CUPE

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jassi
Post Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:03 pm

Joined: 14 Oct 2009
Posts: 6
Hello Creekside,
Welcome to the forum and I let you know that you are not alone.We should get togather and make a big force as a group and should fight with our own unions and lobby political elected members of all three levels of govts.Togather we can make the change and that is always better than doing nothing.
Thanks for reading.
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The Third Element
Post Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:56 pm

Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 368
Give me a job...

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:03 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1219
Location: Toronto
There's an alternative to "taking back your union" that you all really should consider: Ignoring your institutionally-entrenched union and starting your own ad hoc or informal workplace organizations that basically operate outside the labour relations system.

Before you all go WTF? hear me out on this.

Taking back huge institutional unions like CUPE or the UFCW is essentially impossible. There are too many ways for the old guard to kick your ass and keep your from getting anywhere. These range from procedural and administrative roadblocks to strongarm tactics (the former are now much more common - and effective - than the latter). People know this, even if only on an intuitive level, and I think that may account for some of the "apathy" that you find so troubling. People just can't be bothered to beat their heads against a wall nor do they want to "take back" something that is inherently corrupting. Face it, if you became a leader of your big institutionalized union (assuming you were able to miraculously avoid trusteeship, expulsion, even termination of employment), chances are good you'd get sucked into the bureaucratic vortex before too long - just like the guys you threw out of office.

So it ain't gonna happen. Where does that leave you? Well, it seems to me that if your interests are really about helping the people you work with, creating a better workplace environment (both the physical and psychological), getting unfairness remedied quickly, it's worth looking at some innovative alternatives.

Imagine forming a small group with your co-workers - informal, democratic, egalitarian, nobody has to kiss anybody's ass or tow any party lines. Everybody's welcome and included. The group meets as needed to discuss whatever issues are of interest and then approaches management - whatever level is willing to listen - with concerns and proposed remedies.

For sure, the reaction you'd get initially is one of wide-eyed disbelief. "But we don't recognize you as the bargaining agent, yada, yada...". Well, that's fine you might respond. We're not the bargaining agent, we're a group of your concerned staff members - people whom you profess to value and respect, and we have some problems we'd like to talk about.

You may get ignored, especially at first, but you're being ignored now so you'd be no further behind. Eventually you might get some attention. No, you wouldn't bargain your next contract (but then your next contract will look a lot like your current one anyway - plus whatever nominal wage increase you're going to get). Depending on how you play it, you might find local level management more receptive to your approach than you think is possible. Most of these people don't feel any great loyalty to union officials or senior managers and labour relations staffers.

Really people, taking back a CUPE local is a non-starter (look what happened to this very democratic very militant local. If CUPE national slapped these guys with trusteeship, what do you think they'll do to your local should you ever get elected? The other problem is, of course, that if you did get elected, you'd spend most of your time fighting off efforts from other wannabes to sabotage you - that's why the odd well-intentioned reformer who manages to get a few steps ahead, quickly jumps into the sack with the parent union and with the employer.

As for the UFCW, forget it. Even if you got hundreds of people out to meetings with resolutions at the read, you'd only to find yourselves ruled "out of order". Meeting adjourned. It's been done over and over again for the better part of 3 decades now and it's not going to change any time soon.

You can either try to take over the cage or step outside of it, that's my opinion. The sooner you start scoping out the outside-the-cage possibilities, the sooner you might actually land on something that gives people a measure of influence over their working lives.

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Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else. - Malcolm X
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creekside
Post Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 3:13 am

Joined: 30 Oct 2009
Posts: 23
My school district is in the lower mainland of BC.
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prototype
Post Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 9:23 am

Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Location: Canada
Pasz -

You said -
Quote:
"Taking back huge institutional unions like CUPE or the UFCW is essentially impossible."


Sorry Pasz, I consider lassoing the sun and hurling it into deep space as impossible. I don't consider reforming
a union to be impossible.


The rest of my reply to your post is here

Mr. Green
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wm pasz
Post Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:50 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1219
Location: Toronto
Please bring the conversation from this thread back to this thread. Best of luck with your efforts at taking back CUPE.

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Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else. - Malcolm X
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prototype
Post Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:11 pm

Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Location: Canada
Creekside -

Sorry we got you off-track Creekside. I guess we all just want to help in our own ways.

You've stated that you work at a school district in the lower mainland.

I also live in the lower mainland. I grew up here. I've always loved the fact that we have an incredible amount of human diversity in the lower mainland. People of many different ethnic origins reside here, which is also reflected in the diverse make-up of the children attending the schools in the lower mainland, and probably in your school district as well.

Since there's all that diversity in your area, that diversity should also be reflected in the make-up of the employees at your school district, including in management, your CUPE bargaining unit, your union's executive board, and the teacher's union.

But is it?

I have some questions for you.

Diversity -

    Is the diversity reflected in the employees at your district, including management?

    Do you think there's diversity in the make-up of the bargaining unit members?

    Do you notice if the diversity is reflected in only certain job categories?

