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Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Week two of our discussions with government and employers is coming to a close and we are sending out this E-Blast to provide a short update to you on the ongoing discussions.

As you know, starting on August 30th, CUPE began meeting day by day with government and employers here in Toronto. We have been systematically presenting CUPE’s detailed views on the investments and choices the Government should make to protect and strengthen public services.  Because of Labour Day and the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana, some of the discussion Tables had to miss some days and there are meetings that will continue this weekend and next week. 

At this point the Government has just begun to respond and once we have all of their responses we will be meeting together as a team to review them and we will communicate back to all of you again at that time.

On Thursday of this week, September 09, CUPE Ontario leaders and senior staff joined with the OFL and much of the Ontario labour leadership to attend what has become a quarterly meeting with Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Minster of Labour Peter Fonseca.  One after another, labour leaders detailed, in no uncertain terms, their rejection of the Government’s premise behind the wage freeze that public sector wages have exceed the private sector and/or have driven up the provincial deficit.  We told the government Ministers that we reject the claim that the wage freeze will save money and help reduce the deficit when by their own admission, they plan to give away more money in new corporate tax cuts than they admit could be saved through the wage freeze. 
We also stressed the frustration everyone involved has felt with the discussion process to date and the complete absence of any sense as to what the end game is.

Perhaps one of the most important developments of the past week occurred not at the discussion table at all but in the news media.  For what may be the first time in this entire process,  a major daily newspaper has published a column that articulates as well as any union has done, exactly what is so wrong about the wage freeze and everything we’ve been saying about how the corporate tax cuts make a mockery of the government’s claim wage freeze is needed to reduce the deficit. 

The Toronto Star column by Linda McQuaig is titled “Wealthy Go AWOL In Deficit Fight ”.  Please read it and please copy and share it with your local members as widely as possible.

Overall, the union-employer- government talks are expected to run until October 3rd and some unions are only first coming to the Table on September 20th and 21st.  CUPE continues to do our best to present alternatives that will protect and strengthen public services. We are guided by your mandate and we will keep you all updated.

In Solidarity, 

Fred Hahn                                                  

Candace Rennick