New Brunswick Union prepares to deal with a new government

Successful convention sets stage for dealing with Liberals under Shawn Graham

 

Fredericton (18 Oct. 2006) - The New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE) has held its first general convention since the election of a new government in the province.

Delegates representing all provincial regions gathered Oct. 13-15 in Fredericton to debate new policies and initiatives that will guide the union in making the transition from the previous Conservative government of Bernard Lord to the new Liberal administration of Premier Shawn Graham.

The NBUPPE intends to hold the new government to account to ensure that promises made during the election campaign are in fact honoured.

The convention took place on the heels of a generally successful round of bargaining for most of the union's locals.

However, the union is also dealing with a variety of issues that will be impacted by the way the new government chooses to treat public employees.

One of the most important questions involves public sector pensions. The union is part of a coalition of labour groups that has been working to achieve improved pensions and better governance of pension plans.

The coalition recently completed a successful lobby of MLAs on reforming the province's Public Superannuation Pension Plan.

Union on the move

Held under the leadership of president Debbie Lacelle, the convention welcomed new locals representing workers from Moosehead Breweries and the Woodstock police force. Over the past 12 months the union's membership has grown by 13%.

One of the most important internal issues decided at the convention was to switch to biannual conventions.

Larry Brown attended the convention in his role as national secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

He thanked the delegates for their union's strong support for the National Union, including its willingness to act as host of the next national NUPGE Convention in June 2007.

Brown also spoke about the need for unions to be involved in the broader issues, such as international trade agreements, which profoundly affect the ability to effectively represent workers and bargain improvements in working conditions.

He paid tribute to the NBU for its role in fighting the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as expansion of both the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement and the related General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) agreement.

Negotiations to implement the FTAA have been brought to a halt and progress on the other trade deals has also been stalled. NUPGE