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September 2008 – December 2008

Dear Sisters and Brothers

The fall period has again been an incredibly busy one for CUPE staff and activists alike.

Canada/>/> had its third federal election in a four-year period.  And, the Harper government almost fell due to their own reckless, right-wing bent (more on this later in this report).

The US/>/> financial system collapsed, sending the world into recession.  After a quiet summer period, CUPE members in two provinces again hit the picket lines to defend public services and to secure fairness for our members.

 In the midst of the above challenges, hope triumphed over fear with the election of Democrat, Senator Barak Obama as President of the United States/>/>.  This is an historical moment, a racial barrier has fallen, and millions of people throughout the globe have a renewed hope for peace and principled leadership from Washington/>/>.

President-elect Obama inherits a financial mess and a host of other problems.  But he has motivated working people, young people and millions of others in an unprecedented campaign for change in the US/>/>, and we wish him well.

During this reporting period local government elections were held in Nova Scotia/> and in British Columbia/>/> and CUPE members were very active and quite successful in electing labour-endorsed candidates.  In Quebec/>/>, the Charest government was re-elected with a majority.  On a more positive note the PQ Party re-emerged with a strong showing and are back as the official opposition.

The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed that farm workers have the legal right to unionize.  This decision builds upon the 2007 Supreme Court case which found that collective bargaining was a constitutionally protected right.

Thousands of our members met in conferences and conventions this fall, we were active at hundreds of bargaining tables, and CUPE remains in the forefront fighting back against a range of privatization and P3 proposals.

We recently piloted our new environment course, and our internet education efforts are taking off.

In the midst of all of this activity, we say goodbye this fall to a number of staff and activists who have served our union for decades, and we thank these sisters and brothers for their incredible contributions in building our union.

Finally, we thank each of you, our activists and staff, for your never-ending activism and commitment to the betterment of our members, and towards building a better world.

1.      Federal Election/Economy/Fiscal Update

On October 14th, 2008, Canadians voted in our third federal election in the past four years, and for the third consecutive election, a minority government was the result.

Our union joined with the Canadian Labour Congress in support of the NDP.  In Quebec/>/>, working through the Quebec Federation of Labour, we endorsed the Bloc Quebecois.  While both the Bloc and the NDP increased their seat totals, the Harper Conservatives were returned to power, albeit with a minority government.

From my vantage point the election’s first three weeks were uneventful, not a surprise given that the majority of citizens did not want the election that Stephen Harper engineered in direct contradiction of his own fixed election date legislation.

The US/>/> financial crisis and credit crunch threw the economy and much of the world into recession, and this was a tipping point in the federal election.  Most Canadians did not appreciate the Prime Minister’s line that things were ok in Canada/>/>, so much so that he would not contemplate a deficit and in fact said Canadians might as well purchase stocks as there were good deals to be had.  This insensitivity coupled with Conservative decisions to cut cultural funding and to run on a “tough on crime” platform cost Harper badly in Quebec/>/>, where his anticipated breakthrough did not occur.

Unlike the 1960’s and 1970’s minority government this decade has not resulted in good government from a workers’ perspective.  Both the CLC Executive and our own National Executive Committee met with NDP leader, Jack Layton, after the election and urged him to work with the Bloc and to continue to advance critical issues such as public Medicare, child care, and supports for the poor and unemployed as our country heads into a recession.

In late November, the Harper government’s fiscal update chose to attack federal workers, proposing the end of their right to strike.  They also proposed the end of public financing of political parties, an issue not mentioned by them in the recent election.

Above all, while the rest of the western world adopts stimulus measures in the face of the economic meltdown, Harper opted to suggest no stimulus and to focus on slashing expenditures.

What followed was a unified effort by all three opposition parties to defeat the government and to present a Liberal-NDP coalition government.  This launched a week like no other we have seen in federal politics.

CUPE joined with the CLC and many community groups in our support for a coalition government.  The opposition parties represent the will of over 60% of the voting public.

Harper escaped from the mess he initiated by adjourning Parliament with the consent of the Governor-General.

Parliament will reconvene in late January to present a budget.  The CLC will work to shape an agenda which puts workers’ issues front and centre.

