NUPGE leaving CLC

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triciamarie
NUPGE leaving CLC

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NorthReport

What is the raiding situation?

triciamarie

Gary just says that the offending union in BC has been sanctioned and suspended by the CLC, but that wasn`t enough for NUPGE. This is also on the background where a NUPGE affiliate in BC previously tried unsuccessfully to raid a UNITE-HERE local, and have refused to apologize i.e. NUPGE is awfully far up on its high horse here.

Beyond the ethical concerns this is not the time politically to be playing this kind of game.

triciamarie

Evidently this national umbrella organization representing the provincial public sector unions -- including my union, OPSEU -- is so affronted by the CLCs decision in a raiding situation that they have elected to leave the Canadian labour movement.

That means that over 100,000 OPSEU members in Ontario and all our fellow public sector members in other provinces will no longer be able to participate in regional labour councils. We will not be able to attend labour conferences, like the health and safety conference I was at last week. We will have no formal working relationship on any level with members of any other labour union. We will no longer be able to to contribute our perspective to labour policy. The CLC will not receive dues from us. We have flounced.

Ironically, this also apparently means that our locals will be ripe for raiding by other unions, because we will no longer be protected by CLC rules. (I'm getting this information from an open letter from Gary Shaul, a long-time OPSEU activist I respect.)

The CLC has given us until January to reconsider and I surely to god hope that someone gives their head a shake here.

Unionist

Oh no. What a bunch of idiots (on all sides, IMO). Is this about the raid by the BC Nurses' Union??

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Why NUPGE is at odds with the Canadian Labour Congress

Quote:
It's clear where NUPGE stands on this issue: in 2001 we suspended one of our largest component unions, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), for raiding another union.

The current CLC rules against raiding are ineffective and unevenly applied. In 2005, NUPGE's Manitoba component union, the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU), was raided by the Teamsters union. In 2009, another NUPGE component union, the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), was raided by the BC Nurses' Union, an affiliate of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

Neither the Teamsters nor the CFNU faced any meaningful consequences from the CLC. In fact, under the current rules, a union that succeeds in a raid (such as the Teamsters) is actually rewarded for their behaviour. That's because the CLC allows the Teamsters to remain in the House of Labour and they benefit from the additional dues revenue from the members they raided. In fact, the Teamsters were allowed to attend the last CLC convention but NUPGE was not.

Isn't there something profoundly wrong with this situation?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Dave Coles: The House of Labour belongs to all trade members

Quote:
NUPGE has decided to withdraw from the family and leave the House of Labour. This action will wreak havoc with labour councils and federations of labour at a time when we should be focusing our energy on who the real problem is: International capital and the puppet governments.

Thousands of workers have lost their jobs and have had the pensions reduced. There is a public sector wage freeze in Ontario and cutbacks and concessions in every province.

NUPGE members need the labour movement as much as we need them.

CEP also has issues with the Congress and raiding -- but we won't quit the labour movement or harm our central labour bodies.

Fidel

Not good. Unions are weak enough in Canada as it is. We need to send the most effective workers' reps in the country to the halls of power in Ottawa - the NDP!

kropotkin1951

The Steelworkers are still trying to raid the HEU and other health care unions in BC.  The Nurses are also still trying to raid the HEU for the LPN's.  I think that unions like the HEU would have their own representatives at labour council and didn't realize that the unions were not also individual members of the CLC.  Unionist can you explain? 

Unionist

Can I explain? Maybe:

1. The CLC is a congress of unions. Only the "parent" unions belong, not the local unions, or "component" unions, or "divisions", etc. For example, PSAC is an affiliate of the CLC, but not its "components" like UCTE (Union of Canadian Transportation Employees) or UNDE (Union of National Defence Employees) etc. Not all unions have "component" structures - most don't.

2. Unions affiliated to the Congress have a right to send delegates to provincial federations of labour (in your case, the BC Fed) and to municipal labour councils. There's the rub - how a CLC-affiliated union chooses to select its delegates depends on each affiliate's internal rules, constitution, etc.

