#CUPE2017 – What happened at CUPE’s national convention in Toronto?

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CUPE’s 2017 National Convention took place in Toronto from October 2-6, 2017. National Convention is the highest decision-making body of CUPE and it meets every two years to elect national officers, debate issues, and democratically decide the direction of the union.

Airline Transportation Meeting

This year, delegates at the Airline Transportation meeting, representing 11,500 members across Canada, celebrated CUPE Local 4059, the groups’s newest local representing flight attendants at Air Georgian. They also adopted resolutions and promoted its campaigns on numerous issues important to Flight Attendants. These included the ongoing campaign to restore the safer 1-to-40 ratio and dealing with issues of fatigue, toxic fumes affecting onboard air quality, and how Bill C-27, if adopted, will erode the defined benefit pension plans. The Division also discussed amendments to its own structure to free-up resources to support new airline locals and organizing in the sector. Read more about it here!

National Convention

This year, CUPE’s convention included over 2,000 local union delegates from across the country. Together, they debated and voted on a record 45 resolutions – many that may be of direct interest to airline sector workers.

Delegates also shared their ideas and input on Strategic Directions, CUPE’s general political bargaining plan for the next two years.

The plan sets out how we will make gains in our workplaces and communities, fight racism and discrimination in all its forms, defend public services, and advocate for a better country and world. Click here to read Strategic Directions, debated and passed at Convention.

Resolution highlights:

  • Resolution No. 146: CUPE National will promote education and raise awareness of health and safety hazards of shiftwork. The materials will suggest ways of coping with shiftwork, organizational or group approaches to redesigning the work schedule, and fair redistribution of workload.
  • Resolution No. 143: CUPE National will create a toolkit on the topic of sexual violence at work (similar to the domestic violence bargaining tool kit) to include language to bargain on the topic, training on the continuum of sexual violence, general education about the topic. This will include resources to support Stewards and union members in their support of others.
  • Resolution No. 253: CUPE National will lobby the federal government to establish domestic violence leave in federal legislation. And assist other CUPE divisions in lobbying other provincial governments to establish this leave in other provinces.
  • Resolution No. 126: CUPE National will promote a multi sector campaign that will inform members about the importance of reporting incidents, accidents and near misses.
  • Resolution No. 208: CUPE National will raise awareness of issues and establish educational tools and services around LGBTTI older persons and seniors in Canada, work with Égale Canada’s National LGBTlQ2S Senior Consultation, and work with CUPE healthcare locals across Canada to promote LGBTTI awareness/sensitivity amongst health care workers in Canada.

Delegates approved a resolution to begin pay for eligible members of striking locals on the first day of a strike, instead of the fifth, as is currently the case. This move will strengthen the position of locals who encounter obstinate and unreasonable demands from employers at the bargaining table. This change to strike pay is effective immediately.

Coupled with the union’s renewed bargaining policy, which rejects all attempts by employers to force concessions and two-tier proposals on workers, we now have a full set of tools to take on bargaining in a climate of aggressive austerity.

Several resolutions also addressed privatization of our infrastructure and health services. These resolutions have mandated CUPE to oppose privatization of airports and other infrastructure and support the establishment of a national pharmacare program. A full list of resolutions is available on the CUPE website.

CUPE members decide their schedules

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Schedules are the centre of a cabin crew member’s livelihood. As you know, they dictate where you go and how much time you have with your loved ones. Many of you have commitments that rely on you. And only knowing what your next month looks like a week before it begins makes it difficult to plan your lives.

CUPE flight attendant locals have dealt with the same issues relating to schedules. But through collective bargaining, they have created contract language and rules around scheduling that protect them and suit their needs. Some even managed to set specific timelines with penalties imposed on the employer if those parameters aren’t being followed. Another example includes block guarantee if errors occur.