At this time it is not certain what the opposition response will be.  What is clear is that Harper has been sent a message that if he governs with impunity, ignoring the opposition, as is he had a majority, he will bear the consequences.

Our commitment must continue to be to work with our labour movement, civil society and political allies.

On the economic front, our National Executive Board spent considerable time at our September meeting discussing the economic downturn and what this will mean for us in bargaining, and in our dealings with governments across Canada/>/>.

At a broader level, and working with the CLC, we have called upon our federal government and all governments to put people first in terms of managing the economy in the current recession.  We also called for:

  • Re-regulation of the financial industry to protect investments and pensions of ordinary Canadians.


  • A pro-active response to the economic slowdown.  Governments should maintain and expand public services to both protect families and to help the economy avoid a deeper downturn.


  • Increased funding to rebuild our public infrastructure, with a focus on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green investments; strategies to rebuild industries and investments and supports for people.

(Our full statement is available at http://cupe.ca/economics/financial-crisis).

While certain areas of our country, such as small communities hit by plant closures have existed in recession-like conditions, we have not experienced a national recession for over 15 years.  We will without question get tested at bargaining tables, but I have faith we are prepared for these struggles.  Our finances are strong, and the solidarity within and amongst CUPE members is stronger than ever.


I also think it critical that we support our sisters and brothers within other unions.  Canada/>/>’s manufacturing sector has taken a beating in recent years, 400,000 job losses and counting, tens of thousands of families and communities have been devastated by these closures.  These workers and communities need our support.

2.        Air Canada/>/> Layoffs

In early July Air Canada announced the layoff of over 600 Flight Attendants, as they sought to downsize in the wake of historically high oil prices (prices I note since this announcement have returned to levels we have not seen for a few years).

CUPE’s Air Canada Component was quick to respond.  The announced closure of the Halifax/> and Winnipeg/> bases, and the layoff of about 300 Flight Attendants in Vancouver/> saw these members along with hundreds of CUPE activists hold rallies and other actions right across Canada/>/> throughout the summer.

Our staff and activists at Air Canada/> prepared their own Base Viability Study after Air Canada/>/> refused to release the study they said justified the layoffs.  Flight Attendants also lobbied federal, provincial and local politicians.

Our strongest support came from the NDP government of Premier Gary Doer in Manitoba/>/>.  In late October the Manitoba/>/> government announced they were launching a lawsuit as they maintained that Air Canada’s announced closure of the Winnipeg Base was a violation of federal law.

On November 1st the airline shut down the Winnipeg/> and Halifax/>/> bases.  This fight is not over, as we continue to demand that Air Canada come to its senses.  These restraint measures have angered each and every CUPE Flight Attendant and these actions will certainly up the stakes in 2009 collective bargaining. 

3.      Strikes/Lockouts

































City of Charlottetown








Oct. 17




27 days












York/> University/>/>








Nov. 6







Local 501 (Charlottetown/>/> Wastewater Workers)

Our five members employed by the City of Charlottetown commenced strike action on October 17th to back up contract demands after working since December 2006 without a contract.

After 27 days on the picket line the members settled the dispute achieving their goals in terms of wages, adjustments and benefits.  I was privileged to be able to attend a spirited rally in Charlottetown/>/> on October 24th.  My thanks to all the locals in PEI who came out to support these members, and my congratulations to National Representative, Brother Bill McKinnon and the bargaining team, for a job well done.

 Local 3903 (York/> University/>/> contract faculty, teaching assistants & graduate assistants)

On November 6, 2008 our 3,200 members at York/> University/>/> commenced strike action to back up contract demands.

Like many other university workers throughout Canada/>, our membership at York/>/> has suffered through cutbacks and restraint over the past decade.  The issues in dispute include wages and benefits and our desire for a two-year agreement to align with other university locals in Ontario/>/> for improved coordinated bargaining in 2010.

Please visit the CUPE 3903 website at, http://cupe.ca/action/3903-york to lend your support to this courageous group of workers.

4.        Organizing

Organizing staff from across the country met in Ottawa/>/> to discuss and share information regarding organizing strategies and other topics.  A new Member-Organizer Training Module was reviewed.  The module should be ready for use in the regions in the very near future.