3. NUPGE is more like a federation of unions - kind of an umbrella organization of 11 different unions, of which HEU is one.

4. I have no idea how NUPGE decides how to select delegates to feds and labour councils. What is certain, however, is that if NUPGE secedes from the CLC, its access to those bodies disappears - and that automatically excludes its 11 components from access as well.

Whether that's the way it should be or not is debatable. But the real debate right now, IMO, should be whether this plague of raiding and counter-raiding should become a pretext for dividing the labour movement altogether. I think workers should be free to secede, trade, leave unions on the basis of secret ballots - as in fact they legally are able to do, on a bargaining unit basis (generally a workplace, sometimes a group of workplaces for larger companies). The very word "raid" should be deleted from the vocabulary. No one ever uses it when they are doing the raiding - only when they are defending themselves against one! It's like "terrorist" or "fundamentalist" - it's those other guys, not the good guys!!

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

Unionist, HEU belongs to CUPE, not NUPGE.

You may be confusing them with HSA, which is a NUPGE affiliate.

KenS

Whether you go for 'stop trying to sanction against raiding' for reasons of principle as Unionist mentions, maybe its high time for the pragmatics of giving up on it.

It is absolutley inevirable that are there are going to be differences in treatment ovwer raiding, and even bigger differences in perceptions of different treatment.

We may have reached the point where the battles over penalizing raiding or not may be worse than the battles over the raiding/competition itself. At best, they have become indistibguishable.

People legitimately fear a free for all. But most workers are at any given time not even potentially going to move. For the small slice where there will be contention.... seriously, could the side effects of a free for all be any worse than this?

Unionist

Lou Arab wrote:

Unionist, HEU belongs to CUPE, not NUPGE.

You may be confusing them with HSA, which is a NUPGE affiliate.

Heh, sorry about that! I misinterpreted kropotkin's post about HEU and ran wild with my own concoction!

All I remember for sure is that the BCNU was raiding the LPNs, who I thought were CUPE, but then NUPGE was complaining about being raided... I got confused. So I guess BCNU was also raiding NUPGE, but a different component? The provincial government employees' union?

Help me out here.

So if that's the case, then there's no reason why HEU (if they're CUPE) shouldn't be able to send delegates to labour council, because CUPE isn't leaving (yet!!!) nor under sanction - right?

 

KenS

Seems to me that there is competetion between the provincial employee unions and the provincial nurses union everywhere. In Nova Scotia the nurses in at least one board have changed. [And all bargain within a common framework.]

Again: showing how impossible it is to set a line for what is 'raiding' and what isnt.

[And inn the particular cases of the nurses unions and the provincial government unions, no matter how bad the relations, they DO have relationships around bargaining.]

Unionist

Thanks for the clarification, Lou. I'm too far away to have reliable inside info. What I heard is that NUPGE wanted a deal whereby if anyone raided them successfully, the raiding union would continue to pay NUPGE the equivalent of dues for the raided members! A bit weird, and obviously there was no agreement among the CLC affiliates. Anyway, it sounds enough like what you heard to be plausible.

Lou Arab wrote:

I don't know about any BCNU raiding of a NUPGE affiliate.  I hadn't heard that.

Could it be that there are LPNs also represented by the BCGEU, which is (now I'm feeling confident) a NUPGE affiliate - and that they too were being raided by the BCNU - in addition to other LPNs represented by CUPE (HEU)?? Here's why I say that (from Oct. 2009):

[url=http://www.nupge.ca/node/2606]BCGEU fights back hard against BCNU raid of LPNs[/url]

 

munroe

Just a quick clarification.  The BCGEU is the provincial affiliate of NUPGE in BC.  HSA is not an affiliate.  Unionist is correct that HEU is a CUPE affiliate and that both HEU and the BCGEU represent certain LPNs that were the subject of the BCNU raid.  The raid by the BCGEU against HERE Local 40 was a move to stop CLAC from engaging in a raid.  HERE had already lost one large unit at Orca Bay to CLAC and it appeared inevitable that a second larger unit would also fall.  HERE Local 40 was beset by internal turmoil and ineffective.  The circumstances look like they have improved in part thanks to fending off the BCGEU raid.  Local 40 has also benefited from a 22 month time bar against a raid by all organisations, including CLAC.

