The National Executive Board observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the loss of members of our CUPE family. Since the Board met in December, three members have been killed on the job; Brothers Norman Gauthier, CUPE Local 4239, Claude Picard, CUPE Local 1500, both in Quebec, and Brother Gilbert Prescott, past President of CUPE Local 3754 in Manitoba.
Also, since the Board last met, CUPE lost a number of activists and staff; Brother Ken Davidson, CUPE Local 1004 (Vancouver Outside Workers) past president, was a global justice activist and CUPE British Columbia Executive Board member. Another long time activist; Brother Chris Simms, an active member of Local 69 in Brandon, Manitoba is also mourned by CUPE. Retiree Gordon MacDonald and the husbands of staff members Sister Debbie Gervais-Arbane and Sister Halinka Brown, who died suddenly, were also recognized.
New Regional Vice-President
Brother Victor Elkins, president of Health Employees’ Union of British Columbia was sworn in as new Regional Vice-President for British Columbia. Brother Elkins was elected at the annual convention of HEU in November.
Brother Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) joined the National Executive Boardto update Board members on the increasing attack on organized labour from right-wing politicians, the medias and some business organizations. Brother Georgetti presented recent polling that demonstrates the general public is not well-informed on unions or the attack on political action and automatic dues check-off. At the Canadian Council of the CLC on March 1, 2013, a resolution outlining the response from the labour movement to be endorsed by all affiliates and their chartered bodies was passed. The resolution calls for all affiliates to engage in member to member outreach and support a publicly targeted labour image campaign. The resolution (attached) was adopted by the NEB unanimously and will be circulated to all CUPE chartered organizations and staff. On March 22, 2013, the CLC is holding a Leader’s Summit in Toronto which will detail the campaign plan. Many National Executive Board members will join the national officers at this pivotal meeting.
Brother Georgetti also spoke about Bill C-377 currently before the Senate of Canada and the legal strategy being developed which will go to the April 29, 2013; meeting of CLC’s Canadian Council.
Defending Free Collective Bargaining
Pressure on CUPE bargaining tables is rising in most sectors and our message to one another must be that we will all support any CUPE local that faces employer demands for concessions. In addition to strike pay and financial support, it is critical that CUPE members visibly support one another.
Building upon our 2011 National Convention Strategic Directions Policy Paper, the NEB passed the attached resolution on defending free collective bargaining and resisting concessions.
In the spirit of solidarity, the NEB passed motions of support and $2,000 donations to members of COPE 343 at Porter Airlines and the members of PSAC at Saint John’s International Airport Authority.
The National Executive Board approved 12 cost-share campaign requests, totaling $1,101,279.50. Requests for legal and arbitration support were approved, totaling $525,956.33.
The NEB received a presentation from Daniel Wilson, a well known educator and consultant on aboriginal issues. Daniel is of Mi’kmaq descent and has previously served as senior policy advisor to the Assembly of First Nations and was the founder of the NDP’s aboriginal commission. His presentation outlined the historical relationship between the crown and later, the government of Canada with First Nations. Characterizing the history in four historical frames from Mutual Ignorance to Limited Partnership to Assimilation to Reconciliation, the presentation assisted Board members in gaining a deeper understanding of the issues behind the “Idle No More” movement and the attack on First Nations by the Harper government. The presentation was followed by a wide ranging discussion on being allies to First Nations’ people and the difficult road ahead.
The National Executive Board ratified the appointment of Managing Director of National Service, Daria Ivanochko and Director of Labour Relations, John Lepine.