Nursing Home Workers Push Back Pension Attacks

 

“As of this morning, CUPE filed a formal complaint to Angela Mazerolle, the NB Superintendent of Pensions, asking her to intervene as the province is deliberately underfunding nursing home workers’ Defined Benefit Pension plan,” said Sharon Teare, president of the NBCNHU.

“By refusing to allow adjustments in contribution levels from both our employers and plan members, the province is breaking its legal obligations to ensure a viable pension plan for over 4,500 workers and thousands of retirees,” said Jason St-Onge, NBCNHU’s 1st vice president.

In the 25-page legal complaint, the Council notes that the government has not done its basic due diligence over the years. The government ignored multiple calls by workers to adjust contribution levels, and now, the plan deficit has reached $112 million.

The Pension Benefit Act and the Nursing Home Pension Plans Act are clear: the pension plan must be fully funded or on the path to being fully funded so that promised benefits can be kept. “They can’t contribute less than the cost of what is being promised to nursing home workers, and they can’t ignore deficits and allow them to grow larger,” said Emily Niles, CUPE’s pension researcher. “The Superintendent must intervene” added Niles.

The NBCNHU pension plan pays out on average $7,300 per year to each retiree.  “It is a very modest pension, and it should be improved, not attacked and undermined by this government who claims it “cares” for its front-line workers,” said St-Onge.

“The Higgs government is manufacturing a pension crisis in nursing homes to justify benefit cuts, so we are taking legal action to defend our members. Workers will not stand idly by while their pension plan deteriorates,” concluded Teare.

For more information, please contact:

Sharon Teare
President, NB Council of Nursing Home Unions
506-609-1633

Kim McCaffrey
CUPE National Servicing Representative
506-476-8609

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IT REMAINS ONLY 50 DAYS ….. FOR A FAIR AGREEMENT

 

 

Monday July 19th, 2021, we held a press conference to remind the public that Premier Blaine Higgs has yet to take any meaningful action  to settle collective agreements with over 22 000 CUPE members in our province.

 

Brothers, sisters, friends,
CUPE NB, which represents more than 28,000 workers in New Brunswick, held a PRESS CONFERENCE (CLICK HERE) today. The union announced that Premier Blaine Higgs has yet to take meaningful steps to negotiate fair deals with more than 22,000 CUPE members.

50 days have passed since notice was given to the Premier to fix the labour crisis that he and his MLAs created. Sadly, Higgs is still backing us workers into a corner. If nothing is done within the next 50 days to address the labour crisis in a fair and respectful way, a province wide strike vote will be held.

Our Maritime Regional Director Sandy Harding and I met with Premier Higgs in July.  He would not commit to resolving the recruitment and retention crisis in public services, nor recognize that fair wages or compensation is part of the solution,. We were professional, respectful, polite, and made it very clear to him. We said workers are not being greedy or irresponsible, they worked through the pandemic and most have not had a fair wage increase in many years. We advised Higgs that zeroes are not acceptable, front-line heroes deserve much better.

Last week, the 10 500 members of CUPE Local 1252 tried to get a fair deal through conciliation. It was clear the province’s negotiators were not interested in anything else but a wage freeze. Conciliation is done, a deadlock is to be declared in the coming days.

Higgs has until Labour Day to resolve the unsettled contracts and negotiate fair wages for the 22,000 public sector CUPE members stuck in bargaining. Over 19,000 public sector CUPE members will be in a deadlock in the immediate future or within days and close to another 2,800 may soon be joining them.

PEI and Nova Scotia’s governments were able to settle contracts with workers without anybody going on strike. We hope our Premier too can settle deals without pushing anyone to go on strike. However, if he does leaves us no other choice, we must be prepared for province-wide action.

Join me  and sign the petition to remind Higgs that he must treat our public sector workers with respect. Front line heroes deserve better than zeroes.