During the period of September 1 to November 30 our membership grew by approximately 2000 members.

Our efforts in the Newfoundland/> and Labrador/> region have been focused on representation votes as a result of health care restructuring.  The first votes took place in the Western Region in October and CUPE was successful, gaining 700 new members.  Welcome to our newest members.  During the month of December votes were conducted in the Northern Region but at time of writing the count had not yet taken place.

In Nova Scotia/>/> efforts to organize in the child care sector continue with two active campaigns.  Once first contract negotiations are concluded for three newly certified groups greater focus will be placed on this sector. 

Welcome to the 110 new long-term health care workers from Parkland Clayton Park who voted to join CUPE.

In the New Brunswick/>/> region we are actively pursuing a number of organizing drives in the nursing home sector and the home support worker sector.  The potential for health care restructuring in New Brunswick/>/> is cause for concern and planning for an awareness campaign is underway.  The campaign will inform the public and members about the potential effects of restructuring and privatization.

Member-organizers continue to actively pursue new membership in PEI/>/>.  Plans are underway to hold four town hall meetings throughout the province with a view to inviting potential new membership.

In the Quebec/>/> region, efforts to organize in the municipal, transport and airline sectors continue.  Currently we have three applications before the Quebec Labour Relations Board which if successful will result in 200 new members.

The FTQ and CSN have recently signed a non-raiding pact so that they may work together to organize non-unionized work places.

In the Ontario/>/> region there are currently 32 ongoing organizing projects throughout all sectors.  Some of these projects are at the implementation stages while others are at the card signing stage.

During the period we organized nine groups in long-term care, health care, school board, municipal and child care sectors.  We welcome these 700 new members to CUPE.

Organizing efforts in the Manitoba/>/> region are now focused on exploring and following up on leads in the school, personal support, social services and municipal sectors.  As well Manitoba/>/> will continue to pursue internal organizing by identifying gaps in existing certificates and challenging union-exempt positions in current certifications.

In the Saskatchewan/>/> region, we are currently appealing a decision by the LRB Chair which failed to include non-unionized members in our newly certified merged education locals despite having 86% of the cards signed.  As a result we are gearing up for an organizing drive should our appeal fail.

In Alberta/>/> there are ten active campaigns in the social services, education, long term care and health care sectors.  We were successful with votes at the Red Deer/> Museum/> and the City of St. Albert RCMP Detachment/>/>.

There is continuing concern over the potential loss of members as a result of restructuring in the health care and the long term care sector.  

There are nine active projects in British Columbia/>/> at this time.  Most projects are in the initial stages and if successful will result in a large number of new CUPE members.  During the period of this report we received certification for 76 new members at the Chilliwack Landing Leisure Centre.

Organizing efforts undertaken by HEU during the fall resulted in over 700 newly unionized members at fourteen workplaces.  A large number of these new members work for contracted support and care services. 

 5.        National Conferences/Sector Meetings

  •  National Health & Safety Conference , October 23-26, 2008 – St. John’s, NL

Almost 500 activists and staff, our largest gathering ever, attended CUPE’s 10th National Health & Safety conference held in beautiful St. John’s/>/>.  My thanks to Brother Wayne Lucas and all of the members of CUPE Newfoundland & Labrador who served as very warm hosts for this first-ever national conference in Newfoundland/> and Labrador/>. 

The Conference, “From Survival to Success”, offered the opportunity to understand where we have been, hear about the successes we have achieved and to make recommendations on what more needs to be done to improve our members’ health and safety.  International solidarity, privatization, and current threats of harassment, bullying, violence, pandemic influenza and asbestos were all issues that provided delegates with a chance to discuss actions that can make a difference each and every day.

  • Canadian Blood Services Workers’ Sector Meeting, October 26-28, 2008 – Ottawa/>, ON/>/>

CBS workers represented by CUPE, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and the Nova Scotia Union of Public and Private Employees (NSUPE) met in Ottawa/>/> for their second gathering to discuss issues of common concern with their employer the Canadian Blood Services.

This group of locals has maintained a very active communication network since their first meeting in 2005.  They share bargaining and labour management challenges so often that the employer is unable to pit one site against another.  This meeting provided a chance for them to share information about blood safety, corporate management models in a non profit organization and strategies to raise public awareness of these issues.

