SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Our CUPE 1975 Executive is often asked about where their Member contributions go. Some political parties have suggested in the past that Unions are not transparent enough with their finances and tried to create animosity towards Union Executives by suggesting it. CUPE National would view this as another union busting exercise by these political parties.
There is a requirement by CUPE National to provide financial statements to our Members in a timely manner. CUPE 1975, our local, does this at most General Membership Meetings. Jeff Theis, our current Treasurer, provides a monthly financial statement and it has to be approved and carried in a vote by the Membership. The Treasurer, in this case Jeff, will also provide a yearly budget that is presented to the Membership to approve at our upcoming November Annual Membership Meeting. He will always entertain questions about our investments, the proposed budget, etc. I think in fact, he would be happy to have some questions to answer. We also have a committee of elected Trustees that audit our locals’ books and check for any irregularities in the books.
So, lets talk about the money that your elected officials are the stewards of. Union contributions that you are required to pay are determined by CUPE National’s Bylaws and by CUPE 1975’s Bylaws. CUPE National’s Bylaws state that our dues cannot be lower than 1.5 percent of a Member’s earnings. We are able, through our own Bylaws, to increase that number if we feel the need to. We have to do so by first getting approval from CUPE National and then by having the Membership pass the same Bylaw in a Membership meeting. Our fees are set at the minimum that they can be at 1.5 percent.
What do we do with your Union fees? First of all, we forward .85 of one percent to CUPE National, who we are affiliated with. For this we receive the assistance of a National Servicing Rep. who is assigned to our local. This person would help our Executive with some of the issues we have in the workplace and attend different meetings etc. with the employer, bargaining, etc. We also have access to legal help. CUPE National has paid for a number of different court cases and, most recently, provided a lawyer who was successful in litigating the essential services case. They also provide a Communication Officer we can access if we need to, most recently in the months leading up to a possible strike action. They provide a number of additional things, but they also administer a national strike fund that we can access if we were to go on strike.
We also contribute to CUPE Saskatchewan with your dues. Currently, at .00065 of one percent. CUPE Sask hosts a yearly conference and among other things, does a number of political actions to inform our Members and others about upcoming bills purposed by Government, etc. They, like CUPE National, advocate for us in the media and other places to protect our rights and our jobs.
We also contribute, on a per capital basis, towards the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. The SFL, or House of Labour, advocates and lobbies the Government and others in putting forward all Union’s rights and concerns. Most recently, the SFL (with Larry Hubick as the President) took on the Saskatchewan Government and the Saskatchewan Employment Act brought in by the Sask Party, over your right to strike. This case ended up at the Supreme Court and it was ruled that it is a fundamental right for workers to withhold their labour in the act of receiving a fair contract. This was a huge win for labour and it was the result of Larry’s determination to challenge it.
We also contribute approximately $8,000 dollars annually towards the Saskatoon District Labour Council. They, like the other organizations, promote labour and tackle issues that impact all labour groups.
As you can see, the pot is dwindling. We usually budget $5,000 to assist other locals in the event they are on strike or are leading up to a strike. We received many thousands of dollars leading up to our possible strike from labour groups throughout Canada.
We budget for and send Members and Executive to educationals. These are usually ones that CUPE National runs, but we have on occasion sent members to ones run by the SFL. We also sent a number of women to Women School, a very popular educational that many of our female members have attended in the past. These educationals are an investment in our local. Our Executive need this training to better represent and advocate for you the Member, in the event you find yourself in need of assistance. We send Non-Executive Members to these trainings also in the hopes that they will become more involved with our local and we can replace people on the Executive when people step down. In my 14 years of involvement with our local, we have never had a full Executive. There have always been vacancies. Some of the training offered by CUPE National at these schools ranges from note taking, to grievances, to negotiating, etc. It is all relevant to the work we do on your behalf.
Also, for those of you attending the GMM’s, we are required to have a strike fund locally. We currently have over $1,000,000 in our strike fund and, leading up to the last possible strike, were in a position to enhance the $300 per week you would get from CUPE Nationals strike fund with another $200 from our strike fund for those participating in the strike action.
We do many other things like host a yearly retirement and long service awards supper, host a fall social, host a number of “You Talk, We Listen” events around campus, where we hand out coffee cards, etc.
If you have any questions in regard to our budget and or finances, please attend one of our GMM’s and present it to us. We try to be as open and transparent as we can with our Members money.
Bob Jones, Acting President