    Is there diversity on your union's executive board?

    What types of people, in the school district, hold the top management or supervisory positions? Any diversity there? Diversity which reflects the diversity of the people who live in the area your school district's located in?

Women -

Most school district employees are comprised of women, due to the traditional nature of most of the jobs at school districts.

    Are women in most of the top management positions at the school district and, if yes, do they actually have any power?

    Are women in any of the bargaining-unit departments in top supervisory positions? If yes, do they actually have any power?

Union executive board -

    Is your executive board comprised mostly of certain types of people, e.g., all men, all caucasian, all or most from one department, etc.?

    In other words, does your union executive board reflect the make-up of the members of the union?

    If the members of the union are more females than males, is that reflected on the executive board?

    If the members are mostly custodians and clerical, is that reflected on the executive board?

    If the members are, let's say, a third non-caucasian, is that reflected on the executive board?

Union Constitution and bylaws -

Check out the constitution and bylaws of your local.

    Do the bylaws specifically state who can be, or can't be, on the union executive board?

    Do the bylaws state restrictive rules about how you qualify to be on the union executive board?

    If there are restrictive rules, who does that leave out of running for positions on the executive board?

    Do you think the restrictions leave out a lot of members who otherwise could be elected to the executive board?


    Do you feel that your union's attitude is inclusive, or exclusive?

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The Third Element
Post Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:33 pm

Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 368
Here Prototype, you can read it yourself.

CUPE Constitution 2007

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No Beast so fierce knows but some small amount of pity, but I know none and so I am no beast.
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prototype
Post Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:29 pm

Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Location: Canada
Third Element -

I know about the CUPE Constitution for CUPE national, which is what your link is for.

But I was referring to the Constitution and Bylaws of Creekside's CUPE local.

Here's why I brought that up.

During the 10 years I worked at my own school district I never knew there was such a thing as a Constitution and Bylaws regarding unions. I was union-ignorant. And I didn't know that we members, of our CUPE local, had our own Constitution and Bylaws, for our own local.

I only found out in 2008 that my CUPE local it's own Constitution and Bylaws, which was 3 years after I last worked at my own school district. And I only found out about it because my CUPE local had posted it on their website, early in 2008.

Talk about being kept in the dark.

That's an important document, which outlines your rights as a member within your own local. Too bad I didn't know about that document while I still worked at my school district. I could have used it to stand up for my rights within my union.

If you work at a CUPE workplace, such as a school district, it's likely that your local union has it's own Constitution and Bylaws.
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creekside
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:21 am

Joined: 30 Oct 2009
Posts: 23
I agree with all of your comments – it’s been going on for too long; it’s all talk and very little action for a lot of reasons – it cost me close to $2,000.00 for legal information that I could easily have received from those of you with more experience. It’s like fighting a losing battle. However, there is hope.

How about we form a ‘public/union interest advocacy group’ – an organization that encourages and promotes health & wellness in the workplace with or without a union. Perhaps, as lofty as it might appear, heal the unionized workplace from the inside. We need to arm our members with information. We need to teach others how to read a collective agreement, constitution and bylaws and have the courage to challenge our unions when they don’t adhere to them.

If employers followed the collective agreement there would be no need for grievances – if union executive members followed the collective agreement and the constitution and bylaws there would be no need for any of this.

Too many union members feel that their local executive has all the answers and gives out all the right information – we know that is not the case, again or we would not be on this website.

Section 8 of the Labour relations code basically states that an employee may say anything about the employer and the union about anything providing it is not used to coerce or intimidate (and more importantly it is not slander) – in general you may say anything about anyone providing it’s the truth. If it’s not the truth then it is slander.

There will be more to follow and I will keep in touch. I need your experience and wisdom. We also need to form Human Rights Committees in the workplace……..

…….
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wm pasz
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:31 am

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1219
Location: Toronto
There is one one CUPE constitution and by-and all locals are required to abide by these. Locals may enact their own constitutions although they may adopt additional by-laws in certain circumstances. This is all set out very clearly in article 13.3 of the aforementioned constitution.

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Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else. - Malcolm X
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creekside
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:28 am

Joined: 30 Oct 2009
Posts: 23
In answer to all of your questions - think red-neck; think male dominated; think subservient. That about answers your questions.....female dominated but run by a good ol' boys club....need I say more?
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prototype
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:46 am

Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Location: Canada
Cool

Yep, sounds like where I worked too. That's why I'm in court now.

Mr. Green
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SharynS
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:55 am

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
Posts: 3632
Location: the 'puter
I'm hard pressed to come up with many workplaces that aren't predominately female and where good ol' boys club rules don't play out. What is wrong with that picture?

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prototype
Post Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:00 am

Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 128
Location: Canada
To answer pasz's last post -

To show an example of a CUPE local's Constitution and Bylaws, here's a link to the Constitution and Bylaws of my CUPE local -

which you can find on their website here

That particular local's Constitution and Bylaws, 24 pages long, does refer to the CUPE national Constitution, but the local definitely has their own rules.
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