Summer updates from your President

Greetings everyone! I wanted to take a moment to update you on what your union executive have been up to this summer.

  • Union Solidarity- We have been busy building up relationships with other CUPE locals on campus (CUPE 2950 and CUPE 116), we have written letters of support backing the BC Teachers Federation in their current job action, and we will be sending delegates to the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions Conference in August to meet with other TA unions from across North America.
  • Bargaining- In preparation for the next round of bargaining, to begin some time in the fall, we are evaluating the results of our membership survey, compiling data from similar collective agreements and drafting language proposals.
  • Local Business- We are rewriting our bylaws, which has not been done since some time in 90′s. The key changes of note include rules to encourage more diversity among executive representation and moving elections from October to January so they will not conflict with bargaining and also to allow newer TAs to join the executive after they have some time to establish themselves at UBC and in Vancouver. The majority of other changes have to do with formalizing practices we have been following unofficially for years. Once this document is ready, we will present it to the membership for ratification. This should happen in the late fall or spring, depending on CUPE National.
  • Preparing for Fall- We are getting the ball rolling on training and orientation sessions with members in each department.
  • Communications- We have partnered with a local design firm to reconfigure and redesign this website, so look out for some big changes ahead to make using this site easier!

We hope everyone is having a productive and fun summer! Enjoy the sunshine!

In Solidarity,

Trish Everett

President, CUPE 2278

My First CLC, a New Kid’s Impressions on the 2014 Canadian Labour Congress

CLC Convention

Trish speaking out against rising tuition costs and crippling student debt. Photo Courtesy of Josh Berson

Over the last week, I had the pleasure of representing CUPE 2278 at the triennial Canadian Labour Congress Convention in Montreal. Historically, 2278 hasn’t usually sent a delegate to this convention, but with our ongoing efforts to lobby for tuition protection at any and all levels (which I did on day 1, see photo to left) and with rumours abounding about an electoral shakeup, it felt like if there was ever a key time to attend, this was it.

In the weeks preceding the CLC, a whirl of statements, letters, rumours, stump speeches, town hall phone calls from CUPE National, and a candidate visit from Hassan Husseini hinted at the drama to come, but  I was in no way prepared for the three days of active shenanigans as labour chased its tail in Montreal.  The insider wheeling and dealing, the backdoor deals between the leaders of affiliates about who could run for which positions and so on were astounding to witness and disheartening for one who believed blindly in the ideals of social democracy and solidarity within the union movement.

A smaller example of this outside of the presidential race was a well spoken, keen and bright young worker who was not given permission from his union to run for the Young Worker Vice President seat on the Canadian Council and was told he could only run as alternate due to inter-union politics. While I understand that there is a history of proposing slates which represent a balance of affiliated unions, public/private, male/female, East/West and so on, within equity and diversity caucuses, surely a situation in which anyone willing and eligible to run ought to be able to do so and the judgement of the caucus should be trusted to select the best candidate to represent their specific views and not simply serve as a puppet for their national affiliate.

The reliance on guided democracy and elections of acclamation limits the entre of new activists and new ideas. To this end, I believe Husseini and Yussuff’s challenge of incumbent Georgetti in the presidential race was not only long over due, but ought to happen each time the CLC convenes every three years. Uncontested elections do nothing to encourage democratic debate within our movement and offer no place for revitalization and change as we face an ever shifting landscape of political attacks on the things we hold as fundamentally important- the right to collective bargaining, fairness in the workplace and society and our ability to advocate for the “little guys,” be they unionized or not.

support-good-local-jobs

CLC ad, “Fairness Works”

All this said, where I believe the train jumped the track in this election was in the petty public squabbling between candidates and their teams of supporters. Letters circulated among affiliate unions attacking the character and motivations of candidates, tweets alleging personal insults, the ‘busing in’ of an additional 1700+ delegates to vote in the presidential race (most of whom left immediately after), campaign materials slipped beneath hotel room doors (whether or not a CLC delegate was known to be in the room), grandstanding at microphones, motions intended to waste time and stall convention business, public humiliation and shaming of union leaders after a seat was won without their support and so on… None of this behavior serves the needs and interests of the people we were sent to represent: the 3.3 million Canadians represented by CLC affiliated unions. That the election came down to a difference of 40 votes for the seat of President is indicative of the level of divisive politics and back door shenanigans rampant at this convention pitting affiliates against each other.