KenS

It is a strange picture.

If I have this right, then like OPSEU and the OFL, suddenly the NSGEU is not affiliated to the Nova Scotia Fed?

 

KenS

Another strangeness, just on the level of common sense.

There are a lot of NSGEU members who are only somewhat engaged with their unions affairs, and have at least an awareness of what the NS Fed does. But who have no idea what NUPGE is- other than the fact that it exists.

Tail wags dog.

I always kind of wondered myself what NUPGE did. Figured maybe it was mostly a kind of lobbying presence in Ottawa, like the national unions have. Now it turns out it is actually the voice at the CLC.

Who knew?

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

Unionist, yes - that does seem possible.

Munroe, NUPGE has two affiliates in BC, the BCGEU and HSA.

KenS, yes that is correct. NSGEU would be out of the Fed.

munroe

Thanks Lou, my mistake ... learn something every day!

lenbush

some clarifications.

yes BCGEU and HSABC are NUPGE Components in British Columbia.

the BCNU unsucessfully tried to raid the LPNs in both BCGEU and HSABC.  in Manitoba the Teamsters raided the NUPGE Component MGEU.  

also, the decision by NUPGE's National Executive Board was to suspend participation solely at the national level of the CLC and to remain active and committed to Provincial Federations of Labour and the Labour Councils.  the CLC has responded by expelling NUPGE Components from participating at the Federations of Labour and in the Labour Councils as of January 1st.  this is being done despite examples of non-CLC affiliates being allowed to join Federations of Labour and Labour Councils and CLC affiliates being allowed to not affiliate with either bodies.

raiding is a hostile attack from one union against another.  it is always destructive to the labour movement.  to take the position that the response is to raid back goes counter to what should be a movement built on solidarity and respect.

for some more background on the dispute see: 

http://nupge.ca/content/3829/presidents-commentary-nupge-clc-dispute-over-raiding

kropotkin1951

To further muddy the waters; at the BC Fed convention CUPE BC walked out of the convention in solidarity with NUPGE.  CUPE BC is another weird organization that seems to have no direct responsibility to service members concerns but has some middle level authority to speak on behalf of the organizations that actually represent the workers in the workplace.  Don't forget that Georgetti is a Steelworker (trust me he won't) and in BC the Steelworkers were raiding in the health care sector after they took over Sunny Gag's [sic]  IWA local. Instead of stepping back they intensified their raiding efforts this while the HEU was getting the boots put to it by the Campbell government.  Solidarity is not a common thing it seems.

triciamarie

I trust Gary when he says that although this is complicated, there is a way forward without taking this extreme measure, and in part it involves all the NUPGE constituents including OPSEU coming clean on our prior support for / involvement in similar situations.

KenS

V

Gary Shaul Gary Shaul's picture

Thanks for your the kudos Tricia. As the discussion already shows, the details are copious and complicated but the principles should be constant. Internal democracy, accountability and solidarity.

This is worth reading to understand some of the details on the 3 disputes in Manitoba and BC:

Special Report to the Canadian Labour Congress Executive Council

I was taken aback when I first heard this news and decided to write an open letter to active members of my union explaining the situation and why it's important for the members to send a message to our leaders. If there are any OPSEU/NUPGE folks or others who want to read it, it was picked up here. I'm thrilled to have received such a positive response from so many of our active members so far. More details can be found here:

My Facebook page - The Labour Movement is OPSEU’s Home

Facebook group - BCGEU members - We belong in the Canadian Labour Congress!

