondary; we had public transportation, lots of gardens. A river full of fish, wind power, cannabis farm and all jobs were CUPE and everyone had a home. It was the perfect place to live. Then Wynne came along and she tried very hard to destroy our Public World. But we linked arms and we stood strong to defend our world. I don’t know how she did it be she got our goat! But, with strategic maneuvering we got our goat back!
Sunday February 25, 2018 – 9am
Candice Rennick talked about funding from National and Provincial Defence Funds. Also, CUPE has a lot of support folks to help you with your CUPE campaigns. Social Media support is also available.
All Collective Agreements are available on the CUPE Website for all and everyone to access. You can check out language in other Bargaining Units: Common Language, Pension Language.
- The Action Plan was passed
- The Common Expiry Date is twofold: 2021, and then 2024. By then all locals will expire in 2024.
- The Election of the OUWCC Executive Committee – the 5 newly elected members were”
- Chair Person – Janice Folk-Dawson
- Vice Chair – David Samao
- Health and Safety – Steve Pepper
- Injured Worker – Brett Buchard
- Employment Equity – Stephanie Villers
- We chose Laura Maclure as our Campus Rep.
We adjourned at 11:45am.
Oct 22, 2017
Conference Report – Lynda French
Toronto 2017 National Convention
Be Bold, Be Brave, Demand Better
October 1 to 6, 2017
First of all, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my Local 1334 Executive Board for giving me the opportunity of attending my very first National Convention! Especially after attending the CUPE Ontario Conference in June 2017. I was able to connect with most of the resolutions that CUPE Ontario put forward.
Sunday Oct 1, 17
We arrived in Toronto at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in time to drop off our suit cases and head over to the Toronto Convention Centre, South Buildings. We registered, received our bag full of delegate documents and Translator and off to our Sectorial Meeting.
- 1:30pm Post Secondary Education Panel: Strength in Solidarity
Speeches from the panel talked about precarious employment, privatization, contracting out, PSE (Post Secondary Education) funding and the impact on staff and students.
- Tracy Carmichael, Local 1870, University of Prince Edward Island
- Luc Brouillette, Local 2500, Universite Laval
- Janice Folk-Dawson, Local 1334, University of Guelph
- Craig Hannah, Local 1975, University of Saskatchewan
The next speaker was Abigail Perez Llanes, Secretary General SNTAP, Cuba. He spoke about raising the educational bar, so that all Cubans can receive a Grade 12 replacing the now acceptable Grade 9.
- 4:00pm Pension Forum
Kevin Skerritt had an excellent speech and power point discussing the how and then, why and now of the C.P.P. He also showed that the Public Pensions are growing, workplace plans remain under attack. There are a few financial companies who get involved in the operations of pensions and sometimes their involvement has not been to the workers favor.
- 6:00pm CUPE Ontario Caucus
After the Equality Statement was read, introductions of the Executive Board, Ontario Convention Committee Members were made. Discussion on Ontario Delegation floor seating, Diversity Vice President Caucus election, review of Convention agenda/events.
We headed back to the Fairmont Royal York. We collected our room keys, dropped off of our suit cases and headed down to the DELEGATES RECEPTION. The band they hired was a very entertaining band! They displayed a very high energy level and were very entertaining! Lemon Bucket Orchestra, a Toronto based group described as: Balkan-Klezmen-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Super-Band.
Monday Oct 2, 2017
- 9:30am Convention Opens
The morning started off with a wonderful greeting from Fred Hahn, President CUPE Ontario. Order of business was set into motion with financial reports, National Presidents report, then off to debate presentations
- 12:00pm CUPE Ontario Caucus
Lunch was provided. Discussion on the proposed Diversity seats on the National level. Review of Resolutions 24 and 318 campaigns.
- 2:00pm Convention Business Resumes
Presentation of the Health and Safety Award, National Secretary-Treasurer and National Trustees Reports. Election Forum – National Officers.
- 6:30pm Equality Forum
I really enjoyed this forum. There was so much to learn, to see and to hear. The theme of this forum was focused on the Resistance Against Precarity. All speakers are committed to the struggle of decent wages, job security, safe and healthy working conditions. The Panelists were: Syrus Marcus Ware, Black Live Matter, Toronto, Tzazna Miranda Leal, Justice for Immigrant Workers, Florence Berinstein, Labour Arts Activist. The forum then moved into audience participation leading with the most impressive group activity I have ever seen. Each person was paired up with someone they did not know. The one person asked the same question ten times “Who are you?” Each time the person gave a little more information about who they were. Then they asked “Why are you here?”, again ten times. Then the roles reversed. I was very impressed with this activity as you get to really understand: Who. You. Are!
Next we divided into two groups. The one group did an improve using a game style, then showed how certain things in life can hamper a person leading to a precarious work set. The other group made posters using the supplies on the table. It was very impressive to see the creativity behind so many people.
