Presidents Report – Budget and Bargaining

Hi everyone,

Hi wanted to give you an update on bargaining and the district budget shortfall.

First bargaining:

For those that don’t know there are two bargaining tables. Provincially and locally. We bargain locally with the employer on local issues. The Provincial bargaining team is made up of K-12 representatives from locals from different regions in the Province. They bargain directly with the government through their bargaining group made up of BCPSEA members. This bargaining table bargains wages and benefits and other monetary and non monetary issues. They  met in March but have not agreed to anything. They have taken a “break” from bargaining. The last offer was unacceptable. It was less than 2 percent per year for three years. Right now Cupe is joining other unions to push the government for a more acceptable offer.

Local Bargaining: 

Your contract expires this year at midnight on June 30th. Please submit your bargaining proposals on this form to the union office by May 30th. As of today we have not met with the employer to begin bargaining. We have been asked to wait until the Provincial Bargaining committee has completed their bargaining before we exchange proposals and start local bargaining.

As I hear any news I will update you.

Now the budget:

Once again there is a budget deficit. As usual the board is looking to balance the budget by cutting our jobs. Details are on the district website. They are proposing to cut Library Technicians. Career Information advisors and other positions including the Education Assistant- Literacy Support position. All Cupe jobs are important. The district cannot run without us. The students cannot realize their potential without us. I am outraged by these cuts. To add insult to injury they are adding a management position and replacing retiring exempt staff. They refuse to look at cutting management positions to save our jobs.Please support your fellow union members by writing to the trustees and tell them to stop cutting our jobs. Write letters to the editor of the newspapers. Attend the Board meeting on May 25th from 7-9 pm. Come in person or join via zoom. Contact Cindy Wang, Secretary Treasurer to get on the speakers list. We must stand together. Collectively we are stronger. We need your support!
In Solidarity

Ian Hillman

Cupe Local 716 President

Presidents Report: Trustee Meeting Updates

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On January 26th, 2022 I presented two briefs to the School board Trustees, on the topics of Daytime Custodial Work, and EA access to technology.

As we all know, the daytime custodians The temporary daytime custodian positions will end in February. A motion was passed to keep 8 of the daytime positions and bring back the 5 EAOSS positions.  It’s unfortunate that some members will lose their jobs, but at least eight members will be kept on day shift and the five original EAOSS positions will be maintained. Richard Lee voted against the motion, he wanted it to stay at the status quo with daytime BSW’s working in the schools. Frank Geyer recommended eliminating all elementary day custodians except EAOSS and Ken Hamaguchi supported him. The results of this meeting have been picked up by the Richmond News, so hopefully the parents see what is happening in their children’s schools.

I also spoke on the ongoing issue with access to technology and EA Ipads. The trustees seemed supportive of more technology for Cupe staff.

In solidarity,

Ian

President’s Report: January Return to School

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

At this time, I only know what I have seen at the press conference today.

The plan going forward? I would hope that is the reason for the delay in the return to school for students. So a plan can be formalized before January 10th. The unions position? As it has been since March of 2020, our focus is to keep our members safe! We have advocated since day one, our health and safety should be priority number one. We will continue to do so.

We are constrained in our ability to dictate to the employer and government by Public Health, the Ministry of Education, Worksafe Regulations and the Center for Disease Control. We will continue to do everything within our control to keep our members safe.

We will keep you updated as we learn more. Please check our Website for updates.

In Solidarity,

 

Ian Hillman
President, CUPE 716

President’s Report: 2021 Year End

Dear CUPE Local 716 members:

It’s hard to believe it’s the Holiday Season!

Hopefully everyone is taking some time to rest, recuperate and making time for yourself. 2021 was a challenging year for all of us. What lies ahead no one knows. What we do know is hopefully we can all find some peace and joy over the next few days.

If you need any support over the Holidays don’t hesitate to use our Employee Assistance Program. You can also call me. I am always glad to talk to any of the membership.

On behalf of your Executive we wish you and yours a healthy, safe holiday season.

In Solidarity,

Ian Hillman,
President, CUPE 716

Presidents Report – September 2021

Greetings Brothers, Sisters and Friends,

Welcome back to our 10 month members. Thanks to all our twelve month members for getting schools ready for school opening. Hopefully everyone had a chance to enjoy the weather and got through the heat wave safely. Speaking of heat; we have had discussions with the employer on having a plan to deal with future heat waves. 