I call upon Canadian labour to take a moment and reflect upon what we experienced at the CLC last week. In chasing our own tail for a week, it’s a wonder we didn’t manage to bite it right off. This petty behavior seemingly confirms allegations of our disunity and confirms the opinion of those on the outside that we are out of touch with reality and our base. Now that we have a new executive for the CLC, I call for a period of focused healing and a move toward greater solidarity. It would be easy to let such a fractious election further divide the house of labour, but this is no time to be caught looking weak or lacking in solidarity of purpose. The Neo Liberal and Conservative machines are gunning for our rights, our jobs, and our vision of social democracy and we cannot let them win.

montreal march

Marching through the streets of Montreal

Finally, I want to reflect on the positive experiences of convention. The march through Montreal against the austerity agenda was a resounding success. Labour was visible and loud and clear about standing in opposition to the Harper/Hudak thinking that is gaining a hold in Canada.  The opportunity to meet other young workers and to network with other Teaching Assistant locals (including U of T, McMaster and York whom we rarely get to meet) was also extraordinary.

CUPE BC Montreal CLC

CUPE BC delegates to the 2014 CLC. Photo Courtesy of Josh Berson

I left the CLC with an overwhelming sense of solidarity and pride in being a member of CUPE BC in particular and am grateful for the mentoring and sage advice received from our President Mark Hancock, and our allies in the University Sector. With such a swirl of chaos around us, CUPE BC delegates seem to have kept out of the fray, and handled issues with decorum and tact as far as I was able to observe. This was also a great opportunity to spend some time with our the presidents of our sister UBC locals 116 and 2950. Colleen Garbe, Karen Ranalletta and I have become good friends and look forward to entering the next round of bargaining in an atmosphere of solidarity and mutual support.

-Trish Everett, President CUPE Local 2278

_______________________________________________

NOTE: These views reflect the personal experience of President, Trish Everett, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the members of local 2278.

CUPE BC Convention!

Your exec is at CUPE BC Convention this week advocating for the representation of young workers within CUPE and support for international students and BC’s universities. Below, CUPE National President Paul Moist addresses the delegation at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver this morning.

 

Bk479BKCIAAwyxx

Richmond IKEA still out on strike!

Teamsters Local 213 members at IKEA in Richmond have been locked out since May 2013 after the workers rejected IKEA’s proposed concessions. It is important to note that over 80% of IKEA workers currently make under $20.00 per hour and 40% make less than $13.00 per hour – $3.75 less than what First Call BC calculates as an hourly living wage for Metro Vancouver. IKEA’s proposals would make employees work 20 years before reaching the top of the pay scale, as well as reducing benefits and cutting hours of work.

Workers are still standing strong just to defend the wages and benefits they already had, while IKEA is making record profits.

There are two simple things you can do to show your support for locked out IKEA workers:

1. Do not shop at IKEA. It’s important to avoid shopping at any IKEA location or online because IKEA is not franchised. All locations are owned by the parent company so shopping at either helps the company profit at the expense of the employees.
2. If you use Twitter, join in the Twitter campaign by replying to tweets from @IKEACanada and using the hashtag #HouseRules. Here are some example tweets suggested by Teamsters 213:

• #HouseRules @IKEACanada mean unfairness to workers
• @IKEACanada’s #Houserules mean making more and asking employees to go with less
• #HouseRules @IKEACanada has locked out Richmond workers for over 300 days
• My #HouseRules mean I don’t shop at @IKEACanada while they lock out their workers

Thank you for supporting these workers who have spent nearly a year on the picket line by sending a strong message to IKEA that their treatment is unfair.

“Open Table” Wednesdays, April 9th and 16th

Join us Wednesday, April 9th or Wednesday, April 16th for the union’s “open table” from 4 to 6 at Koerner’s Pub.  This is an opportunity for members to informally meet with members of the executive to discuss whatever work-related issues or concerns are on their minds.

Stop by anytime between 4 and 6 to ask a question, to talk about TA work in your department, or to comment on other work-related matters and we will buy you a beverage for your troubles!  All discussion will remain strictly confidential.

Look for the bright orange “CUPE 2278, TA Union” sign.  Come on down if there’s anything that needs answering!

College Sports Players in the States Can Unionize

CHICAGO — A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that a group of Northwestern football players were employees of the university and have the right to form a union and bargain collectively.

For decades, the major college sports have functioned on the bedrock principle of the student-athlete, with players receiving scholarships to pay for their education in exchange for their hours of practicing and competing for their university. But Peter Ohr, the regional N.L.R.B. director, tore down that familiar construct in a 24-page decision.

read more here

Solidarity

Solidarity with other CUPE locals is alive and well at UBC. CUPE 2287, CUPE 116 and CUPE 2950 are getting geared up for upcoming bargaining and finding ways to work together in the upcoming round of bargaining.

1240031_10152013104800823_1208219773_n

 

 

 

Presidents Trish Everett, Karen Ranelleta and Colleen Garbe