2003-2004 Co-ordinated Bargaining

2003-2004 Co-ordinated Bargaining

An update on NAPE and CUPE's 2004 coordinated bargaining

The Negotiator

An update on NAPE and CUPE's 2004 coordinated bargaining

March 29, 2004

"Still a long way to go," says Puddister.

NAPE's eleven negotiating teams have completed eight days of negotiations. We've had some ups and downs, with most groups making some progress on issues specific to their individual contracts. Unfortunately, however, we've made no progress on most major issues. In fact, there are still a number of major concessions outstanding, including pension indexing for our retirees over the age of 65. We continue to use advertising and media to encourage the premier to do everything he can to reach a mutually acceptable agreement before the strike deadline.

"Negotiations at a critical juncture," according to Lucas.

CUPE's five teams have made some progress at the individual (local) bargaining tables. In fact, some of our groups are close to signing off on local issues. That's the good news. Unfortunately, we spent much of our time this week fighting concessions from the employers and government. We are at a critical juncture. We are now faced with the challenge of resolving and removing some major barriers that stand in the way of finding a negotiated settlement. We're in the final stretch. But if Premier Williams has the will, we can still avoid a strike.

Public with us

From January 26 to 28, Vision Research carried out a public opinion poll on behalf of NAPE.

* 80.2% of those who expressed an opinion believe government should offer a modest wage increase rather than allow a public sector strike.

* 85.0% of those who expressed an opinion believe government should offer a wage increase rather than impose a wage freeze.

* 64.3% of those who expressed an opinion believe that if there is a public sector strike the premier will be responsible.

* 74.5% of those who expressed an opinion believe the unions have worked harder to prevent a strike than the premier.

* 85.0% of those who expressed an opinion believe government is wrong to reduce pension benefits.

* 75.1% of those who expressed an opinion will support public sector workers if there is a strike.

Four hundred members of the general public were surveyed, and the results are considered accurate +/- 5%, nineteen times out of twenty. Of those who responded 68.1% were not union members.

Teachers show true solidarity

We are proud of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association for their response to the School Boards Association's attempt to force special needs teachers to do the work of student assistants by threatening to suspend teachers who refuse. The NLTA has advised its teachers to refuse, and it has told the School Boards Association that if it suspends any teachers, the NLTA will consider that an actionable item that may result in the NLTA pulling its members from the schools.

NAPE, CUPE must fight all job losses

By now many people have heard the rumour that Tuesday's budget will contain a significant number of job cuts. Regardless of whose jobs they might be NAPE members, CUPE members, teachers, management these cuts represent the loss of valuable public services. Please, please speak out against these cuts, even if they don't affect your job.

Bad news budget won't knock negotiations off course

We should also ask why the provincial government has decided to bring down its budget on March 30th, just one day before our strike deadline. Nobody believes this will be a good news budget. It can't be as long as the government insists on making bad decisions based on bad information. One thing we will tell you, we will not allow a bad budget to knock us off course in negotiations.

Not intimidated by riot squad publicity stunt

Last night we watched with dismay news coverage of police officers preparing for a riot. It seems all too possible government arranged this as a photo opportunity to send a message of intimidation to our members. Many of us were involved in the general strike of 2001. We didn't let the police intimidate us then, and we won't let them intimidate us now.

Concessions, no money means no contract

There is much to be done, and time is getting scarce. We are determined to negotiate a contract without concessions and with a wage increase. Should that prove impossible should government force our members to the street we are ready, willing, and able to show this government the strength and solidarity of NAPE and CUPE members.