Scheduling committees made up of cabin crew meet each month to verify that all the block rules pertaining to awarded blocks are respected. They also make sure that the pairings respect the collective agreement pre-departure for the bidding period (such as duty time, crew rest, so on) as well as post-arrival. They even have mechanisms to compensate the aggrieved cabin crew. These compensations can range from having a flight paid, being award a day off, or adding them as extra cabin crew on the flight they should have been awarded. In some cases, they are removed from flights they should not have been scheduled on with full pay and benefits!

Working together, CUPE will help WestJet Cabin Crew achieve a strong collective agreement that fits their needs and priorities. We do this by surveying the membership, working with your elected bargaining committee to draft proposals, and delivering on them at the bargaining table. And that’s in addition to a range of industry-leading specialists assigned to your sector, including legal, research, communications, and pension experts.

But at the end of the day, it will be WestJet Cabin Crew who are in control of your union and your priorities. Each step of the way, you will have CUPE’s support to get the fair contract and strong representation you need and deserve.

Sign a card today!

CUPE excited to offer WestJet Encore Cabin Crew a fair contract and strong representation

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The drive to give WestJetters a stronger voice at work is picking up steam, as CUPE and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) simultaneously launch their drives to bring WestJet Encore Cabin Crew and pilots the fair contract and representation they deserve.

ALPA worked with WestJet pilots to successfully certify in May, and bargaining on their first collective agreement has already begun.

WestJet and WestJet Encore are eager to follow in their footsteps and get to the bargaining table too.

After the withdrawal of the WestJet Professional Flight Attendants Association (WPFAA) in late August, it’s clear that CUPE is the best choice for WestJet and WestJet Encore Cabin Crew.

WestJetters are ready for a stronger voice at work and better working conditions – and CUPE is ready to work with them to achieve it!

The work continues to amplify your voice at WestJet

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Dear WestJetters,

We have recently learned that WPFAA has ended its organizing drive at WestJet. We know the amount of hard work involved in an organizing drive, and we would like to extend our thanks to Tara Mowat and all those involved with the WPFAA campaign. Their dedication over the past years has helped show that WestJet flight attendants truly are committed to having legal representation and a negotiated collective agreement. This is not the time to give up on that goal.

Right now, there is an incredible opportunity to join your voices together, improve your working conditions, and make your jobs even better. With the support of Canada’s flight attendant union, you can secure the strong, constructive, and legally binding representation that you deserve. CUPE represents the vast majority of flight attendants in Canada, with 11,500 airline members nationwide. We have a long and proud track record of listening to our members and working with them to achieve the best contracts in the industry.

CUPE’s goal is not to become your voice; it is to amplify your voice. We are committed to fair working conditions and a safer, more respectful work environment at WestJet. Let’s work together to make this a reality.

In solidarity,

Mark Hancock
National President

National Secretary-Treasurer

To sign a CUPE union card, click here.

To sign up for updates from CUPE, click here.

Get the latest news and updates on our campaign and engage by liking and sharing our Facebook page, CUPE & WestJet: We’re Ready.

Setting the record straight – CUPE is proud to run a clean campaign

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First off, we would like to recognize the hard work of WPFAA and its intention to make WestJet a better place for its workers . In moments like these, where the stress is high, it is easy to lose perspective. That said, now is not the time to spread lies. These WPFAA lies are adding up and we want to set the record straight with some hard facts.

Fact: CUPE is not a business. In fact, it is a democratic, not-for-profit organization run for and by workers.

Like all unions, CUPE is regulated by the Canada Labour Code and respective provincial labour relations legislations. CUPE is adherent to a constitution, bylaws, and structures of accountability. What sets CUPE apart is our commitment to democracy and local autonomy. At all levels, CUPE members make the decisions about what the union does by majority vote. Autonomy means that CUPE locals are accountable first to their local membership.

CUPE dues are set by a democratic process. Dues are used to support the work of our members in defending their rights at work, to organize unorganized workers in Canada, and to resource community and equity initiatives prioritized by our members. CUPE does not profit from its members.