  • Western Library Workers’ Conference, October 2-4, 2008, Vancouver/>, BC/>/>

The first-ever gathering of library workers from throughout western Canada/> was held in Vancouver/>/> in October.

Delegates heard from author David Chariandy who defended the importance to all communities that public libraries represent.  He thanked Vancouver/> librarians for their support as he wrote his acclaimed first novel, “Soucouyant” in Vancouver/>/>’s main library branch.

Brother Claude Généreux also addressed the delegates.  Workshops focused on health and safety, literacy and community outreach.

  •  National Bargaining Women’s Equality Conference, February 10-13, 2009 – Montreal/>, QC/>/>

This is an exciting opportunity for locals to give life to the 2007 National Women’s Task Force Report objectives to building bargaining strength to advance women’s equality and to set achievable goals on bargaining issues for women.  Panel discussions will address issues of equality and building strength at the bargaining table and workshops will develop strategies on wages, benefits, pensions, work and home balance, job security and violence.  You can register on line at www.cupe.ca.

  •  Power Up!  CUPE’s First National School Boards Meeting         March 2-4, 2009 – Regina/>, SK/>/>

Activists, staff and elected leaders in School Board Locals should prepare to connect, achieve and be inspired.  This meeting will provide a space to share experiences, choose priorities and develop strategies for working together and moving forward issues facing our members in this important sector.  You can register on line at www.cupe.ca.

6.      Privatization Update

As mentioned, our union remains on the forefront in fighting back against all forms of privatization right across the country.

A sampling of some of our privatization activities throughout this reporting period includes:

  • During the federal election we made public the NAFTA appeal filed by Arizona entrepreneur, Melvin Howard, who wants $4 million in compensation and $150 million in lost profits after his efforts failed to secure a piece of BC’s public health care system.
  • The Ontario Auditor General recently released a much-anticipated probe into how the Brampton/>/> (ON) P3 hospital came to be built and financed.  His report condemns the project by stating that it could have cost $50 M less if it had not been built by the private sector, and would have saved $200 M over the term of the project’s P3 arrangement.
  • The bottled water debate is heating up across Canada/>/>.  A number of municipalities have banned bottled water from their civic buildings.  Our President of CUPE Nova Scotia, Brother Danny Cavanagh gained a lot of media in his demand for the government of Nova Scotia/>/> to ban bottled water from schools and other public buildings.
  • CUPE Alberta President, Brother D’Arcy Lanovaz, spoke out publically about the firm hired by the Alberta/>/> government to build eighteen P3 schools.  The firm, Brown & Babcock, hit financial troubles.  Bloomberg News in the US/>/> called them the third worst performer on the MCSI global stock index, behind Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac!
  • CUPE Ontario President, Brother Sid Ryan spoke out against that province’s Bill 77 which would allow parents of developmentally disabled adults to hire their own care providers, thereby undermining the already under-resourced community agency structure in Ontario/>/>.
  • The QFL and the CSN will soon be initiating proceedings before the Supreme Court to have the Charest government’s regulation on specialized medical clinics declared invalid and ultra vires.  This regulation, which would come into force in early January, would authorize private clinics to perform any treatment provided under general or local anaesthetic, which will make Quebec/>/> one of the most advanced provinces when it comes to two-tiered health care.
  • Local 30 in Edmonton/>/> was successful in having their City Council re-think a planned transfer of that city’s wastewater treatment plants to EPCOR, a city-owned utility that operates as a private corporation.  Local 500, representing City of Winnipeg/>/> water workers, has a similar proposal which they have convinced City Council to hold public hearings on.
  • CUPE New Brunswick held a very successful P3 conference in Saint John/>/> in mid-October.  Over 200 delegates and staff from 5 provinces attended the conference that heard from the Council of Canadian’s Chair, Maude Barlow, as well as Dexter Whitfield from the United Kingdom, and Professor John Loxley from the University of Manitoba.
  • Both CUPE Saskatchewan and CUPE Manitoba held recent solidarity conferences involving members from all sectors within their respective provinces, and among other subjects both focused on privatization and how we can fight back.