Tuesday Oct 3, 2017
- 8:00am Women’s Caucus
A lot of discussion was around the C8 to increase the number of Diversity seats at the National Level
- 9:00am to 6pm Convention Business Resumes
There were 2168 delegates at this day. Awards were presented to:
- Sister Janice Foote (HEU) Hospital Employees Union received the Grace Harman Award
- Sister Yolanda McLean of Local 4400 received the Ed Blackman Award
The keynote speaker for today was Nesrine Malik, columnist, The Guardian. She spoke about her personal feelings about how life was grand, then to wake up to the bombing in Britain. She spoke about the night before the American Election, thinking Hilary would win. Through her speech of world events and tragedies, she had a clear message – DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!
Constitutional Amendments and resolutions were debated, only one was referred back to the committee.
Videos and reports were received and carried. National Health Care Issues, National Women’s, National Contracting Out and Privatization, National Literacy, National Global Justice, National Post-Secondary, and National Pink Triangle.
- 12:00pm CUPE Ontario Elections
Fred Hahn, Candice Rennick and Michael Hurley all re-elected into their positions.
- 6:00pm Persons With Disabilities Caucus
Discussed the Diversity seats, talked about Accessible Issues at convention and solutions that have been made.
- 7:00pm Health and Safety Forum
Unfortunately there was no agenda for this forum so I do not know the names of the speakers. I can say that they were all very powerful speakers expressing true life accidents and how management places blame on the worker. We all received Health and Safety Tool Kits that had info. from bargaining language to investigating incidents.
Wednesday Oct 4, 2017
- Over 2000 delegates at Convention
- 9:00am to 6:00pm Convention Business Resumes
The Convention opened with a powerful Performance: Have You Seen Our Sisters? Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. A Rally was done and a lunch break with Red Dresses.
The Re-election of President Mark Hancock and Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury and election of General Vice Presidents. Disability Rights Activism Award. Key note speaker today was: Armine Yalnizyan, former senior economist and media commentator for Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.
- 8:00pm Global Justice Forum
This forum featured emcee, poet, author and activist Mohammad Ali, who ups the bar in protest music. Unfortunately I did not get the names of the three ladies who spoke as well at this forum. All three spoke about precarious work and migrant workers in their respective countries: Indonesia, Britain and Korea. The pictures they shared were very powerful, especially the one showing the one million people taking their rally to the streets in Korea.
Thursday Oct 5, 2017
- 9:00am to 6:00pm Convention Business Resumes
Early morning entertainment by The Raging Asian Women.
It was a sad morning as C8, the extra diversity seats was defeated.
Videos and reports were received and carried. The results of the General Vice President elections were in: Judy Henly, Marle Roberts, Daniel Legeres, Denis Bolduc, Fred Hahn. Regional Vice Presidents Candice Rennick and Michael Hurley.
Yolanda McLean and Gloria Lepine two Diversity Vice Presidents.
Luc Cyr National Trustee.
Sister Maria Moriaty of Local 1582 received National Literacy Award.
Key Note Speaker was Dalia Awada anti-racism activist, co-founder of Parates de Femmes.
Many were sad from the morning’s debacle around the C8 vote. We noticed resolution 318 was at the bottom. No way would that reach the floor. Somebody called a recess from the one resolution to the one just before 318. In hindsight I wish I would have recorded Janice Folk-Dawson’s speech. Brilliant is all I can say. After a standing vote – We Won! First day Strike Pay from National. We were ready to Celebrate!
- 8:00pm to 10:00pm – Fairmont Hotel – Ontario Social
Live Band, food and free pop! We were all very, very happy.
Friday Oct 6, 2017
- 9:00am Convention Business Resumes
The main event was the Keynote Speaker, newly elected NDP Federal candidate Jagmeet Singh.
It was obvious by 12:00 noon, there was not enough for quorum, so finally the convention came to an end.
We had very mixed emotions. We were so happy to get First Day Strike Pay but sad on the loss of the Diversity Seats. But not all is lost, it just means folks have two years to plan a new strategy.
Aug 30, 2017
CUPE Ontario Conference 2017
Conference Report – Lynda French- July 18, 2017
It has been 10 years since I had the honour of attending a CUPE Ontario Convention
“Be Bold Be Brave” truly are the best words to describe the CUPE Ontario members who were honored at this convention.
The most noticeable change in CUPE was the amount of strikes CUPE members faced this past year. These brave folks stood their ground. It did not matter how cold it got or how wet they were, from a 2 hour strike to several months they stood firm.
During this convention Local 1600 (Toronto Zoo) were on strike, I was very impressed by the solidarity in this Union. To show support for Local 1600, these folks at convention raised $100,000 for their Strike Fund. Not only did they raise money, but many offered hours of support for their picket line.
We also participated in rallies, one at the Ministry of Labour for the injured workers, and the second at Toronto City Hall for Local 1600.
The sea of Pink CUPE Flags at both rallies … ASTOUNDING!
From this convention, I have never been more proud to be a member of CUPE as I am now, to see the support that has been given to others was overwhelming.
March 4, 2017