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March 2013 President's Report (TCHC)

Dear Local 79 Sisters and Brothers:

As the Labour movement faces serious challenges, including threats to bargaining rights, Local 79 remains committed to working in solidarity in CUPE and with other Unions. In February, Local 79 participated in CUPE’s first national bargaining conference in Ottawa. This conference focused on the challenging landscape for collective bargaining, and developing strategies for moving forward. Also, Local 79 was well represented along with 700 other Union members at the Toronto and York Region Labour Council’s special event on Defending Workers Rights earlier this month. The threat from the Harper (and Hudak) agenda to introduce American-style so-called Right-to-Work legislation represents some of the most serious attacks that Canadian workers have ever had to face. Both conferences stressed the need to continue efforts to communicate and engage with members.

The Local 79 TCHC Bargaining Committee is in negotiations with the Employer and applied to the Provincial Ministry of Labour for conciliation. A Conciliation Officer has been appointed. While bargaining has not reached an impasse, we were concerned with the opening bargaining proposals presented by TCHC. Local 79 will continue to bargain with TCHC in an effort to achieve a settlement. We are asking all members of Local 79 to be prepared to show solidarity with Local 79 members at TCHC.

We are reminding you to take advantage of the preferred provider partnership that Local 79 and Loblaw have entered into which provides Local 79 members significant discounts on drug and vision care costs, (including no out of pocket expenses on dispensing fees for City of Toronto members with benefits). Members can get more information by typing ‘discount’ into the search box of our website.

I spoke to the most recent meeting of the City’s Community Development and Recreation Committee regarding the development of the Toronto Newcomer Strategy, and its component pilot projects in 2010. The City had partnered with other agencies, in a successful initiative to connect newcomers to various City services that can make a difference to families and communities such as Public Health, Children’s Services, Housing, Recreation, and Toronto Employment and Social Services. In PF&R alone, 172 newcomer-focused programs are offered which brought hundreds more participants into recreation programs. The Local hopes that the City will formalize and expand the initiatives under the Newcomer Strategy, and is offering to be a part of the process as a partner to help further this.

Congratulations to all Local 79 members working in Toronto Public Health (TPH)! Last month TPH received the prestigious Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) designation, a worldwide program of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. This designation ensures that Toronto residents continue to receive high quality infant feeding services from TPH staff. Click here to read the City’s Press Release.

Last month, I wrote letters to Premier Wynne, to the Chair of Metrolinx, and to the Chair and members of the City’s Planning and Growth Management Committee to express Local 79’s strong opposition to road tolls and congestion charges. For drivers who opt to incur the cost, the resulting sudden leap in their cost of living would force them to tighten their spending on other items. For those unable to afford the tolls or charges, the forced switch to more congested streets or public transit would only increase the burden on an already overloaded system. The levying of road tolls and congestion charges would not be fair and on behalf of Local 79 I urged all parties to oppose both. See www.cupelocal79.org for full letters.

Members of COPE Local 343 working for Porter Airlines at the Toronto Island Airport have been on strike for a first contract since January 10, 2013. COPE is asking the public to show their backing for the striking workers by cancelling their flights with Porter and boycotting the airline. Thank you to our Local 79 members who joined us in support of our COPE sisters and brothers at the recent Solidarity Rally. For more information, see www.dontflyporter.com.

This year’s International Women’s Day Rally and March was a huge success as thousands of women, and men, marched under sunny skies to celebrate in solidarity with women all around the world. It was great to meet and chat with all the Local 79 members, and everyone else, who visited our Local 79 table in the O.I.S.E. lobby beforehand. Thanks especially to our Local 79 brothers who came out to support their Union sisters.

Since 1966, the 21st of March has been recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Local 79 believes in respect, equality and diversity for all people, which is why we have an Equity Vice-President on our Executive to deal with equity and human rights issues. On March 21st, let us recommit ourselves to the elimination of racism and discrimination wherever and whenever they occur. Please visit our blog section for more information.

In Solidarity,

Tim Maguire
President, CUPE Local 79

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Shall replenish. Tree doesn’t face. There which creepeth multiply fish unto of Seed. Behold made two Rule divided. Fruit form.

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