The above is but a sampling of the many fight back and education campaigns we are waging on the privatization front.  I commend the work of our staff and activists.  You are doing incredible things on behalf of our membership.

In recent weeks it has become clear that the financial crisis and its attendant credit-crunch have made dubious P3 proposals even less attractive.  The City of Vancouver/>/> had to come up with a controversial $100 million bailout for the private consortium building the Olympic Village for the 2010 Games.  Our arguments have always been sound that these private schemes are more expensive, it appears they may be even worse given the current credit crunch.


I urge each of you to send members to privatization workshops and educationals put on by our union in your region.  Knowing more about P3s and that we can fight back is the first step towards the success we all want on this key national convention priority.

7.      Regional/Service Division Updates 


Newfoundland & Labrador  

 CUPE Local 488 won the first of three planned representation votes for health care support workers, when a majority of workers in the Western Region voted for CUPE.  We added about 700 new members in this vote.

The Northern Region vote results are not available as the voting in some areas was hampered by bad weather. 

A vote in the Central Region of the province will be held in the New Year.

I have been able to participate in campaigning with these first two votes and I want to salute Regional Vice-President Sister Donna Ryan, all of our leadership and activists and staff who are working full out on these important representation votes.

Nova Scotia/>/>

Nova Scotians went to the polls on October 18th for municipal and school board elections, and 11 of 21 CUPE members who ran were successfully elected.  I have conveyed our thanks to all of these activists who stood up for public services and their communities.

CUPE Nova Scotia continues to speak out against any and all P3 initiatives by the provincial government.  A provincial election is widely expected in 2009 and the NDP is currently first in the polls and is hopefully poised to form the first-ever NDP government in Nova Scotia/>/>’s history.

Prince Edward Island/>/>

As mentioned, CUPE locals throughout PEI/> were strong supporters for our members of Local 501, Charlottetown/>/> wastewater workers who ended a successful 27-day strike with a new 3-year collective agreement.

 Our CUPE PEI Health Council campaign “Keep Our Manors Public” working closely in coalition with their sister PEI provincial unions won a major victory when the Ghiz government announced on November 28th that the 5 new provincial nursing homes would not be built as P3 projects but instead in the traditional government built, owned and operated model.  Congratulations to everyone who worked on this campaign!

 CUPE/> PEI/>/> held a successful all-president’s meeting in early December.  This gathering of leadership discussed ongoing challenges and planning for 2009.

New Brunswick/>/>

As mentioned CUPE/> NB/> held their first ever P3 conference and it was a great success with over 200 delegates and staff in attendance in Saint John/>/>. 

In mid-November the New Brunswick/>/> government gave CUPE Local 1251 notice of their intent to eliminate 38 Human Services Counselor positions.  The members have entered into a lobbying campaign with their respective MLAs and meetings are being held with senior cabinet ministers to try and overturn this decision.  This is clearly a privatization fight back as the government will contract the services to private providers.


Premier Jean Charest called a snap election on the heels of the federal election.  Congratulations to Brother Mathieu Travesky, member of CUPE 4820, who won in the Terrebonne riding and will be a strong voice for working families in the legislature!

Local 1500 (Hydro Québec) hosted a successful two-day symposium of wind energy.  This is a huge issue as virtually all provinces have projects on the go and all are in private hands.

The bi-annual convention of the PCUS (Provincial Council for the University Sector) entitled The multiple faces of privatization was held October 7-10, 2008 in Victoriaville/>/>.

In the municipal sector, 17 collective agreements have been concluded since September of this year.  The major issues have been wages and the protection of workers’ purchasing power.  More than half of the collective agreements newly settled include provisions protecting wages from inflation.  As well, the Quebec/>/> municipal sector continues to set a pattern of four and five year agreements.

On December 15, the Quebec Labour Board (Commission des relations du travail – CRT) has ruled that Québecor/Sun Media were guilty of labour code violations in the conflict at Journal de Québec when they immediately hired scabs workers as soon as the lockout began in order to continue publishing.  This is a very sweet victory for our members at Journal de Québec, and for all workers!


