Freedom of speech and association at centre of Charter challenge: Working Families

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Jan. 23, 2018) – Working Families, a coalition of organizations that represents Ontario workers has filed an application to overturn provisions of Ontario’s election law (Bill 2) that severely curtail participation by individuals and groups before and during Ontario’s election period.

Speaking on behalf of Working Families, Patrick Dillon said, “We are asking the court to look at these provisions and rule on their constitutionality as they relate to how groups and individuals can effectively participate in the election process.”

Under the current legislation, restrictions have been imposed on how groups and individuals can raise issues of concern to their constituencies and the broader public. These restrictions include limits on when and how much can be spent on bringing these issues before the public. It also places restrictions on how individuals and groups can act on common concerns.

“We have a situation currently where the issue of the minimum wage is a concern to the labour movement,” said Dillon. “Under the new law, if two labour groups raise this issue in support of a minimum wage increase, are they violating the rules? Does it mean we can’t share information? Does it mean that any money we spend on this issue is going to be counted as part of our limits? The way the current law is written raises serious concerns.”

“Bill 2 was designed as a gag on free speech by allowing only government and corporate media to have unfettered access to Ontarians,” Dillon pointed out. “The Ontario government has no such restrictions during the six months leading up to an election and neither do the media. How are ordinary Ontarians and the organizations they support get their concerns known?”

Dillon added, “The restrictions placed on groups like Working Families are designed to stifle free speech and participation at the most crucial time, during an election. We believe that if you are going to place restrictions, then in fairness, all groups including government, political parties, the corporate media and others should be on the same level playing field. Singling out groups like Working Families is unfair and that is why we are making this Charter challenge.”

The Charter challenge is being led by Paul Cavalluzo of Cavalluzo LLP, a leading constitutional, labour and administrative law lawyer, arguing significant cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Courts of Ontario, and labour and administrative tribunals.

Contact Information:
Patrick Dillon
Working Families Spokesperson
(416) 347-8245
patrick@ontariobuildingtrades.com

Strike averted for Kelowna jail guards

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – Dec. 21, 2017) – In an effort to avoid any strike action, CUPE 338 members who work as jail guards at the Kelowna RCMP Detachment have agreed to enter binding arbitration with Commissionaires BC.

“We were able to reach a last-minute agreement late Thursday afternoon, prior to the strike deadline,” says CUPE National Representative and lead negotiator Harry Nott. “We believe this resolve will result in a fair contract for our members, and is also in the best interest of Commissionaires BC, the City of Kelowna and residents.”

Both parties have agreed to appoint arbitrator Mark J. Brown, but a date for the arbitration has not yet been set.

CUPE 338 represents 1,000 members who provide vital community services to Kelowna area residents and businesses.

Seventeen of those members work at the Kelowna RCMP detachment as jail guards and provide services including overseeing prisoners, assisting with prisoner searches and cell searches, organizing meals, recording prisoner activity, finger printing, and dispensing approved prescription medications to persons in custody.

Contact Information:
Kathryn Davies
CUPE National Communications Representative
250-886-6502
kdavies@cupe.ca

Harry Nott
CUPE National Representative
250-212-8385

CUPE Ontario is shocked and appalled that OMERS pension plan is investing in tax havens

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 20, 2017) – The revelation that the public sector pension plan, OMERS has been using tax havens to avoid their tax obligation has come as a shock to CUPE Ontario that represents the largest group of the pension plans membership. Tax avoidance is no way to fund a pension plan, says Fred Hahn, the union’s president.

“No worker wants their retirement pension to be funded at the expense of community services or the wages of other workers,” says Hahn. “As we age, our need for public services like health care actually go up. We still need our roads and bridges, we want good schools and child care for our grandkids. It is not acceptable that our pension plan is trying to avoid paying the very taxes that fund the services we need.”

CUPE members make up 40 percent of the members in the OMERS pension plan, that is one of seven pension plans mentioned in the Paradise Papers.

“It’s simply false to say that a pension plan has to practice unethical investment behaviour in order to make the necessary financial returns to meet pension needs of our retirees,” says Hahn. “It is absolutely unacceptable that our pension plan is complicit in the corporate world view that it’s ok not to pay taxes.”

“The current corporate culture that believes making money is more important than what money is used for has left workers struggling and has eroded the quality of our public services,” says Hahn. “We can and must invest in ways that benefit the people and the bottom line. As the largest member in the OMERS pension plan we believe strongly that the deferred wages of CUPE members lead the way in adhering to these standards.”

On behalf of his members, Hahn intends to raise his concerns with the OMERS administration and will be demanding answers.

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

Contact Information:
Sarah Jordison
CUPE Communications
416-578-5638
www.cupe.on.ca