March 23 CUPE National President Judy Darcy delivered a fiery speech to the 209 delegates at the Alberta Division of CUPE conference today in Medicine Hat, calling on delegates to increase political action and intensify demands at the bargaining table in order to fight the assault on democracy resulting from years of Tory rule in Alberta.
Ralph Klein has invoked closure in the legislature 30 times in the last seven years. That is nothing more than an assault on democracy, says Darcy. That is how he passed Bill 11, that is how hes been able to cut health care and education and the services that working families need, she said.
Her speech rallied CUPE members in Alberta to intensify demands at the bargaining table to tackle workload and to increase efforts at political action in local campaigns across the province.
Last month CUPE released a poll that showed 83% per cent of public sector workers in key sectors want workload made a top priority, CUPE plans to take the issue to the bargaining table in hundreds of workplaces. Some local unions are prepared to make it a strike issue.
Real power comes from the members, said Darcy. Real power comes from a thousand strike votes and a thousand local struggles across this land. Thats how we take back control, thats how we build the labour movement.
Darcy also delivered a prescription for building a healthy, vibrant labour movement in Canada.
Cut throat competition may be the order of the day in corporate boardrooms, but I say it has no place in the labour movement, she said. I will use all the muscle of Canadas largest union to see this kind of cannibalism in the labour movement wiped out, she said. When CUPE members say solidarity forever, we mean it. We believe in cooperation not competition among unions. We cannot defeat Ralph Klein or Stockwell Day if we are fighting each other.
CUPE, Canadas largest union, represents 495,000 women and men working in health care, emergency services, education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation and airlines. For background on CUPEs national campaign against privatization visit cupe.ca
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