For CUPE’s Constitution that determines the union’s objectives and how the union operates, click here.

For the latest report from CUPE’s National Executive Board on decisions that have been made and resolutions passed, click here.

For annual audited financial statements that are presented to CUPE membership, click here.

For the National Secretary-Treasures’ Report of the current financial situation of CUPE, click here.

Fact: CUPE runs efficient certification campaigns. The average length of an organizing drive is measured in weeks, not years, unlike some.

CUPE has significantly more resources, professional organizing staff, and other airline members to support a drive than any other organization across the country. Unlike other organizations, CUPE will not make false promises on certification timelines.

Fact: There is no reason an employer cannot have an open-door policy and various avenues for feedback in a unionized workplace.

Communication between the Employer and workers is not limited to union representatives. For the employer to pretend otherwise is merely a tactic to attempt to pit workers against their union.

Fact: CUPE is running a clean campaign. And no, CUPE is not raiding.

Unlike all the negative talk about CUPE from WPFAA as of late, CUPE is running a clean campaign. There is no existing collective bargaining unit for Flight Attendants at WestJet. CUPE is supporting WestJetters who want to form the first-ever union for Flight Attendants at WestJet.


What CUPE did for me – and what it can do for you

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A message from Nathalie Stringer, Assistant Director of Organizing and Regional Services, CUPE

As a flight attendant for Air Transat in 1989, I got involved in organizing. It was our second attempt after having two different associations that did not work for us. Much like you, we had some questions about joining CUPE since they were a big union, we were a small company, and we had a sort of family relationship with our employer which we didn’t want to lose.

But ever since we joined CUPE, things have been on the rise. We made major gains in our working conditions over seven collective agreements while also working with our employer to keep the company growing, and the company culture alive.

For me, family is a priority. I am a mother of three and it is thanks to CUPE that we made the gains that allowed me to keep my career while having a family.

One of our great achievements, and one that makes me proudest, was the negotiation of better working conditions for pregnant and future-parent flight attendants, such as:

  • Sixteen weeks preventative leave, paid at 66.6%, which they can take when they want and keep four for the end, funded 1/3 by the employee and 2/3 by the employer. In 2018, that will change to ¼ and ¾, respectively
  • Avoid night flights on their bids. If a night flight ends up on their schedules they are removed, and paid 100% even if they do not replace another day flight for that same day.
  • Ability to temporarily downgrade from flight director to flight attendant during pregnancy, as well as one year after return to work.
  • Leave of absence for fertility treatments.
  • Right to displace their vacation during pregnancy without any restrictions.
  • One year of mini-blocks or one year of leave of absence after maternity and parental leave is completed.
  • Ability to keep all benefits, such as flight passes; insurance, pension, seniority, and sick credits still accumulate.
  • Two paid days off for spouse during or after childbirth.
  • Fourteen days leave of absence for childbirth or adoption.

This is just a glimpse at one of the ways CUPE helped us improve the lives of so many Air Transat flight attendants who wanted to start a family.

CUPE empowered us to make those decisions, and they empowered us to go out and make them a reality. And CUPE gave us the tools we needed to keep making things better. It’s thanks to them that I am where I am today.

What are other flight attendants saying about CUPE?

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CUPE represents over 11,500 flight attendants across Canada, working for airlines big and small. Having represented flight attendants since 1986, CUPE understands the sector, and is proud to offer its airlines locals the extensive resources they need to get the fair contracts and representation they deserve. Read more below on why they’re proud to call CUPE their union, and why they hope you’ll join with them to grow the voice of flight attendants across Canada!

“As a new local, CUPE has provided us with support and training to help us have a stronger voice at work. CUPE provides us resources and advice, but ultimately it is our local and our membership who make the decisions. So, don’t feel like a “big” union is going to tell you what to do; CUPE will just provide you the legal advice and education so you can make informed decisions. I encourage WestJetters to join CUPE so you too can have a stronger voice at work!”

