In this second edition of CUPE Celebrates, we attempt to capture the impressive size and scope of our union’s activities over the past year.
We remain proud of the tireless efforts of our activists and staff on behalf of our members, and of the accomplishments you will read about here.
Although CUPE continues to attract new members, our growth rate has slowed. That’s why organizing was singled out as a priority among the key strategic directions coming out of our 2005 national convention. With some 70 per cent of Canadian workers not yet enjoying the benefits of union membership, we need to double our organizing efforts and support those of unions in other sectors.
In financial terms, our union is strong. In 2005, our strike fund approached $30 million. CUPE’s operating budget is also healthy, thanks to the commitment of all chartered organizations and sound financial management practices.
On the front line, 2005 saw some significant disputes. None was bigger than the massive show of solidarity by CUPE members in British Columbia, who stood shoulder to shoulder with the members and leaders of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation in their protest against the provincial government’s attempt to impose a nonnegotiated contract. More than 25,000 CUPE school board members walked off the job for 15 days to support the teachers. Another 45,000 CUPE members participated in one-day job actions. It was a proud moment for our union as we delivered a powerful message to the Gordon Campbell government.
Red Cross home care workers in New Brunswick walked the picket lines for almost 12 weeks and achieved an encouraging first agreement with their employer. School board support workers in Turtle River, Man., spent almost three months off the job fighting for wage parity. Municipal workers in Regina were on strike for 25 days, while striking workers at Casino Calgary braved belligerent gamblers trying to cross the lines. In each dispute, our members stood tall and defended our right to free collective bargaining.
We also shared in the labour struggles of our brothers and sisters from other unions, including the 5,000 locked-out CBC employees and 12,500 striking Telus workers in Alberta and B.C.
Beyond the borders of our union and our country, we supported relief efforts in response to several natural disasters, including the devastating earthquake in Pakistan, Hurricane Stan in Guatemala and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Senior CUPE delegates brought a trade union perspective to major international events like the World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong and the Summit of the Americas in Argentina. We also sponsored inspiring activists from other countries to share their stories with Canadians. These and other global justice pursuits speak to the responsibility we have to forge ties with workers around the world.
CUPE Celebrates shines a light on the tremendous effort that our activists and staff put into representing our members, who in turn work so hard to provide the essential public services that make our communities better places to live.