VANCOUVER—CUPE National, along with CUPE 15 (Vancouver Municipal, Education and Community Workers) and CUPE 391 (Vancouver and Gibsons Public Library Employees) reached out to young workers as sponsors of Vancouver’s first annual Justice Rocks event.
The event fused indie music with themes of social justice. Over 500 people heard from an impressive line-up of local indie musicians and had the opportunity to talk to many advocacy and community groups, including CUPE.
CUPE’s Young Workers’ Task Force staffed the tent and talked to people about CUPE’s place in the community and what unions do for communities.
Trevor Davies, chair of CUPE’s Young Workers Task Force, says “This is the first time a lot of young people had the chance to see a different face of our union. A lot of people already knew about CUPE from the Vancouver strike. So it was exciting to dispel some misconceptions about unions and to find common ground by talking about CUPE’s involvement in our communities.”
Davies adds, “Social justice is important to our members. We talked about social solidarity, public campaigns like Water Watch, national childcare, and fighting to increase the minimum wage. This was a great opportunity to explain how broad our social activities are.”
Betty McGee, 1st Vice President of CUPE 15 and Randi Gurholt-Seary, CUPE organizer, helped raise CUPE’s profile and backed up the Young Workers’ Task Force.
McGee comments, “The number of young people who came by the table and made positive comments about unions in general was really refreshing. We need to continue to be involved in these kinds of activities to educate people. It’s important to go to venues where young people are and to be a presence there rather than waiting for them to attend a union meeting.”
CUPE gave out metal water bottles and a card that talked about CUPE’s role in building strong communities and rights for workers. The public entered a draw for one of five 2 gig iPod Shuffles engraved with the words “Rock on with CUPE” and a CUPE T-shirt.
“I think it was a good idea to get involved in this event,” says Jocelyn Morgan, a member of the Young Workers’ Task Force who works for the SPCA. “There were a lot of good groups there like Insite and Greenpeace. It was good to see our name out there, working together to make our society a better place.”
This first annual event was organized by Pivot Legal Society, a non-profit legal advocacy group in Vancouver’s downtown eastside who believe in ‘advancing the interests and improving the lives of marginalized people through law reform, legal education and strategic legal action.’
“Efforts that non-profits put into their booths to engage the public was fantastic. And the music was really good,” says John Richardson, Pivot’s Executive Director. Pivot hopes to make this an annual event.
Richardson adds, “We really appreciated CUPE’s support. Everyone I spoke to said they had an amazing time.”