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The first day of the 70th  Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) meeting was excellent for CUPE members representing Canada’s largest union at the two day annual meeting.

The day started out with a media conference organized to shed light on just how painful trade agreements like the new Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) that the provincial government’s of Alberta and BC are trying to slip past their populations.

Moist was emphatic in pointing out to the government representatives and media who attended the conference.  CUPE and a growing number of citizens of BC and Alberta are well aware that the TIMA rules are “designed to challenge regulations, programs and funding arrangements that support public services. TILMA is out to undermine local government authority,” Moist said.

CUPE’ s national president took time out from the conference to pay a visit to Calgary’s well-known Dave Rutherford show and spent several minutes constructively sparring with the city’s well-known talk-show host.

For his part CUPE’s national secretary-treasurer had a lengthy interview with Radio Canada Calgary explaining CUPE’s concern and reiterating the message of the media conference,  which is that all Canadians should beware of the hidden realities behind TILMA. “TILMA is not there to benefit ordinary Canadians,” he said.

During a very busy period between 11: 30 and 1:00 p.m. while delegates enjoyed their lunch CUPE’s national officers and many Alberta and BC members and staff attended CUPE’s popular booth exchanging stories. Many of these stories highlight the indispensability of CUPE members in communities throughout the country.

Ron Craigmyle, a City Councillor from the City of Quesnel, B.C. talked about his passion for public services. And he was bold in his recognition of the importance of CUPE  to the election of progressive councillors in cities and towns everywhere.

Matt Noble,  an administrator from Swift Current, Saskatchewan also spoke highly of the value of City Workers.  He said, “Many councillors don’t come in valuing city workers [our members] then realize the quality of work is way above what they are paid.”

Many politicians, administrators and members spoke of the importance of respectful relationships in making our communities work well. Richard Fogarty a Cape Breton municipal councillor, is a former CUPE national servicing representative. He told Paul Moist, “ I can’t thank CUPE enough for the experience I gained which prepared me for elected office. Ann Gourlay a CUPE member from the City of Grand Prairie, Alberta spoke of a member who won a literacy award.  How does that connect with the CUPE and the FCM? “ We learned about workplace literacy from CUPE’s booth at the FCM four years ago.  Literacy….it’s a noble cause.

All in all, day 1 of the 2007 FCM was an excellent one for CUPE. Watch this space for CUPE’s day 2 experiences.