“LPNs are Nurses Too” says Healthcare Worker’s Union

Today, CUPE Local 1252, the union representing over 9 000 healthcare workers in New Brunswick, held a virtual press conference to demand government properly recognize the work done by Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). Watch the full press conference here : CLICK on the image below.

WATCH THE FULL 1252 PRESS CONFERENCE (29 MINUTES TOTAL)

“The health care system relies heavily on the work of LPNs for hospital and extra-mural care.  Despite this, the NB Government still refuses to recognize the importance and scope of this profession in the health care system today. We are on the verge of a recruitment and retention crisis. When will government act to improve their wages and working conditions?” asked Norma Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1252.

Local 1252 demanded that the government immediately do the following:

  1. Complete the Joint Job Evaluation Process (demanded by CUPE 2 years ago) so LPNs get an immediate wage recognition;
  2. Recognize that NB LPNs should have the right to be called nurses, just like in all other Canadian provinces;
  3. Deal with the recruitment and retention issues by recognizing the value of their work and compensating them accordingly as other Atlantic provinces do; and
  4. Scrap “imposed wage freezes and wage restriction mandates on all public sector worker”. Higgs should come to the bargaining table with a respectful wage increase for all healthcare workers, because “zeros” is disrespect for all frontline heroes.

LPNs are frontline care nurses that patients see every day in the hospitals. They are responsible for managing patient care plans. Today, they work collaboratively as a Care Team member with the Registered Nurses and Doctors to do much more than basic patient care. CUPE Local 1252 notes that the scope of practice of LPNs is 90% that of a Registered Nurse in NB, however LPNs only make 64% of an RN’s hourly wage.

“Despite work, skills and educational requirement increases, despite even COVID-19 pressures put on LPNs, the NB Government has not done anything to adjust what is the worst compensation packages and recognition for LPNs in all of Atlantic provinces. LPNs in New Brunswick make on average 14% less than LPNs in PEI, NS and NFLD,” denounced Robinson.

“Recently, LPNs have raised their concerns with media, on how there could be an exodus of workers if nothing is done, and I agree: if the government fails to act, the staffing situation will worsen,” said Robinson.

During the press conference, Robinson condemned the ongoing “divide-and-conquer” strategy used by politicians and right-wing newspaper editors to mislead workers to blame their unions for poor working conditions: “Let’s be clear, management and government decide working conditions, and unions push back during bargaining to get fairness and recognition for all. But with Higgs’ wage freeze plan, they leave no room for good faith bargaining and fairness for LPNs. Workers are pushed to the max, this wage freeze plan is a time bomb,” said Robinson. “LPNs are tired of waiting. Healthcare workers are tired of waiting. We invite all our members to push government out of its inaction,” she concluded.

 

Some quick facts:

  • There are over 4000 LPNs in New Brunswick, half of which work in hospitals, the remainder in mainly work in long-term care and special care homes. CUPE Local 1252 represents over 2000 LPNs in the NB Healthcare system.
  • Two years ago, the Government promised in the collective agreement to CUPE to conduct a Joint Job Evaluation process to properly adjust recognition and wages for LPNs in the Patient Services. The current Government has been stalling the process to avoid compensating the LPNs fairly.
  • There is a dire need for LPNs: Approximately 200 graduate each year in NB, but over 800 will retire over the next 5 years.
  • Over the years, the educational requirements for LPNs in NB increased: initially, it was a 12-month program, but became an 18-month study program in 2004 and was increased to 24 months in 2012.
Categories LPN

Tentative agreement reached

A Tentative Agreement has been reached between New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions and the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.

Due to the restrictions in place, the details of the Tentative Agreement remain confidential until ratified by all parties.  We are currently working on a process that ensures we are following Public Health’s guidelines.  Once the process has been finalized, the Local president will be contacted with a date for an all presidents’ meeting and with a scheduled date for membership ratification.

Until members have had an opportunity to review and vote on whether to accept the Tentative Agreement, no details will be released.  The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions will not be commenting on the contents of the Agreement.

In solidarity,

NBCNHU Negotiation Team