Canadian Union of Public Employees Guide

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPA) is an institution that has been in place for over 50 years. The CUPE is largely invested in serving individuals who are responsible for providing public services. The CUPE is focused on several different aspects of the working lives of public servants in Canada. This includes complete equality, health and safety in the workplace, improved healthcare, and a better Canadian Pension Plan.

Sector Eligibility

The CUPE consists of people from a variety of sectors across the public services divisions throughout Canada. This includes the child care sector, education division, communications sector, emergency and security services segment, energy sector, healthcare services division, and library segment. Also included in this list are the municipal sector, transportation services, post-secondary division, and social services segment. Even members of the Federal Sector may join the CUPE. There is a wide variety of occupations covered by all of these different industries.

The CUPE Cause

Overall, there are about 627,000 CUPE members in Canada. The CUPE is concerned with ensuring that individuals in the public services sector are being treated fairly. This includes women, those with certain disabilities, and people of all races. The Union is also involved in ensuring non-discriminatory regulations for those of First Nations, Inuit, and M├ętis ancestry.

The CUPE wants to make sure that each person is being paid proper wages for the work that they do. In addition, the institution is also involved in improving additional benefits such as healthcare and pensions. The Union also wants to make sure that people are working in safe and appropriate conditions.

The CUPE carries this out by providing representatives for the members that need them. The representatives are responsible for improving the circumstances of each member. There are also other resources in the fields of law and research to help further the cause.

Joining the CUPE

The CUPE has branches in Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Labrador, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. Though members from the various sectors are eligible to join these organizations, the process differs slightly for each. Regardless of where the employees live and work, the first step that they need to take is to contact their local union. They will then meet with a union organizer. Once workers have determined that they wish to join and be represented by the CUPE, they must sign a membership card. This signifies their intent. In Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, each worker is expected to pay $2 to sign the card. In New Brunswick, the charge is $1. The rest of the regions do not require a fee. Once a particular amount of workers have signed the membership cards, a vote will be held to determine the construction of a union. The percentage changes from area to area, however. In Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, there must be at least 40 percent of workers signing. While in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the requirement is 45 percent. In Prince Edward Island and Quebec, if the majority signs, a vote is held. In Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Manitoba, if over 65 percent of the workers sign, the establishment of the union is automatic.

The various labour boards in each region must hold a secret ballot vote once the preceding step has been taken. The union is only certified if the majority of the workers choose to vote for the unionization. Once this has been accomplished, the union will serve your employer with notice. This is to indicate the beginning of the first contract negotiations. The CUPE is committed to increasing its membership as well as to improving the circumstances for every public servant under its purview.


CUPE and Coping with Debt

Canadians who are deep in debt must at some point decide how to get out of it. Debt consolidation and debt settlement are two methods financial advisors highly recommend to debtors in trouble. However, most households have trouble figuring out the difference between the two. When facing a decision between settlement and consolidation, which will suit your situation the best? This is certainly a tough question to answer by yourself. This article will explain what debt settlement and consolidation mean. Once you have read through it, you will be able to figure out which option is best for your budget.

Debt settlement is one of the simplest ways to reduce debt. Basically, when a debtor can no longer afford to pay back a loan, he or she can negotiate with the creditor and come to a settlement, like in a lawsuit. Sometimes professional negotiators may handle the settlement talks on behalf of the debtor. In Canada, debt settlement is the most common way to settle overdue loans without declaring bankruptcy. Canadian debtors, if they are really unable to pay back a loan, can call their creditors and offer to pay back the loan for a lesser amount. Debt settlement, if negotiated properly, is known to sometimes halve the amount due. Creditors prefer this method to having the debtor default, in which case the creditor gets nothing.

The traditional debt settlement methods were tweaked in October 2010 under the influence of credit agencies from the U.S. These agencies advertised that debtors should stop repaying all loans if they are unable to, and save up money. Instead of calling their creditors, Canadian debtors were advised to come to one of the credit counselling agencies, which would provide a negotiator to settle the debt. What's not mentioned in the advertisements is the fact that these agencies charge their clients an arm and a leg for negotiations. The biggest caveat of debt settlement is that it reflects negatively on credit scores. In this sense, it's almost as bad as bankruptcy.

Debt consolidation is basically the process of taking out one large loan to pay off many smaller loans that are overdue. Usually, a bank or a similar financial institution reviews a debtor's outstanding loans first. Then, if possible, all these loans are brought together and "consolidated". The debtor will now owe a single monthly lump sum with interest. This one monthly interest rate is highly advantageous to borrowers because it tends to be lower compared to the sum of multiple interest rates for smaller loans. This due amount is quite hefty, so the debtor might have to take out a huge loan to cover the costs. Most Canadian borrowers prefer to take out a second mortgage, also known as a home equity line of credit, to pay off the consolidated loans. Home equity loans are a good option because banks offer reasonably low interest rates for these. The most obvious downside to debt consolidation is that borrowers end up paying a significantly high monthly due amount. The average borrower will need to be quite frugal until a consolidated debt is paid off in full.

Is One Better Over the Other?

It's not possible to say settlement is better than consolidation, or the other way around, without assessing your individual situation. The method that suits you the best will depend on your debts. If you have multiple small loans, possibly several personal loans, which you can no longer afford individually, then consolidation will be a good choice for you. As mentioned above, consolidating debt can reduce the interest you pay for each small loan. If you owe one creditor a massive amount for which you cannot find the funds, perhaps it's best to call the creditor and come to a settlement. Beware of debt negotiators and U.S.-based credit counselling agencies. Ask for their service charges upfront because these are known to be predatory.

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