— Alex Habib, President, CUPE Local 4098 (Air Canada Rouge Flight Attendants Union)

“This is a valuable opportunity to benefit from CUPE National’s expertise and to be part of the Airline Division community of Flight Attendants that CUPE currently represents. With dedicated staff that understands the uniqueness of the airline industry, they have the infrastructure, and resources to really make a difference in your workplace. For positive change and a strong voice in your workplace, I urge you to JOIN CUPE!”

— Marie-Hélène Major, President, CUPE Air Canada Component

“As Canada’s largest airline union, CUPE provided all the support we needed in order to achieve the objectives we had identified for ourselves. CUPE was there for us. No one from CUPE ever told us what to do; however, they offered suggestions that made a lot of sense. From the initial union membership drive through ratification of a collective agreement, our contacts at CUPE made themselves available at all times to lend a hand. And they continue to support us today. You deserve the same benefits and respect. Put your trust in CUPE just as we did at Sunwing. Your allies at CUPE will help you get what you and your co-workers deserve.”

— Mark Brancelj, President, CUPE 4055 (Sunwing Flight Attendants Union)

“If you join CUPE, you’ll still be ‘WestJetters’, you’ll still be ‘Owners’ and you’ll still have all the power to make your own decisions. Along with all of that, though, you’ll have an abundance of resources and expertise at your fingertips. Your members will be afforded valuable training and the opportunity to join National Committees that work together to strengthen such things as health and safety, LGBT rights, women’s rights, pensions and more. And you’ll have the support of 650,000 other CUPE members across the country if and when you ever need it. It’s a win-win situation and I urge you to come on board by joining CUPE.”

— Martyn Smith, President, CUPE Air Transat Flight Attendants Union

“CUPE has provided the Canadian North Flight Attendants’ group the ability and the knowledge required to bargain our very first union collective agreement with Canadian North Airlines, and at the same time we are still able to maintain a professional and respectful working relationship with the management team. Open communication with the management team also allows the grievance procedure to be heard and any issues resolved quickly. The association quickly reaches its limitation when it comes to resolving issues or the ability to bargain a fair collective agreement. Ever since we became unionized with CUPE, we have continued to improve the quality of life for our members at Local 4053 through the implementation of the new agreement.”

— James Yang, President, CUPE 4053 (Canadian North Flight Attendants Union)

Statement by CUPE National President Mark Hancock and National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury on white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia

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The Canadian Union of Public Employers (CUPE) and its 650,000 members across Canada refuse to stay silent in the face of white supremacy, bigotry, and the racist violence it spurred this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. CUPE condemns these hateful acts, and stands in solidarity with those who courageously stood up against this violence and hatred.

We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Heather D. Heyer, a passionate civil rights advocate and ally, whose life was senselessly taken when a known Nazi sympathizer intentionally struck her and dozens of innocent people with a motor vehicle.

We condemn the response of US President Donald Trump who, instead of condemning these acts of violence and domestic terrorism, by an act of omission, encouraged them to spread – in the US, and around the world, including Canada.

But as shocked as we are, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that this cannot happen here in Canada. White supremacist violence and vandalism are on the rise in Canada, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump – and it will only worsen if we fail to act now.

As CUPE members, and as Canadians, we must remember that there are more of us than there are of them. We must be vigilant in our efforts to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness; and we must not let ourselves become divided in our fight against white supremacy, racism, islamophobia, anti-Semitism and violence.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about the things that matter.” We will not remain silent.

REMINDER: CUPE Open Houses for WestJet Cabin Crew

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WestJet Cabin Crew Members are ready for a fair contract and fair representation at work, and CUPE is ready to help them achieve it.

From August 13-16, CUPE reps and flight attendants from other airlines unionized with CUPE will be crisscrossing the country to meet with you, to hear your concerns, and talk about how we can work with you to make your jobs even better.

