We express our solidarity and support to the Take Back 3913 campaign! in their just demands for a fairer union for its members and the staff.
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Source: Take Back 3913! You can read this original post in here
The November 4, 2015 communique by the CUPE3913 Exec blames the Local’s staff and their union for causing a crisis in the Local. They say that staff costs too much and their union refuses to make concessions.
The Exec tell us that staff currently costs 40%. They are so forthcoming when it comes to blaming staff costs for the so called crisis that they invite us to see the staff’s Collective Agreement, which they uploaded to the 3913 web page for our convenience. They also uploaded the old versions in case we want to do a historical analysis (the CA’s are here). They even made public confidential issues about staff in their communique!
But when it comes to how much revenues our Local receives, or how much they spend on Exec honoraria or ‘other’ expenses, the Exec hasn’t been so forthcoming. In fact, the Exec has not provided us with detailed financial reports as required by article 1.B.2.d of the Local’s bylaws. Their detailed explanation of the financial situation amounts to a pie chart with percentages. Providing only percentages allows them to make a claim and prevents us from checking its accuracy and magnitude.
We looked at the staff CA and at other sources not included in their suggested reading list to estimate the main revenues and expenses. What we found out is that the percentage they gave us makes no sense.
Based on the total yearly wages for our members, which is publicly accessible information, and the current dues rate, the local should be receiving about $500,000 a year on dues alone. While the staff CA contemplates one full time position and two part time positions, there is only “one working member of the staff” as the Exec communique points out. The total yearly cost for the three staffs in the CA (salaries, benefits, pensions in addition to CPP+EI contributions) should be about $190,000. That’s 39% of the dues for three staff members. Their claim makes sense for three staff positions, not for “one working member of the staff.”
The Exec also claims that 17% of dues go the Exec honoraria. A full exec has 21 members. The 3913 bylaws state: “Each executive committee position shall receive a monthly honorarium. The honoraria shall be three hundred (300) dollars each for members of the Executive committee. The level of these honoraria shall be decided at the AGM” (1.A.III in the bylaws). The language is admittedly contradictory but at the base rate of $300, a full Exec would cost about $75,000 of dues. That’s about 15% of our estimated total dues. Their claim of 17% makes sense for a 21 members Exec at the base rate prescribed by the bylaws. But they say that “there are currently 13 working members of the Local’s Executive Committee”.
Although the by-laws maintain an equality in the status of the Exec members, when it comes to the honoraria of the 13 working Exec members, some of them are more equal than others. The yearly “salaries” of the main administrative officers go from the president at $19,500” and the VP at $14,600 to the Finance Officer and Chief Stewards at $9750, according to their “job descriptions”. The total “salaries” of these chief officers add up to about $63,000. The three filled positions among these chief officers amount to $39,000, or half of the base honoraria prescribed in the bylaws. We do not know if the so called Past Officer, an Exec position that doesn’t exist in the bylaws and is currently occupied by someone who is not a member of 3913, is also receiving “salary” out of our dues. We do not know how much honoraria the remaining eight Exec members are receiving.
As if the numbers in the Exec’s pie chart were not confusing enough, the Local has another significant source of income. The University of Guelph gives our Local about $42,000 a year to be distributed among Executive officers (articles 6.07 of the CA’s). Choosing to talk about dues instead of total income is another deception. It inflates the staff cost by reducing the income base. On the other hand the additional $42,000 should be counted as separate from the dues that they are using for their calculation. This suggests that the honoraria is a much larger total that includes the $42,000 plus the 17% coming from dues.
The income that the local should be receiving is enough to cover both adqueate level of honoraria for the Exec and a three people staff that could serve members perfectly well. Why is there a need for the Exec to attack staff, sound the crisis alarm and claim to be the victims of the staff’s union?
While we don’t know if the AGM approved such high levels of honoraria, having different levels of honoraria goes against the bylaws. There certainly hasn’t been approved amendments to the bylaws changing “duties of Executive Officers” to “job descriptions” nor Exec honoraria to salaries. There has not been approval of such duties as “Leading the progression of CUPE 3913’s organizational restructuring” (see the “responsibilities and opportunities” of the new President’s job description). The Exec has acted as if these changes were a legitimate restructuring. They already increased their pay and expanded their job description. The attack on staff and the real crisis on services coincides with the “progression of CUPE 3913’s organizational restructuring.”
After looking at these discrepancies we cannot believe the cute pie chart that the Exec fed us nor their stories about staff being too expensive. Instead of propaganda that pushes us to vote for what they want, we need transparent, accurate information. At the Special Membership Meeting on November 17, we want them to provide a detailed income and expenditures report, and reports of our assets and liabilities. We want them to be truly forthcoming before we make any decisions about the “crisis.”