CUPE Local 503 (City of Ottawa/>/>) has been speaking out against city restraint and the announced plan to layoff 500 workers.  They hosted, along with CUPE Ontario, a successful concert for public services with over 4000 people attending the November 1st event.

School Board bargaining on local issues has been successfully completed. There were 107 tables open this fall after a province-wide agreement was reached in the summer, they had a November 30th deadline.  One first agreement remains outstanding with a deadline extended until December 19th.  I salute the incredible efforts of our staff and activists who are negotiating on behalf of our 50,000 education support workers throughout Ontario/>/>.

CUPE Ontario is held its first-ever Trades Conference in November, as well as a very successful women’s conference in early December attended by some 160 activists.  The focus of the conference was on violence against women and was emotionally charged as delegates participated in a remembrance ceremony for Dec 6th and listened to dynamic speakers.  Delegates also made clear links between violence against women and the Harper government’s economic policy cuts. 


CUPE Manitoba held their first Solidarity Conference in mid-November to bring together activists from all sectors to build support for anti-privatization campaigns and bargaining.

Local 500 continues to do battle with a right-wing city council whose latest plans include creating a stand-alone water utility with stated plans to look at the P3 model for needed wastewater treatment plant upgrades.  Provincial Health Care bargaining on behalf of 12,000 members is nearing completion.


 The 4thCUPE Saskatchewan Solidarity Conference was held in Saskatoon/>/> in early November.  Keynote speaker, author Irshad Manji, was a hit with delegates as she spoke on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights.

The Saskatoon School Board is looking at the province’s first P3 school.  Our Union/> has spoken out against this and the provincial government has put this on hold while they study the issue.

Over 12,500 health care members are in the midst of bargaining, in what promises to be a challenging round of negotiations.  Recently enacted Essential Services Legislation has put a chill on bargaining.  Rather than negotiating a collective agreement for members, CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council has been forced to negotiate essential services agreement.  The employers have proposed that about 95% of health care workers under CUPE jurisdiction are essential, effectively taking away our right to strike.

The effect of new Essential Services Legislation is now being felt.  In the five Health Care regions the employer has proposed that 95% of the employees are essential, including such classifications as Librarians and Music Therapists.  This of course is causing difficulty at the bargaining table.


As mentioned, CUPE Alberta continues to speak out against the provincial government’s plans to build eighteen P3 schools.

In the municipal sector, the City of Edmonton/>/> has slowed down their stated plans to transfer water services to the control of Epcor, their private water arm.

We are working in cooperation with other unions in fighting back against the provincial plans to change the governance structure of the Local Authorities Pension Plan, which covers most of our members in the province.

British Columbia/>/>

CUPE/> BC/>/> has been very busy coordinating local election activities throughout the province.  In the elections held on November 15th, labour endorsed candidates claimed every seat including the office of Mayor in the City of Vancouver/>/>.  This is an incredible result and a testimony to the work of hundreds of activists from our civic locals in Vancouver/>/>.

Twenty-two CUPE members were elected to Municipal councils and school boards throughout the province, including former NEB/> member, and CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Sister Colleen Jordan who was re-elected to a third term as a councilor in Burnaby/>/>.

CUPE staff and activists remain very active in pushing back against various P3 activities in the province, most being led by the Campbell/>/> government who face a provincial election on May 12, 2009.  The NDP won two key by-elections in October and it seems like it will be a very close election next spring.

Our condolences go out to Brother Ollie O’Rourke’s family.  Brother O’Rourke died this fall from a workplace fatality.  He was a member of CUPE Local 7000.

Hospital Employees’ Union/> (HEU)

HEU held their biennial convention in Vancouver/>/> the first week of November.  It was a chance for delegates and many of us to say good bye and thank you to Brother Fred Muzin who stepped down after 15 years at the helm of HEU.

Brother Muzin served on our NEB/>/> for 13 years and was a solid supporter of all other regions and on all social justice and global justice issues.  We wish him all the best.

Brother Ken Robinson was elected HEU President and we offer sincere congratulations to him and to Sisters Donisa Bernardo re-elected as Secretary Treasurer, and Sister Judy Darcy who was reaffirmed as HEU’s Secretary Business Manager.