Covid.

I’m sure we were all hopeful after restrictions were lifted July 1st things were going to get better. Well, we are in the fourth wave and all the stress and anxiety is upon us again unfortunately. We have met with the employer to discuss school startup. We have, as a union, very little control over processes mandated by Worksafe andthe Public Health Officer. We are always here to advocate to our fullest capability for your safety and well being. I am sure things will evolve and change daily. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay safe.

We would like to see stricter controls such as masks for all ages of students. Physical distancing, cohorts and any othermeasures to keep us safe. But as I said that is beyond our control. Remember to report any unsafe working conditions to your Supervisor and site safety committee.

I hope to see everyone in person soon but for now we will continue ourUnion meetings on Zoom.

In Solidarity,

Ian Hillman

CUPE 716 President

Presidents Report – May 2021

Dear Members,

I am writing today to update you on where we stand in the Budget process for next year.  We have met multiple times with Richmond’s MLA’s to discuss the shortfall and funding levels, however despite this lobbying they have declined. They based their decision on the fact the District has a 9.8 million dollar surplus. We understand that there needs to be some surplus maintained for unexpected situations, but strongly believe that this is the time to spend more of it.  Like we have said many times, it is a rainy day, it is time to spend the rainy day fund. Thank you to Trustee Richard Lee for advocating for the Trustees to spend more of the surplus so that our members can continue to work to support the students of SD 38. Unfortunately he was not supported by the other Trustees but we appreciate his advocacy. The budget was passed and Trustee Lee was the only one to vote no. 

I am still taken aback by the fact the district wasn’t interested in being more creative in looking at other areas to balance the budget. I am sure we all know of ways the district could save money other than cutting our jobs. But they chose not to. 

We are also trying to work with the employer on the Educational Assistant downsizing. Your Union believes any downsizing, regardless of the FTE allocation, should be done by seniority. The employer disagrees. We have filed a grievance on this.

We now have to support our members who will lose their jobs. I can’t imagine the stress and anxiety they have been experiencing waiting for the budget to pass. Now that it has, the reality is setting in, they are really going to lose their jobs. I ask you to join me in saying we are here for you and will do everything we can to support you moving forward. If there ever was a time for solidarity – it is now.

In Solidarity

Ian Hillman

Cupe 716 President

President’s Report: Budgets April 2021

Dear Members,

As many of you may have heard our School District is facing a 7.2 million dollar shortfall. No decisions have been finalized on how this budget will be balanced as required by law. Your executive is working hard to prevent any cuts to us.

I encourage and frankly implore you to write to your MLA, and Member of Parliament and tell them to fund School Districts that are in a deficit situation due to the current pandemic.

Jennifer Whiteside: Minister of Education

Or:

Locate your MLA here

Locate your MP here

I also ask you to write our School Trustees:

Norm Goldstein

Ken Hamaguchi

Heather Larson

Richard Lee

Sandra Nixon

Donna Sargent

Debbie Tablotney

Implore them to look at cutting management positions and using more of the reserve funds to balance the budget instead of cutting vital support staff. I also ask you to attend the next school board meeting on Wednesday April 28th at 7pm and express your concern about how they will balance the budget and be straightforward expressing it should not be done on the backs of CUPE workers. Please register to attend here on Zoom.

Please don’t be alarmed by the shortfall at the present time. No decisions have been made but we need to be heard before decisions are made. There is strength in our resolve to stand together as one collective force and have each other’s backs moving forward. Please take a few minutes to call or email all of the above.

In Solidarity

 

Ian Hillman

CUPE 716 President

President’s Report – March 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters of our Union:

After a year of being there for the students of the district, relief is in sight for us. We have stepped up and through this pandemic have been on the front lines keeping the schools open, clean, and supporting the students, the teachers and each other.

It is a huge relief to know we have been prioritized to be vaccinated in April. Your Union has been working diligently behind the scenes for this past year to make this day happen, to ensure your safety and to get through this together. Throughout this period, CUPE has invested our efforts in direct communication with the government and the results speak for themselves.

Words cannot express how proud I am of all of our CUPE Staff for working through these anxious and stressful times. We may not always get the mention in the press, but the schools could not operate without our efforts, and I am immensely proud of all of you.