Join us! Coffee and snacks are on us. Please make sure you bring your Restricted Area Identity Card (RAIC) to ensure entry. We will not be keeping track of who attends, but we do wish to ensure that only those invited are permitted entry.

Download the flyer by clicking here!

Here’s where you’ll find us:

  • YYC
    • 08/13, 11AM-8PM: Second Cup (506 17th SW, Calgary)
    • 08/14, 11AM-8PM: CUPE Local 4095 Office (YYC Domestic Departures, between Exit Doors 7 & 8, 403-221-2625. Click here for video directions.)
    • 08/15, 12PM-8PM: Brewsters Airdrie (200 Stonegate Dr. NW, Airdrie)
    • 08/16, 11AM-3PM: Delta Calgary Int’l Airport (YYC Lounge, Lobby Level)
    • 08/16, 5PM-9PM: Delta Calgary Int’l Airport (Cy Becker Room, Mezzanine Level)
  • YYZ
    • 08/13, 11AM-8PM: Starbucks (YYZ Terminal 1, before Security, Level 3)
    • 08/14, 11AM-8PM: CUPE Local 4098 Office (YYZ Terminal 1, Level 2, Room GA2022, 905-678-6330. Click here for video directions.) ***
    • 08/15, 11AM-8PM: Starbucks (YYZ Terminal 1, before Security, Level 3)
    • 08/16, 11AM-3PM: CUPE Local 4098 Office (YYZ Terminal 1, Level 2, Room GA2022, 905-678-6330. Click here for video directions.) ***
    • 08/16, 5PM-9PM: Sheraton Gateway Hotel (YYZ Terminal 3, Boardroom 351, 3rd Floor)
  • YVR
    • 08/13, 1PM-8PM: Starbucks (1195 Mainland Street, Yaletown)
    • 08/14, 2PM-6PM: Starbucks (1195 Mainland Street, Yaletown)
    • 08/15, 2PM-6PM: Starbucks (1195 Mainland Street, Yaletown)
    • 08/16, 11AM-2PM: Starbucks (1195 Mainland Street, Yaletown)
    • 08/16, 5PM-9PM: Fairmont YVR (Canvasback Room, 4th Floor Lobby Level)

*** Directions to Local 4098 Office: From train exit at T1, go down escalator on left towards international arrivals. Walk past Starbucks and go up escalator towards Tim Hortons kiosk. When facing Tim Hortons, there will be a set of frosted doors on your left. Enter hallway and turn left. First office on right past washrooms.

CUPE scores major victory for passenger and flight attendant safety at Federal Court of Appeal

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On August 4, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against the federal government, and confirmed CUPE’s position that safety is paramount in the operation of airlines in Canada.

“This is a major wake-up call for Transport Canada,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “The safety of passengers and crew must come first.”

In October 2013, the federal minister of transport granted Sunwing Airlines an exemption to miniumum staffing requirements, allowing them to reduce the ratio of flight attendants to passengers on board flights by 25 percent. It was granted even though Sunwing couldn’t demonstrate passenger and crew safety could be upheld with a reduced number of flight attendants on board.

So CUPE took the government to court. And on Friday, August 4, we won. The Federal Court sided with CUPE, marking an important victory for passenger safety, for our flight attendant members at Sunwing.

It’s an important example of how CUPE works with its members on issues affecting them at work and then takes those issues to the highest levels of government. This win for Sunwing flight attendants is a win for all flight attendants across Canada. And it is exactly the kind of effective action that CUPE – and only CUPE – can bring to bear for WestJet Cabin Crew as they look to unionize.

It also gives hope that a separate court challenge, launched by CUPE regarding the government’s current 1:50 ratio, will also be successful. CUPE also launched the Safer Skies campaign in 2016, to lobby the federal government to restore the safer ratio of one flight attendant for every forty passengers – a recommendation that was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons transport committee in June.