HEU is focused on bargaining with Sodexho, Aarmark and Compass who employ thousands of HEU members who work in health care.

 Airline Division

 All our airline locals and their components have collective agreements in place, although negotiations will begin with Air Canada/>/> in 2009.  In spite of the economic turmoil, Canjet and Cathay Pacific continue to expand.  Our members at Cathay Pacific are working with their co-workers in the USA/> and Europe/> to share information and assist with organizing in those countries.

On behalf of our Air Canada locals, thanks to all who were able to attend the rallies over the summer and participate in the on-line action to lobby the federal government.


8.      Personal/In-Memoriam

My sincere condolences on behalf of our entire union to Brother Kealey Cummings, whose spouse Fran passed away on October 20th.

A few of our retirees have passed away recently.  Brother Hubert Elkin, September 5th; Brother Leonard Stair, December 8th; Brother John King, December 10th and Sister Linda Dumbleton, December 12th.  My sincere condolences to all these families.

I would also like to take this time to offer my sympathies and support to Sister Tracey Beastall, one of our NEB/> members from Manitoba/>/> whose husband Richard passed away suddenly on November 24th.  Our thoughts are with you.

And lastly, our union was shocked and saddened on December 18th to learn of the sudden death of Brother Barry Doyle, a Senior Officer in our Health and Safety Branch at National Office.  A very young 41 year old, Brother Barry was a champion of workers’ rights across the country.  His warm smile and concern for others will be missed by all of us.

I recently wrote Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians to congratulate her on her appointment as Senior Advisor on water issues to the UN.

I can’t think of a more qualified or better person to defend our right to public water.

Thank you to Sister Anne Didier for offering her expertise to the Public Services International (PSI) and helping the organization meet its commitment of offering job evaluation seminars to their affiliates.  Sister Didier has recently returned from Botswana/>/>.

I want to congratulate two local union presidents who retired recently; Sister Judith Mongrain (Local 87, City of Thunder Bay) and Sister Val Hartling (Local 2316, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto).  Both of these sisters embody what CUPE is all about, long-serving dedicated activists, both of whom showed leadership beyond their locals over many, many years.  Judith and Val, on behalf of our entire union, thank you and best wishes.

Another key member of our union has announced her plans to accept new challenges with another trade union.  At the end of this year, Sister Morna Ballantyne (Managing Director of Union Development) will leave CUPE to pursue new challenges with the Public Service Alliance of Canada.


Sister Morna’s connection to CUPE has existed for over three decades as both a member activist and as a staffer for the past 20 plus years.  We will all miss Morna incredibly, and on behalf of our entire union, I say thank you sister for your incredible commitment to building rank and file strength within CUPE.  We wish you the very best.

I also want to thank the following CUPE staff who have announced their plans to retire. Each of these sisters and brothers have given much of themselves over many years and I thank them all and wish them long, healthy and happy retirements.

  • Brother Jamie McPherson, BC Regional Office (July 1, 2008)
  • Brother Gilles Laplante, Quebec/>/> Regional Office (January 1, 2009)
  • Brother Donn Stanley, BC Regional Office (January 1, 2009)
  • Sister Suzanne Monier, Quebec/>/> Regional Office (January 1, 2009)
  • Sister Odette Martel, Quebec/>/> Regional Office (March 1, 2009)
  • Sister Diane Veilleux, Quebec/>/> Regional Office (March 1, 2009)

In closing I want to thank you for your support of CEP Local 175.  For the past 12 months just over 200 Petro Canada/> workers were locked out in Montreal/>/>.  They are members of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP).  Their employer, who made some $9 billion in profits over the past five years was refusing to follow the pattern agreement achieved by CEP members who work for Petro-Canada in other provinces.

These workers were hurting, but they turned down the company’s latest offer by over 80% in October.  CUPE supported the CLC’s call for a national boycott of Petro-Canada.  The labour movement’s solidarity has resulted in a victory.  On December 23, 2008, the local ratified a collective agreement which met their demands.


I wish each and every one of you a safe and peaceful holiday season, one which I hope provides you the opportunity to spend time with family and friends.  And as always, I thank you for your activism and many efforts on behalf of the 570,000 members we are privileged to represent.

In solidarity, 


National President