This pandemic has touched all of us. Finally getting prioritized for the vaccine is a huge step in protecting us and heading us down the path to the new normal.

Once again we should all be proud of how we have been there for each other and our students. We have kept strong through very adverse, trying and uncertain circumstances. I am in awe of your strength and resilience, and I also wish to extend a thank you to all our partners, district staff and the teachers for their efforts.

In Solidarity,

Ian Hillman, CUPE 716 President

President’s Report – 2020 Year End

To all CUPE 716 members,

On behalf of the executive I wish you all a joyful and restful holiday season. Winter break is almost here. Please take some time to rest and recuperate. It has been an unprecedented time not only in our work lives but our personal lives. Try to reflect on the positives. Words cannot capture the mixture of emotions and stress we have all been through.

Unfortunately the Government has not made mask wearing mandatory in schools. Wherever and whenever possible if you are able to, please wear a mask to help keep you and others safe. We continue to work diligently to keep you safe and advocate the district follow all safety protocols.

Let’s continue to support and be there for each other now more than ever. Report any unsafe conditions you see to your supervisor, your safety committee and your union. We are only strong when we are united together.

Enjoy some time away from work. Look after yourself and your loved ones.

In Solidarity,

Ian Hillman, CUPE 716 President

President’s Report – Nov 18, 2020

Sisters and Brothers, Friends, Colleagues

As I write this, I am naturally confronted by challenging thoughts.  As a union activist, I am tempted to tell you about all the many challenges our members face both in our local and across the province during this pandemic.   I hear from many members on a regular basis.  Sometimes you only need an ear or a shoulder to cry on; at other times, you need some assistance, or real help.

As a father, I wish I could present you with a solution that would make all of us, including my family, totally safe.  I wish I could have the magic words that would raise your spirits and solve all our problems.

Instead, all I can do is tell you the truth.

And the truth is that this pandemic has been grueling and exhausting for all of you, and for all of us in the union leadership.  It has been exhausting for management.  It has been exhausting for the medical professionals and everyone in health and political leadership.  And having encountered everything we’ve seen thus far, I find I am no closer to having those magic words than I had been up to now.  Fear and stress is still something I hear about from you every day.  And most of the time, these days, all I can do is listen.  No one, and especially me, can protect us completely from the realities of mortal beings.

Having said that, in times of great anxiety, it does us all good to look at some facts, and use data to put things into perspective.

The year 1860 was not very long ago.  That was the year Louis Pasteur proved his germ theory: the French scientist had been proclaimed an eccentric weirdo for embracing a theory advanced by several others that organisms that are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye were the cause of human illnesses.  Prior to 1860, then, we didn’t know the cause of our illnesses.  Pandemics came and went and in the process killed millions, like the medieval plagues, which in one iteration killed 40% of all people in Europe.

In 1913, the first surgery with the use of generalized anesthesia was performed.  Prior to then, surgical procedures were commonly performed with the patient wide awake and sometimes without anything to alleviate the pain, conscious and feeling every see of the saw.

And the list of things for which one ended up under the knife was long – since we didn’t know about the existence of antibiotics until Fleming in 1929, for the entirety of human history, including for most of our modern history, human beings were born and died at incredible rates in childhood, from common illnesses we think of today as not much more than nuisances, like scrape or cut infections, strep throat, or bronchitis.

Something commonly cured today with a single dosage of antibiotics, like strep throat, killed enormous numbers of people every year, especially children.  For those lucky enough to make it into their teenage years, the prospect of survival increased significantly, and they would often go on to live lives almost as long as those we live today, showing that the primary difference in lifespans historically can be attributed to deaths in childhood, something most of us find inconceivable today.

So, someone living in 1910, right here in Richmond, who worked on a farm, as did most people who lived in 1910, who caught an infection on their foot from a laceration while walking barefoot, was at high likelihood of needing to have a leg amputation to prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere to the body.  And to make matters worse, they would have probably had the leg amputatated while conscious and with minimal pain control.

While the pandemic is stressful, challenging and frightening, we have to remember, that knock on wood, I am not aware of any of our members catching the virus or being exposed, who have not recovered, or who have had lingering health complications, and all the exposures thus far have been handled relatively well with some minor hickups and disputes over pay; all in all, however, with respect to the health of those impacted, and their families, no one has died, and no one is seriously ill.  That gives us a great deal to be grateful about – but it also hopefully confirms the effectiveness of the science-based systems the health authorities have put in place.