To answer one question above - NUPGE was initially created as a conduit to the labour movement for OPSEU and other provincial government employees unions.  Some describe its initial role as to serve as a clearinghouse for dues cheques the CLC - not much more than a mailbox required. Obviously it's role has expanded since those days. "Civil service associations" were very conservative bodies with very limited or no political and collective bargaining rights. At one point, OPSEU's precursor - CSAO - ran the cafeteria and a bowling alley at Queen's Park.

The internal struggle and victory to join organized labour was historic in the 70s.  If I understand the history - once the decision was made to join the CLC, the main options were to either join CUPE or start a new organization. NUPGE was born.  I share Unionists understanding of the rules about belonging to a national body in order to join the CLC (even if it hasn't been applied 100% of the time). While we can look back and opine on which option was better, either choice was a big step forward for OPSEU and other NUPGE affiliates.

Withdrawing from the CLC could be an equally historic step backwards.

ouroboros

The doc Gary posted titled "Special Report to the Canadian Labour Congress Executive Council" gives a great over view of the issue.

I can't speak for the rest of Canada but here in BC the NUPGE affiliates are BCGEU and HSA. The Compensation Employees Union, The BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, The Brewery, Winery & Distillery Workers' Union, The Interior Brewery Workers' Union, and the Grain Workers' Union Local 333 are all affiliated to BCGEU and therefor NUPGE. If this isn't fixed by Jan 1, they will no longer be able belong to the BCFED or Labour Congress either.

As has been mentioned HEU is a division (branch) of CUPE. CUPE BC is also a division of CUPE. There are two types of divisions in CUPE. Provincial (like CUPE BC) and Service (like HEU)

Provincial divisions are a political arm of CUPE in the provincial. They work on provincial and municipal politics. They don't service members (as a rule). The staff at CUPE BC are mainly staff that work on political issues.

Service divisions represent workers in a certain field. In the case of HEU it's health care. There is also a CUPE Airline division. In HEU anyways, they do represent and service members. Most of the staff at HEU service members.

To the best of my knowledge, HEU do not belong to CUPE BC. This is why they didn't walk out at BCFed.

It's my understanding that CUPE BC feel that NUPGE (BCGEU and HSA in BC) delegates should not be able to take part in Federations and Labour Councils. Until NUPGE is back in the CLC or NUPGE delegates are no longer participating at Fed and LC's CUPE in BC will not be participating in these bodies.

I don't see how this would stop HEU delegates from participating, seeing as they aren't a member of CUPE BC and this is more of a self imposed exile by CUPE. The CLC is not saying that CUPE can't participating. In fact they are hoping that CUPE does participate in these bodies.

It should be noted that CUPE BC does not have the power to tell locals in BC not to participate at Labour Councils. It can only ask and hope the locals agree with them.

Hopefully (which I think it will) this will work itself out by Jan 1. Somehow I think this has less to do with raiding than it does have to do with other issues.

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

Unionist,

CUPE and HEU are still very much in the House of Labour.  That much I am sure of.  I am also 100% certain HEU is part of CUPE.

The BCNU raid on HEU (the LPNs as you recall) was unsuccessful, and is (I believe) over.

I don't know about any BCNU raiding of a NUPGE affiliate.  I hadn't heard that.  I have heard that NUPGE was upset about a raid by the Teamsters on a NUPGE affiliate in Winnipeg. I've also not heard about Steel trying to raid HEU, at least not recently.

I also understand that NUPGE had a few resolutions to deal with the issue at the last CLC convention.  Those resolutions were pulled after a deal was reached to put a process in place to try and find a solution.  The status of that process is murky to me, and I think the subject of dispute.  I get the impression it is about to wrap up, but perhaps not with the conclusion NUPGE was looking for.

My understanding (again, I could be wrong) is that NUPGE wanted fees for unions who raid, and other unions feel this is not a good solution because it allows unions to 'pay for members.'

I've also heard some NUPGE affiliates were surprised to learn that leaving the CLC meant they had to leave their local Fedeations and Labour councils.  That may just be rumours, it seems a little naive if it's true, so I'm not totally prepared to believe it.