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Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We hope this Labour Day weekend affords each of you the chance to take a break with family and friends, as well as the opportunity to celebrate our work as public employees in the communities we work and live in across the country.

This Labour Day sees many of our services severely strained due to under-funding and cutbacks, and our communities buckling under the pressure. In some cases, it seems that governments are unable to work together to deliver the important social programs such as Medicare that the public wants and deserves.

Later this month, the Prime Minister will meet with Provincial and Territorial leaders to discuss health care. Canadians’ most cherished social program is badly underfunded and, in many areas of the country, reckless privatization initiatives threaten to further compromise its universality.

Canadians want solutions to other key health care areas as well, such as pharmaceutical coverage, home-care and homes for the aged. Our union must continue to be a part of these national debates, and Labour Day is an appropriate time to re-dedicate ourselves to the fight to retain and expand universal not-for-profit health services.

As workers, we also take this day to reflect on our rights within the workplace. Our right to safe workplaces and protection from unsafe working conditions and occupational hazards. Our right to adequate workers’ compensation coverage in the event of on-the-job injury. Our right to decent pensions to provide us dignity in our retirement years. And, perhaps most important of all, our right to free collective bargaining - having a say in the setting of our wages, benefits and working conditions.

These rights are under attack, as we have seen earlier this year in Newfoundland and Labrador and in British Columbia. These rights were won through struggle and we must be prepared to actively defend them wherever and whenever required.

Labour Day is an appropriate time to recognize and thank all CUPE activists and staff, each of whom work day in and day out for our over one-half million members.

On behalf of our national union, “thank you” to each and every one of you for the work you do.

Finally, on Labour Day we rededicate ourselves to some core principles. To organizing and negotiating good agreements on behalf of workers. To assuming our rightful place in the local and national debates of our times. And to solidarity with other workers, both within Canada and around the world.

This month, we will dedicate our new regional office building in Fredericton, naming it after John “Lofty” MacMillan, a towering figure in our union who retired in 1982 as CUPE’s National Director of Organizing and Servicing. His words are appropriate for us all to ponder on Labour Day:

“The greatest reward during my life was when I saw the working men or women getting an improved paycheque lt’s all about the people at the grassroots…You’re part of the workers and they’re part of you.”

Happy Labour Day to each and every one of you. We look forward to working together with you to rebuild strong communities.

In solidarity,

National President

National Secretary-Treasurer