Sometimes, we cannot give or get full reassurances to our members in cases of exposures that the health staff have conducted contact tracing and quarantines correctly; this has been a source of frustration for some members.  They want to be able to know who was exposed, by whom, when, and so on, to do their own risk assessment to double-check the work of the health authority staff, but this is simply not possible.  There are privacy regulations in place and neither the union nor the employer make any of these decisions.  Most members have acted courageously and have trusted the personnel making these decisions – and with good results.  A few members, however, have chosen to direct their frustration at the union, given the obvious negative consequences of doing so against the employer, and that has unfortunately been a source of emotional stress and challenge for all of us on the Executive Board, but particularly Stacey Robinson, Nancy Williams and myself.   Our members are protected in the workplace by the employer’s anti-harassment policy, and in their union activities by CUPE’s anti-harassment regulations, but I am remiss to tell you that in what is becoming too regular of an unfortunate occurrence, the approach and choice of language some members choose while interacting with the Union officers is disheartening to say the least, and outright abusive in some cases.

The reality is that neither the employer nor the union have any authority over health matters in a pandemic.  The emergency powers enacted by the provincial government and its delegated authority entities mandate for the health officers of the regions to decide on matters of health, and with good reason.  There are also various privacy regulations that prohibit the disclosure of medical information except as required to accomplish the purpose at hand.  If any of us caught the virus, we certainly would not be pleased if we heard that people who we didn’t even interact with had been given our names all simply to scrutinize the decisions of the health personnel.

What this moment requires is some trust. The people doing contact tracing and making these decisions have showed us by their work that they know what they’re doing and we should do whatever we can to follow their directions and cooperate with their work.

So, as Mederna and Pfizer announce their vaccine effectiveness, and as we gear up to begin mass vaccinations which will probably be under way toward the end of the school year in the Spring of 2021, let’s reflect on where we have been up to this point.

When the epidemic started, and many people stayed at home, those of us involved in running the union never had the luxury of complete quarantine, and had to attend various meetings and answer questions day and night and assist with facilitating K-12 education in a new normal.

Stacey and Colleen came to the union office to make masks at the time we couldn’t purchase any.  CUPE activated all our efforts to assure that our members continued getting paid, and not only succeeded in providing regular pay for all our members throughout the shut down, but even succeeded at having regular pay apply rather than sick pay for those members who did not answer the call-out to provision childcare services for the essential workers. That did not happen in other sectors, and many people were laid off and seriously impacted by the pandemic.

We were part of efforts to lobby both the provincial and the federal government and secured additional funding that has been used to hire additional custodians, provide for increased cleaning and purchase protective equipment.  We have assisted countless members with grievances and problems they encountered.  We scrambled to continue our work, never putting our own safety at the forefront, holding meetings, holding a virtual election, purchasing our own supply of face shields for members, and pushing against the employer whenever and as much as we could.

Our efforts have resulted in the provision of vital services to the students, distribution of food to the undernourished kids, and the maintenance and enforcement of our collective agreement – with pending wage increases in each year of the collective agreement.

At the end of the day, we have built, over the years, an infrastructure of safety nets that today provides our members with health and safety regulations, a WCB system, sick days, duty to accommodate, right to a voice in the workplace, political engagement and lobby efforts that have built our bargaining power such that we have gotten raises with no job action or wages lost, an EI system, maternity and parental leaves, extended health and dental benefits, and even a joint trusteeship long-term disability plan for those members who become very sick or disabled and don’t qualify for any of the other safety net schemes.

We have protected our jobs even in a pandemic, assured no layoffs, kept people employed, resolved countless individual issues, assisted members in accommodations, pushed governments for more funding, elected worker friendly representatives, implemented equality and respect for all our members and made sure our members are paid so they can put bread on the table.  To the best of our knowledge, nobody has been seriously hurt by COVID in our local and all the exposures thus far have been handled relatively well, with some minor issues about sick pay during quarantine which we have grieved and are trying to remedy.

As we find hope in the efforts of the scientists, we work to enable the education of the next generation of scientists.  We are all a part of building a better future.

Let’s stay vigilant and continue our efforts and support one another as we look toward a better day.

 

I am always available for your questions and inquiries, in solidarity,

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Hillman, CUPE 716 President